On switchback: Specialized S-Works Enduro 29
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If you set out with the lofty goal of designing the definitive all-mountain bike, chances are it would look very much like the S-Works Enduro 29. The mission of the S-Works Enduro 29 is to be a true all-mountain bike, capable of handling serious downhill abuse while still being efficient at climbing with precise handling. To achieve this, Specialized started by adding torsional stiffness to select areas of the frame. The frame on the S-Works Enduro 29 is constructed from a FACT IS-X 11m carbon front triangle connected to an M5 aluminum rear triangle. A big part of the bike’s increased stiffness comes from the X-Wing design of the front triangle. The X-Wing bridges the top tube with the down tube to create a solid front structure and doubles as the front shock mount. Also aiding in stiffness is a tapered head tube, PF30 oversized bottom bracket and 142+ rear dropouts.
The rear triangle is super clean and could easily be mistaken for carbon. The oversized chain stays are connected to the main pivot via an oversized machined yoke with the rear pivots placed in front of the rear axle. The seat stays continue the oversized theme as the chain stays are joined at the suspension linkage by a machined alloy bridge. Suspension duties are handled by a custom Cane Creek Double Barrel air shock which, when combined with Specialized the FSR suspension, provides 155 mm of rear wheel travel. The frame’s rear shock mount and linkage has been designed for a smooth in-line shock angle. All the pivots at the shock linkage, as well as the main pivot, use sealed bearings. Up front, the S-Works Enduro 29 relies on a RockShox Pike RCT3 29, Solo Air fork with 15-mm thru-axle, and 160 mm travel.
Despite its name, the Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 is more than a just an enduro racer. It is a true all-mountain machine made to perform in all terrain, just not going downhill. From pedaling efficiency to suspension performance, the bike tackled everything the trail offered.
In terms of durability and weight savings, Specialized equips the S-Works Enduro 29 with a collection of high-end enduro parts. For the drivetrain, Specialized taps SRAM’s XX1 components. The XX1 features an 11-speed rear cassette and derailleur joined to a single-ring setup in the front. Stopping duties are handled by Avid 4-piston X0 Trail World Cup brakes with a 200-mm rotor up front and 180 mm in the back. The rider’s compartment is made up of a Syntace F109 stem, Specialized All-Mountain low-rise bar, uni-directional carbon 720-mm handlebar, Specialized Command Post and Henge Expert saddle. Rounding out the S-Works Enduro 29 are Roval Traverse SL wheels, which feature carbon rims laced to CNC-machined hubs with DT Swiss internals. The new wheels are then wrapped in Specialized’s Butcher Control tire in the front and the Purgatory trail tire in the back.
Throwing a leg over our size medium S-Works Enduro 29, it felt like a much smaller travel, 26-inch-wheeled bike. The S-Works Enduro surprised us by climbing almost as effortlessly as it descends. By locking out on the RockShox Pike and the employing the Climb setting on the Cane Creek Double Barrel, the bike rolled smoothly up, over and around the steepest and most technical singletrack climbs. On smooth trails and fire road climbs, one quickly forgets they are on a long-travel 29-inch-wheeled machine. This is due to the combination of rider position, pedal efficiency and more than respectable weight of 27.4 pounds. Tackling rolling terrain, the Enduro pushes the rider to go faster with every pedal stroke.
Turn the fork and the rear shock into the fully open settings, and drop the Command Post to experience what the S-Works Enduro 29 can really do. The only word to describe descending on the bike is fast. That’s it. The suspension plays a big part, with the RockShox Pike providing a good balance with the FSR system. The overall feel was plush and controlled, and we rarely required all of the available travel. Rolling wide open into corners and letting the bike float, the Enduro is agile, easy to flick about, all the while remaining stable and predicable. It is so quick and nimble, it doesn’t feel like a 29er at all. This bike is simply a good time on two wheels.
This rider wants a bike that will go anywhere and do anything. That is not to say it won’t make for a great enduro racer, as it is an extremely fast machine. However, the S-Works Enduro 29 is more than a weekend racer. It is a machine to replace all others—except for maybe a cross-country hard tail. The person for the S-Works Enduro is the all-mountain rider that has the speed and skill to win races on the weekend.
There are eight models within Specialized’s Enduro line. Below the two S-Works editions there are three Expert versions, with the top Expert model featuring the same FACT IS-X 11m carbon front triangles joined to an M5 rear triangle as the S-Works, but with different components. Following behind the Expert models are two Comp versions, both featuring an M5 alloy frame. The Expert and Comp are still available in Evo versions with FOX DHX RC2 coil shocks that increase travel to 180 mm. The Enduro line is rounded out with a base model with an M5 aluminum frame. There are also 26- and 29-inch S-Works framesets available.
Wheels: Roval Traverse SL wheels
Other: SRAM XX1; Avid X0 Trail brakes; Syntace F109 stem; Specialized All-Mountain handlebar; Specialized Command Post; Henge saddle; Specialized Butcher Control and Purgatory Trail tires
Weight: 27.2 lbs. (without pedals)