The Specialized Enduro is entering its second decade in existence, a time period that's seen it morph from an overgrown XC bike into the gravity-oriented, big wheeled trail smasher that it is today. The 2020 model has received a complete overhaul, and now bears more than a passing resemblance to the current Demo downhill bike.
Speed was the overall focus behind this project, and for that reason the Enduro is only available with 29” wheels, in a total of four sizes. There's also no aluminum version in the lineup, at least for now - according to Specialized, that's because they "wanted to create the lightest, most bad-assed bike in this genre." There might not be an alloy version, but going with carbon does mean all frames get a gummy bear compartment in the form of Specialized's SWAT box down tube storage system.
Specialized Enduro Details
• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 170mm front and rear
• Carbon frame
• 63.9° or 64.3° head angle
• 442mm chainstays
• Threaded bottom bracket
• SWAT box
• Sizes: S2, S3, S4, S5
• Weight (Expert Elite, S4): 32.7 lb / 14.8 kg
• Price: $4,510 - $9,750 USD
• S-Works frame only: $3,310 USD
There are four complete bikes available, beginning with the $4,510 Enduro Comp 29, and going all the way up to $9,750 S-Works version. The S-Works frame uses carbon rocker links rather than the alloy links found on the other models, which saves 250 grams. That frame alone retails for $3,310 USD. Frame Details & Suspension Design
The overall look of the Enduro remained relatively unchanged for the last three years, and going even further back, that X-Wing frame design first showed up on the 2010 Enduro. That's all in the past, and the new Enduro now has a completely different suspension layout. It's basically a slightly shorter travel, carbon fiber version of the Demo 29 downhill bike, with the added benefit of room for a water bottle and snack storage.
The Enduro still uses a Horst link design, with the chainstay pivot located below the rear axle, but Specialized moved the shock lower in the frame and shifted the main pivot location to accomplish several design goals. Those goals included improving the bikes momentum carry (the way that it carries speed through rough sections of trail), increasing the amount of anti-squat, and increasing the amount of progression. Those three goals could have potentially been accomplished using the prior frame design, but the bike would have had a higher standover and center of gravity than Specialized's designers wanted.
The Enduro's anti-squat value has increased by 40%, a step that was taken to improve the bike's pedaling efficiency. It may be a long travel beast of a bike, but it's still meant to be pedaled when there aren't any chairlifts or shuttle trucks nearby.
As illustrated by the chart above, the leverage curve is more progressive, and no longer flattens out at the end of the travel. This is a welcome change, and should mean that air shocks won't need to be completely filled with volume spacers in order to prevent the bike from bottoming out on bigger hits. There aren't any coil shock equipped models in the lineup - a Fox Float X2 or a RockShox Super Deluxe take care of the rear suspension duties - but the more progressive leverage curve makes running a coil a viable option.
Along with the changes to the Enduro's kinematics, the bike's rear-end stiffness was increased by a claimed 12% compared to the previous version. The front triangle stiffness remains the same - there wasn't any need to make that section any stiffer. Geometry
The new Demo
may have a limited size range, but that's not the case with the new Enduro. Specialized have gone with the same 'S' sizing system used on the Stumpjumper EVO – the idea is that riders can choose their bike based on the reach rather than seat tube length. Short seat tube heights proved plenty of room for longer travel dropper posts. The reach measurements range from 437mm on an S2 all the way up to 511mm for the S5. I've been spending time on the S4 version (I'm 5'11"), which has a reach of 487mm.
The chainstay length has grown a bit for increased stability at speed, and they now measure 442mm. The effective seat angle is a fairly typical 76 degrees.
The Enduro's geometry can be altered by rotating two chips that sit in the shock eyelet. In the low setting, the head angle measures a slack, 63.9-degrees, and in the higher position it increases to a still-slack 64.3 degrees. Models Enduro S-Works Carbon:
$9,750 - SRAM AXS Reverb, Shimano XTR 12-speed drivetrain, XTR brakes, Fox 36 Factory fork, Float X2 shock, Roval carbon wheels, Butcher 2.6" / 2.3" tiresEnduro Expert Carbon:
$6,550 - Fox Float Performance 36 fork, Fox Float DPX2 shock, Code RSC brakes, GX / X01 drivetrain, Roval Carbon wheels, Butcher 2.6" / 2.3" tiresEnduro Elite Carbon
: $5,310 - RockShox Lyrik Select+ fork, Super Deluxe Select shock, Code R brakes, GX derailleur, cassette, NX shifter, Roval Traverse alloy wheels, Butcher 2.6" / 2.3" tiresEnduro Comp Carbon:
$4,510 - RockShox Lyrik Select fork, Super Deluxe Select shock, Code R brakes, NX drivetrain, Roval alloy wheelset, Butcher 2.6" / 2.3" tiresEnduro S-Works frame
w/ Fox Float X2: $3,310
The Enduro's long wheelbase and slack head angle are noticeable when climbing - you're not going to mistake this for a snappy little trail bike, but it does pedal very well, and not just for a bike with 170mm of travel. The shock remains relatively uninfluenced by pedaling input, while remaining responsive to the terrain the bike is rolling over. Specialized's full suspension trail and enduro bikes have traditionally seemed to prioritize traction over efficiency, but this new design manages to simultaneously feel very efficient without giving up traction - it's an impressive feat.
I've been spending time on the S4, which has a 487mm reach, but I could see going with a S3 for a little more maneuverability. The seated climbing position was relatively comfortable, partially due to the upright position that the stem and high-rise handlebar create, although I did end up sliding the seat all the way forward on the rails – I think the actual seat tube angle could get even steeper without any negative repercussions.
The previous generation of the Enduro didn't really fall into the fast and furious category. It had plenty of travel, but there was something about its handling that made it more of a plush all-rounder rather than something designed for pure, unadulterated speed. The 2020 Enduro changes all of that – it now fits easily into the mini-DH category, and even then the word 'mini' is an understatement.
I don't usually hoot or holler when I'm riding, preferring to keep my emotions buried deep inside, but more than once I actually laughed out loud while riding the Enduro. It's almost ridiculous how much it'll smooth out the trail, and how fast that trait will let you go. Fans of bikes that deliver a magic carpet type ride will find a lot to like here. The low center of gravity is very noticeable, especially when cornering – having the weight centered close to the bottom bracket makes it easy to really push into a tight turn without losing any traction.
Downsides? Well, this is a bike that truly requires a steady diet of wild trails to keep it happy. It's a much more gravity-oriented machine than its predecessor, something that's closer to a downhill bike than an extra-long travel trail bike. Just like it wouldn't make sense to buy a St. Bernard to keep you company in a tiny studio apartment in a big city, the new Enduro isn't going to be the right choice if your typical trails are on the mellower side of the spectrum.
I'll be putting more miles in on the new Enduro over the coming months in order to further figure out its strengths and weaknesses. It's also going to be put to the test against some of the other top contenders in this category; look for the results of that battle to come out later this year.