By Vernon Felton
Specialized Enduro Pro
$5,800 / specialized.com
The Enduro has been a mainstay of the Specialized line for more than a decade, and in that time it's morphed from a gangly dualie with an anemic 4.5 inches of rear squish, to the space-age gravity beast you see here. When Specialized designed this latest iteration of the Enduro, they essentially took their freeride SX Trail model and carved a new version out of carbon fiber and carefully sculpted aluminum. The end result? Six-plus inches of downhill prowess in a flyweight package.
Tipping the scales at just a hair more than 28 pounds, the Enduro Pro is the number-two bike in the five-bike Enduro lineup. As such, it's decked out in a no-holds-barred component kit. Highlights here include the Specialized E160TA Future Shock fork (complete with one-piece carbon fiber crown and steerer), SRAM X0 carbon-fiber crankset, Specialized travel-adjust seatpost, custom Avid Elixir R CR SL disc brakes, replaceable ISCG mounts and a Gamut shift guide.
One new addition to the Enduro is a custom rear shock: The Fox RP23-S, which has a single, firm Climb mode and three separate low-speed compression adjustments for the Descending mode. In short, while your garden-variety RP23 is configured so that you can adjust how well your bike climbs, this unique shock is tuned so that you can tweak how well the Enduro descends. And that, right there, says a hell of a lot about this bike.
The Enduro is a holy terror--in the best possible way--on the downhills. Though it usually takes a few rides before I adjust to a bike's quirks and become comfortable hanging it all out, I immediately felt at home on the Enduro. The relaxed geometry (66.5-degree headtube angle and 70.5-degree seat-tube angle), low bottom bracket and short chainstays combine to give the Enduro confident, yet decidedly nimble, handling. Both front and rear suspension are butter-smooth on everything from minor stutter bumps to massive hits.
Surprisingly, the bike also gains elevation quite well. The Enduro's very active FSR design is nowhere near as efficient under pedaling forces as some other suspension designs, so you definitely need to slap the rear shock's little blue lever into Climb mode and drop the fork into its shorter-travel setting to keep the front wheel from wandering. Once you've done these things, however, the Enduro's lack of heft and deft handling make it a very capable climber.
Could the Enduro be improved? Absolutely. While the rear end is admirably stout, it could be better still with a lightweight through-axle setup--something along the lines of the 142×12-millimeter system that Specialized has already grafted onto a few of their Epic models. Add that one element to the Enduro and you'd be hard pressed to find a better all-mountain bike.