When Curtis Keene stopped by our offices with his
S-Works Enduro for our “Inside the Pros’ Bikes”
segment in our January 2013 issue, we were completely enamored with the bike. As one of the fastest riders
on the enduro scene, Curtis deserves to be taken at his word
when he says it’s one of the fastest bikes he’s ever been on.
It sure looked like it...just sitting in our photo studio. This
month we finally had the chance to get it dirty.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
Despite the name, this bike isn’t built for enduro racers
only, and even though Specialized’s website lists it under the
“Gravity” tab, it doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into that
narrow category, either. The “Enduro” name signifies that it can endure any type of riding, but it is light enough that it
could be pressed into everyday trail riding or used for downhill racing by a skilled pilot.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Enduro sports a full-carbon front triangle and a
welded aluminum rear triangle. The frame boasts 6.5 inches
of travel, using Specialized’s patented FSR suspension design
controlled by a custom Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock.
The frame also uses a PressFit 30 bottom bracket with ISCG
tabs, a tapered head tube and a 12x142-millimeter rear axle.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
All of them. The S-Works version of the Enduro represents a no-holds-barred approach to building a bike. SRAM’s
XX1 drivetrain is perfect for enduro riding, with razor-sharp
shifts and best-in-class chain management, and the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock features a wide range of
adjustability that will adapt to any rider weight and riding
style with ease.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: Specialized took all the guesswork out of
setting suspension earlier this year with Autosag, and the
Cane Creek shock comes with the compression and rebound
knobs set to the recommended starting positions right out
of the box. Simply set the sag to 30–35 percent and you’re
ready to ride. But, don’t forget that the Enduro
isn’t really a set-it-and-forget-it kind of bike; it’s
more adjustable so that you can set it up for different types of riding.
Pedaling: The FSR suspension design has a very
open feel that helps with small-bump compliance,
but it left us longing for a little more resistance to
bobbing under hard pedaling. Fortunately, Cane
Creek has custom-designed a small machined
lever just for Specialized bikes that
mounts to the low-speed
on the shock. Just flip
the lever and the
shock firms up.
is a long-travel
bike, no question about it;
riding isn’t just
a gravity sport,
and this bike rises
to the challenge on
the climbs. The low
overall weight of the
bike helps, but what really
makes it float up hills is the
low rotational weight. The carbon hoops are mated to very
lightweight, albeit high-volume, tires, which means the bike
feels even lighter than the 27.8 pounds the scale says. This
bike is proof that 26ers aren’t dead yet, because it accelerates like a scalded cat.
Descending: This bike likes to go fast. It’s not a full-on
gravity bike, but we found ourselves slashing corners on our
steepest test tracks, which we normally reserve for gravity
bikes. The Enduro’s stable handling is made possible by the
sub-67-degree head angle. And while the 13.8-inch bottom
bracket might seem high on paper, it doesn’t need to be any
lower. The center of gravity on this bike feels remarkably
low as it is. This bike has enough suspension travel to plow
through rough sections and is nimble enough to pick lines
like a surgeon with a scalpel. Whether you’re the “ride fast
and apologize later” type or the “choose a precise line” type,
the Enduro will make you ride better.
Cornering: Let us reiterate that 26-inch wheels aren’t dead
yet. This bike rails high-speed corners with stability and has
the short wheelbase and snappy chainstays to make it through
the tightest of switchbacks. On low-speed, technical corners,
the front end is a bit of a handful, thanks to the slack head
angle, but this is the only situation in which we turn to the
Fox fork’s TALAS feature to lower the front end to keep it
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
A dropper post is mandatory on a bike like this, and
the Specialized Blacklight post works just fine; however,
the cable attaches to the head of the post, so the cable
bows out when it’s in the low setting. On a bike in this
price range, we would much prefer to see the hose or
cable routed through the seat tube with a RockShox
Reverb Stealth or KS LEV Integra post.
The Avid X0 World Cup brakes provided plenty of
stopping power, but delivered a very inconsistent feel
at the lever. In fact, when the brakes heated up on
long descents, we didn’t know if the lever was going to
respond like a hair trigger or need to be pulled almost to
the bar. While the rest of SRAM’s components deliver
top-notch performance, this brake design needs to go back
to the drawing board.
The Specialized carbon handlebar works well on the
smaller-sized Enduros, but taller and more aggressive riders will prefer something wider than the 28-inch stocker.
We swapped it for Renthal’s 30.5-inch-wide Fatbar for
the latter portion of our test and never looked back.
Ferris Bueller once said about a Ferrari, “If you have
the means, I highly suggest picking one up.” That’s how
we feel about the S-Works Enduro. It’s a great bike that
will make you a better rider. It’s capable of hitting every
trail, from smooth cross-country tracks to rock-strewn
downhill chutes. While it’s intended for enduro riding
and racing, we’re convinced that it will be a quiver-killer
for most riders, because the Specialized S-Works Enduro
will be the bike they will want to ride every day.
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