Specialized Enduro 2017 – What can we expect?

The Specialized Enduro has always been a category-defining bike. Its first iteration dates back to 2000, long before the Enduro World Series. Since then, classic mountain biking – riding up and down mountains – got „Endurofied“ to the extent that we now have Enduro backpacks, Enduro helmets, Enduro goggles and much more. Some of it makes sense, some not so much.

Back in 2013, Specialized introduced the Enduro 29er (or simply E29), a game-changing design that demonstrated the potential of long travel 29ers. With its short rear center and a wheel base on par with its little brother, the 26“ Enduro, the E29 rides like a trail bike on steroids and corners on a dime. The stability the big wheels add means it can handle the rough stuff, too. From long day rides in big mountain terrain to Enduro racing and trips to the bike park, this is a true do-it-all-bike.

2014 Specialized Enduro Expert 29

Specialized frankly stated they find the 29er to be the superior platform, offering advantages in stability and grip, while losing only a little of the playfulness of the 26er – if the geometry is done right. In their view, there was no need for 650B, and they came late to the party with their 650B Stumpy FSR and Enduro models. Both were criticized for using existing front triangles, and even though riders have reported no big issues, the bikes were considered a catch-up move, and Specialized was expected to come out with new models a year or two later to synchronize the cycle for 29er and 650B. After the Stumpy got its full redesign for the 2016 model year, it’s the Enduro’s turn for model year 2017. Recently, Specialized has hired Peter Denk, who has worked for Cannondale and Scott before and is known for his special suspension designs (pull shock). But given the long development cycle, it is not clear whether he came in early enough to have a big impact on the fundamentals of the redesign.

 

So what can we expect for the 2017 Enduro?

 

Wheel sizes
Specialized spins the wheel size debate with 29 is the fastest, 650B is the most fun, and 6Fattie offers the most control. The real wheel size question for the Enduro is if it will come as a 6Fattie. With the Stumpjumper 6Fattie, they have a first full suspension Plus-size model out, and it is not unlikely that they will test the waters before they introduce more models. Specialized recently admitted they are still working on the best geometry for 6Fattie bikes. They also emphasized that three wheel sizes is a lot of choice, which can be confusing or force a lot of test-rides – and for the shops to stock. So I’m not sure we’ll see a 6Fattie Enduro this year, and I’m not really sad about that.

The 29er, on the other hand, is a classic, and a bike that’s not only loved by riders, but also admired in the industry. It received rave reviews and still gets a lot of coverage in the media and forums. It would not look like a smart move to discontinue a model that has become a category-defining bike. And the 650B, of course, has become the goldilocks standard, and is guaranteed to be continued.

Capabilities
With the 2016 redesign, the full range of Stumpjumper and Camber are „Evofied“ now, and more capable than ever. One reason for making all models Evo was the progression towards slacker bikes and more travel. But people have pointed out that Evo and non-Evo were pretty close, possibly to the extent that deciding between an Evo Camber and a non-Evo Stumpy wasn’t that easy. With that in mind, we can expect the Enduro to be distinctly different from an „Evofied“ Stumpy. It will probably be slacker, longer and lower, with more travel and more sophisticated suspension. If I had to sum up what I expect the 2017 Enduro to be, in one word, I’d call it „racier“.

Geometry
On the E29, a change in head angle seems to be a safe bet. When the E29 came out in 2013, 67.5° was considered slack for a 29er. Now the E29 shares the head angle with the Stumpjumper 29, and some bikes are even slacker. Looking at the Specialized line-up, you can see that the head angle drops a degree with each model.

Model 29er Head Angle 650B Head Angle
Camber 68.5° 68°
Stumpjumper 67.5° 67°
Enduro 67.5° 65.5°
2017 Enduro ~66.5° ~65°

I think having only 0.5° head angle difference from 29er to 650B is another indicator of how confident Specialized are in their 29er platform, emphasizing the added stability. On the Stumpjumper FSR 650B, 67° is a middle ground head angle in its class. If you follow the logic of the models’ head angle progression, the 650B Enduro would be 0.5° slacker than the E29.  But would a 650B Enduro offer the necessary stability in the steep with a 66° head angle? And would it be seen as a leading-edge design when bikes have become slacker? Probably not. Enduro bikes have recently seen a progression towards racing, with head angles becoming slacker in the 65° range. With Enduro World Series winner Jared Graves joining the team, Specialized will want a competitive bike.

In terms of reach, Specialized has been on the longer end. Recently, many companies have increased reach, and some quite dramatically (e.g. Mondraker). I expect Specialized to increase reach slightly, but not by a huge margin.

Short chain stays are a trademark of Specialized bikes, and I wouldn’t expect them to forsake their philosophy. Short chain stays are also very popular, and proponents point out that cornering, technical climbing and descending can benefit from short chain stays. A lot of people are explicitly looking for short chain stays when making their buying decision. Some are not so enthusiastic, however, arguing that short can become too short, resulting in compromised downhill stability and a rearward weight bias.

So where’s Specialized in the chain stay debate? Obviously, they prefer them short, but it is interesting how they designed the Stumpjumper and Camber who share the same frame: The 650B sport a super short 420mm rear center, putting the focus on playfulness. The 29ers have 437mm rear center, like the Epic World Cup. We know they could have made it shorter without needing Boost, as they’ve shown with the E29, but maybe they found that 437mm offers a good combination of stability and agility. Riding the Stumpy surely agrees. Currently, the E29 has 430mm stays, and the 650B model has 422mm. Arguably, both are somewhat short if you want the stability for racing. Jared Graves comes from a bike with rather longish chain stays (442mm for the SB6C), and with a playful Stumpy 650B at 420mm that could also see use on some courses, maybe Specialized will extend the rear center a bit. That may be a problem for marketing, but could help balance the bike.

Even though stiffness is adamant for an Enduro bike, I’d say it is safe to assume the Enduro gets the SWAT Door. Specialized invested a lot into this feature, and it would be a surprise not to see them include it on most, if not all new designs. This also adds about 200g to the frame, which I find pretty negligible, but weight weenies will disagree. Perhaps they’ve found a way to reduce weight somewhere else or we just have to get accustomed to bikes not getting lighter anymore.

As the bike gets racier, with the slacker head angle, the wheelbase will probably grow both on the 29er and the 650B. Sure, the E29 might lose some of its heavy-duty trail bike appeal, but the trend is towards slack geometry with less travel, and the Stumpy 29er can fill that role well enough. For those who need that much travel, the added stability may well be a boon rather than a setback.

Some riders felt the Enduro’s bottom bracket sits a touch too high, and for an overall slacker bike, Specialized may decide to lower it a bit.

Overall, I hope the Enduro retains its specific frame and does not join the Trail Chassis that the Stumpy and Camber share. Why? I think the Enduro is an icon, and I think three models sharing frames is not a good idea for a premium brand. I believe people want bikes to be distinct.

Travel
I think it is safe to assume that the 650B version will have 170mm travel up front. And with the 650B Stumpy having 150/150 and the E29 sporting 155mm in the rear, Specialized might choose a 170mm shock on the 650B Enduro to further differentiate the lineup. The E29 will probably stay at 160mm up front, which also happens to be the maximum travel for a 29er Lyrik and at 155mm rear because it is a logical step from the Stumpy 29er.

Parts
Öhlins STX 22 air shock and RXF 34 fork on the S-Works models. On the Expert model, we’ll see the Öhlins shock, too, and either the Öhlins fork or the Rockshox Lyrik. The other models are likely to have the Lyrik and a Rockshox Monarch or Fox Float DPS.

It would be nice to see Carbon rims on the Expert model, but this might be an important upselling opportunity, so we’re unlikely to see this.

On the brakes, Specialized has mostly been mixing SRAM/Avid and Shimano in their lineup, with an occasional Magura spec. Personally, I really like almost everything about the Magura MT7, except for the lever (that’s why I’m running them differently). I’m not alone in this, but maybe they’ll spec Magura on some Enduro models. It may be worth it for the stopping power.

On the seat post, most models will have the command post with the SRL lever we all love so much that we are retrofitting it on our bikes. The bad news is that most likely, the post will still have 125mm only. Specialized, if you’re reading this, please bring us a 150mm option that we can upgrade our existing command posts to.

(Update:) With the advent of SRAM X01 Eagle 1×12 drivetrains, Specialized will want to specify the latest one-by technology on their top S-Works offering.

Timing
I guess it will be a mid-season release, possibly as early as the Sea Otter Classic in April.

Anything else?
In the past, the Enduro lineup included the Evo. With 180mm travel, the legendary SX Trail’s successor catered to the freeride crowd, and was an ideal park bike that you could also shred on your local DH tracks. At little over 14 kg, it was still a lot more pedal-friendly than a true DH bike, which made it an ideal one-quiver bike for the more gravity-focused folks. Some people maintain that such a bike would best be put on 26“ wheels, and even though I see the charm of it, I believe it might be too early for a 26er freeride revival. But it is a bike I’d like to see.

 

Update: Recently, what could be a Specialized patent drawing leaked, and is claimed to show the 2017 Specialized Enduro. Read why I don’t think this is the case here.

    • Danga on January 29, 2016 at 02:58

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    Great write up. Agree that the new Enduro should come out in an early release and have discussed many of the points above with fellow Enduro riders hanging out for an updated model. Most of what you hope for echoes with our wish list. Anticipated most of the 2016 Stumpjumper updates except the SWAT Box which came from left field. Exciting times….Can’t wait!

    1. Tim
      • Tim on February 3, 2016 at 12:02
      • Author

      Reply

      Thanks. Exciting times indeed, especially considering the success of the E29 – it is an icon, so the update will likely draw a lot of love/hate reactions.

    • John on February 17, 2016 at 07:17

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    Slightly slacker HA , possibly with a flip switch to aid flexibility of use? As they have the Scott designer maybe even a twin loc on the fly style travel adjustment system?

    Matching suspension….. Monarch/Lyrik…. Ohlins/Ohlins….

    Chainstay length. Given Spec philosophy on 29 being for larger riders the should reflect on the implied leg length of taller riders. Either have longer CS for All (435mm?) or size specific adjustable CS length.

    SWAT looks very useful. Get those tools in a safer place and the weight lower down (we all agree that difference is great).

    The Enduro wheels need to be sorted out. 24/28H may sound great on weight but this is an Enduro bike and needs to be able to hit drops and gnar. 32H on decent rims with a decent Ratchet….there is no excuse for selling £3k/£4.5k Elite/Carbon Expert models with low POE. Presumably 148/110 boost will also be adopted given need for 29er wheel strength, whether it’s enough to offset low spoke counts I don’t know. Good Carbon wheels are now cheap so charging a premium looks an aggressive call.

    DM mount cranks to aid flexibility on chainring sizing. Some riders have to accommodate regular long steep climbs and being able to pick a 28 over a 30 is genuinely helpful. If there’s no DM then the BCD size should be low. Changing a crank is not an acceptable start point just to pick a one size lower chainring.

    150mm dropper is now standard on comparable bikes and a necessity. If they spec a 125mm it will be yet another part that you look at on the spec sheet and say I have to change that and there’s a cost. The new command post works well so a 150mm would be good.

    The latter point is a recurring theme. Consumers don’t expect to have to pick up a major cost of items that simply aren’t good enough to use as opposed to genuine upgrading……Wheels (strength/ratchet), crank (no chainring flexibility) and dropper posts (wrong size). Spec needs to get this right as these are game stoppers for many.

    One last thing….is the BB going to change?

    1. Tim
      • Tim on February 23, 2016 at 09:41
      • Author

      Reply

      Good points, John. I completely agree on the chain ring. Direct mount has been an issue with top models (S-Works cranks) and entry models (e.g. SRAM S-1000 cranks). On entry level models, they could avoid the issue by specifying X1-1400 or NX-1400 cranks which have removable spiders so they can take direct mount chainrings. Size specific rear centers would be great, but I don’t expect them. I’d appreciate sturdier wheels, but their wheelsets are designed for weight (great weight at acceptable stability). I think this is a conscious decision, because it also plays a role in reviews, stock bike weight, etc. Geo-wise, I doubt they will include a flip chip or something, because it is not their way of designing bikes (but with Peter Denk working on the next redesign, we may see geo adjustment, possibly to run 29 and 6Fattie, similar to what Santa Cruz did with the Hightower). Regarding the 150mm Command Post, I know I’m not the only one who’s been asking for this. They should definitely offer it. If not out of the box, then as a replacement option at the LBS.

    • Zoby on February 24, 2016 at 20:05

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    SWAT door and boost Standard 110/148

    • Gary on March 14, 2016 at 17:23

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    2017 29 Enduro
    Do : boost hubs, 150mm command post.
    Maybe : longer top tube/shorter stem combo, adjustable geometry rear link?
    Don’t : SWAT….. trunks are for cars!

    • Adam on June 27, 2016 at 14:36

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    I think that leaked frame design is for the return of the Specialized Status. The X-Wing frame is part of what makes the Enduro an Enduro.

    1. Tim
      • Tim on July 4, 2016 at 06:47
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      Reply

      Thanks, Adam. I think the leaked frame was a fake / hoax. But I’d really like to see Specialized introduce a new freeride bike, and I’d also like the Enduro to keep its iconic X-wing frame.

    • tricki on July 14, 2016 at 06:02

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    swat is for sure. also boost rear spacing. the new enduro’s will be available as 29er/6fattie and 27.5. the new enduro has some new geometries, including a sligtly lower bottom bracket, beefier fsr bearings and cleaner cable routing.
    pro and s-works will come with oehlins suspension. lyrik and monarch for the rest of the lineup. also, sworks an pro will come with sram eagle.

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