This probably wasn’t what you were expecting. The first Enduro was really just a riff on Specialized's existing Ground Control FSR models - a component-spec option rather than an entirely new line of bikes. Few people realize the Enduro was born here in 1999, but if you look closely, you can glimpse the future.
1999 FSR "Enduro" Pro
• Lifespan: One year
• Designed by: Mark Dinucci
• Design intent: "Everything...this was before full suspension became so segmented."
• Frame material: Specialized M.A.X. Aluminum
• Fork travel: 80 millimeters (3.15 inches)
• Rear wheel travel: 109 millimeters (4.3 inches)
• Geek facts: Front triangle made in Portland, Oregon
Up front, the bike was spearheaded by a....RockShox SID XC? Yep. By today's standards, the three-inch travel SID boasted all the rigidity of overcooked fettucine, but the fork was, again, a nod to lightweight performance. This was 1999—everyone in the States seemed to be weighing their chain lube and trimming their handlebars—the SID was the fork of the moment, which probably explains why the first Enduro also wore a SID shock. As for stoppers, disc brakes were still a rarity at the time, so V-brakes got the deed done. Kinda. Sorta.
The first Enduro was a solid bike for its era. "It was technically very advanced," recalls Specialized's senior design engineer, Jason Chamberlain. "The mainframe was a triple-cavity extrusion that was then machined and bent. That was a pretty tricky engineering feat."
Starting From Scratch
Now, this is the bike that most people think of as the first Enduro. Though the 2000 Enduro was, essentially, a burlier, longer-travel version of Specialized’s lightweight FSR XC model, it also had an identity of its own, thanks to the disc brakes, much more capable suspension and, yes, those mud flaps.
• Lifespan: Two years
• Designed by: Mike Ducharme and Robert Egger
• Design intent: "Long travel version of our XC bike."
• Frame material: Aluminum
• Fork travel:100 millimeters (4 inches)
• Rear wheel travel: 97 to 117 millimeters (3.8 to 4.6 inches)
• Geek facts: Adjustable geometry and rear suspension travel
There were a few important details in the first Enduro frame that often go overlooked. Bearings top the list. “This was possibly our first bike with bearings at the pivots (instead of IGUS bushings),” says Specialized’s Chamberlain. “I distinctly remember Mike Ducharme and Shawn Palmer yelling back and forth about bushings and bearings. Palmer insisted he had to have ball bearings like his Intense. Ducharme insisted bushings were good enough. I think this was the turning point for the industry where everything that followed had to have cartridge ball bearings.”
The Big Leap Forward
This, as the kids are fond of saying, is where shit gets real. In 2002 the Enduro made a massive leap forward with its semi-monocoque front triangle and a shock from the future that instantly bumped up suspension travel at the flick of a switch.
• Lifespan: Three years
• Designed by: Jason Chamberlain and Robert Egger
• Design intent: "To be the Swiss Army knife of bikes."
• Frame material: Aluminum
• Fork travel: 80-130 millimeters (3 to 5.1 inches)
• Rear wheel travel: 100-132 millimeters (4 to 5.2 inches)
• Geek facts: On-the-fly adjustable suspension--front and rear.