First Impressions

2017 Specialized Enduro S-Works

Words Perry Schebel
Photos Dave Smith
Date Mar 2, 2017

I've been messing about with a couple aggressive, longer travel 29'ers recently - the Yeti 5.5c, and the bruiser Trek Slash; may as well continue the theme and hop on board Specialized's biggest wagon wheeler, the Enduro 29. As is typical with review bikes, Specialized shipped us the most skookum model of the lineup, the $8500 USD / $10500 CAD S-works. It’d be refreshing to launch with a price point model; alas, we dwell in the realm of exotica. Pete went into a bit of detail about this bike at the product launch this fall - to summarize the latest iteration, this follows the industry trend towards more slackness and length, albeit not radically so. It's the longest travel of the genre at 165mm rear, but others (such as the Trek Slash, Evil Wreckoning, and Norco Range) run a tick slacker. A feature that sets this apart from those other long travel wagon wheelers is the ability to fit plus size 650 tires in the same chassis, adding a bit of versatility. We’ll see if we can fit some fat tires at some point during the long term review.


Getting down with the monochromatic theme.

2017 Enduro Stats

Pretty standard stuff. The BB in 29’er mode is on the highish side by contemporary standards; perhaps a consequence of trying to keep the smaller effective diameter wheel plus wheel iteration out of the weeds.

Another feature that sets this bike apart from the current flock of production bikes is Specialized’s use of Ohlins suspension devices front and rear. I'm excited to see how these fare. Always good to see new players in the game - especially from such a prestigious name.

Also of note is the SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) program, wherein Specialized put a great deal of thought into integrating trailside repair hardware into the chassis. As a staunch minimalist that refuses to wear a pack, I love these details. From a chain tool and spare link tucked into the stem top cap,  to an included multitool hanging off the waterbottle cage,  to the smart downtube storage compartment that comes with a spare tube and tool wrap pouch, a heap of detail sweating went into this bike.

Enough jibber jabber; let’s look at pictures.

A side. Blacker than black. Stealth mode may be a bit played, but I can’t deny the refined good looks. There’s also a fluorescent yellow / orange option for the extroverts. I’m wondering if these gear shots provide motivation for Cam to keep his shop tidy, or if it’s always this organized.


Zooming in a bit. FSR 4 bar suspension layout and X-Wing frame provide a familiar silhouette.


XX1 carbon cranks sporting a wee 30T Eagle chainring. If it were summer I’d be asking for more teeth. Winter fitness me is currently ok with the granny. Said cranks spin on a threaded BB. Also included is a nice minimalist top guide.


I love this attention to detail - no cable rub here. Clean cable routing throughout, with everything internalized. 


The classic Horst link. Convenient service detail: every pivot bearing on the frame is the same size. The Guide RS brake runs a 180mm rotor on the rear.


The included side entry bottle cage comes with a mutitool clipped in below.  Flip the stealthy catch and the frame cover pops off, revealing…


The SWAT compartment (aka the burrito box) disgorging its contents. Brilliant. Opportunities for pranks abound.


Here’s the included tool wrap (to alleviate rattling) and spare tube that’s stuffed into the frame. Toss in a C02 cartridge and this bike is ready to race out of the box. Leave that fanny pack at home.


The Ohlins shock adding a bit of badassery. Blue knob is the low speed compression with 8 clicks of adjustment, the black lever is the high speed, offering just 3 clicks. The compression arrangement is a bit different than what we’re typically accustomed to - the high speed circuit (specifically the 3rd click) is designated as a platform climbing mode. The gold cap appears to be adjustable, alas, it’s a fixed piece.


Pretty bit of CNC work on the linkage. I love metal work that displays evidence of process.


A Specialized Henge Expert titanium railed saddle is perched on the 125mm travel Command Post IRcc. I hear the anguished cries for a longer drop even as I type this. Are those carbon rotors on the peg board?


Moving forward now. The Syntace stem is a slightly lengthy 60mm. What lurks inside the wasted space within the steer tube?


An ingenious chain tool (with a spare link tucked under the cap). I’ll give it a try to verify functionality. Lurking in the shadows is a 31.8mm diameter, 27mm rise, 780mm wide Specialized S-Works DH carbon bar.


The Guide RS Carbon stoppers sport adjustable reach carbon levers, but not the pad contact point tweakability of the top tier Ultimates. Will have to see if I miss this feature. An XX1 shifter is tucked underneath.


The Command Post dropper remote is decently ergonomic with loads of positioning adjustability. The single clamp house brand grips sport a classic knurled / half waffle pattern. Neat detail - the L & XL frames come with big mitt friendly larger diameter grips than the smaller frame sizes.


The 160mm travel Ohlins RXF 36 is a serious looking device. The air side we’re looking at here is neat - containing 3 air chambers: the positive & negative (self balanced) air springs fed from the top, and a ramp up chamber filled via a valve on the bottom of the leg. This allows you to tune air spring progression with just a shock pump - no need for internal volume spacers. Damper configuration is similar to the shock - with a pedal platform at the end of the high speed compression selection (in this case with 6 clicks). Low speed compression and rebound adjusters each sport a rangey 26 clicks of adjustment.


Specialized’s slasher flick inspired rubber is employed here. Butcher 2.3 front and the fast rolling semi-knob Slaughter 2.3 rear - both with burly Grid casings. I’ve used them previously and like them both, though I’d typically hold off on using a semi until the summer season. I’ll give it a go in the slop for drifts and giggles. Check out the carbon weave of the 30mm internal width Roval rim. I drool.


Boosted front hub is secured with a pinch bolt affixed axle. No tool free removal for you. Fortunately the bike comes with the attached multitool. Front rotor is a proper 200mm. The Roval wheel is decidedly minimalist in the spoke department - 24 straight pull spokes with radial lacing non disc side.


The oft neglected B-side: let’s give it some love. The bike as tested - with my XT trail pedals and an emptied SWAT compartment - is a svelte 30.0 lbs on my scale.


Quite at home in the tight tech of our back yard.

Now that the rains have mercifully rinsed away the snowpack from our lower elevation trails, I’ve been able to get out for a handful of rips on this stealthy stallion. Initial thoughts? Easiest to describe it in terms of where it sits compared to the previous bikes of similar genre I’ve tried - the precision charger Yeti and the chunk crusher Trek - the Enduro is nestled right in the middle of the two. Big travel + moderate head angle and wheelbase = a bike that balances big hit capability with relative nimbleness, resulting in a fairly versatile machine. I still need to do a bit of fettling with the Ohlins dampers to home in on the bike’s sweet spot, but I’m beginning to get things settled, and the bike is starting to click in the process. I’ll get some proper time on board and follow up with a detailed long term review.

For more hit up Specialized.com/enduro

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whatyouthink  - March 3, 2017, 6:34 a.m.

I am saying this every where i see an ohlins fork now. you guys teased that a coil 170 mm exists in the curtis keene testing videos (on vital). goddammit i want it


+4 whatyouthink mike Andrew Major Arama
CoilAir  - March 3, 2017, 9:31 a.m.

As beautiful as this bike is, and it is beautiful: fuck everything about internally routed hydraulic brakes.


+1 CoilAir
Cam McRae  - March 3, 2017, 10:51 a.m.

I agree with the sentiment but there have been few occasions where this has been a problem for me. Obviously when it happens - and you need to do a brake swap quickly but can't - it sucks hard.


+1 norman
CoilAir  - March 7, 2017, 10:39 a.m.

Yeah, I'm just speaking from a shop perspective freshly off having to remove and reroute two sets of internally routed brakes. haha. It's definitely not too much of a worry for every day use.


+1 Cam McRae
JT  - March 3, 2017, 12:52 p.m.

Random. All these companies are coming out with + compatible 29ers but yet I haven't seen anyone roll one with a 29 up front and a 27.5+ out back. I'd think the 29 front would hold a line better without the + size tire wallow while still taking advantage of the rear +'s traction. Bit of a Frankenbike for sure, but I could see it being a blast.


Deltap60  - March 3, 2017, 1:27 p.m.

I am running my Enduro with 27.5+ wheels and 3" Spez Purgatory tires that I took off my hardtail 27.5+ bike until I can get the 29er wheelset built. I will definitely be trying it with the + rear and 29er front. A bit surprised I haven't seen any reviews of these bikes that can run either + or 29er with the mixed configuration.


+1 Cam McRae
Andy Eunson  - March 5, 2017, 3:48 p.m.

And carbon rotors belong on a peg board as a conversation piece. Conversation coloured with swearing.


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