August 19, 2016 (Pender Harbour, B.C.) – Pedal was stoked to attend the recent 2017 Specialized Enduro MTB launch and experience this impressive bike on B.C. trails knowing expectations were high. Last year’s version was one of the most successful and respected bikes in the All-Mountain category, and despite the adage about “not messing with a good thing”, fans including us awaited this year’s version.
No matter how impressive the previous model was social media mavens provided endless suggestions and speculations. And the Big Red “S” listened and delivered. The 2017 model has some significant improvements with innovative tweaks that are sure to make this year’s Enduro the next All-Mountain “all-star”.
2017 Enduro Models
The 2017 line-up includes four models, each with the option of either a 29er/6fattie or a 650b specific frame design, including the S-Works, the Pro Carbon, the Elite Carbon, and the Enduro Comp – and all come in S, M, L and XL sizes.
The S-Works and Pro Carbon feature a FACT 11m, X-Wing layout, full carbon chassis and rear end. The Elite Carbon offers a FACT 9m, X-Wing layout with carbon front chassis and M5 alloy rear end. The Enduro Comp comes with an M5 alloy, X-wing layout.
The entire Enduro line offers plenty of bells and whistles including fine-tuned versions of Specialized’s iconic X-Wing frame design, refined All-Mountain geometry, threaded BB, fully enclosed internal cable routing, ManFu link, oversized pivot bearings, 12x148mm dropouts, a replaceable derailleur hanger and, with the exception of the Enduro Comp, all models come with SWAT™ Door integration.
One of the big on-line controversies, although not as big a deal in real world riding, seemed to be Specialized’s use of a pre-existing front triangle and tweak of a rear triangle to handle the 650b wheel size. Some considered it a short cut that didn’t truly represent a dedicated 650b frame. Specialized answered with a fully dedicated 650b frame as one of two options available in the Enduro line – the other being the classic 29er frame with mods for 6Fattie compatibility.
What was never really a controversy was the Enduro’s geometry as the 2016 models were incredibly popular and offered riders an excellent all-round, all-mountain machine. Of course tech is always evolving, with wheel sizes changes, tire trends, suspension systems improvements, and drive-train innovations – all of which played a part in the evolution of this year’s Enduro line.
One of the big changes for 2017, and notably apparent on the trails, were the “geo” modifications, specifically the head and seat tube angles and the bottom bracket heights. Of course with all the options in the line and various tire sizes it can get a little busy breaking it all down but here it is:
Head Angles – (slacker for 2017)
650b: 65.5° | 29/6Fattie: 66.0°
Bottom Brackets – (have been dropped compared to last year’s model)
650b x 2.3″: 345mm | 29 x 2.3″: 352mm
650b x 2.6″: 350mm | 650b x 3.0″: 345mm | 650b x 2.8″: 339mm
Chainstays – (have slightly increased over 2016 models)
650b: 425mm | 29/6Fattie: 432mm
Another significant change for the 2017 Enduro line comes in the form of increased travel on both the 29er and 650b frames. While all 29er/6Fattie models provide 160mm/165mm front and rear travel and all 650b models offer 170mm/170mm front and rear travel, respectively, suspension specifics differ throughout the line.
The S-Works and Pro Carbon 29er/6Fattie and 650B models feature a Custom Öhlins STX rear shock but differ in their front ends.
– S-Works Enduro 29/6Fattie – Öhlins RXF 36, 29/27.5+
– S-Works Enduro 650B – RockShox Lyric RCT3 27.5
– Pro Carbon 29/6Fattie – RockShox Lyric RC 29/27.5+
– Pro Carbon 650B – RockShox Lyric RC 27.5
The Elite Carbon and Comp models all offer a RockShox Monarch Plus rear suspension and various front ends:
– Elite Carbon 29/6Fattie – RockShox Lyric RC 29/27.5+
– Elite Carbon 650B – RockShox Lyric RC 27.5 fork
– Comp 29/6Fattie – RockShox Yari 29/27.5+
– Comp 650B – RockShox Yari RC 27.5
A welcome change that comes along with all the new suspension on this year’s Enduro is the use of oversized bearings that are the same size throughout the entire frame. This makes maintenance and replacement much easier and actually adds to the aesthetics of the frame.
And speaking of welcome changes, we’re sure Enduro enthusiasts will rejoice with the addition of a new threaded bottom bracket, squeaking out the previous PressFit 30 offering, ensuring a longer bearing life and a quieter BB.
Cable lines were also a hot item on the Enduro web forums and Specialized stepped it up for 2017 by going internal and getting rid of the crazy “Lazy Loop” that previously ran under the BB. The new routing has been done with class, with smooth entry points that follow independently molded tubes through the length of the down tube. The external portion of the cable now runs over the top of the BB in order to reduce the pull/bend on the cable housing – nice.
SWAT and more…
Another nice touch, whether expected or not, is the Enduro line gets SWAT™ Door storage integrated into the down tube. During the launch event it was pretty amazing to see what some could pack into this seemingly small space below the water bottle cage. Tools, light rain jackets and even the odd burrito for our lunch ride. Be forewarned though, if you do decide to use the SWAT™ storage for your lunch, you might want to note-to-self to not leave left overs in there overnight – we experienced first hand (first nose in this case) the results of such a mistake.
One of the few areas that Specialized did not cater to the collective calls for change was in the dropper seat post department – the 125mm seat post remains as part of the 2017 Enduro line. If you look closely though you will find that the Dropper Post is shimmed into a wider diameter seat-post for 2017 (34.9mm) We don’t know if this means a longer travel dropper is coming down the pipe… but we expect the mavens will share their thoughts.
When it comes to components the 29/6Fattie and the 650b versions of the Enduro are both dedicated to 1x drivetrains and, in fact, one of the first features you notice on the Enduro’s, is the dinner plate sized cassette on the rear wheel. This massive platter of a cassette is served up by SRAM and comes in several forms throughout the line.
The top shelf S-Works 29/6Fattie and 650b run SRAM’s venerable XX1 Eagle components. The Pro Carbon 29/6Fattie and 650B follow close behind with SRAM’s 12-speed X01 Eagle groupset, and all the Elite Carbon and Comp models sport SRAM’s 11-speed GX.
Tails form the Trail
So, with all thats shiny and new with the Enduro line you might be wondering how it feels on the trail and to truly understand that you will have to get your butt onto one… but we can fill you in on our experiences.
Picturesque Pender Harbour, B.C. was the launch site for this year’s Enduro line and Specialized could not have picked a more appropriate location for an All-Mountain launch. Pender Harbour is one of many communities along the Sunshine Coast of B.C. – a mountainous, seaside region that boasts 200+ km of single track and the Coast Gravity Park.
Although I didn’t get a lot of time on the 650b I did get a feel for its abilities in comparison to the 29er and it blows over almost anything with ease, essentially turing the rough trails of the west coast into a bouncy castle. Although I found a slight drop in precision handling compared to the 29er, the 650b adds a higher level of comfort over rough terrain. Of course 170mm of travel goes a long way in that department too. Next time I’ll be grabbing the 6Fattie version first to give it whirl.