Bike: 2013 Specialized Enduro Expert
Size Tested: Medium (23.14” top tube)
Weight: ~29 lbs. (see The Build section for more details)
Geometry: Check it out here
Rider: 5’9”, 150 lbs. Has proof that Slayer is better than Phish.
- Fox Float CTD rear shock
- Fox 34 TALAS CTD
- SRAM X0 Type 2 r. derailleur
- SRAM X7 front derailleur
- X9 Shifters
- XO Carbon Crank
- Avid Elixir 7 Brakes (200/180mm rotors)
- 24/36T chainrings
- 11-36 cassette
- Gamut bashguard and P30 dual ring lower guide
Duration of test: ~3.5 months
Where: Whitefish, Fernie, Moab, Sedona, Hurricane, a smattering of other places
It’s been about twelve years since I spent significant time on a horst link bike, so the Enduro comes as somewhat of a departure for me in this age of new-fangled suspension designs. It appears that this design—unlike some other ill-conceived solutions-in-search-of-a-problem—has stood the test of time quite well. It’s still pretty damn good.
The first thing I noticed about the Enduro is that it fits like a Specialized. It feels relatively long—my medium Enduro feels considerably longer than my previous bike, a medium Pivot Firebird. At first glance, the two bikes look similar. The Enduro has a 23.14” top tube (actual) and the Firebird has a 23” top tube (actual).
But the top tube doesn’t tell the whole story. The “reach”—the horizontal distance between the center of the bottom bracket and the center of the top of the head tube—varies significantly on the two bikes. The Enduro’s reach is about 17”. The Firebird’s reach is about 14.9”. While the Firebird is on the short end of the spectrum, the Enduro is definitely on the long end.
The Enduro also has a relatively slack 69.6° seat tube angle. For long-legged folks such as myself, that means the distance to the handlebar gets even longer by the time the seat’s raised to proper pedaling height.
The rest of the Enduro’s geometry is clearly designed for maximum trail slayage. It has a slack 66.5° head tube angle, a low 13.8” bottom bracket, and short 16.5” chainstays. The frame produces 165mm of travel via a Fox Float CTD rear shock, which is matched to a Fox 34 TALAS CTD that can switch from 160mm to 130mm travel.
The Enduro lineup
The Enduro Expert (which I’m reviewing here) has a carbon front triangle and an aluminum rear triangle. For those riders who are still slightly confused by the Specialized taxonomy, this is how it works:
The Enduro comes in a “Comp” version, which has an aluminum frame and slightly lower caliber components. Up from that in the line is the “Expert,” which has a “FACT IS-X 11m” carbon front triangle and some nicer parts bolted to it.
The S-Works Enduro is the top of the line, with a lighter carbon front triangle and even nicer parts.
Then there’s the Enduro 29 (coming in both “Comp” and “Expert” packages), as well as the Enduro Evo (coming in plain “Evo” as well as “Expert” packages).
As you might have guessed, the Enduro 29 has 29” wheels and the geometry is adjusted accordingly. The Evo models come spec’d for more downhill-oriented riding—slacker geometry, coil shocks, and less carbon.
The Enduro Expert has a mix of Specialized brand parts and SRAM / Avid bits.
The SRAM XO Type 2 clutched rear derailleur works as advertised, and keeps things nice and quiet. While the type 2 derailleur has a heavier feel at the shifter, mine shifted well and hasn’t required any maintenance.
These parts have worked well during the time I’ve had on the bike, but I do wish there were protective covers on the ends of the crank arms—I’ve put some nicks in the carbon with a few mistimed pedal strokes.
Stopping duties are assigned to Avid Elixir 7’s, with a 200mm rotor in front and a 180mm rotor in the rear. The Elixirs don’t have quite the stopping power of current Shimano products, but I never found the SRAM brakes to be lacking.
They have great modulation, though like most Avids I’ve ridden, I had to bleed out some air bubbles that caused variability in the lever pull. These Avids still occasionally make a bit of noise—not so much that I really care, but enough so that I do notice it.
The Enduro also comes spec’d with a healthy dose of house-brand Specialized parts. This includes the handlebar, stem, seatpost, saddle, wheels, tires, and grips. Out of these parts, I swapped the saddle because the stock seat didn’t agree with my ass, and I switched the 720mm-stock handlebar for a 750mm Easton.
Weight / Frame Stiffness
The Enduro Expert is pretty light and pretty stiff. With the stock build, the Enduro weighed just under 29 lbs (with Time MX6 pedals).
As it currently sits, it weighs about 29.5lbs, mostly due to the Rockshox Lyrik RC2DH solo air I substituted for the Fox 34 fork. Considering I don’t have carbon wheels or carbon handlebars, and that my tires are heavy-ish and I’m still running tubes, that’s not bad.
I never noticed any frame flex—the rear end felt stout when thrown into corners, and the massive bottom bracket certainly wasn’t yielding to the meager amount of power that I was throwing at it. So far, everything is running smoothly and quietly—no creaks or pops.
While house-brand parts tend to get a bad rap, I’m quite pleased with most of the Specialized components.
Take the Roval Traverse wheels. They weigh in just under 1700 grams and the 24mm-wide internal rim is good for “all mountain” tires. While they’re far from the stiffest wheels around, they’re not total noodles.
The rear hub also has DT-Swiss internals, which means it engages more quickly than many of its competitors (36 points of engagement on the Rovals vs. 24 on many other comparable wheels).
The stock front wheel mates to the fork with a 15mm through axle, but can be converted to fit a 20mm axle. The 142mm-wide rear wheel mounts via a DT-Swiss through axle. The rear through axle loosened a bit during one ride, but has since been problem free.
The wheels have thus far held up well to the abuse I’ve put them through. They’re still very close to being perfectly true and I have yet to touch them with a spoke wrench.
And take note—while the bike comes with tubes, it also comes with tubeless valve stems and tubeless tape in place. That means all you need is some sealant to make yourself tube-free.
The Enduro comes with a Specialized Butcher 2.3 tire on the front and a Purgatory 2.3 on the rear. Both are the “control” casing, Specialized’s “normal” trail bike casing that falls between the lightweight S-works casing and the heavier DH casing.
The Butcher resembles my favorite tire ever, the Maxxis Minion DHF. As such, I got along well with the Butcher—it has a tenacious grip in the corners, it’s predictable, and it behaves nicely under heavy braking.
I didn’t like the Purgatory quite as much as I liked the Butcher. The Purgatory provided respectable traction for climbing steep, loose terrain, but I felt it was lacking under hard braking, especially when I leaned the bike over.
The Purgatory also tended to break away sideways a little earlier than I liked. Neither tire wore out quickly, nor did I have any problems with the casing on either of them.
Another house-brand part is the Specialized Command Post BlackLite dropper seatpost, which warrants its own (forthcoming) review. The quick summary: it gets the job done, but it’s a bit quirky.
That said, Specialized certainly gets kudos for spec’ing the bike with a dropper. A bike like the Enduro Expert requires one, I think.
My biggest gripe with the Enduro is the Fox 34 fork. I did a full review of it, but, to summarize, I really don’t like Fox’s CTD damper.
I’ve since switched to a 170mm Rockshox Lyrik RC2DH solo air. With the Rockshox, I lost the travel adjust feature, gained a bit of weight, and I also had to convert the front hub to accommodate the 20mm through axle on the Lyrik (vs the 15mm axle on the Fox).
But the Lyrik does a better job absorbing bumps than the Fox, it rides much higher in its travel and it doesn’t dive at inopportune times. The higher front end that comes with the extra stack height on the Lyrik makes steep climbing more challenging, but in every other situation, the Lyrik is superior to the Fox.
Especially for the high speed chunder that the Enduro loves, the Lyrik does a great job keeping the front end planted when needed. And when that high speed chunder dumps you into a washed out corner, the Lyrik handles heavy braking with composure and grace.