Specialized S-Works Enduro 29er
Coming off my good fortune at the Pivot tent I thought I’d try my luck at Specialized as the line looked short when I passed by. Unfortunately the paddock looked pretty bare as well so I didn’t expect to find what I wanted. Luck continued to shine on me as the nice lady told me someone had just turned in an Enduro 29er in size large. What made it even better was that it was a top-of-the-line full carbon S-Works version in stark black and white tuxedo attire. Not only that but it had the 160 Pike fork I’d wanted to try all show and the new Cane Creek DBAir CS shock to boot. Nice.
Of all the “Wow” moments I had pedaling these multi-thousand dollar bikes up out of the Expo area the one I had on the Enduro was the most impressive. I just never imagined a 6” 29er AM rig could feel this light (crazy light), efficient and easy to pedal (possibly at the expense of descending plushness?? More on that later). Wheelies were effortless, owing, I suppose, to the short chainstays and tall stack. From everything I’d read and from what I was feeling as I climbed up to the shuttle my expectations for this bike were off the chart.
I again caught the shuttle just as it was loading so took it up to the top of the hill. I decided to have another go at the very rough, technical, scary in spots, Skyline to East Leg trail that so flummoxed the SB75. Now we’ll see what the right tool for the job can do, I thought.
Within 30 feet of the start I could tell the technician had put too much air in the fork and shock as I was almost bucked off the trail on every rock. So I stopped and let out 5lbs from the front and rear shocks hoping this would give me the transcendent plushness I was expecting. This was a bit better and I was able to maintain control of the beast, but it still felt harsh. I stopped two more times and lowered the pressure front and rear. It eventually got a little better and I was getting closer to the full travel on bigger hits but it just didn’t feel that great. I wanted to adjust the compression and rebound settings some but with time and tool constraints I didn’t delve into the CCDB complexity. I did fiddle some with the settings on the fork and by time I got to the bottom it was starting to feel decent but neither end was the Praise the Lord and hallelujah marvels I was expecting. With these top end shocks, huge wheels, and refined FSR linkage, the big Enduro should have flattened that descent. It didn’t. In fact it worked me pretty good. I’m wondering if Specialized has refined their FSR linkage so much over the years to increase the climbing efficiency that they’ve lost some of what makes the FSR so good to begin with: staying plush and active over rough stretches while bombing or braking. Or maybe it was just a shock/fork adjustment/set up issue.
The good side is the super light weight, easy manualing up onto ledges, and stellar climbing. It was fairly nimble too….. shockingly nimble, in fact, for a long travel 29er but not in the same territory as the Mach 6 and 5010 obviously. I was aware of the big wheels trying to thread it through some of the tight turns and boulders but it wasn’t a huge hinderance.
All told, there were some pretty impressive things about this bike but I came away disappointed in the one aspect that should be its ruling strength.
Every year I forget to get pictures of at least one bike. This year it was the Enduro. Here’s a few google images I lifted to fill in. Sorry.
This one was borrowed for twentynineinches.com The one I rode was set up just like this.
Aaron Gwin’s race bike. I’m sure he’s got his suspension sorted. :0)
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