Bible Review: Specialized S-Works Enduro 27.5

The new Enduro is formidable — but not without quirks

The category-straddling Enduro has often been a target for experimentation. Over the years, the bike has hosted a remote travel adjust as well as various Specialized-made suspension components and a lightweight dual-crown fork. In 2013, Specialized once again ventured into the unknown when it managed to fit 29er wheels into the Enduro's 430-millimeter rear end. History will likely record this version--with its Ohlins suspension and Command Post Wu--as yet another experiment. But will it go down as a failure, or as a success?

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Our build passed its climbing test with flying colors. The 170-millimeter-travel chassis ascends as if it has 20 millimeters less squish than it does. Some of that is due to the bike's low weight, but the suspension deals with pedaling forces efficiently, and the frame's steepest-in-test 76.6-degree seat-tube angle allows the rider to comfortably crank the bike forward while intuitively controlling the front end's 65.5-degree head angle. But before we could rip uphill, testers had to tinker with the Ohlins suspension. The fork's recommended pressures were double what we needed, and none of us could get the rebound fast enough. The opposite was true with the shock, which some testers couldn't get to rebound slowly enough for their liking. These quirks imbalanced the front and rear, so testers compensated with air pressure and compression. With more pressure in the fork, the Enduro demanded race-pace descending. As long as we stayed off the brakes, it would charge comfortably and confidently. The suspension seems to have a slower rebound toward the end of the stroke, which made the chassis feel easily controllable through larger hits. Corners, airs and precision moves were handled intuitively thanks to the bike's light weight, short rear end and moderately slack head angle. Aside from the damping issues, we were impressed by the Ohlins suspension. The Swedish squishies feel as if they are less reliant on spring rate because they employ more sophisticated oil management systems.

The Command Post Wu dropper post, on the other hand, failed to woo us. The saddle tilts back as the post descends, so that its rear drops 150 millimeters even though the shaft travels just 115 millimeters, and testers agreed that the Wu doesn't get the nose of the seat far enough out of the way. An $8,500 bike should come with suspension that can be tuned precisely to your liking, and a dropper that actually does what a dropper is supposed to do. As it stands, though, the Enduro is still a capable, lively descender that enduro racers can take to the podium.


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Q&A with Brad Benedict, Specialized product manager for Enduro bikes

Given how capable the Enduro is on climbs, what riders should consider the Stumpjumper?

Travis Engel made sure to confirm the Enduro’s capability in rock gardens. Up or down.

The Stumpjumper rider would be the trail rider that isn't after the steepest descents and wants to get back to the top a bit faster. More of an all-around trail bike, it can ride the steeps, you just have a bit more relaxed comfort on the Enduro. The Stumpjumper will be a bit lighter, more of a nimble feeling bike

We didn't get on well with the Command Post Wu. What's the reasoning behind this design?

Dang! The Wu is a unique post, it started with the trend that became normal in DH with the saddle tilted back for comfort on steeper trails or sections. With traditional posts dropped, on most descents your hips are rotated forward and makes the cockpit feel artificially small and less comfortable. The Wu lets you sit on the saddle much easier on descents.

What does Ohlins offer that RockShox and Fox don't?

Testers weren’t sure what to think of Specialized’s choice to spec Ohlins Suspension.

There are a lot of technologies currently that are unique to Ohlins. They offer a great deal of experience and knowledge, not to say RockShox and Fox don't, but we work closely with Ohlins on projects from day one. It allows more and more unique technologies to be introduced.

We had some rebound damping issues with the shock, which one tester couldn't get slow enough, and the fork, which none of us could get quick enough. Can you speak to the rebound tune on this bike's suspension?

There were some issues in manufacturing on the forks with a very tight bushing causing extreme friction and not getting the full benefit of the damping. Opening the rebound wouldn't speed them up enough. Service centers are prepared with lowers to fix the issues when they occur.

For the rear shock, there is a lot of rider preference and terrain taken into account. Too slow of rebound in some cases adds comfort but may remove traction in some scenarios. The goal was ease of settings so there was no way the rider could go too slow or too fast. Ohlins has recognized this as needing a broader adjustment for some riders.