Specialized Enduro 29 S-WorksCheck Out the Full Specs and Review
For its biggest, baddest Enduro ever, Specialized scrapped the hugely successful, yet rather long-in-the-tooth X-Wing frame and began anew. Inspired by the freshly redesigned Demo, the Enduro shares Specialized’s new linkage design, which despite having more Rube Goldberg stuff happening than you’d typically see on a Horst-link bike, is still technically an FSR platform. You wouldn’t know it by pedaling it uphill, though.
That’s because it’s the first Specialized FSR ever made that can genuinely be ridden uphill without requiring a lockout of some kind. While this is not a big brag for some brands, it is for Specialized. Are we saying that other brands have had a leg up on Specialized in the suspension kinematics game? Yes, that’s exactly what we’re saying.
At last, we could leave the shock open without the bike squatting more than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on leg day. That would be impressive enough if we were talking about a Stumpjumper ST, but this is an Enduro 29 with 170 millimeters of front- and rear-wheel travel—more than any Enduro before it.
The S-Works build, which was one of the most excellently spec’d bikes in the fleet, included a Rock- Shox AXS wireless Reverb dropper, XTR 12-speed shifty bits, Deity stem and grips, and runs a big, pillowy Fox Float X2 air shock originally designed for downhill bikes (we also tested the $4,510 Elite build). Even with the high- and low-speed compression adjustments set just a few clicks from fully open (and the lockout lever open) pedaling input transfers to the wheel in way we’ve never experienced on a Specialized bike. Some of us firmed things up on the fire road sections of our test loop, while others didn’t notice enough pedal bob to think of doing so. Even on steep punchy climbs where the Enduro has traditionally always suffered, the bike was planted, calm and efficient.
Normally, you wouldn’t expect a design taken from a downhill bike to be all that impressive at opposing gravity, and normally you’d be correct. But it just so happens that the new Demo pedals rather well. According to Specialized, the Demo product development team basically stumbled upon an efficient pedaling platform while on the hunt to optimize a more rearward axle path for the multi-year Demo redesign project—a project described as the most extensively researched, tested, and iterated of any bike the company has ever developed. Why a company would dedicate so much time and resource to a bike they’ll sell hundreds, not thousands of isn’t totally clear, though things do come into focus when realizing how brilliantly the trickle-down worked.
The Enduro’s climbing chops makes it special for Specialized, but what makes the bike extraordinary in a sea of spectacular steeds is what happens when you point it downhill. The first thing we noticed was how instantly comfortable and easy it was to achieve and maintain eye-watering speeds. It sort of feels like you’re riding on an entirely different course altogether. Intimidating sections we had a hard time cleaning on other bikes were behind us before we even realized we’d gotten to them. You know that moment in “The Matrix” when Neo realizes he can read the Matrix and suddenly the rules of gravity and physics no longer apply? It’s like that.
The bike chews through terrain in a way that makes you feel invincible. Each tester came away from their lap reporting their fastest time. Anthony Smith reckoned it was the fastest he’d gone on a bike in all of 2019. For me, descending the Enduro is a laugh-out-loud kind of experience not just because of how secure it feels, but because it contains a very special blend of downhill-bike plow and trail-bike play. It pops out of corners like an Evil Following but will devour anything in its path and remain composed on even the steepest of tracks. We think that the bike’s ability to remain so composed when shit is hitting the fan comes from the built-in brake jacking. People call it anti-rise now because it sounds better, but basically what it means is that when you pull the rear brake, the shock won’t extend as it has on pretty much every Specialized FSR that has come before. The benefit here is that the bike is kept from pitching even farther forward on steep terrain or under heavy braking, which would steepen the angles and make things less controllable during the most crucial moments. Adding anti-rise makes it so there’s technically less available travel under heavy braking, but the idea considers that the bike’s dynamic geometry plays an important role in maintaining predictability in unpredictable situations.
Speaking of geometry, we haven’t actually gone over the numbers. And we won’t, because they seem to be unimportant when it comes to this bike. Knowing them won’t tell you half the story. To get it you’ll have to ride it. But first, you must choose between the red or the blue pill.
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