When Specialized introduced the Enduro 29, it was one of the first production 160-millimeter-travel 29ers to grab attention, including ridicule from riders reluctant to accept changing wheel sizes. Today, the sluggish stigma once associated with larger hoops has largely dissipated. Good thing because for 2017, the Enduro line sees rear-wheel travel increase to 165 millimeters, a slacker head angle, steeper seat-tube angle and plus-size compatibility. Specialized offers four Enduro 29 and 650b models (the latter come with 170 millimeters of travel), ranging from $3,200 to $8,500.
Our test model packs in a ton of value. Riders get the new alloy frame with Boost rear-hub spacing, the RockShox Monarch Plus shock with Autosag, a threaded bottom bracket, SRAM Guide R brakes, an internally routed Command Post dropper and Specialized's Butcher and Slaughter tires with mid-weight Grid casings mounted to Roval Traverse alloy rims.
The consensus on the Comp 29 was that it was nearly as impressive climbing challenging terrain as it was descending it. When charging rough descents, the Comp 29 felt as stable as a tank. With more than 6 inches of travel and rock-smashing 29-inch hoops, the Enduro doesn't always require precise line choices and can smooth out tedious descents. The bike's wheelbase feels long at times, and the base-model spec can't hide the weight felt in the wheels and drivetrain, but dialed geometry and component spec can do wonders to hide a bike's heft.
From 10 feet away, the air-sprung RockShox Yari fork with a 35-millimeter chassis resembles the popular Pike, and the performance was easily balanced with the Monarch Plus shock. On technical climbs when we needed traction over rocks and roots, our best results came when the Monarch shock was in the 'open' setting, but on smoother uphills, utilizing the shock's 'pedal' compression setting improved efficiency. We'd like to see a bike this capable spec'd with a 150-millimeter dropper post, as opposed to the current 125-mil-length. The original Enduro 29 shook up the all-mountain game and with this latest iteration, Specialized impressively refined its climbing prowess and descending capability even more.
Q&A with Sean Estes, Sr. Global PR Manager – Specialized
Many brands share suspension design concepts. How does Specialized separate itself from other brands now utilizing the Horst link?
FSR suspension has been the benchmark for fully-active, fully-independent suspension design for almost two decades. Throughout our years of working with it, we have gained a deep understanding of how subtle nuances affect the way the bike rides and feels. While FSR technology is no longer exclusive, that is not by any means to say that all FSR style bikes are created equal. Knowing how to make the best use of the design is as important as the design itself.
Are there any small details on the alloy Enduro Comp the Specialized crew really digs, yet may not be obvious to the casual viewer?
Enduro Comp has a long list of stand-out features, but the biggest highlight is really the price; you would be hard-pressed to find a better value in the all-mountain category. Enduro Comp delivers a box-stock, ready-to-rock package at just about 3 grand.
The all-mountain category has grown in popularity in recent years. With so much parity in bike geometry and component spec these days, what really separates the Enduro from the herd?
Geos may have somewhat "normalized," but there is definitely still a lot of room to stand out within these configurations. A lot of features which are popular now, such as long front ends and short rear-ends, are things we have been doing for years. All new Enduro models, regardless of price, feature a number of things we feel add value for riders. For example, same-size bearings throughout the linkage, making for easy maintenance; wide-range 1x drivetrains for reliability and lightweight; the ability to carry a full-size water bottle inside the main frame; and all carbon Enduros also feature the SWAT door, allowing riders to store snacks, spares and lots more inside their frame.