2018 Specialized Enduro dream build

Stealth shred sled optimized for big, fast descents

27.5 Enduro
2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

Stout custom wheel build featuring Onyx hubs, Derby carbon rims, double butted spokes and brass nipples. The Onyx hubs provide instant engagement and total silence.

Wheels & Tires: Derby Carbon hoops, Onyx hubs, Maxxis/Specialized Tires

Reasoning: The goal was bulletproof reliability. Over the past few years, I’ve had three pairs of Derby carbon hoops, ridden them very hard and never had any issues. The DH layup was selected with 34.5mm internal width. The width offers a nice balance between stability, grip and an acceptable amount of squirm when paired with a 2.4-2.5” tubeless tire setup. This was my first experience with Onyx hubs, and they are amazing. Instant engagement, total silence, and super low resistance when coasting. For tires, I love my Minions – 2.5” DHF up front. In the rear, I swap between a few tires – DHF or DHRII 2.4” when the terrain is chunky or wet, Aggressor when I expect to do some technical pedaling for some traction while rolling reasonably fast, and a Specialized Slaughter 2.3 in the dry, which rolls ridiculously fast, has nice big side lugs to catch you. The only knock is it just tends to peel out and slip when pedaling up steep bits.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

The Derby rims have held up nicely after tossing many rocks and their width offers incredible traction and stability. 2.5” Maxxis DHF up front, 2.4” DHRII in the rear, changing to a 2.3” Slaughter when the trails dry out, sealed with Orange Seal.

Suspension: FOX 36 Float RC2, FOX X2

Reasoning: The 36 handles its 170mm of travel with minimal flex and has the RC2 damper, providing a wide range of adjustability (H/LSC, LSR). I selected standard (that’s a funny term) hub width, using the larger 110mm x 20mm axle. The 36’s air spring allows tuning the spring curve, helping to balance small bump compliance with firm end-stroke support. The X2 offers even more damping adjustability (HSC/R, LSC/R) and has enough ramp-up via volume spacers to merge well with this frame’s kinematics. The climb switch also helps neutralize the pedal bob on long grinds.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

FOX 36 Factory RC2 170mm fork soaks up the bumps.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

FOX Float X2 with climb switch provides a buttery ride while firming up the compression for long climbs.

Dropper and Saddle: KS LEV IR, 175mm, Specialized Henge 155mm

Reasoning: Over the years I’ve ridden over a half dozen droppers and have had the best experiences with KS and like its smooth, damped action (that doesn’t smack ya!). Yes, I’ve had one KS fail, but the entire cartridge is quite simple to replace. Also, if you haven’t tried 175mm, don’t do it unless you want to buy a new post. With a 33” inseam, I cannot go back to even 150mm. The saddle is something I always have to swap out due to wider sit bones, and it’s nice to see more companies offering saddle width options. A Specialized Henge in 155mm was selected due to its long nose, to allow for a more forward position while climbing.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

KS LEV IR offers 175mm of drop.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

The KS LEV IR has proven reliable with silky smooth action.

Drivetrain, backside: Shimano XT Derailleur, E13 TRSr Cassette

Reasoning: This was mostly personal preference on the derailleur, though I’ve had much better luck with the Shimano clutch than SRAM. However, I do miss that genius lock button that SRAM derailleurs have. The XT derailleur is robust, holds up well and is quite inexpensive in case a rock gets hungry. For cassettes selection, the starting point was an XD driver. I was initially skeptical about them due to the short engagement tabs between hub and cassette, but it’s held up very well and the weight savings are awesome. For that driver body, I’ve swapped between SRAM 10-42 and E13 9-46 on this bike, landing on the E13. The range is quite pleasing, shifting performance isn’t quite as smooth as with the SRAM cassette but shifts are executed each time.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

Shimano XT derailleur was selected for shifting duties. It has proven very reliable, it’s clutch works great and if a rock shears it off, is very affordable.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

An E13 TRSr cassette provides 513% range and uses an XD driver body for reduced weight.

Drivetrain, frontside: Race Face SIXC Cranks, AbsoluteBlack Oval Ring, KMC X11SL Ti Nitride, MRP AMg, VP Harrier pedals

Reasoning: The Race Face SIXC cranks handle my 200 lb weight with zero qualms and have done well on my other bikes, are relatively light and have proven durable. With the low bottom bracket height, 170mm cranks were selected. When moving from 175mm, spinning feels a tad funny at first, but you forget about it quickly. Their 30mm spindle passes through a Real World Cycling BSA 30 threaded bottom bracket, with angular contact stainless bearings.

AbsoluteBlack oval rings are on most of my bikes and the added inertia they provide when getting into the power portion of the stroke is like a running start at a hill. They are cinch compatible and offer multiple ring offsets to get a proper chainline, plus have excellent longevity. A KMC X11SL chain links the drivetrain together, is quite stout at reasonable weight and looks pretty dang cool. An MRP AMg holds the chain on for the rare occasions it tries to step off and offers a bit of protection for the ring. These VP Harriers have been performed well on many bikes for me, support a large foot very well and are fairly thin. When the bushings wear, rebuild is a simple process.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

Race Face SIXC 170mm cranks hold an AbsoluteBlack 30t Oval Ring, with an MRP AMg to keep it safe and ensure the chain stays put.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

KMC chains have proven themselves to last and hold together.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

The threaded bottom bracket is glorious – Real World Cycling BSA 30 with angular contact stainless bearings let things spin smoothly.

Cockpit: Shimano XTR Shifter, Renthal Carbon Fatbar 35 bars, Apex 35 stem, Sensus Disisdaboss grips, KS Southpaw dropper lever

Reasoning: The Shimano XTR shifter was selected over XT for its precision internals. Renthal’s handlebars have held up quite well and have the angles I like, keeping them at their full 800mm width lines things up well with my shoulders. The Renthal Apex 33mm long stem is perfect for my riding style. After trying Sensus grips, you’ll wonder why you’ve used anything else. For riding with gloves, the Disisdaboss has just the right amount of grip and the double lock eliminates housing flex. For riding without gloves, the Swayze offers a tad more grip. Concluding the setup is the KS Southpaw dropper lever, placing the lever below the bars and having a reasonably light feel.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

Shimano XTR shifter with my favorite grips – Sensus Disisdaboss.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

Renthal Fatbar 35 carbon bar with Rental Apex 35 33mm stem.

2018 Specialized Enduro 650b Dream Build

KS Southpaw underbar lever provides easy dropper actuation.

Suggestions or questions about my build? What would you have done differently?


About the author: John Bennett

With 210 lbs of solid, descending mass, John is a good litmus test of what bikes and components will survive out there in the real world. And with a good engineering mind, John is able to make sense of it all as well. Or at least come up with fancy terms to impress the group.


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  • Sean Duckworth says:

    Any impressions on how the Enduro rides with the Fox suspension, possibly in contrast to the Ohlins setup the factory builds come with?

    • jb says:

      Hi Sean – this originally had the Ohlins rear, which I rode for a while – but I’ve not ridden it with their fork. My issues were blowing through all of the travel with the STX22, wanting a bit more ramp-up, even at max air pressure. It was a choice of small bump versus not bottoming out vs. The X2 offers increased tunability, so covers a wider range of riding styles and rider weights, plus lets you increase the spring rate for deep travel via the volume reducers. My stock stx22 cavitated (air in the damper) within about 10 hours, which they did cover under warranty, but I swapped it out at that point. Also, I definitely like having the climb switch on this bike. I’ve heard of a few people having Ohlins tweak their stx22’s at the factory to get some more ramp-up (basically, reduce the air volume a bit to increase the spring rate for deeper travel). Unsure about any revalving possibilities though. Cheers!

      • Sean Duckworth says:

        Thanks for the response JB. That’s actually almost exactly what I was worried by with the STX22. I have an X2 on my current bike and love it, especially with how tune-able it is, especially being over 200 lbs my self. Looks like I know what to stick with. Much appreciated.

  • Justin says:

    210 lbs is not that heavy

    • jb says:

      Haha – true, yet it is heavy relative to many designers and pro riders, the ones creating the tunes and doing the development & testing.

  • tony says:

    Awesome build! I would only consider changing the dropper to a Bikeyoke Revive at 185mm drop. But only for reliability. The Revive I’m running now has been flawless, and any air that mixes with oil gets fixed by doing a Reset, which takes about 5 seconds..

    I did not know that you could change the KS dropper’s cartridge.

    • jb says:

      Thanks Tony. I’ve not tried the Revive myself but know others that have and they all recommend them. My only concern is I store the bike vertically to keep the wipers lubricated, so the dropper would be inverted and read that could require frequent bleeds. That said, I cannot speak from personal experience.

      On the KS cartridge – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4Y_pnisXfc
      Online prices are between 70 and 90.

  • LB says:

    Nice build and write up JB! I was thinking a lot of the same things you were thinking during my HTLT PUSH custom build up. Grip, reliability, stopping power due to 205 to 210lbs without gear, and fun factor!

    I went with my Thomson dropper and Wolftooth lever, but it’s only a 125mm…I could definitely used a 150mm though…but why 175mm? Seems like a lot of post! LOL

    And then on the bars…I’ve never tried 35mm bars…still on 31.8 enve dhr’s. What’s the hype on the 35mm?

    I debated long and hard on tires but just couldn’t pull the trigger on the maxxis…ended up with e13’s new single-ply setup and the DH LG-1 for a spare.

    At 210lbs did you consider a coil setup front and rear, or was the added weight not worth it to you?

  • LB says:

    P.S. great choice of BB and wheels too!

  • Vincent Edson says:

    JB,
    Curious as to why you run a 170mm crankset. Is it only to prevent rockstrikes? We are similar heights, and even my 175s feel a bit short sometimes ( think circus clown on mini trike). Infact, Ive been tempted to try some 180s just so I can put down some more power down on those pedally enduro segments.
    BTW, great seeing your contributions on MTBR!

  • Benny says:

    John,
    Are you able to slam your seat post all the way into the seat tube or is your post too long? I ride a 2017 Large Sworks Enduro and would love to run a longer post.

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