Compare-O Bottom Line: Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 is the king of descent and more

29er Enduro Enduro Compare-O 2014

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Component woes

Unfortunately our test bike was beset with minor component and adjustment issues that detracted from an otherwise stellar ride. The three-stage compression dial on the Pike kept coming loose every time we touched it, and eventually just started clanging.

The Specialized Command Post IR dropper post was not properly adjusted and kept slipping during crucial climbing sections. Because it was internally routed, having to pull it and adjust the cable was a time-consuming annoyance.

The XX1 shifter was positioned outboard of the rear brake lever, putting it too close to the grip and making for inadvertent shifts when banging downhill.

Although we eventually fixed all the minor issues, it was a bummer for a few riders who rode the bike before it was dialed in.

Though the performance of the RockShox Pike was stellar on other bikes, the one on the Enduro 29 had some issues. Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Send in the SWAT team

The Enduro 29er comes equipped with what Specialized calls the SWAT—Storage, Water, Air, Tools—system. While we thought them a bit gimmicky at first, these lightweight, integrated emergency tools—a handy multi-tool beneath the bottle cage, and a chain tool integrated into the stem cap—could be ride savers, particularly if you’re going sans pack, which the inclusion of a truly usable downtube-mounted water bottle cage allows.

Who is This Bike For?

As spec’d—and priced—the S-Works Enduro 29 is like the Ferrari of enduro racing. It’s made for riders who race competitively, push the limits of sanity, and need to have the best equipment to compete. If not for actual racing, the S-Works edition of this model is probably overkill unless you’re a money-is-no-object Strava hunter.

What’s in a a name? In this case—everything. Photo by Tyler Frasca.

The Final Word

The S-Works Enduro 29 offers astonishing speed and stability downhill, handles in corners like a 26er, is incredibly light, impressively capability uphill and in one rider’s opinion “is the best downhill bike in the test by a mile.”

In addition to downhill kudos, the Enduro 29 earned some of the highest overall praise of any bike in the Enduro Compare-O. With all the hyperbolic arguments about wheel size, the Enduro 29 is rolling proof that a well-designed bike can work optimally regardless of wheel diameter.

Yes, this bike is an absolute standout performer, but for many people, our $9,250 test bike is just not practical. Thankfully there are less expensive Enduro 29 models—the Expert Comp 29 and Comp 29 listed below—that can get you much of the same performance without completely detonating your savings account.

The Good
  • Supreme descending capability
  • Climbs well
  • Nimble like a 26-inch bike
  • Outstanding high-speed stability
  • Great componentry
The Bad
  • Extreme price point
  • Tall front end
Price and trickle down versions:

S-Works Enduro 29: $9,250 as tested
Enduro Expert Carbon 29 – $6,600
Enduro Comp 29 – $3,500

Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 Specs
  • MRSP: $9,250 US
  • Frame MSRP: $4,000 US
  • Weight: 27.31 pounds (size large)
  • Wheel size: 29 inches
  • Sizes: M, L, XL
  • Color: Matte Black/White
  • Frame Material: FACT 11m carbon front triangle, M5 aluminum rear
  • Fork: Rock Shox Pike RCT3 160mm
  • Rear Travel: 155mm
  • Rear Shock: Cane Creek Double Barrel Air
  • Headset: 1-1/8” to 1-1/2” threadless
  • Handlebar: Specialized XC Mini-Riser, 750mm
  • Stem: Syntace F109
  • Seatpost: Specialized Command Post IR (Internally Routed)
  • Brakes: SRAM XO Trail, 200mm front, 180mm rear
  • Shifters: SRAM XX1
  • Front Derailleur: N/A
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM XX1
  • Cassette: SRAM XX1 10-42 – 11 speed
  • Crankset: SRAM XX1, 32t
  • Wheels: Specialized Roval Traverse SL, DT Swiss Star Ratchet hub internals
  • Tires: Specialized Butcher Control 2.3”, 2Bliss Ready Front, Specialized Purgatory Control 2.3” 2Bliss Ready rear
  • Bottom bracket type: PressFit 30
  • ISCG Tabs: Yes
  • Chainguide: No
  • Head tube angle: 67.5 degrees
  • Seat tube angle: 75 degrees
  • Chainstay length: 16.9 inches
  • Bottom bracket height: 13.8 inches

For more information visit

This story is part of Mtbr’s 2014 Enduro Compare-O. Check out our intro story here for all the ground rules and goings ons.

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.

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  • DaveG says:

    “A new lockout feature on the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air CS shock…”

    It’s not a lockout.

  • stuart English says:

    I built one recently and am on my first week or two riding trip of the year. I came to Tuscon to start and after 3 days of riding 5 different trails in the area I csn say it works great in this rocky terrain. There are no huge climbs but many that are rocky and ledgy and I don’t notice any wallowing or squatting as you tackle the climb. On the downhills its just amazing how it stays so composed.

  • mr.habanero says:

    The 29er all other 29ers wish they were.

  • Sean says:

    Is nobody going to comment of the chrome short-shorts, tank top, and helmet?

    • TJ says:

      Sean – I’m pretty sure that is just a standard issue kit that comes with all Specialized 29ers now – this explains a significant portion of the $10K price tag

    • rydeordie says:

      Thats just the ASS bro, hes trying to be more lowkey and left the cape at home.

  • Jw says:

    Props to Specialized for getting the build kit right, but it’s hard to see much useful comparison between a $10K bike and a $5-7K bike. Climbing would be noticeably improved if all the bikes had carbon fiber wheels, and descending would be way better if they all had a RS Pike and Cane Creek DB Air (or similar) shock. This comparison would be more helpful of the build kits had been similar between bikes (and preferably not completely out financial reach for the normal reader). Obviously you run what you get for a test and some manufacturers don’t give the same value for money as others, but at least get the bikes within a couple of thousand dollars of each other so that readers can see real value comparisons.

  • PJMacatac says:

    So it rides like a 26er eh? But as you read the comments, many don’t agree. I took both versions (26er, 29er) of this bike out for a ride, and decided to get the real thing. That’s right, the 26er that the 29er is attempting to behave like. It has more travel, is far more playful and flickable than its wagon-wheeled sibling and…guess what? Everybody is buying into this wheel size BS so they can’t give the 26ers away. So I got a screaming deal on the superior sibling. Take advantage of this situation like I did and get yourself a bargain on one of the best bikes ever built.

    • pb says:

      I just picked up a new 2013 carbon expert enduro 26″ that a shop was almost trying to give away at this point. Never ridden, just been sitting on their floor waiting for someone to look through all the 29er hype and see this beauty. I love this 26″ bike. And now that it seems like a 27.5 enduro is inevitable, I’ll most likely never ride a 29er and I’m sure I won’t miss a thing.

  • Doctor says:

    “turns Braille into a kiddie pump track”! wow! but it raises a question. Why not just go ride a kiddie pump track in the first place?

  • Horse says:

    No mention of the massive problem this bike has with braking and wheel flex?!

    did you ride it down on anything steep?

  • Melissa Thomas says:

    I have the basic comp version $2500 and I lightened it up with some XTR but this bike climbs and descends awesome. It is heavy if you are riding with XC racers but I can clean every thing just as good as I did on my superlight superfly 100 and it floats on the downhill

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