The Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL is the only eMTB in our “Best enduro bike of 2022” group test. How does the most expensive bike in our test fare against its opponents with its small motor and small battery? Here’s a little spoiler: everything has its pros and cons!

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2022 – 11 models in review

Specialized S-Works Turbo Kenevo SL | 170/170 mm (f/r)
18.70 kg in size S4 | € 14,500 | Manufacturer’s website

With its small electric motor, the Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL falls into the category of Light eMTBs. This makes it the only motor-assisted bike in our big “Best enduro bike of 2022” group test. The emphasis here is on “motor-assisted”. Uphill, the 35 Nm output of the Specialized SL 1.1 motor lets you pull past the competition with a gentle breeze of artificial tailwind but still requires you to work hard on long climbs compared to more powerful ebikes. Needless to say, the Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL is the strongest climber in our group test. The small drive unit consumes less electricity than conventional motors, allowing you to cover decent distances despite the small 320 Wh battery. For long rides and epic backcountry adventures, you can increase the capacity of the internal battery using Specialized’s optional 160 Wh Range-Extender, which is stowed in the bottle cage. However, all of this comes at a price. At € 14,500 and 18.7 kg, the S-Works Kenevo SL is the most expensive and heaviest bike in the entire test field. Both the SL motor and MasterMind display are neatly integrated into the frame. A remote on the handlebars lets you switch between support modes while Specialized’s Mission Control app allows you to customise the assistance modes and personalise the layout of the display. With its 29” wheels and whopping 170 mm travel front and rear, the Kenevo SL resembles its analogue counterpart, the Specialized Enduro.. That similarity is more than just skin deep, with the two bikes also sharing many frame details, such as the SWAT mini-tool integrated into the headset, which includes all the necessary tools for quick trailside repairs. The Kenevo SL also features Specialized’s renowned seat and chainstay protector and small rear mudguard. Like the Santa Cruz Bronson, the Kenevo hides its shock deep inside the frame, making it hard to adjust the compression and rebound settings.

Crème de la crème? The spec of the Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL

For the flagship S-Works Kenevo SL model, Specialized rely on a complete SRAM AXS groupset consisting of an XX1 12-speed drivetrain and Reverb dropper post. SRAM’s electronic paddle shifters are attached to Specialized’s in-house 800 mm carbon handlebars. Like the YT Capra, the Kenevo SL relies on SRAM’s Matchmaker clamps to connect the SRAM shifters to the levers of the SRAM CODE RSC four-piston brakes. However, there’s a big difference: unlike the German brand, Specialized run a massive 220 mm rotor at the front and 200 mm disc at the rear and the heavy Kenevo SL really benefits from that bigger front rotor! There’s one more difference: the Kenevo also has a data cable that runs from the minimalist remote straight into the frame.

Powered steed
The 1.95 kg Specialized SL 1.1 motor delivers 35 Nm artificial tailwind.
The integrated multi-tool includes all the tools you need for quick trailside repairs.

Specialized S-Works Turbo Kenevo SL

€ 14,500


Motor Specialized SL 1.1 35 Nm
Battery Specialized SL1-320 320 Wh
Display Specialized MasterMind
Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X2 Factory 170 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb AXS 170 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 220/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS 1x12
Stem DEITY Copperhead 35 mm
Handlebar Roval Traverse SL Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Roval Traverse SL 29 29
Tires Specialized Butcher 2.3

Technical Data

Size S2 S3 S4 S5
Weight 18.7 kg
Perm. total weight 128 kg

Specific Features

modular battery concept with range extender
flip chip
integrated mini tool

Satellite dish
The front brake clamps down on a massive 220 mm rotor, which is absolutely necessary given the extra mass of the Kenevo SL. Nevertheless, we still recommend braking a little earlier despite the increased power.
Lightweight components and eMTBs?
Specialized rely on their own carbon wheels and tires. Unfortunately, the flimsy tire casing is extremely puncture-prone and could potentially result in terminal damage to the expensive carbon rims. The marginal weight savings aren’t worth the risk.
Little blemish
The minimalist handlebar remote ensures a discreet look but the additional cable and clamp spoil the otherwise clean cockpit. There are definitely tidier solutions in this group test.

The suspension consists of a FOX 38 Factory fork with a GRIP2 damper and FLOAT X2 Factory shock. This setup offers countless adjustment options to fine-tune your ride. For other components like the tires and wheels, Specialized rely on their own components, including a Roval Traverse SL carbon wheelset and 2.3” Butcher tires. Both come in the puncture-prone GRID Trail casing, which will require you to run higher air pressures to prevent pinch flats and irreversible damage to the expensive carbon rims. However, higher tire pressures come at the expense of traction and support and the marginal weight reduction isn’t worth the risk.

Foot out, flat out
Even in open corners, the handling is intuitive, making it easy to drift through in full control.
Purrs like a kitten
While at first glance the Kenevo SL doesn’t look like an eMTB, it definitely sounds like one. When the Specialized overtakes the competition, everyone knows what’s going on!

The geometry of the Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL

The geometry of the Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL can be adjusted using different headset cups and a flip-chip in the chainstays. The headset cups change the head angle from 63.2° to 64.7° while the flip chip alters chainstay length by 5 mm and the bottom bracket height by 6 mm. The S-Works Turbo Kenevo SL adopts Specialized’s S-sizing system. Unfortunately, the sizing concept doesn’t really work with this bike, because the seat tube of the Kenevo doesn’t allow you to insert the 170 mm AXS Reverb dropper all the way into the frame. On top of that, the AXS dropper has a greater stack height than most conventional dropper posts, which restricts freedom of movement on the bike even further. As a result, as some of our riders found, you may not be able to use the maximum dropper travel. The Kenevo SL is available in four sizes, S2 to S5. At 489 mm in size S4, the reach is relatively long.

The extra mass of the battery contributes to the intuitive handling. However, we recommend braking a little earlier, because the additional weight tends to pull you and the bike downhill.

Size S2 S3 S4 S5
Seat tube 400 mm 420 mm 440 mm 465 mm
Head tube 105 mm 115 mm 125 mm 135 mm
Head angle 63.5° 63.5° 63.5° 63.5°
Seat angle 76.0° 76.0° 76.0° 76.0°
Chainstays 447 mm 447 mm 447 mm 447 mm
BB Drop 25 mm 25 mm 25 mm 25 mm
Wheelbase 1,228 mm 1,258 mm 1,287 mm 1,316 mm
Reach 435 mm 460 mm 485 mm 510 mm
Stack 618 mm 626 mm 635 mm 644 mm
Helmet Bluegrass Rogue Core MIPS | Glasses POC Devour | Jersey POC Pure
Shorts POC Essential Enduro | Kneepad POC VPD System Knee
Shoes ION Rascal | Socks Fox Flexair

Intuitive, smooth and lots of traction – The S-Works Kenevo SL on the trail

Yes, uphill the S-Works Kenevo SL pulls past the entire test field without batting an eyelid, teasing its opponents with a distinctive hum. However, while it’s definitely the fastest bike uphill, it is certainly not the most comfortable. The relatively slack seat tube angle makes for a very stretched-out pedalling position that can become uncomfortable on long rides. To make up for this, we recommend sliding the saddle forward a little.

The Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL is the climbing king in this test. Given that it’s the only eMTB in the test, that doesn’t come as a surprise. While the motor is neatly integrated into the frame, the loud humming noise gives away the electric nature of the Kenevo SL, even from a distance!

A tight fit!
On steep descents, the saddle really gets in your way. The short insertion depth of the seat tube doesn’t allow you to get the Reverb AXS dropper post all the way into the frame.

Downhill, the Kenevo SL impresses with its super intuitive handling and excellent traction, not least due to the additional weight of the battery in the down tube. As a result, it doesn’t force you to actively load the front wheel and is always easy to control, generating lots of traction even with a passive riding style. On narrow trails, the Kenevo feels sluggish, reminding us of the Nukeproof Giga a little. Only the GT Force requires more physical effort to snake your way through the trees on winding trails. That said, the Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL is incredibly stable and smooth and matches the plush ride of the other bruisers in this test, the Nukeproof Giga, Orbea Rallon and Simplon Rapcon. That being said, the extra mass of the battery and motor pulls the Kenevo downhill, requiring you to hit the brakes a little earlier than you would with a lighter analogue bike. On big hits, the rear suspension lacks progression and doesn’t offer sufficient reserves. On very steep descents, the limited insertion depth and tall stack height of the AXS dropper result in the saddle getting in your way, significantly limiting the freedom of movement on the bike.

Tuning tips: more robust tires | put a volume spacer in the shock | fit a dropper with less stack height (e.g. OneUp V2)

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










The S-Works Kenevo SL enters our group test with extra motor power but also extra weight. Specialized’s Light eMTB steams past the competition on the climbs and shines with its smooth, intuitive handling and excellent traction when you point its nose down into the valley. Unfortunately, on the descents it lacks agility and the suspension doesn’t offer sufficient reserves. Moreover, the flimsy tires limit the range of applications and the flexibility promised by the S-sizing system doesn’t work with the limited freedom of movement on the bike.


  • intuitive handling
  • motor support without major drawbacks downhil


  • long seat tube and short insertion depth limit freedom of movement
  • flimsy tire casing combined with carbon rims
  • shock bottoms out too easily

You can find out more about at

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2022 – 11 models in review

All bikes in test: Cannondale Jekyll 1 (Click for review) | Canyon Torque CF 8 (Click for review) | GT Force Carbon PRO LE (Click for review) | Nukeproof Giga 290 Carbon Factory (Click for review) | Orbea Rallon M-Team (Click for review) | Pivot Firebird Pro XT/XTR – Air (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Altitude C90 Rally Edition (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Bronson CC X01 AXS (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Turbo Kenevo SL | YT CAPRA UNCAGED 6 (Click for review)

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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Peter Walker

About the author

Peter Walker

As editor-in-chief, Peter is as much a man of action as he is of words. This expert, screw-driver-flexing two wheeled-whizz has many envy-inducing characteristics, including a background in motocross, several EWS race plates to his name, and more than 150 recorded days at Whistler Bike Park. However complex the bike and however steep the trail, he’s probably already nailed it, twice. Oh, and he can do it all on skinny tyres too. When it comes to guiding consumers, Peter cut his teeth at Vancouver’s oldest bike shop and now puts pen to paper on the daily translating this know-how into our editorial plan. When not tearing up Stuttgart’s local trails while testing bikes, he loves nothing more than loading up his self-renovated VW T5 and hitting the road. The fact that he’s a trained paramedic gives his colleagues reassurance out on the trails. So far we haven’t had to call him by his alias ‘Sani Peter’, so here’s hoping he keeps it right side up for the rest of his time here!