This week [R]evolution Magazine caught up with Specialized Bikes to check out their latest generation ‘Enduro’ and put the new bike through its paces around the fast, rocky and super fun trails at You Yangs, Victoria.

Hold on, did someone day a ‘new’ Enduro, already? Yes indeed. These days it is well understood that when one of the major brands create a new bike/platform, especially one that requires carbon frame moulding, ‘said brands’ will often seek to get 3, or even 4 years, of cycle/production from that original frame design. This is to help cover the gigantic costs of setting up the frame mouldings needed for each frame size. They also need to ‘get a couple of production seasons’ out of each new design in order to offset a bunch of the other research, development and overhead expenses that get poured into creating a new bike. With that said, it is extremely rare for a brand bring a new frame to market just 12 months after releasing the same model. However, that is exactly what Specialized have done with the 2018 Enduro.

When we first heard about the new bike we were a little puzzled? In our opinion the ‘brand new from the ground up’ Enduro platform released just 12 months ago was already a gold medal contender right out of the gate (as we got to experience first hand when we test rode the bike for several days over in BC Canada – the write up of which can be found here.

At the end of the day though, Specialized believe so deeply in evolving their bikes to be the best that they can be that they took the bold step of upping the ante of their Enduro platform even higher with a brand new front frame triangle as well as several other key tweaks. In addition to the geometry changes for the 2018 Enduro, Specialized are also taking the opportunity to introduce a few new kit items including a pretty unique dropper post as well as quite possibly the coolest integrated SWAT tool ever seen by mankind.

Before we take a look at what has changed with the new Enduro lets first cover what has remained; this year Specialized will continue to offer the Enduro in several models in both 29’er and 27.5” wheel options. Both wheel ranges will also be available in a choice of either a carbon or alloy frame.

Have a listen to Brad Benedict // Specialized MTB R&D Global Product Manager // talking about the new Enduro.

Okay, so what’s been changed and what’s new about the 2018 Enduro? Longer reach, adjustable geometry and a more progressive shock tune. Specialized also wanted to narrow the gap between the frame sizes of the 29’er and 27.5” bikes. Regardless of wheel size they want the size and feel of each frame size to be consistent. And they have achieved just that. When I sat on a size large 29er the bike’s reach and standover height felt exactly the same as when I hopped on a large 27.5”.

Looking at the figures the 29’er frames have grown in reach between 5 and 13mm depending on the size of the frame – the amount of growth increases with each frame size. The handlebar height, or stack as it is often referred to, has been lowered by 4mm across all 29’er frame sizes.

The 27.5” frames have also each grown in ‘reach’ between 13mm and 19mm, again the figure increases as the frame size increases. To help bring the ‘size’ of the 29’er and 27.5” bikes closer together the 27.5” bikes now feature a higher stack height across each frame size.

We mentioned before that the bike now features adjustable geometry. This is taken care of via a new square-shaped flip chip which is neatly hidden/housed inside a new shock extension and allows for 2 position settings; low and high. For the low setting, place the chip between the bolt head and extension. For the high setting, place the chip between the extension and the shock. This provides a 0.5-degree head angle and 8mm bottom bracket height adjustment.
The flip switch on the 27.5 platform will allow you to drop the bottom bracket from 350mm (which remains the same as 2017) to 342mm, with a corresponding shift in head tube angle from 65.5 degrees to 65 degrees. The seat tube angle has been tweaked from 76.5 to 76.9 on the size small frame and 75 to 76.5 on the size XL frame.

Through rider feedback Specialized wanted to increase the amount that the rear shock ramps up towards the end of its travel (some riders felt that last years bike was a little harsh on the bigger hits) and so for 2018 the 29’er features a new shock extension and shock link, while the Enduro 27.5 has only the extension but a revised shock mount position. The results? Both bikes are now 10% more progressive at the end of their travel curve.

For riders that already own a 2017 model Enduro, don’t worry, both the new extension links will be available in Australia as a retrofitable upgrade without the need for a shock re-tune and you’ll still get the benefit of the 10% rate increase.

NEW DROPPER POST

Whilst on the topic of the 2017 model Enduro, owners will no doubt have noticed that those bikes came stock with a thin metal sleeve insert ‘spacer’ in the seat tube? This is because the frame, as does the new 2018 frame, features an oversized seat tube which was intentionally spec’d on the bike so as to allow for an innovative new dropper post design called the ‘WU’ post. The new Wu post is 34.9mm in diameter and provides 150mm of travel, with 12 adjustable positions. It is also unique among seat-droppers in that the head of the seat post pivots back as it is dropped, allowing for additional clearance when you’re hanging off the back of the bike with the seat slammed to attack rowdy sections of trail!

SWAT TOOL HIDDEN IN STEERER TUBE

SWATT CC, now this has to be one of the coolest things that we’ve seen in a long time! Essentially SWAT CC is a new spring-loaded multi-tool is hidden under a rotatable top cap cover. But wait, there’s more! It also features a chain breaker tool and quick-link storage for fixing your chain mid ride, and all of this is built into the device. The SWAT CC unit is such a good design. The unit is quite light and it can be fitted to practically any bike. So cool!

Enduro 29er highlights

Frame is 29” specific but also 27.5+ compatible
165mm rear travel
170mm front travel
4 frame sizes: Small-XL
Adjustable frame geo
66º head angle (high setting)
65.5º head angle (low setting)
354mm bottom bracket height (high setting)
346mm bottom bracket height (low setting)
SWAT window for internal downtube storage (carbon models)
Threaded bottom bracket
Internal cable routing
Uniform bearing size throughout linkage
Boost hub spacing
Innovative ‘WU’ command dropper post
800mm wide bars on all models

Enduro 27.5” highlights

27.5” wheel specific (obviously)
Frame clearance to fit 2.8” rear tyre
Rear wheel travel: 170mm
Adjustable geometry
65.5º head angle (high setting)
65º head angle (low setting)
350mm bottom bracket height (high setting)
342mm bottom bracket height (low setting)
Boost hub spacing
Internal cable routing
Uniform bearing size throughout linkage
SWAT window for internal downtube storage (carbon models)
Threaded bottom bracket
Innovative ‘WU’ command dropper post
800mm wide bars on all models

HOW THE BIKE RIDES

Of course the burning question here is what difference do all these tweaks and changes make to how the 2018 bike rides? Keeping in mind that we already thought last years new Enduro was a kick ass machine, sure enough the new bike is just that little bit better again. Fortunately, we had enough trail time (afternoon light) that I was able to take both the 29” and 27.5” versions out for a shred. What was noticeable, and surprising, was actually how similar the two wheel sizes felt to ride. Quite often a long travel 29’er will feel like be a bit of a handful to switch direction on from corner to however the ‘wagon wheel’ Enduro felt as spritely and spontaneous to rider input as you could wish.

“Whilst the 29’er didn’t feel as though it lacked grip, front or rear, on the loose, skatey, trail surface, one thing that was noticeable when comparing the pair of bikes was that I felt as though I could push the 27.5” harder and leant it over further into corners with confidence.”

Similar to the 2017 Enduro, the new bike still feels every bit as capable of attacking a steep gnarly trail as a full blown downhill bike. The revised shock tune is noticible as it makes the bike feel truly bottomless when you begin to run out of talent/luck on a those really steep shoots and big drops. So what are we talking here? Great geometry, masses of standover height, super short rear ends and bucket loads of travel are this bike’s recipe of success. The Enduro pedals from A-to-B with little effort, surprisingly so considering all that travel. When you’re seated in the saddle spinning those cranks up and along the trail, the bike doesn’t bob up and down, it just sits nice and high in its travel and delivers you to the next ‘fun’ part of the trail without robbing you of all your energy.

In summary; the new Enduro can be considered a very good bike that just got that little bit even better’er!

COMPLETE ENDURO MODEL RANGE AND PRICING

S-Works Enduro 29/6Fattie $11,000 RRP
S-Works Enduo 27.5 $11,000 RRP
Enduro Pro 29/6Fattie $9,800 RRP
Enduro Pro 27.5 $9,800 RRP
Enduro Elite 29/6Fattie $6,600 RRPP
Enduro Elite 27.5 $6,600 RRP
Enduro Comp 29/6Fattie $4,500 RRP
Enduro Comp 27.5 $4,500 RRP

Words // JT
Photos // Dominic Hook @dominichookphotovideo