Pedal Magazine - - Test Gear - BY PAUL NE­WITT

The 2016 Spe­cial­ized En­duro was one of the most suc­cess­ful, re­spected bikes in the All-Moun­tain cat­e­gory, and Spe­cial­ized must have con­sid­ered not mess­ing with a good thing. That be­ing said, it cer­tainly had some room for tweak­ing, and so­cial-me­dia mavens plied Spe­cial­ized with end­less sug­ges­tions and spec­u­la­tions about the 2017 En­duro. This year’s En­duro S-Works 29’er fea­tures a fine-tuned ver­sion of Spe­cial­ized’s iconic X-Wing frame de­sign, re­fined All-Moun­tain ge­om­e­try, a new threaded BB, fully en­closed in­ter­nal cable rout­ing, ManFu link, over­sized pivot bear­ings, 12x148mm dropouts, a re­place­able de­railleur hanger and SWAT, and it can eas­ily be mod­i­fied to a 6Fat­tie set-up.

While the 2016 mod­els were in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar, progress in wheel-size of­fer­ings, tire trends, sus­pen­sion-sys­tems im­prove­ments and driv­e­train in­no­va­tions all played a part in driv­ing for­ward the evo­lu­tion of the En­duro.

One of the big changes over last year’s model, and no­tably ap­par­ent on the trails, was the Geo, specif­i­cally the head-/seat-tube an­gles and the bot­tom-bracket heights. Head an­gles are slacker, bot­tom brack­ets are lower, chain­stays are slightly longer and travel has been in­creased. Front-end travel of 160mm is sup­plied by an Öh­lins RXF 36, while there is 165mm of rear travel, com­pli­ments of a cus­tom Öh­lins STX shock.

A wel­come change that comes along with all the new sus­pen­sion specs is the use of over­sized bear­ings. This not only makes main­te­nance and re­place­ment much eas­ier, it also ac­tu­ally adds to the aes­thet­ics of the frame.

Spe­cial­ized also stepped it up for 2017 by go­ing “in­ter­nal” and get­ting rid of the crazy “Lazy Loop” that pre­vi­ously ran un­der the BB. The new cable rout­ing of­fers smooth en­try points that fol­low in­de­pen­dently molded tubes through the length of the down­tube. The ex­ter­nal por­tion of the cable now runs over the top of the BB to re­duce the pull/bend on the cable hous­ing.

Both the 29/6Fat­tie and the 650b ver­sions of the En­duro are ded­i­cated to 1x driv­e­trains, and one of the first fea­tures you no­tice on the En­duro is the din­ner­plate-sized cas­sette. This mas­sive plat­ter of a cas­sette is served up by SRAM, as is the en­tire driv­e­train in the form of its XX1 Ea­gle plat­form.

Whether ex­pected or not, En­duro sees SWAT Door stor­age in­te­grated into the down­tube. It’s pretty amaz­ing what you can pack into this seem­ingly small space be­low the wa­ter bot­tle cage. Tools, light­weight rain jack­ets and even your lunch – just don’t for­get it’s in there!

One of the few ar­eas that Spe­cial­ized did not cater to was col­lec­tive calls for change in the dropper-post de­part­ment. You sighs can al­most be heard, but alas, the 125mm seat­post re­mains part of the 2017 En­duro line.

So with all that’s shiny and new with the En­duro, you might be won­der­ing how it feels on the trail.

Al­though it had been some time since rid­ing tech­ni­cal trails, the En­duro S-Works 29’er in­stilled a level of con­fi­dence that grew ex­po­nen­tially with each run. The slack ge­om­e­try and long travel of the 29’er made for an in­cred­i­bly re­spon­sive, rapid ride while de­scend­ing through the old and new growth of B.C.’s Coastal rain­forests.

Be­ing more of a cross-coun­try rider, I have to ad­mit some of the tech­ni­cal ter­rain I tack­led was a lit­tle out of my league, but the En­duro in­ducted me into that league quickly. It only took a few runs to re­al­ize that the En­duro

Spe­cial­ized has done a fan­tas­tic job of re­main­ing true to the En­duro’s Al­lMoun­tain DNA while man­ag­ing to take the plat­form to a higher level of ef­fi­ciency.

29’er tames tech­ni­cal ter­rain, and al­though main­tain­ing a healthy re­spect for your lim­its is ap­pro­pri­ate, this bike pushes you to much higher ground with con­fi­dence.

Climb­ing trac­tion on the En­duro 29’er was also im­pres­sive. The Öh­lins RXF 36 rear kept the back end con­nected to the trail whether it was loose, rough or rooted, and the front end han­dled steep, tight switch­backs like a Pro climber. Many times, dur­ing steep as­cents, where I ex­pected the front end to come up as I pow­ered around a tight cor­ner, the En­duro held fast. Ku­dos to SRAM for pro­vid­ing a 50T cas­sette to help with those steep sec­tions and ku­dos to Spe­cial­ized for a true “All-Ev­ery­thing” bike!

Spe­cial­ized has done a fan­tas­tic job of re­main­ing true to the En­duro’s All-Moun­tain DNA while man­ag­ing to take the plat­form to a higher level of ef­fi­ciency. Form has ab­so­lutely fol­lowed func­tion with the 2017 En­duro line and Spe­cial­ized has gone a long way to­ward ad­dress­ing the so­cial-me­dia mock­ings of its pre­vi­ous mod­els.


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