165mm travel, 29 inch wheels and six and a half thousand pounds. Pete has spent the shorter winter days seeing if the Specialized Enduro Pro 29’s numbers add up.
Tweaked for 2018, the Specialized Enduro Pro 29 is a formidable proposition. Our web editor Pete Scullion has spent the last 7 months putting the 165mm full carbon 29er through its paces to see what it can and can’t do.
Photos by Innes Graham.
- £6,500 RRP
- 29″ wheels with Specialized carbon rims
- Clearance for 27″+ wheels
- 165mm FSR travel
- SRAM XO1 Eagle
- Ohlins STX fork and shock
- SWAT and SWAT CC integrated storage and tools
- Command Post IRcc with Wu
- Available at Specializedconceptstore.co.uk
Up to speed.
When I checked in with my first look, I’d had the Specialized Enduro Pro 29 a couple of months, and while there was clearly plenty of raw speed and an urge to try and go anywhere, there were a few things that didn’t quite feel right.
Initially, the single tube RXF 36 fork felt unresponsive on anything but big hits, while the rear shock though supple enough had a rebound that felt too fast. One may well have exacerbated the feeling of the other. Dampers went back to Specialized and it transpired that the bushings in the fork were undersized, hence the lack of ground tracking. Forks sorted, the rebound slowed on the shock and we were back rolling.
Secondly, three rides in, the SWATcc top cap internals scattered to the four winds in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish Highlands. A quick dismantle when I got back to civilisation showed that 1.5mm grub screws and minuscule detent bearings can’t hack Scotland in October. A strip, grease and rebuild solved that. Not the end of the World, and certainly not a ride-ruiner, but a pain nonetheless.
I opted to clip 40mm off the bars to drop them to 760mm as at the full 800mm they gave amazing control on loose boulders up large mountains, but meant I couldn’t get the front wheel off the ground. Dropping the stem beneath the stem spacers cured the high feeling of the front end when climbing and descending.
Despite the fitted Butchers sporting the Grid casing and new Gripton compound, running them soft enough to find grip left the sidewall squirming under load, and when firm enough to avoid the squirm, they lacked traction in most situations.
With the changes above, the Enduro started to make sense. I have ridden bikes with considerably less travel and smaller wheels that weigh in heavier, meaning there is a real urgency about it that makes you go further and faster.
What the issues above being solved highlighted though, is how tall the bike is when stood or sat on it. I opted for a medium as the reach on the small size (415mm) would be too short for me even at 5′ 3″.
Another issue of going up a size here is that the Command Post’s Wu system adds considerable stack height to proceedings, and while the Wu system is sound in concept, for anyone wanting a sensible reach like myself, the a standard Command Post IIRc would be better suited.
Happy to put my money where my mouth was though, I put a small Enduro through its paces on a 17 mile, 5000ft up and down day in the Lake district. Getting the saddle height in the right place was the real bonus of the small and despite the hefty vertical gain, my legs seemed to relish it thanks to the better saddle height.
Initially, the shorter reach (415mm) on the small didn’t seem to be something that would cause a problem. That was, until we reached the first descent which had me moving my weight rearward to counter the cramped cockpit, something that left the already unsupple Ohlins forks considerably more so.
If the Enduro was destined for lesser trails and lower speeds, the shorter reach might well not be so noticeable of an issue, but with the combination of travel and wheel size lending some serious capability to the Enduro, it’s a hard one to ignore.
Measure of the pleasure.
Over Christmas and into the New Year though, the Enduro has found a second wind, a new gear. Despite the horrendous winter conditions we’ve been experiencing, the Enduro’s ability to stay composed no matter how fast, or slow, I go seems to have become apparent.
Forget what everyone says about 29ers and corners, 29ers and jumping. This bike rips.
Whether I have become better at dealing with the Enduro’s foibles or something less tangible, there is no doubt that this bike wants to keep charging. While it has taken far longer for me to find anything close to the sweet spot with this machine than previous test bikes, it is starting to make more sense. This bike is screaming for more tuneable dampers though.
All the issues with fork, shock, tyres and top caps belies the fact that the rest of the bike has been utterly flawless. The carbon rims have seen no shortage of massive cracks into rock and root, yet despite my wincing, haven’t shown any damage or lost any air. There isn’t even a hint of loose spoke, rough bearing or out of true rim.
The drivetrain, even with the crap that goes along with a Scottish winter, has remained smooth throughout. Not single dropped chain or even so much as mild chatter in the rough either.
What has impressed me most though, and it may seem like I am making too much of this, but with a bike that can go as fast as this, brakes that work are paramount. The SRAM Code Rs on the Enduro are, to me, the best brakes I have used to date. Power and modulation never fail to offer themselves up even after being trawled down a Scottish peak.
- SWAT downtube storage, makes riding pack-less a breeze.
- SRAM Code Rs, one of the best stoppers out there.
- Low weight.
- Go anywhere capability.
Not so good:
- Single tube RXF 36 lacks sensitivity.
- SWATcc too fragile.
- Sizing on the small side.
- Butcher tyres lack grip.
- Tall standover exacerbated by high stack of Wu post.
What do we think?
There is major potential in the Enduro Pro 29 that is masked by a fork that lacks small bump sensitivity and a reach/seat tube combination that means you will need to ride before you buy.
I would love to see a revised frame with the top tubes moved down a size, giving the small a 584/440mm top tube/reach combo but with over 30mm less seat tube, combined with a fork that is sensitive enough to allow you to truly get the most of the bike’s ability.