Last year Specialized released the Levo SL
, an electrified version of the Stumpjumper that weighed 38 pounds, making it one of the lightest eMTBs available at the time. The new Kenevo SL is the follow-up act, which takes the popular Enduro chassis and integrates a motor and a 320 Wh battery. The result is an eMTB with 29” wheels and 170mm of travel that tips the scales at only 40.9 pounds. For reference, that's about eight pounds more than a 'regular' Enduro, and 11 pounds less than the full powered Kenevo.
There are just two models in the lineup, the S-Works version shown here that goes for $15,000 USD, and the Expert model that's priced at $11,000 USD. Nobody said that owning futuristic toys was going to be cheap.
Specialized Kenevo SL
• Wheelsize: 29"
• Carbon frame
• Travel: 170mm (r) / 170mm (f)
• 240 watt power, 35 Nm torque
• 350 Wh internal battery, Range Extender available
• 62.5 - 64.5-degree head angle
• 442 or 447mm chainstays
• Weight: 40.9 lb / 18.5 kg (size S4)
• Price as shown: $15,000 USD
• S-Works frame only: $8,500
From a distance the Kenevo SL's silhouette looks almost identical to the current Enduro – the smaller motor and battery keep the carbon frame from getting the bloated look some eMTBs have. There's plenty of room for holding a full-size water bottle inside the front triangle, or that bottle cage can be used to hold the 160 Wh range extender battery that's included with the S-Works model, which boosts the amount of possible ride time up to a claimed 7 hours.
Like the recently released Levo, the Kenevo SL has a display located on the top tube that can be customized to display information like speed, battery life, elevation, and more. It works in conjunction with Specialized's Mission Control app, and can be updated via Bluetooth, allowing for more features to be added a time goes on.
The modes (Eco, Trail, Turbo, and Walk) are selected via the controller mounted on the left side of the handlebar. There's also a Microtune option that can be assessed by holding down the top mode selector button for a few seconds. Once in that mode is accessed, the amount of power can be adjusted in 10% increments. That can be useful for matching the power of a bike to that of another rider's, or for riding with an amount of power that falls in between Eco and Trail or Trail and Turbo. Geometry
Specialized also gave the new Kenevo the adjustable geometry first seen on the Stumpjumper EVO, which in this case allows for a total of six distinct geometry settings. Four of the possible settings are shown above, and Specialized have a geo finder tool
on their site that makes it easy to see all the possibilities. In the slackest position, the bike has a DH bike-worthy 62.5-degree head angle, and in the steepest that bumps up to 64.5-degrees. Those geometry changes are accomplished by swapping out the upper head set cup, and by changing the position of the flip chip on the chainstays. That chainstay flip chip also alters the amount of bottom bracket drop by 6 millimeters, and the chainstay length by 5 millimeters.
The seat tube angle also changes depending on the geometry setting, but it doesn't stray too far from 76-degrees. There are a total of four sizes, with reach numbers ranging from 437mm for the S2 all the way up to 512mm on the size S5. All of the sizes have relatively short seat tubes in order to make it easier for riders to size up or down depending on their handling preferences.Suspension Design
The Kenevo retains the six bar suspension design found on the Enduro. The leverage curve is progressive, flattening out slightly at the end of the stroke in order to ensure that all of the travel can be accessed when necessary. According to Specialized, the Fox Float X2 has a tune that was developed specifically for the Kenevo SL, in order to ensure that its performance would pair well with how the bike is intended to be ridden.Models Ride Impressions
The Kenevo SL is an interesting bike, one that had me scratching my head one moment, and trying to wipe the goofy grin off my face so I didn't swallow any bugs the next. The head scratching came from trying to figure out exactly who the Kenevo SL is for, and the smiles were from forgetting about that and enjoying the effortless speed that's possible on the descents.
The Kenevo SL's level of assistance on the climbs isn't going to blow your hair back – remember, it basically doubles your power, rather than quadrupling it like the Levo
does. The delivery is very smooth, though, and it does make it a whole lot easier to get to the top of a stout climb. I'm still not a fan of the extra noise that comes from the gear driven motor – it's much louder than the Levo's belt driven motor. The Kenevo SL may look a lot like a normal bike, but the sound of the motor is going to be a dead giveaway that it isn't when approaching another rider or hiker. I should mention that I'm a little more sensitive to noise than others; I'm sure many riders won't give those few extra decibels a second thought.
When gravity takes over the Kenevo SL is outstanding, exhibiting incredible composure while remaining much more maneuverable than a full-power eMTB. That 10ish pound weight difference between the Kenevo SL and a bike like the Levo or Santa Cruz Bullit is very noticeable, and makes it much easier to get off the ground, and to make quick direction changes. I've mainly been riding it in the slack / high setting, which gives it a 63.2-degree head tube angle and 442mm chainstays, numbers that feel ideal for the steep, loose trails I've been favoring lately.
With heavier eMTBs I'll occasionally run into moments where it takes extra effort to stay in control, sort of like driving an overloaded van down a twisty road. That's not the case with the Kenevo SL – its weight gives it more stability, especially in high speed rough sections, or when really pushing into a turn compared to a non-motorized bike, while also requiring much less upper body exertion compared to a full-powered eMTB.
Now, onto the head scratching that I mentioned earlier. If you purchased a Kenevo SL and went out for a ride with friends who had full-powered eMTBs you'd need to work really, really hard to keep up, and there's a good chance that the 320 Wh battery would run out before theirs did. That could potentially be a tough pill to swallow, unless all of your buddies were also on Kenevo SLs.
The flip side is that the experience of riding the Kenevo SL is much closer to that of a regular bike, which I'm sure plenty of riders will appreciate. I'm a little torn, though, since I really like the uphill and traversing speed that's possible on a full power eMTB like the Levo. That bike makes it possible to get up ridiculous climbs, or to knock out a bunch of laps in a relatively short amount of time, while the Kenevo SL doesn't have the same level of assistance to really encourage a different riding style.
Will there be a time when you'll be able to get a 40-pound eMTB that has all the power and torque of today's full-powered machines? I don't doubt it, but until then there are concessions that need to be made in order to achieve the lighter weight of a bike like the Kenevo SL. The good news is that those concessions don't limit the Kenevo SL's descending prowess, and at the end of the day that's the best part of the ride.
The Kenevo is an intriguing bike, and it's earned a spot in the eMTB Field Test that'll be taking place later this summer, where it'll be going head-to-head against several other new electric machines.