No bike in the test field had us riding as fast the Specialized Enduro S-Works. Your pupils are the size of a dinner plate, adrenaline flooding your brain and pumping through your veins and all you’re thinking is: how on earth did I get down that trail?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020

Specialized S-Works Enduro 2020 | 170/170 mm | 14.66 kg | € 10,999

The Specialized Enduro S-Works has nothing in common with its predecessor. Gone are the days of the classic X-Wing design. Once tame and playful, Specialized have turned the Enduro into a descending machine. While developing the latest Enduro, the American brand drew from what they learned in creating the new Demo, their downhill bike. One of the top priorities here was the rear axle path as it goes through its travel. Instead of getting hung up on obstacles, the wheel moves back and out of the way, allowing the bike to carry speed more efficiently. As you’d expect, the frame features Specialized’s SWAT-Box in the down tube and a tool conveniently stowed in the steerer tube. As with the Stumpjumper Evo, the sizes of the Enduro are no longer defined by the height of the seat tube and you choose the bike based on its desired length. The spec looks a bit of a mix and match at first but Specialized wouldn’t settle for anything but the very best and so the American brand combine a wireless RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post with a Shimano XTR drivetrain and XTR four-piston brakes. Our only gripe is the small 180 mm brake rotor on the rear wheel. The FOX Factory suspension consisting of a 36 GRIP2 fork and an X2 shock offers 170 mm travel, front and rear.

Very practical
We could recommend the Enduro because of the SWAT box alone – it’s big enough for all the essentials and you can almost always leave your backpack at home
Typical Specialized
It’s the details like the tool stowed in the steerer tube that prove how much thought has gone into this bike
A chore
The rear linkage of the Enduro performs brilliantly – unfortunately, it’s a chore to clean.
Super high-quality
No question: at this price, anything else is unacceptable, but the finishing quality of the Enduro is outstanding

Specialized Enduro S-WORKS 2020

€ 10,999

Specifications

Fork FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X2 Factory 170 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb AXS 170 mm
Brakes Shimano XTR 4-Kolben 200/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XTR M9100 30 - 10/51
Stem Deity Copperhead 50 mm
Handlebar Roval Traverse SL Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Roval Traverse SL Carbon 29

Technical Data

Size S2, S3,S4,S5
Weight 14.66 kg


Stay high
We recommend riding the bike with the flip-ship in the high setting. It’s damn slack nonetheless, though much more versatile.
As you can hear, nothing!
The Specialized S-Works Enduro is one of the quietest, if not the quietest bike in the test field – complete silence!
Only the best
Specialized combine the best components from various manufacturers on the Enduro S-Works, relying on a RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post in combination with a Shimano XTR drivetrain – an excellent choice.
Recommended
The revised Specialized Butcher tires performed convincingly for the duration of our test, offering good grip with a predictable limit

Geometry and size of the Specialized

The geometry of the Specialized S-Works Enduro is radical yet balanced. The head angle is super slack, the reach is long and the bottom bracket is low. Thanks to the short seat tube, you get to choose the bike based on the length, not the hight. Which is why Specialized don’t categorise the sizes from S – XL, but by S2, S3, S4, S5. At 180 cm tall, you can choose between S3 and S4. A flip chip in the shock mount gives you two settings – the high setting is most suitable for everyday use and the low setting is only relevant if you’re aiming to ride in a bike park.

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 | Protector Leatt 3DF Airfit | Shirt Mons Royale Temple Tech | Shorts iXS CARVE Shorts | Knee pads Fox Launch Pro

The Specialized S-Works Enduro 2020 on the trail

With a rider height of 180 cm, we could have chosen either size S3 or S4 of the Enduro and ultimately settled on the larger version with a reach of 483 mm. The added length gives you plenty of space to move around on the bike and thanks to the low bottom bracket, you’re positioned centrally between the 29″ wheels, feeling well integrated. This alone instils you with confidence, but as soon as you get off the brakes and let the bike go, you’ll be questioning everything you thought you knew. No matter how harshly you enter a rock garden or how directly you blast into a field of roots and ruts, the suspension of the Enduro remains unimpressed and delivers the traction you need. This bike eats boulders for breakfast and indulges in the steepest and meanest descents for dessert. The bike remains agile enough in narrower sections but we wouldn’t use the word playful to describe the size S4 Enduro with its very plush suspension.

Whatever you point the Enduro at, the rear suspension will iron out everything!

The suspension is supportive enough for you to pump the bike or catch air but it demands steep terrain. After a few rides, we mounted the shock with the flip-chip in the high setting where the bike still remained very composed but felt more balanced overall. That said, the low setting is great for bike park days, making your downhill bike obsolete!

Despite its outstanding performance on the descents, the Specialized Enduro climbs surprisingly well. We recommend pushing the saddle forward where the pedalling position is nicely balanced. The rear suspension doesn’t bob as you pedal even without the climb switch engaged, making easy work of the climbs. On more technical ascents, you have to choose your lines carefully because of the low bottom bracket, but you won’t find the bike lacking in traction.

Your synapses won’t stop firing! The Specialized is an attack on your senses – provided you’re riding something steep enough.

How does the Specialized Enduro S-Works compare to the competition?

When it comes to speed on rough terrain, the Specialized Enduro is the unrivalled king of this group test. No other bike on test is as capable at dealing with fast, hard hits as the Enduro. If you don’t constantly find yourself tackling the roughest trails, you’ll find better all-rounders in the test field, such as last year’s winner, the Canyon Strive, but when it comes to maximum performance at the highest speed, the Specialized Enduro is in a class of its own.

Tuning tip: if necessary, shorten the handlebars | choose the high setting on the flip-chip | if you like it more agile, size down

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

The Specialized Enduro S-Works is an enduro bike that can easily take on the most demanding tracks in the world, elevating its rider to new heights. Its super-capable rear suspension and uncompromising geometry make it a mini-downhill bike that still climbs pretty well. This outstanding performance is topped off with lots of clever details, making the S-Works Enduro the best enduro bike of 2020 and our deserved Best in Test!

Tops

  • next level speed
  • incredible performance of the rear suspension
  • high-quality workmanship with smart details
  • brilliant spec

Flops

  • seat tube angle could be steeper
  • small brake rotor at the rear
  • by far the most expensive bike on test

You can find out more about the Specialized S-Works Enduro 2020 at specialized.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 LTD | CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 | Giant Reign Advanced 29 0 | Ibis Mojo HD5 | Norco Sight C1 29 | Nukeproof Mega 275C RS | Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro | Orbea Rallon M-LTD | Pole Stamina 180 LE | RAAW Madonna V2 FOX Factory Built | Rocky Mountain Slayer Carbon 90 29 | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned | Specialized S-Works Enduro 2020 | Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert | Trek Slash 9.9 X01 AXS | Yeti SB150 T2 | YT CAPRA 29 CF Pro Race

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer / Finlay Anderson / Markus Frühmann

About the author

Christoph Bayer

Christoph loves to be kept on his toes – both on the bike and in his role for ENDURO. He’s known as the guy in charge of the bi-monthly magazine and masquerades as both its editor and photographer. You’ll usually find him tearing up the mountains on his bike, soaking up the flow or tackling technical, narrow trails.