Specialized was the first bike company to use the moniker ‘enduro’ some 14 years ago, and has been consistently pushing the envelope for long-travel trail/all-mountain machines ever since then. The Enduro line of mountain bikes from Specialized has seen some of the most radical and unique frame shapes brought to life, and we’ve always been intrigued by both the shape and geometry of this race pedigree.
The Enduro 29er is one of the most sought after bikes in Specialized’s MTB lineup. Made for riders who are looking for the ultimate fun and speed on tight, technical and challenging terrain, it promises a lightweight feel with a geometry and suspension design that’s capable of handling steep lines, plenty of chatter and just about anything else. There’s currently eight models in the Enduro lineup which includes both 27.5″ and 29″ variants, which is available in carbon or aluminum frames. They’re renowned for being able to tackle pretty much anything from XC to DH, and the model reviewed in this article was even raced on a World Cup DH round by Mitch Ropelato in South Africa.
About the bike
- The Frame : FACT IS-X 11m carbon front triangle, 29″ geometry, FACT IS construction, M5 rear triangle, tapered headtube, PF30 BB, ISCG ’05 mounts, internal Command Post IR routing, 142+ dropouts, full cartridge bearing pivots, replaceable derailleur hanger, 155mm travel
- Rear Shock : Custom Cane Creek Double Barrel Air, high/low speed comp and reb adj., climb switch, 215.9mm x 57.2mm
- Front Forks : RockShox Pike RCT3 29, Solo Air spring, tapered alloy steerer, comp, lockout, reb, and threshold adj., 15mm thru-axle, 160mm travel
- Headset : 1-1/8 and 1-1/2″ threadless, Campy style upper with 1-1/2″ lower, cartridge bearings
- Stem : Syntace F109, 6-degree rise, 31.8mm clamp
- Handlebars : Specialized XC Mini-Riser, 7050 alloy, 750mm wide, 10mm rise, 8-backsweep, 6-upsweep, 31.8mm
- Grips : Specialized Sip Grip, light lock-on, half-waffle aramid-infused, M: regular, Others: XL
- Front Brake : Custom Avid X0 Trail, 4-piston caliper, steel backed metallic pad, 200mm rotor
- Rear Brake : Custom Avid X0 Trail, 4-piston caliper, steel backed metallic pad, 180mm rotor
- Brake Levers : Custom Avid X0, hydraulic disc, carbon blade w/ bearing, tool-less reach adj. w/ MatchMaker clamp
- Rear Derailleur : SRAM XX1 Type 2, 11-speed, mid cage
- Shift Levers : SRAM XX1, 11-speed, carbon/aluminum trigger, w/ MatchMaker clamp
- Cassette : SRAM XX1, 11-speed, 10-42
- Chain : SRAM XX1, 11-speed, hollow plates/pins, PowerLink
- Crankset : SRAM XX1, carbon arms, custom SRAM XX1 style ring, PF30 spindle, 175mm with 32T Chainring
- Wheelset : Roval Traverse SL 29, carbon disc, hookless bead, 22mm internal width, 32h with 15mm thru-axle (front) 142+, DT Swiss Star Ratchet, XX1 driver body, 12mm thru-axle (rear)
- Front Tyre : Specialized Butcher Control, 2Bliss Ready, 29×2.3″, foldable aramid bead, dual-compound, 60TPI
- Rear Tyre : Specialized Purgatory Control, 2Bliss Ready, 29×2.3″, foldable aramid bead, dual-compound, 60 TPI
- Saddle : Body Geometry Henge Expert, Ti rails, 143mm
- Seatpost : Specialized Command Post IR, 3-position, internally routed adjustable height w/ air spring, remote operated, single bolt head, 30.9mm, S:100mm, Others: 125mm travel
The SWORKS version of the Enduro 29er is made from Specialized’s FACT IS carbon fiber for the front triangle, which is then mated to an aluminum rear triangle. The frame also ticks off a couple of our preferences including a stout tapered head tube, ISCG 05 chain guide tabs and the ability to chuck in a full sized water bottle. The bike comes specced with the ultimate goods from Sram which has contributed with it’s lightweight feel. Shown above is the Sram XX1 carbon crankset with a 32T chainring. We’ve ridden the 11 speed Sram drivetrains before and it proves sufficient for all the trails here in Singapore.
The complete XX1 drivetrain is very impressive in terms of looks and performance. The XX1 are currently the cream of the crop for both weight and crisp accurate shifting from Sram. The huge cassette range provides an 11 speed transmission from 10T right up to 42T, which we feel is perfect for the climbs around BT and Pulau Ubin.
Clean lines adorned the carbon frame with all of the cables routed on the underneath of the bottom tube, giving the rest of the frame a really sorted look. And underneath the X-wing top tube, a 155mm travel Cane Creek Double Barrel provides all the rear suspension work, keeping the bike nimble but stable on rough terrain. There’s been alot of talk on the internet about how difficult it can be to tune the shock, and we’ve prepared ourselves with handy tuning tips from The Lounge.
430mm. That’s how short and awesome those rear chainstays are. Why is short better? For one, it makes the rear wheel closer to it’s COG, which makes it easier to pull up your front wheel to clear trail obstacles, and seated climbing feels alot better and easier when compared to longer chainstays.
Front suspension duties goes to the 160mm RockShox Pike Solo air forks. These forks are phenomenal and I’ve been using them on my other bike for the past year and it’s been nothing but amazing. I’m very familiar with the pikes so setting these up to what I like was a non-issue.
The E29’s cockpit is a clean assemble of Syntace’s 50mm stem, Specialized’s own 740mm bars and grips, and the Sram XO trail carbon brakesets. The left side features a thumb actuator for the Command Post, which gives you 3 preset heights. We’ve been using Rockshox’s Reverb dropper post which provides infinite height within the 120mm shaft, and we’ve never tried the Command Post before so this should be interesting.
The Roval Traverse SL carbon wheels is a 1,640-gram 29er wheelset with an internal width of 22 millimeters and DT Swiss spokes and nipples. The Roval wheels are seriously impressive with its stiff lightweight feel, stealthy carbon layup and crisp solid engagement. The wheels come tubeless from the factory and all we had to do was to pump it up in our preferred pressure. A quick spin of the wheels on our work stand and we found that these carbon hoops continue to spin smoothly for quite a while.
The saddle is Specialized’s own Henge with hollow Ti rails and while saddles can be a personal choice, we’ve had no issues of hot spots or numbing so far. The shape of the saddle features a centre relief channel and the nose felt comfortable for perching your glutes on steep climbs.
First off, the bike looks stunning. Viewing it from the side shows how balanced the bike is and it looks just right. We tested a Medium sized frame for this review and the cockpit feels just nice. The effective top tube measures about 594mm and it feels perfect for my height of 179cm.The handlebars felt a little too narrow at 740mm and we would have preferred a 780mm instead, but I guess this boils down to preference and Specialized has decided to go with the most versatile width. Swapping out handlebars is a simple job that you can do on your own and it would be the perfect reason to go full carbon on your cockpit.
And the best surprise to me was the weight. This thing weighs about 12.2kg without pedals. A freaking long travel 29er at only 12.2kg. Swap out the handlebars and stem for something in carbon and you’ll end up with a very burly machine that’s less than 12kg.
The S-Works logo isn’t just pasted to any bike. These are the ultimate top-shelf bikes from Specialized. Every single component on this bike is a dream and that is what the SWORKS is about. Built with the most top end components, this model is the highest end bike in the Enduro range.
The FSR suspension design on the Enduro 29er is a tried and proven design that exists on all of Specialized’s full suspension bikes from full blown world cup DH bikes and on their ultra-light XC race machines.. FSR stands for “Future Shock Rear” and it has evolved over time since the 90’s. The current FSR design has seen various improvements over time and we’re curious to find out how it feels on a 29er.
The Enduro 29er is only available in 3 sizes which is M, L and XL, and Small sizes are only offered in the 26 and 27.5″ versions.
Riding in and around Singapore’s network of trails requires you to climb before you can descend, and some of the switchback climbs around Bukit Timah can be a little too tight for most conventional 29ers. Setting up for your tight turns on some 29ers can cause “WHADDAF*%$ISTHISSH*T” nightmares which we’d rather not talk about.
But not this bike.
The SWORKS enduro eats tight switchbacks for breakfast, and it was so much fun. I’ve never been a smile-while-climbing kind of person but on this occasion, I had a huge-grin-while-climbing episode. Really, I’ve never enjoyed climbing ever, and some of my riding buddies can often hear me swear like a angry ah-long (btw, stay away from ah-longs) during all those years of climbing. But not today. I swear that I could hear the birds singing and the squirrels
fornicating gettin’ jiggy wit it while I skittle my way effortlessly up. It was bliss. Total bliss.
And the speed it carries, oh my… walauehhh… I can’t remember the last time I’ve overshot a corner during a descend and I found myself constantly checking my entry speed before every downhill turn. It was both exhilarating and scary fast that I had to constantly remind myself that I’m riding bigger wheels. Once I got used to the rolling trajectory, it felt like an old DH bike that I used to love, only lighter, and so much better. The slack geometry and agile feel of the Enduro 29er makes it a very versatile and capable DH rig. Everything from aggressive, rocky terrain to narrow rutty singletrack was easily rolled over without any issue.
And as expected, all of the components on the E29 performed flawlessly. The suspension was smooth and controlled, shifting was precise and snappy, the wheels were stiff and spun effortlessly, and the carbon frame didn’t show any sign of lateral flex from it’s chunky BB area.
Honestly, I’ve never thought that a 29er can give so much. The main reason I’m over the moon about the Enduro 29er is because it handles so well exactly where you don’t expect it to. It’s like you’re expecting it to wash out during a fast tight turn and it goes “Surprise!“, and you clear that turn with zero drama.
So what do we think?
The bike reviewed in this article is a 2014 model and the subtle differences between this and the current year model is the the rear shock, the brakes and the crankset. The 2015 model uses a Cane Creek DB Inline rear shock, Sram Guide brakes and the S-Works FACT carbon crankset. There isn’t much that we would miss between the 2014 and 2015 models except for one thing. The 2015 rims looks slightly better on paper, and it’s specced with the carbon Roval Traverse SL Fattie 29 with 30mm inner width, as compared with 22mm width on the 2014 wheels.
“Obviously, we’ve got no complaints on a bike of this pedigree and price tag. When it comes to spending over $12,000 on a bike, it should come as no surprise but to just work and perform, and the Specialized SWORKS Enduro 29er has done just that.”
It’s an amazing bike to say the least and if you’re not looking to spend as much, there’s 8 other models to choose from and we’re quite certain you’ll find an Enduro 29er that would suit your budget and riding style.