Bottle cage and a dual crown fork – how does that fit together? The Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert makes it possible with its powerful motor assisting the rider. We wanted to find out how an eMTB would fare in direct comparison to the best enduro bikes on the market – and we were in for a surprise!
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020
With 180 mm travel front and rear, the Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert stands out from the other bikes in the test field. The Kenevo is the only bike on test featuring a dual crown RockShox BoXXer fork, which you’ll usually only find on purpose-built downhill bikes. Paired with the fork is a RockShox Super Deluxe coil shock on the rear. Apart from that, you’ve got the Specialized 2.1 motor integrated into the frame, which is based on the Brose Drive S Mag. It puts out 90 Nm torque and is powered by a 700 Wh battery hidden in the down tube. It only assists the rider as long they’re pedalling and the assistance cuts out at a top speed of 25 km/h. There’s a small remote on the handlebar with which you can scroll through the support modes. Instead of a display, the beautifully integrated Turbo Connect Unit in the top tube gives you all the necessary information about the status of the battery and the selected support mode. In the highest support mode, the motor will increase the rider’s power output by up to 400 %. Specced with robust componentry, the bike weighs in at a total of 24.2 kg.
Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert
Motor Specialized 2.1 90Nm
Battery Specialized M2 700Wh
Display Specialized TCU
Fork RockShox BoXXer Select RC 180 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select 180 mm
Seatpost Specialized Command Post IRcc 130 - 160 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE R 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX 1x11
Stem Specialized Direct Mount DH 45 mm
Handlebar Specialized Alloy 800 mm
Wheelset Roval Alloy DH 27.5"
Size S2 S3 S4 S5
Weight 24.2 kg
Perm. total weight 161 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 136 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no
fully functional even without cockpit remote
Mission Control App
integrated multi tool
Geometry and size of the Specialized
Specialized have realised that eMTBs can no longer be sized according to the length of their seat tubes. Instead, the short seat tube of the Kenevo and long dropper posts allow you to choose the frame size according to the desired length of the top tube.
|Seat tube||400 mm||420 mm||440 mm||465 mm|
|Top tube||585 mm||612 mm||639 mm||666 mm|
|Head tube||105 mm||115 mm||125 mm||135 mm|
|Chainstays||454 mm||454 mm||454 mm||454 mm|
|BB Drop||14 mm||14 mm||14 mm||14 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,234 mm||1,263 mm||1,293 mm||1,322 mm|
|Reach||445 mm||470 mm||495 mm||520 mm|
|Stack||605 mm||614 mm||623 mm||632 mm|
The Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert on the trail
Despite its heft and the dual crown fork, the Specialized Kenevo will easily beat the competition on the climbs – as long as you haven’t run down the battery. Depending on the support mode, the assistance of the motor ranges from powerful yet natural feeling to riding with a constant tailwind! Despite its bulky appearance, the Kenevo Expert gets up even the most technical climbs. With its super-steep seat tube angle, the rider is positioned centrally between the wheels and, in combination with the long front triangle, the front wheel is kept sufficiently weighted in spite of the long fork. As a result, it stays planted on the ground and lifts only on the most extreme climbs where other bikes would long have come to a standstill. But let’s be honest: if you’re interested in the Kenevo, you’ll want to know how it climbs in Shuttle mode. Shuttle mode is a super powerful support level that you first have to activate via the Mission Control app. Once you’ve done so, the Specialized 2.1 motor loses its natural ride feel and pushes you along at maximum power. However, there’s a downside if you plan on using an actual shuttle. Given how heavy the bike is, you’re bound to put your back out sooner or later.
Es war klar, dass das Kenevo bergauf alle Bikes alt aussehen lässt. Das es aber auch bergab so überzeugt war eine Überraschung!
One thing is clear: the Specialized Turbo Kenevo is a capable descender. No matter how rough the terrain, it remains stable and precise. Whatever line you aim for, the Kenevo will hit it precisely and it’s damn fast doing so. That’s not a given for a bike with a motor, in case that’s what you were thinking. Despite its long travel, the suspension feels very defined and gives you a lot of feedback from the trail. The suspension is poppy enough to get the Kenevo airborne, though its weight does require more effort to do so. In general, the steeper and faster the trail, the more fun you’ll have on this bike. However, the tall front end, the long front triangle and the bike’s hefty weight take their toll on tighter more winding trails. When cornering in flat terrain, you have to weight the front wheel actively and the high degree of stability of the Kenevo demands a lot of rider input if you want to change direction at slower speeds.
How does the Specialized Kenvo compare to the competition?
As you’d expect, the Specialized Kenevo is in a league of its own on the climbs and as long as the battery has got enough juice left, it easily leaves the competition behind. Suddenly, climbing becomes fun and you discover new ways of getting to the trailhead. On the descents, it’s by far the plushest bike in the test field and it feels as stable as the Specialized Enduro or the RAAW Madonna. Manoeuvring tight sections and trying to catch air takes quite a bit more effort with this bike though.
Tuning tip: 220 mm brake rotors
The Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert is one of the most capable eMTBs available today and it proves how much fun you can have on a modern eMTB. Climbs suddenly become more than a means to an end and the suspension and geometry instil you with confidence on the descents. Of course, this does come at the cost of agility. If you’re in the market for a capable eMTB, we recommend taking a closer look at the Kenevo!
- unlimited downhill capabilities
- confidence-inspiring on the descents
- powerful motor
- Shuttle mode
- brakes are too weak for the intended use
- boring on easier trails
You can find out more about the Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert 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
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer / Finlay Anderson / Markus Frühmann