The Specialized Enduro enters this group test as the defending champion. Spoiler alert: it couldn’t quite clinch the win this time. Nevertheless, the Enduro Expert is one of the most capable enduro bikes on the market and for many, it’s still a great choice. We found out who this bike is for!

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2021 – 13 models in review

Specialized Enduro Expert | 170/170 mm (f/r) | 15.64 kg in size S4 | € 6,999
Manufacturer’s website

When the Specialized Enduro was launched last year, the mountain bike world momentarily held its breath. The bike was radical and innovative in many ways. Specialized had put a lot of effort into developing the rear suspension, paying special attention to the rear axle path. A lot of know-how from their downhill bike, the Demo flowed into this. The ultimate goal was less “hang-up”. Instead of getting stuck on obstacles, the suspension is designed to have a rearward axle path. But that’s not the Enduro’s only speciality. The style-specific size concept with short seat tubes, the large SWAT box in the downtube and the radical geometry are other aspects that make this bike so special. Specialized has also paid a lot of attention to the details, such as the massive chainstay protector, the clever cable routing and the convenient tool integrated into the head tube. With 170 mm travel at the front and rear, the 29er should be capable of tackling everything that the world’s trails have to offer.

The components of the Specialized Enduro Expert 29 – Almost faultless

There was no S-Works model available for our test but that doesn’t matter, because the Enduro Expert leaves nothing to be desired. For the price of € 6,999, you might not get top end but you still have well-specced components. Specialized make no compromises when it comes to the suspension and install a FOX 38 Performance Elite fork with the GRIP2 damper, which doesn’t give up any performance compared to the Factory model. On the rear, you’ve got a FOX FLOAT X2 Performance shock. Shifting is taken care of by a mix of SRAM X01 and GX parts and a pair of CODE RSC brakes with 200 mm rotors handle stopping duties. The aluminium cockpit and the X-Fusion dropper post aren’t anything to write home about but they work perfectly. We were less happy about the in-house Butcher GRID Trail tires – they don’t do the bike justice. The Enduro deserves the more robust GRID Gravity casing.

The rear end of the Specialized performs brilliantly and offers a lot of traction. This keeps the bike calm and breaking personal records on Strava comes almost automatically. We would have wanted more reserves for the biggest hits.
The Specialized Enduro is a massive bike for demanding use. This is evident from the diameter of the tubes, keeping the bike very stiff.
Never heard of the SRAM CODE RS? No wonder, the brakes are only available to the end-users as the R or RSC model. The RS offers a lever reach adjustment and the ingenious swing link but dispenses with the bite point adjustment.

Specialized Enduro Expert

€ 6,999

Specifications

Fork FOX 38 Performance Elite GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X2 Performance 170 mm
Seatpost X-Fusion Manic 170 mm
Brakes SRAM Code RS 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM X01/GX1 Eagle 30/10-52
Stem Specialized Alloy Trail 50 mm
Handlebar Specialized Trail 800 mm
Wheelset Roval Traverse
Tires Specialized Butcher GRID TRAIL GRIPTON/Specialized Eliminator GRID TRAIL GRIPTON 2.3"/2.3"

Technical Data

Size S2 S3 S4 S5
Weight 15.64 kg
Wheelsize 29"

More and more manufacturers are starting to realise how amazing it is to have extra on-bike storage integrated into the bike. However, none of them have caught up with Specialized. The pack volume and the size of the opening are particularly impressive.
The Specialized Enduro has a flip chip in the rear shock mount. In the end, we settled on the low setting and left it there. This setting makes the most sense for the intended use of the Enduro. However, if you ride the bike as an all-rounder, you’d better set the flip chip to high.
The chainstay protector on the Enduro is massive and effectively dampens chain slap.

The geometry of the 2021 Specialized Enduro – Long and slack

What the Specialized Enduro is made for becomes clear when you look at the geometry. At Specialized, you don’t choose a bike based on its size, but rather on its length. Therefore, the sizes aren’t designated S, M and L, but S2, S3, S4 and S5. We rode the S4 bike. On this, the head angle is 63.9°, the reach is a roomy 487 mm and the 442 mm long chainstays should keep things balanced on all frame sizes. The seat tube angle is rather slack at 76°, especially when you consider that it slackens even further when the long-travel suspension is at sag. The 28 mm bottom bracket drop ensures that you’re well integrated with the bike.

Size S2 S3 S4 S5
Seat tube 400 mm 420 mm 440 mm 465 mm
Top tube 591 mm 619 mm 644 mm 670 mm
Head tube 95 mm 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm
Head angle 63.9° 63.9° 63.9° 63.9°
Seat angle 76.0° 76.0° 76.0° 76.0°
Chainstays 442 mm 442 mm 442 mm 442 mm
BB Drop 21 mm 21 mm 21 mm 21 mm
Wheelbase 1,217 mm 1,246 mm 1,274 mm 1,302 mm
Reach 437 mm 464 mm 487 mm 511 mm
Stack 616 mm 620 mm 629 mm 638 mm
Helmet Fox Dropframe | Glasses 100% S2 | Jersey Fox Ranger
Shorts Fox Ranger | Knee pads FOX Launch Knee Pad | Shoes

An efficient ocean liner – The Specialized Enduro on the climbs

Whoa, what a tank! That’s the first impression when you take a seat aboard the Enduro. Due to the long frame and the moderate seat tube angle, the riding position is spacious and slightly stretched. For steep climbs, we recommend pushing the saddle forward. However, anyone who fears that the Enduro is a pig uphill would be wrong. Once you get going, the Specialized climbs surprisingly well thanks to its efficient suspension. However, the Enduro Expert will certainly be slowed down a bit if you fit more robust tires.

BRAAAP! On the descents, nothing is capable of upsetting the Specialized Enduro!

“Hold on and stay off the brakes!” the Specialized Enduro Expert cries out. This bike is extremely composed and incredibly stable even in the roughest, most demanding terrain. The Enduro delivers on its promise of the rearward axle path, absorbing even the biggest hits with absolute ease and delivering tons of traction. Every now and then, on particularly hard hits, we would only have liked a little more progression. The bike’s incredible composure is underlined by its length. However, together with the slack head angle, it also means that the Enduro is not the most precise handling bike. But that doesn’t matter since it will flatten everything in its path anyway. The Enduro really comes to life at higher speeds and a corresponding gradient. On the other hand, you will soon get bored on flat trails as the bike isn’t much fun here. That said, the rear offers a lot of support and the Enduro is surprisingly easy to get airborne.

How does the Specialized compare to the competition?

The Specialized Enduro hammers through the roughest terrain without batting an eyelid. Only the Nukeproof Mega 290 and the Rocky Mountain Altitude are able to keep up. However, both of these bikes are more versatile than the Enduro and more fun to ride on easier trails. They also offer a better riding position uphill, making them the better all-rounders. However, if you want to nip at the heels of downhillers in the bike park, there is only one bike for the job: the 2021 Specialized Enduro.

Tuning tips: fit appropriate tires and get a season ticket for the bike park | add volume spacers in the shock

Riding Characteristics

12

Uphill

1
  1. sluggish
  2. efficient

Agility

2
  1. cumbersome
  2. playful

Stability

3
  1. nervous
  2. confident

Handling

4
  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Suspension

5
  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

6
  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

7
  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use

XC

8

Trail

9

Enduro

10

Downhill

11

Conclusion

What do you need a downhill bike for? The 2021 Specialized Enduro Expert is an absolute machine, capable of taking on the world’s roughest descents. Its handling is amazingly composed yet balanced. However, this bike needs speed to flourish; flat, easy trails aren’t any fun and climbing is only a means to an end – to blast downhill at top speed.

Tops

  • completely composed on the roughest trails
  • brilliant rear suspension offering lots of traction
  • smart features such as the SWAT box

Flops

  • too much bike for many trails
  • riding position too stretched uphill

You can find out more about at specialized.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2021 – 13 models in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR (Click for review) | COMMENCAL Meta AM 29 Öhlins (Click for review) | GIANT Reign Advanced Pro 0 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo V2 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro (Click for review) | Propain Spindrift CF Mix Custom (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 90 Rally Edition (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Coil RSV (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01 RSV (Click for review) | Specialized Enduro Expert | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO (Click for review) | Transition Sentinel XT (Click for review) | Trek Slash 9.8 XT (Click for review)

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer, Valentin Rühl, Markus Frühmann

About the author

Christoph Bayer

When work doesn't feel like work, then you've probably done everything right. Luckily, that’s exactly what Christoph did. He loves biking and the tech talk surrounding it (to the detriment of his girlfriend Toni), photography and travelling the world. He has been with ENDURO almost from the start and as editor-in-chief, he's responsible for making ENDURO the most progressive and exciting magazine in the industry. Of course, he still writes a lot of content himself, reviews almost 100 bikes a year and rides his bike almost every day. The alpine trails around his hometown serve as the perfect testing grounds. He doesn't have a classic 9 to 5 routine – sometimes he's in the office, sometimes he'll take his laptop to sit in the garden and sometimes you'll even find him working remotely from his van parked at one the best riding spots in the world. For Christoph, work-life boundaries are fluid and he likes it that way.