MBA Bike Test: Specialized S-Works Enduro
Specialized aims to uphold the Enduro’s heritage of evolutionary performance—with no compromises. This is why the 2020 model is offered in four carbon-only models with no aluminum versions planned for production. It is also only available with 29-inch wheels.
Offering 170mm of suspension travel, the new Enduro is essentially a shorter travel iteration of Specialized’s downhill bike, the Demo 29. The 2020 design puts the weight of the suspension system’s shock and linkages lower in the chassis to improve the center of gravity. Our S-Works model (available for $3310 as a frame only) even comes with a full-carbon linkage that eliminates 250 grams of weight.
The Enduro frame has room for a water-bottle cage and even includes Specialized’s clever SWAT Door that integrates a hidden storage compartment into the downtube along with the internal cable routing. A threaded bottom bracket ensures creak-free operation and longterm serviceability.
Four models of the Enduro are available: Comp, Expert, Elite and S-Works. Complete bike prices range from $4510 to $9750. Our top-of-the-line S-Works comes with a full Shimano XTR drivetrain and four-piston disc brakes. A host of Specialized components can be found throughout—from the carbon Roval Traverse SL bar and wheelset (with an enduro-appropriate 30mm inner rim width) to the Body Geometry Myth saddle and Butcher tubeless-ready tires.
And don’t forget about the ingenious SWAT Conceal Carry tool that hides a multi-tool under the stem cap. There are also a few name-brand parts included, such as a Race Face Next R Carbon crank, along with Deity’s Copperhead stem and Knuckleduster grips.
Capable yet nimble: The Enduro suspension platform has the ability to plow through rough terrain while maintaining a responsive feel.
Fox’s top-of-the-line suspension is found at the front and back of the S-Works Enduro. The Fox 36 Float Factory fork includes Kashima coating, the Grip 2 damper and 170mm of travel. In the rear is Fox’s Float X2 Factory shock with the EVOL air sleeve and two-position compression adjustment.
DOWN AND DIRTY
Swinging a leg over the S-Works Enduro for the first time, we anticipated that it would require an aggressive demeanor to fully utilize its capabilities—and that turned out to be true. Previous generations of the Enduro performed more like longlegged cross-country bikes; not the 2020 Enduro. This all-new model feels more like a pedal-able downhill bike. We quickly learned that the Enduro was over-equipped for many of our local trails, so it became a challenge to seek out the roughest trails we could find; and the Enduro, with its 170mm of travel and modern “long, low and slack” geometry, was just fine with that.
Trails with ruthless rock gardens, thick roots and chunky ruts were no problem aboard the Enduro. Specialized’s designers aimed to increase the amount of progression as the Enduro moves through the stroke of its suspension—and they achieved it. Even more so than previous models, the 2020 Enduro keeps the rear wheel solidly stuck to the ground through loose and chattery sections and devours hard hits willingly.
We appreciated the lowered center of gravity and slacker head tube angle most in turns, as the bike changes direction easily. With the suspension system’s competence, the Enduro carries speed through rough sections extremely well.
Climbing: The longer wheelbase and super-slack head tube angle—63.9-degrees in the low setting and 64.3 degrees in the high setting—are noticeable when climbing. However, Specialized was able to engineer more anti-squat into the new Enduro. This does a good job of isolating pedal forces from influencing the suspension, resulting in increased traction compared to previous models. The 2020 Enduro encourages the rider to conquer ascents with the same confidence and prowess with which it tackles descents.
Suspension performance is best in class on the new Enduro. Fox’s Grip 2 damper provides industry-leading control and tunability; however, the ability to independently adjust high- and low-speed compression and rebound requires an increased understanding of proper suspension setup. Expert riders will love the authority to fine-tune the exact feel of the bike’s suspension and the potential to alter it on-the-fly for trail conditions—we felt spoiled aboard the Enduro. Beginners and novices may be overwhelmed with the adjustability at first but will be excited to learn how capable the Enduro can be with the right setup.
Throughout our test, the RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post performed flawlessly. The Reverb AXS provided best-in-class performance on our trails. The electronic post worked so quickly—immediately enabling the saddle to be lowered or raised—that we found ourselves using the dropper post more frequently, which resulted in more control on each ride.
MODS AND UPGRADES
Testers of our S3-size (medium-ish) model unanimously agreed that the 150mm-travel dropper post could be upgraded to a 170mm-travel post. And measuring each reviewer’s maximum saddle height needed for pedaling confirmed the frame could accommodate 20mm of extra dropper-post travel.
Specialized did a thorough job of dressing the Enduro S-Works with the best-of-the-best equipment. The 2020 Enduro accelerates the pace of evolution and challenges the entire enduro category to pursue mountain biking’s most aggressive terrain. In fact, if your most frequent rides aren’t black diamond ready then the Enduro might be too much bike for you. But, riders looking for the most capable bike possible to descend—and ascend—the gnarliest terrain need look no further than the S-Works Enduro. The Enduro is a plush-handling, 170mm-travel bike that pedals efficiently and remains responsive at all times.
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