2013 Specialized Enduro Expert

Bike: 2013 Specialized Enduro Expert

Wheels: 26”

Specialized Enduro Expert, Blister Gear review.
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.

Build: 

  • 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

MSRP: $6,600

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.

Fit

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.

Specialized Enduro Expert, Blister Gear Review.
Noah Bodman on the Specialized Enduro Expert, Whitefish, Montana.

The Build

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.

Wheels

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.

Tires

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.

Fork

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.

12 comments on “2013 Specialized Enduro Expert”

  1. Nice write up.

    Everyone has written that the “new suspension kinematics” gave the 2013 Enduro more support and better pedaling. But I guess not so much as your complaints are similar to mine on my 2010 version.

    I solved the “deep sag” under high force movements, buy adding the small Fox volume adjuster in the rear shock. But like everything there is a trade off; loose a bit of the chunder sucking, but gain some platform to push & pump on, in addition to more ramp up on landings.

    I do have to say that the climbing ability of the Enduro on rough climbs is amazing, as the shock stays totally active, while even seating climbing chunk. If one climbs a lot of chunk, this is an amazing climber. For me, I have a lot of hardpack climbs so it does not work as well in my instance.

    And I’ll add to the straight lining downhill ability, it also is quite good at doubling up boneyard and other rough segments. It’s taught me to seek out the playful bits in and on the sides of trails as it loves to launch and land almost anywhere. The Enduro taught me to play with the trail, but now I want something a bit shorter for my less rough local trail systems. The short stays are stupid fun for manualling, and have gotten me around a lot of switchbacks that I have no business making.

    Dropping to a 50mm stem dials the length down while keeping it roomy. I also use a straight post which helps for a good climbing position.

  2. Great review. You do the best job telling every detail in a straightforward manor and not reviewing just to make every bike sound like its the next best thing since sliced bread. Thanks for not being a fanboy towards all your reviews!

  3. Great review, this is exactly what i was looking for. I’m looking to replace my Trance X with something burlier and had narrowed it down to the Nomad C, Enduro C, SB-66c and maybe the Slayer. It sounds like the Enduro rides like a scaled down version of my Demo 8, not bad at all but just not great at everything either. Need to think about exactly where and how I’m going to ride…

    • Yeah, I also have a Demo, and to some extent the Enduro is a scaled down version of it – the rear end feels pretty similar – tight chain stays make the rear wheel on both bike very willing to push hard into corners. The cockpit on the Enduro is a little more stretched out than the Demo – the Enduro’s reach is about 21 mm longer (on the current model – geometry has changed a bit over the years). I would also say that the Demo uses its travel a bit more judiciously, but that a tough comparison to make since the shocks (Float CTD vs. Cane Creek DB) are so dissimilar – I’m not sure how much of the difference I feel is the frame vs. the shock.

      Anyways, I think you’ve got 4 pretty sweet options to look at there. If you haven’t already, I’d make sure you swing a leg over them – particularly the Enduro and SB-66. Both of those bikes are sized a bit differently that what I would consider “normal” (they’re long). Some people like it, some people don’t.

    • Hey Sean,

      Unfortunately I didn’t end up getting the Double Barrel for the Enduro. I tried getting one earlier in the summer but Specialized didn’t have any in stock (and the shock has to be ordered directly from Specialized due to the unique mounting arrangement).

      That said, I have a CCDB on my Specialized Demo and I’ve ridden a CCDB Air on an Enduro 29. The Double Barrel is an awesome shock if you’re willing to take the time to dial it in. It’s not just the different adjustments that the shock has, but the adjustments have a huge range. I definitely notice on my Demo that a couple clicks on any of the adjustments make a pretty remarkable difference. The upside is that you can get the shock to feel great. The downside is that you can also make it feel horrible if your settings are way out of whack. At least on my Demo, I found that Cane Creek’s recommended tune was a pretty good starting point – I could go a few clicks in either direction to suit my preferences, and then occasionally I’ll tweak it if I’m spending a bunch of time on a particular type of trail.

      The CCDB Air that I rode on the Enduro had the new climb switch, which is a great addition to that shock. My ride on that bike was just a quick demo, so I didn’t have time to dial the shock in and get it where I wanted it. That said, I’m confident that I could get that thing to feel great and out perform the Fox Float CTD in pretty much all situations.

      Long story short: If you have an Enduro you’re just looking for a little more tunability and performance out of the rear shock, I don’t think you’ll regret going for the CCDB.

  4. hi , i´m 5.11 tall. 30.5 inch inseam.
    what´s your size suggestion?
    M or L
    now i have a Pivot Mach 5.7 M and i find it a little short in the Top tube

    Thanks

    • For starters, sorry for the slow response.

      The short answer is that you could probably go either way, so you should see if you can find an Enduro to swing a leg over and see how it feels. But assuming that there isn’t one readily available in your area, that’s a bit trickier.

      The medium Enduro has a significantly longer reach (almost an inch longer) than the Mach 5.7, but the top tube is only a smidge longer. If you’re feeling a bit cramped on the medium 5.7, I’d probably lean towards a large Enduro, but keep in mind that it’s probably going to feel like a big jump up – the large Enduro is at the large end of larges (if that makes any sense).

      Hope that helps.

  5. hey, sweet review, it helps me a lot as I’m about to go for this bike. I got a pretty sweet deal on it too, at about 50% discount, if not more.. My problem is that the bike is a size M and I’m 6.2. normally I never considered buying a bike this small but as you also wrote it has a pretty long reach. I’ve sat on it a couple of times in the shop and it seems to be comfortable. again as you also wrote, the higher the seat goes, the longer the reach would be. any suggestions about this? do you think I should go for the M? if not, then I’m back to a whole lot of searching for other bikes, similar to this but a bit less pricy.. thanks!

    • Hey Matt – At 6’2″, I think the medium will be pretty small for you. Generally speaking, I’d say most medium bikes would fit people up to around 5’10”, and you might be able to go a little taller than that for the Enduro due to its long reach. But at 6’2″, I think you’ll be much happier on a Large or XL. Especially on pedally trails and longer climbs, I think you’d feel quite cramped on the medium.

      Hopefully you can rustle up a good deal on a larger size!

      -Noah

      • thanks for the fast answer, you bummed me out pretty much:)) no way I can get a similar deal on another bike like this, I might take it out for a longer test ride to see how it feels. thanks again!

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