Specialized Enduro Elite Carbon 650B Test

February 6, 2017
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Specialized Enduro Elite Carbon 650B

Going Full Enduro Has Never Been So Fun

M2Specialized1Specialized first introduced the Enduro way back in 1999, taking their existing Ground Control FSR bikes and adding a bit more travel to make them more capable as trailbikes. That first-generation Enduro got a whopping 4 inches of travel, which was revolutionary at the time. The Enduro was—and continues to be— the benchmark when it came to aggressive trailbikes that can handle almost everything a full-blown downhill bike can without giving up the ability to climb to the top of the hill. If the Enduro were a person, it would be an 18-year-old punk kid ready to buck the trends and defiantly go his own way.

The 2017 Enduro debuted in August of 2016 at Crankworx in Whistler. Riders such as Jared Graves, Curtis Keene and Hannah Barnes raced this steed at the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro, the sixth stop of the Enduro World Series. The 2017 Specialized Enduro is clearly a proven race machine, but we had to see for ourselves how it would handle the needs of everyday trail riders.

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WHO IS IT MADE FOR?

The Specialized Enduro is the perfect tool for ripping downhill while retaining the ability to climb back up. It’s by no means the fastest bike to the top of the hill, but the punch it packs for the descent is second to none. This bike can handle bike park runs, yet can shred local trails too. It’s a do-it-all bike for the aggressive rider. It might take some muscle and a bit of patience to get this thing to the top of the mountain, but its ultra-aggressive geometry makes it feel like a mini downhill bike on descents.

WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?

M2Specialized8SWAT: Specialized built a SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) compartment into the Enduro’s frame, so riders could easily stash all the things they would need on the trails. A pouch inside the frame keeps everything secure and rattle-free while riding.

The new Enduro keeps the same look, with its famous X-wing design, but the rest of the bike has been completely renovated compared to the 2016 model. For starters, the 2017 Enduro gets a SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) door and an even more aggressive all-mountain geometry. Our test bike, which was a non S-Works model, had a carbon chassis and an M5 alloy rear end. The bike has Boost spacing front and rear, as well as internally routed cables and a whopping 170 millimeters of travel. The Enduro features an Autosag rear shock that makes setting the sag as easy as pushing a button and comes ready to rip with beefy 27.5×2.6-inch tires.

WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?

M2Specialized5Spin it up: The GX1 drivetrain aboard our Specialized Enduro provided our testers with excellent shifting at an affordable price. Specialized also incorporated a minimal chainguide to ensure the chain would stay in place on rowdy enduro racecourses.

M2Specialized6The pilot’s seat: The Enduro’s wide 780-millimeter bars and short 40-millimeter stem provided riders with a comfy yet aggressive cockpit. Sitting on the Enduro, it’s easy to see that this thing is made to go fast.

The 2017 Enduro we tested was the most affordable carbon model that puts the emphasis on value. It’s by no means a bud- get bike (in fact, it runs about $1300 more than the base-model, full-aluminum version), but it will save you a pretty penny over the full-carbon, tricked-out S-Works model. The Enduro Elite Carbon we tested offered great performance with its GX1 drivetrain, plush RockShox suspension and nearly plus-size tires. The SWAT door was a really nice feature that allowed us to store a spare tube, CO , tire levers and even a multi-tool inside our bike’s frame. Last but2not least, our Enduro’s wide bars, short stem and dropper post all played a major role in allowing our test riders to get a little rowdy.

HOW DOES IT PERFORM?

Setting sag:

M2Specialized4Easy suspension setup: Autosag is a unique feature on Specialized’s full-suspension mountain bikes, allowing riders to set the sag on their rear shock in seconds. Achieving perfect rear-suspension sag is as simple as filling the shock to around 250 psi, sitting on the bike and pushing a release-valve button located on the non-drive side.

M2Specialized7Battle-ready: The RockShox Lyrik is a burly fork that offered close to downhill performance in a smaller, single-crown package. The Lyrik has similar 35-millimeter upper tubes as a Pike but is capable of running longer travel. This fork is race-ready right out of the box.

Specialized has been using an Autosag shock on its bikes for the past couple years, making suspension setup a total breeze. We simply pumped up our shock to around 250 psi, sat on the saddle with all of our riding gear on and pressed the release valve. The shock landed perfectly on 30-percent sag time and time again. Riders who demand more or less sag should ignore the Autosag feature and set sag the old-fashioned way, but our testers felt that 30-percent sag was just right, so they appreciated this feature. Up front our RockShox Lyrik fork was set to 30-percent sag to match the rear. Our suspension settings were then centered for a base tune and later tweaked out on the trails.

Moving out:

M2Specialized11Send it: The Enduro sports a fun and playful geometry that allows riders to send it off every obstacle they can find.

The Enduro sports an aggressive all-mountain geometry that is long, slack and low. Sitting on the Enduro, a rider will quickly notice the 65.5-degree head tube angle that pushes the front wheel way out ahead, giving the Enduro great stability for blasting down fast descents. The bike is also designed with a long and roomy top tube and a short, 40-millimeter stem that puts a rider in a comfortable attack position. Adding to that is a pair of 780-millimeter-wide handlebars that are very appropriate for this trail-shredding machine. To top it all off, the Enduro features a Specialized Command Post dropper with 12 fixed positions and an internally routed, under-the-handlebar remote.

Climbing:

M2Specialized12On the climbs: The Enduro’s wide tires and long travel may not be ideal for climbing; however, the Enduro is no slouch. Riders willing to earn their descents will be highly appreciative of the punch the Enduro packs on the way back down.

The new Enduro was built to conquer long, treacherous enduro races in which riders are required to climb to the top of the mountain and then be timed on the way back down. The Enduro climbed well with its three-position compression switch turned all the way on, but the weight of the 2.6-inch-wide tires quickly drained some of our test riders’ energy. The Enduro’s suspension, however, felt surprisingly efficient, especially considering its large amount of travel. The front wheel felt firmly planted, even on super-steep climbs. Our 30-tooth chainring was greatly appreciated, as it allowed us to spin an easy gear up the mountain.

Cornering:

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The Enduro’s nearly plus-size tires hooked up really well in even the loosest conditions. The large square knobs on our tires inspired confidence in our test riders as they leaned over to find the limits of this bike’s traction, which seemed to be endless. The Enduro’s plush 170 millimeters of travel glued our big tires to the ground and allowed us to fly through corners at wicked-fast speeds. If our testers were challenged to a handlebar-dragging contest, the all-new Enduro would be their weapon of choice.

Descending:

M2Specialized9Ready to fly: The Enduro is a plush race machine that can stay glued to the trail for ultimate speed or take flight for a fun and exhilarating ride.

Feel free to choose the aggressive lines, because the Enduro is like a monster truck—able to plow over every obstacle in sight. We tested the Enduro at our local bike park, on black-diamond trails and on our gnarliest singletrack. In every scenario the Enduro shined. It stayed planted to the ground, and its 6.7 inches of travel ate up the rocks and roots like a downhill The large-air-volume tires also allowed us to get away with less tire pressure than normal, further increasing the plush feel out on the trails.

Braking:

Since the Enduro is capable of traveling at a World Cup-level pace, it needs a good set of brakes to be able to safely slow down. The SRAM Guide R brakes aboard our Enduro had four-piston calipers that supplied plenty of power that could easily be modulated with just one finger. Our testers were thrilled with the Enduro’s smooth and consistent braking. The tires on the Enduro also provided great braking performance due to their larger footprint and well-placed braking knobs. Even our fast-rolling rear tire managed to maintain traction really well under heavy braking forces.

TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?

The Enduro is a beast of a bike built to shred downhill and then work its way back up. The bike holds its own on most climbs, but a narrower tire in the 2.3–2.4 range would lighten up the load a bit. It may take away from the Enduro’s insane amount of traction, but riders looking to ride this bike on rolling terrain will appreciate every ounce they can drop. If your riding consists of shuttle runs or long, fast descents you’re willing to work for, then the larger tires should suit you perfectly; however, we recommend looking into a smaller chainring, such as a 28-tooth, to help maintain forward momentum.

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BUYING ADVICE

The 2017 Specialized Enduro is armed to the teeth with 170 millimeters of travel, so you can conquer whatever terrain you encounter. For many riders, however, this bike would be overkill for an average day on the trails. A bike like the Stumpjumper, the Enduro’s little brother, is better suited for a long day filled with equal amounts of climbing and descending. That said, though, there are plenty of high-flying speed junkies out there who will want the additional travel for gnarly enduro courses or plowing through jagged rock gardens. For those riders, the Enduro could be the ultimate weapon.

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