First Ride: 2013 Specialized Enduro Expert Carbon

It was already a downhill monster—now it climbs like a mofo too

By Vernon Felton
Photos by Dan Barham

A couple of years ago I picked the Enduro Expert Carbon as my favorite ride. The reason was simple: the bike absolutely slays it on the descents. Sure, other models outclimbed the Enduro (Rocky Mountain Slayer and Yeti SB66c, I'm talking about you two right here), but the Enduro's tight wheelbase, low-slung bottom bracket and incredibly supple suspension make me stupid and giddy whenever I point the sucker down something stupid and steep.

I was content with that bike...and then the Stumpjumper FSR EVO sauntered into my life last fall and while that particular machine wasn't as capable a descender as the Enduro, it came surprisingly close--and this is what hurt--it made my Enduro feel downright piggy on the climbs.

Spoiler alert: the new Enduro climbs damn well.

That's not to imply that the Enduro is heavy: you're talking about a sub-30 pound bike with more than six inches of travel. No, the problem is that the Enduro of yore has a tendency to wallow in its travel on climbs. On short ascents, it's no problem. On long climbs, however, it rips some of the unicorns and rainbows out of your heart. I'd been willing to overlook that one annoying trait because the Enduro is just so damn fun on the descents, but the Stumpjumper EVO suggested that its burlier brother could, and should, be a more balanced bike.

Well, that better-kind-of-Enduro has arrived. As we've mentioned in past posts, Specialized has tweaked the kinematics on the new (2013 model year) Enduro series with an eye towards building a more efficient-pedaling machine. If the Enduro is going to live up to its name, it needs to kick as much ass on the climbs as it does on the descents. My time today on the new Enduro was, admittedly, brief, but I can say that the new model is right on target.

The new Enduro Expert Carbon sports a Fox CTD rear shock, outfitted with Specialized's proprietary AUTOSAG feature. Bottom line: it's very simple to achieve the right suspension tune. The top-end S-Works Enduro sports Cane Creek's infinitely-tuneable DBAir shock

The 2013 Enduro Expert sports a Fox Float CTD rear shock. The air-sprung unit boasts Specialized's AUTOSAG feature, which makes dialing your sag brain-dead simple. I know, AUTOSAG seems like the most unnecessary gizmo since the man-bra, at least, it seems that way until you actually try it. It works and works well.

The Enduro now rests a bit higher in its travel on climbs, which is a plus when the pitch suddenly gets steep and you really don't want the head angle to be all raked out and floppy. The CTD compression-damping system is also considerably more intuitive (and effective) than the prior two-position damping system.

New suspension kinematics have created an Enduro that accelerates much more quickly and simply pedals more efficiently than previous models.

I didn't get a ton of descending time on the new bike, but my initial impression is that the new model loses nothing in the eating bumps-department. The bike rips. Specialized actually gave the new Enduro a tiny (five millimeter) boost of rear suspension. They also changed the Enduro's shock mount setup (borrowing, again, from the Stumpjumper FSR) and as a result, the shock now pivots on cartridge bearings instead of DU bushings--a change that should improve the Enduro's already excellent small-bump compliance.

The Enduro arrives in bike shops ready to brawl. Outstanding components include the SRAM 2x10/Gamut bash and chainguide combo, a 720-millimeter wide bar, Command Post BlackLite dropper post and SRAM Type 2 X0 rear derailleur.

While the Enduro frame looks almost identical to its forebears, it is a bit lighter (a 120-gram reduction for the carbon model and 90-gram weight loss on the aluminum base-model).

Enduro riders, all-mountain riders--whatever the hell it is you call yourself when you still climb a fair bit, but live for the descents--this is a bike you're going to want to check out. The market place has just become that much more competitive.

I42x12 rear through axles: because traditional quick releases need to rot in hell. God says so. It's in the bible--look it up.