First Ride: Specialized Kenevo with 180mm of e-travel

Get yourself up and down any mountain


All Photos by Dylan Dunkerton and Harookz

The outgoing Specialized Kenevo was cool but it was getting a little long in the tooth with outdated geometry and a battery/motor a generation behind the current Specialized Levo. So Specialized sought to update by making it faster, more capable in the rough and going on bigger adventures.

And it had to do all this and differentiate from the versatile Levo with 160mm of travel.

The Comp version is money and totally dialed at $5525

The updates were simple in theory. Just slap on the new motor and battery and employ the new longer/slacker geometry. In essence, that is exactly what they did. They used coil rear shocks as well and some of the plushest front forks available.

Some of the nuances they worked on were an improved axle path with a little more rearward travel. They also lightened up the chassis by 2.2 lbs on the aluminum frames by going to the sidearm design of the current Stumpjumpers.

Other Details:

In the Expert Kenevo, battery capacity has been increased by 40% by going from 500wh to 700wh. The Kenevo Comp gets the 500 watt-hour battery, which offers an 8% boost in range over the previous Kenevo. The good news is the 700 watt-hour battery fits in both frames and ALL current Levos.

Climbing 5000-7000 feet is a nice affair with the 7000wh battery.

The new geo is more aggressive with a longer cockpit for aggressive descents. The seat tube angle has been steepened and shortened for longer dropper posts. Benefits to the existing Levo are now made available to this new Kenevo.

What we like:

Going to the new motor and battery platform is a given. It simply had to be done to take advantage of the lighter weight, smoother response and longer range. And of course the new long and slack geometry is essential. Since emtbs enable so much climbing, descents come in big numbers every day if the rider is willing. The new Kenevo will now descend with confidence as long as the rider cowboys up and takes control of this beast. Big travel on a 55 lb machine requires that the rider muscle up, move around and become a very active participant in big descents.

Coil is king. The biggest problem with Levo is it employs a ‘trail’ shock in a very capable descending steed. It is really undergunned in such a great platform and many of us have upgraded our rear shocks to coil or something with a reservoir. The new Kenevo takes care of that.

We kind of like that the Kenevo comes in alloy only. This takes the temptation to spend over $10k for this steed. Keep it simple and focus on essentials.

Motor Control
This Turbo Kenevo is even smarter and better connected than before. In the center of the top tube, you’ll find the Turbo Connect Unit that connects the bike, via ANT+ and Bluetooth®, to both the outside world and our Mission Control App. Speaking of which, we’ve added features and made Mission Control more intuitive.

This is one of the most flexible motor assist platforms available today.

What we don’t like:

We don’t like the triple clamp fork on the Expert model. It boosts the weight to 55 lbs and makes the Kenevo even more bulky and unwieldy. There are great 180mm single crown forks around and that would have been a better fit for the Kenevo expert. In our initial rides, the front suspension seemed to outgun the rear suspension and it wasn’t balanced. This is basically the Stumpjumper suspension and it is not active or capable enough to warrant a triple clamp front end.

It’s great that the Comp version exists with a single crown fork and all Marzocchi suspension for $5525. But it should have the 700wh battery!! This is a bike for getting up and down big mountains and it’s no place for a 500wh battery. In the touted ‘Shuttle’ mode or even Turbo mode, this battery is not gonna last much over 1.5 hours of climbing.

And finally, our greatest reservation is it shares the motor with the Levo and it is known to have reliability issues. Belt failures and motor failures are occurring with increasing frequency and they really need to be fixed before porting over to the Kenevo platform, which has higher demands. We hope there is an updated version or a running fix since it will be very difficult to pedal out a 55 lb triple clamp steed with a dead motor.

What we really want to see is the new Enduro chassis in emtb format. The outgoing Kenevo was based on the old Enduro but this one really seems more rooted in the Stumpjumper chassis. The new Enduro suspension is clearly superior in terms of keeping speed in rough descents, climbing tech and everything in between so we’d like to see that in emtb fashion. But of course, good things come to those who wait.

KENEVO COMP – $5,525

Marketing guru Vernon Felton answered all queries and then some.

1. How many models are there in the new Turbo Kenevo line?

There are two models: The Turbo Kenevo Expert and Turbo Kenevo Comp.

2. What’s the price range?

The Turbo Kenevo Expert will sell for $8,225. The Comp model goes for $5,525—these prices are in US Dollars. Pricing varies from country to country and may change prior to the bike’s public go-live date, so please confirm pricing within your respective market and currency before publishing suggested retail pricing in your article.

3. What sets the two Turbo Kenevo models apart from one another?

The two Turbo Kenevo models share identical frames, motors, and software. The Expert model offers 40% more range, with its 700Wh battery (the Comp has a 500Wh version). Drivetrain and suspension specs are different as well.

4. What was Specialized aiming for with the redesign of the Turbo Kenevo?

We recently upped the ante on Turbo Levo, giving it an entirely new and more capable frame based around the basic Stumpjumper design. That development process made it immediately clear that we could benefit from the same benefits of the Sidearm chassis and use it as the jumping-off point to make an even more aggressive Turbo Kenevo—to push the limits of what an e-MTB is capable of.

5. How much suspension travel does the Turbo Kenevo possess?

180 millimeters (7 inches), front and rear.

6. Is the new Sidearm-style Turbo Kenevo frame stiffer than the previous Turbo Kenevo design?

Results from our in-house front and rear frame assembly testing show that, yes, the new Turbo Kenevo frame is stiffer than that of the first-generation Turbo Kenevo.

7. Did the Turbo Kenevo’s geometry change?

Yes. The new Turbo Kenevo models feature slacker head angles (from 65 to 64 degrees), significantly longer reaches (nearly an inch-per-size), steeper seat tube angles (two degrees steeper), and shorter seat tubes. The goal was to provide a more centered and confident stance on descents, while also improving the pedaling position and rider weight distribution on steep climbs.

8. The new Turbo Kenevo frame closely resembles the Stumpjumper and latest Turbo Levo—what makes it different?

The main differences between the Turbo Kenevo’s Sidearm frame and the Stumpjumper’s are the following: The Turbo Kenevo frame has a battery integrated into the down tube. It also mounts a motor to the bottom bracket, needs to smartly route additional cables through the frame, and it features a big cutout in the top tube to hold the Turbo Connect Unit (Specialized TCU). Besides those differences, the Turbo Kenevo frame resembles the Stumpjumper’s design and concept, and it shares all of its related benefits.

9. Did the rear suspension traits change from the first-generation Turbo Kenevo to this new version?

The axle path changed with this new generation of Turbo Kenevo. Even though the new Turbo Kenevo may not look like the new Enduro, the bike’s share very similar leverage curves and axle paths—which is entirely intentional. Both bikes are designed to let you reach a top speed over the toughest terrain. The more rearward axle path allows the Turbo Kenevo to maintain momentum and speed over rocks and roots. Check out the graphs below to see how the new Turbo Kenevo compares to both its predecessor and the new Enduro in terms of axle path and leverage rate.

10. If the new Turbo Kenevo has similar suspension traits as the new Enduro, why does it look more like a Stumpjumper or a Turbo Levo?

The new Enduro’s kinematics place the rear shock where the motor on our Turbo Kenevo resides. If we tried to squeeze the Turbo Kenevo motor into that Enduro frame design, the bikes might look similar, but they wouldn’t ride in a similar fashion. And the suspension quality was what we were after. Using the sidearm design (found on the Turbo Levo and Stumpjumper) as a framework allowed us to create a far more capable Turbo Kenevo that possesses some very similar ride characteristics to the new Enduro. That ultra-capable ride quality was what we were most interested in achieving.

11. Which rear shocks can I run on the Turbo Kenevo?

The Turbo Kenevo comes equipped with metric-sized shocks that use standard eyelets and no proprietary mounting hardware, so any 62.5 x 230 metric shock will fit the new Turbo Kenevo. Naturally, sticking with the same eye-to-eye length is critical to performance and safety but, as is the case anytime you decide to try on a new shock, you’ll also want to match the same basic rebound and compression damping tune listed on the shock body of your original shock.

12. Is this new Turbo Kenevo frame lighter than the previous frame?

Definitely. The new Turbo Kenevo frame features a significantly lighter down tube and motor mount. This enabled us to reduce frame weight by 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) with the new design while also improving stiffness and sheer capability. The Specialized 2.1 motor on the new Turbo Kenevo also offers a 400-gram (.88 pound) weight savings over the Specialized 1.3 motor featured on the first- generation Turbo Kenevo model.

13. What’s the overall weight of the Turbo Kenevo? Did it lose weight overall from the first generation to second generation?

Complete bike weight is actually on par with that of the first-generation Turbo Kenevo. The new Turbo Kenevo Expert weighs 24.58 kilograms (54.1 pounds). The new Turbo Kenevo Comp weighs 23.63 kilograms (52 pounds). In short, we lightened the frames and motors with this new generation of Turbo Kenevo, and then added weight back with a far more capable component package that boosts this bike’s performance in the roughest terrain.

14. What’s better on the new Specialized 2.1 motor?

First of all, we made the new Specialized 2.1 motor significantly lighter. By making the motor housing out of full-magnesium and mounting the motor directly to the frame, we were able to cut a tremendous 800 grams of weight. 400 of those grams come from eliminating the motor mount bridge, while the remaining 400 grams come from weight savings on the actual motor (the new motor weight is three kilograms). Our new 2.1 motor is also 15% smaller than the previous generation, while still being more efficient and even more powerful. It now amplifies the rider input by 410% (1.3 motor: 380%), providing up to 560 watts and 90Nm of torque.

In short: Our new 2.1 motor is better across the board, while still featuring time-proven technologies like a belt-drive and an integrated speedometer/power meter that measures speed and pedaling effort to precisely calculate power output.

15. How much lighter/smaller is the new 2.1 motor than the 1.3 model on previous Turbo Kenevo’s?

We covered some of this above, but to recap: The new 2.1 motor is 400 grams lighter than its predecessor, yet it’s more powerful, efficient, and 15% more compact. The majority of the weight savings can be chalked up to the lighter, full-magnesium motor housing and the elimination of the motor mount bridge.

16. How much weight did you cut by going to the new direct motor mount?

Since we eliminated the motor mount bridge and are directly attaching the motor to the frame, the direct motor-to-frame mounting cuts another 400 grams out of the bike.

17. How were you able to make the new motor mount a reality?

We first designed the Turbo Kenevo chassis to give riders the best possible trail riding experience, then we codesigned the motor mounting system with the manufacturer of our motors, who also helped to shape the motor specifically to the Turbo Kenevo’s chassis design. This ground-up approach enabled us to entirely remove the large (and heavy) frame forging that the motor connected to on the first-generation Turbo Kenevo and aluminum Turbo Levo models, while still ensuring the best possible frame geometry.

18. Which Turbo Kenevo’s get the 700Wh batteries and which get the 500Wh batteries?

The Expert Turbo Kenevo model is equipped with a 700Wh Specialized M2-700 battery. The Turbo Kenevo Comp model gets the 500Wh version (M2-500). The M2-700 battery is available aftermarket and can also be used on the Comp Turbo Kenevo model.

19. Can you upgrade the first-generation Turbo Kenevos with the new 700Wh battery?

No. The M2-series batteries have a completely different form factor since they were purposefully built for the all-new Turbo Kenevo and the latest generation of Turbo Levo bikes. Therefore, the battery can’t be used on the first-generation Turbo Kenevo bikes.

20. How do you remove the battery on the new Turbo Kenevo?

During the development of the bike and the Technology System, it was important to us that the battery of the Turbo Kenevo remained readily accessible, so riders could have the option to easily remove it. On the new Turbo Kenevo, the battery slides in and out of the down tube in the motor area. Due to the length of the battery, we recommend you put the bike either on its side, upside-down or in a bike repair stand to remove the battery.

21. What’s the range difference between the 700 and 500Wh batteries?

The 700Wh battery provides 40% more range, but ultimately, the range depends on many factors, such as mode selection, riding profile, rider input, rider weight, etc.

22. Is this new Turbo Kenevo frame lighter than the previous frame?

There are several options to get more range out of your bike, one being that you adjust the settings of your assist modes (the support and peak power). You can do this under “Tune” in our Mission Control App. Another option is to generally ride in a lower assist mode. Also, you can use the Smart Control feature of the Mission Control App to determine how long or far you want to go? The app then ensures that you’re getting the right amount of assistance to bring you there with the given battery charge. The range can also be increased by changing the way of riding: Being in a small gear when starting from zero and riding in a cadence range of 80 RPM or above will also drastically improve the range.

23. You say the Turbo Kenevo offers 40% more range than the previous generation, but what does that amount to in actual kilometers/miles?

The first-generation Turbo Kenevo Expert possessed a 500Wh battery, so moving to a 700Wh battery on a bike of roughly the same weight results in a 40% increase in range for the Turbo Kenevo Expert. The Turbo Kenevo Comp model goes from a 460Wh battery (on the first-generation Comp model) to a 500Wh battery on the new model—an 8% increase in range. The new Turbo Kenevo Comp will also accept the 700Wh battery that comes stock on the Expert model, should riders be interested in upgrading the battery on the Comp, to get that 40% boost in range. As noted earlier, the actual range in km/miles depends on a number of variables and can’t be answered with a single estimate of kilometers or miles. But we also understand why people ask that question—they usually want to know, “How am I going to make sure that I don’t actually run out of battery power and motor support in the middle of my ride?” Good question. Here’s the answer: The new Turbo Kenevo is equipped with our Smart Control feature (part of the Mission Control App), which eliminates the risk of you ever running out of power in the middle of a ride. With Smart Control, you can set a duration or distance you’d like to ride and your Turbo Kenevo will automatically regulate the power output for you through a smart algorithm that’s seamlessly operating at all times. Simply relax, enjoy your trails, and don’t worry about remaining battery capacity. You won’t run out.

24. You list the available runtime on the battery as being between one and five hours. That’s an exceptionally broad range, so what’s the story there?

There’s no single answer to this particular question, as the total hours of pedaling assistance that you’ll get out a single battery charge will naturally vary based on the steepness of your terrain and the amount of “assist,” or motor support that you choose to use. For instance, let’s say that you’re using the maximum amount of pedal-assist on the steepest possible trail—that kind of motor support will draw more heavily on the battery’s cells than a medium amount of pedal assistance on rolling terrain and that, in turn, will give you more hours of riding from a single charge. The good news is that the new Turbo Kenevo is equipped with our Smart Control feature, which eliminates the risk of you ever running out of power in the middle of a ride. With Smart Control, you can set a duration or distance you’d like to ride and your Turbo Kenevo will automatically regulate the power output for you through a smart algorithm that’s seamlessly operating at all times. Simply relax, enjoy your trails, and don’t worry about remaining

battery capacity. You won’t run out.

25. Does Turbo Kenevo offer the same range per charge as Turbo Levo? They share the same battery and motor, after all.

The short answer is “No. Not quite as much range.” While the Turbo Kenevo does possess the same motor and battery assembly as the Turbo Levo, the Turbo Kenevo is a heavier bike, designed and built for even more aggressive riding. The Turbo Kenevo’s extra weight inherently places greater demands on the battery. So, holding all other factors constant—that is, assuming we’re talking about the same rider, riding the same trails with the same amount of pedal-assist—Turbo Levo will provide slightly more range than Turbo Kenevo for a single charge from either the 700 or 500Wh battery.

26. How much weight did you cut by going to the new direct motor mount?

You can charge the battery either on or off of the bike. If you want to charge the battery on the bike, there’s a charge port at the bottom bracket area of the frame where you simply plug-in the charger cable. The battery is easily removable, though, so you can take it with you and charge it off the bike from wherever you want.

27. Can you also charge the battery when it’s removed from the bike?

Yes. The new M2-series battery is completely integrated into the frame, and it’s easily removed should you want to swap batteries or charge the battery off of the bike.

28. Can you swap batteries out on the trail?

The new M2-series battery is completely integrated into the frame, but it’s easily removable if you want to swap batteries. So, yep—it’s possible. This battery, however, doesn’t exactly fit in the palm of your hand. The 700WH battery automatically offers you the kind of range you’d normally only achieve on another bike with both a full battery and a range extender. It packs a lot of juice, so to speak. That said, if your ride is going to take you places that you think will require a battery swap, you’re going to need a pretty large hydration pack to tote a spare around with you. When people usually ask this question, they’re asking because they’re concerned about running out of battery power during a ride. We understand, and that’s why the new Turbo Kenevo is equipped with our Smart Control feature (a part of the Mission Control App) that eliminates the risk of you ever running out of power in the middle of a ride. With Smart Control, you can set a duration or distance you’d like to ride and your Turbo Kenevo will automatically regulate the power output for you through a smart algorithm that’s seamlessly operating at all times. Simply relax, enjoy your trails, and don’t worry about remaining

battery capacity. You won’t run out.

29. Isn’t the Specialized 2.1 motor the same thing as the Brose S Mag that other brands are also planning to use? How is it different?

Yes and no. While we developed the new 2.1 motor hardware together with Brose, we develop the motor software on our own, which is what actually shapes how the motor behaves on the trail. We spent years figuring out how a motor should feel in an actual trail setting, and the result is that the 2.1 motor has a uniquely smooth and natural ride quality to it. There are no awkward lags or surges in power.

Think of it this way: The motor is like the legs of an e-mountain bike, but how those legs work is a function of your brain. We’ve built a better, smarter brain. On top of that, we also allow riders to fully customize their motor and its behavior through our unique tuning opportunities (Infinite Tune) in the Mission Control App.

Climbing 5000-7000 feet is a nice affair with the 7000wh battery.

30. Can I retrofit the new motor or battery to an earlier Turbo Kenevo model?

The new motor and battery are specifically designed to work together and fit precisely into the new Sidearm frame and down tube of the new-generation Turbo Kenevo and Turbo Levo models. Consequently, they are incompatible with previous Turbo Kenevo generations.

31. On first-generation Turbo Kenevos, the battery was the “brain” of the bike. What’s the brain of the all-new Turbo Kenevo?

The Specialized Turbo Connect Unit (TCU) is the brain of the new Turbo Kenevo. The TCU is always in view, right there at the center of your top tube. The TCU gives you an overview on your battery level (each LED represents 10% of your battery charge), shows you the motor-assist level you’re pedaling with, allows you to change modes, and it also turns your bike on or off. The TCU also connects your Turbo Kenevo to our Mission Control App via Bluetooth® or ANT+ and links you to any third-party ANT+ device. And finally, the TCU can also connect you to our new Turbo Connect (TCD) handlebar display, providing you with all of your ride and bike data at a glance from your handlebars.

32. What’s so great about the Specialized Mission Control App?

Our Mission Control App provides riders with full control over their Turbo Kenevo. It allows you to fully customize the motor settings to the personal needs and preferences, diagnose the bike and extract a report, record/save/analyze rides, upload rides to third-party platforms, and even get control over your range via our Smart Control feature.

33. Which operating systems does the Mission Control App support?

Our updated Mission Control App is still supporting iOS and Android operating systems. You simply have to go to either the Google Play or Apple App Store, search for Specialized Mission Control, download the app, and register yourself. Once you’ve done that, you’re set to get more out of your Turbo Kenevo.

34. What kind of improvements have been made to the Mission Control App?

We developed our Mission Control App completely from scratch, and it now comes with a bunch of exciting improvements. First and foremost, we designed a completely new user interface for the app, which is more intuitive to navigate through. We’ve also added new features into the app, like the “Stealth Mode” that allows you to turn off the LED lights on the TCU (if preferred), or the “Shuttle

Mode” that lets you access maximum power output with less pedaling force (if desired). And last but not least, we made the app more stable and reliable

35. What’s the point of the “Shuttle Mode” feature and how does it work?

One of the key new features of our Mission Control App is the new Shuttle Mode. This feature gives you maximum power output with less required pedaling force. It’s perfect for those days when you’re looking for a fast shuttle to the top of the mountain. The higher the setting for Shuttle Mode is, the easier it is to get full motor power in your selected mode. The settings for the Shuttle Mode can be adjusted within the Mission Control App, and the default setting is zero. On a side note, while Shuttle Mode is the quickest way to the top, it still has a government-regulated speed limit.

36. How does Infinite Tune work?

Our Infinite Tune feature allows you to adjust motor peak power separately from the motor support, and vice versa. This gives you the opportunity to fully customize the three modes to your personal preferences since they can now determine all variables-per- mode individually. We also allow you to basically adjust those settings on-the-fly: Infinite Tune is embedded in the “Tune” section of our Mission Control App and can be easily adjusted via sliders. We recommend that riders start with the following settings and then adjust their settings based on their individual needs and preferences:

Turbo: 100% (Support) / 100% (Peak Power) Trail: 35% / 100%
Eco: 35% / 35%.

37. Is the Specialized Turbo Connect Display (TCD) also retrofittable to older Turbo bikes?

Yes. The Specialized TCD handlebar display is retrofittable to all existing Turbo bikes in the field and will be available aftermarket.

38. How can I synch my Specialized TCD to my Turbo Kenevo?

That’s super easy and intuitive. You simply turn on the bike, keep the left button pressed for five seconds, and then go through a short pairing process. When the display is connected to a bike, it always automatically reconnects to your bike until it is proactively paired with a different bike.

39. What wheel sizes can I fit in the Kenevo.

We’ve built the Turbo Kenevo around 27.5-inch wheels and only recommend the wheelsize.

40. What is the maximum 27.5+ tire size that will fit on the new Turbo Kenevo?

We recommend a maximum 27.5+ tire size of 27.5 x 2.8”. The bike is capable of fitting 27.5 x 3.0” tires if you’re willing to accept less clearance between your tire and frame.

41. What is the maximum speed that you can reach on the Turbo Kenevo?

Different nations have different laws in place regulating the use of e-mountain bikes on trails. Many nations require that the electric motors on e-mountain bikes effectively “shut off” once you’ve reached a maximum speed limit. That maximum speed varies from country to country. In Europe, for instance, the maximum speed is 25 kilometers-per-hour, and in the United States, motors are required to stop assisting your pedaling effort once you’ve reached a speed of 20 miles-per-hour. As with any bike, your top speed is ultimately limited by how fast and hard you can pedal under your own steam. Naturally, we strongly encourage all riders to ride responsibly and to be courteous to, and cognizant of, other trail users. Share the trails. The beauty of our motor is that it completely decouples above top-speed, so you don’t have to work against the motor but are still able to ride the Turbo Kenevo like a normal (albeit heavier) bike.

42. At what speed does the Turbo Kenevo’s motor disengage?

All Turbo Kenevos are equipped with a decoupling mechanism that disengages the motor completely when the bike reaches the top speed specified by the country in which it was sold. In Europe, for instance, this max speed is 25 kph. In the United States, the maximum speed is 20 mph. At speeds greater than this, the motor no longer provides any kind of assistance. We also designed our motor to provide no resistance, so at these higher speeds, it feels just like you’re riding any other kind of pedal bike.

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.

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