2014 Specialized Enduro Carbon 29
Geometry: Click here
Rider Info: 5’9”, 150 lbs.
- Custom Cane Creek Double Barrel air shock
- RockShox Pike RCT3 fork
- SRAM XX1 11-speed drivetrain
- Roval Traverse SL 29 142+ wheelset
Days Tested: 1
Locations Tested: Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City, Nevada
Last week, we tested bikes on the rocky trails around Boulder City, Nevada during the Interbike Outdoor Demo. We’ll keep rolling out First Looks of the other bikes we rode (including the Yeti SB95 and the GT Fury), so stay tuned. But before we get to our initial impressions of the Enduro 29, an important caveat:
Riding bikes at a demo is always kind of tricky. For starters, we didn’t get a lot of time on each bike—at most around an hour, and with many bikes it was just a 25-minute loop. 25 minutes can tell you a lot about how a bike handles, but it certainly doesn’t allow for our customary in-depth, BLISTER analysis.
In addition, these bikes are set up by mechanics at each company’s booth, and while these guys do a great job, there isn’t really time to get each bike dialed for how I’d normally set it up. (If nothing else, I probably would have put wider bars on most of the bikes I rode.)
And then there are the trails. Interbike’s Outdoor Demo takes place at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City. It’s a little bastion of awesomeness that overlooks the pit of despair that is Las Vegas, and the trails are fantastic: super rocky, with lots of sand, some rocks, some jumps here and there, and did I mention the rocks? Most of my time on these bikes was spent on the more cross-country oriented trails, even though the DH trail system is (in my opinion) the crown jewel of the Bootleg trail network.
The XC trails have a good mix of flowy corners, short punchy climbs, rock gardens, and a bit of chunder. All in all, they’re decent for testing out the different aspects of a given bike, but to really develop a feel for how a bike works, there’s no substitute for riding it for a long time on a lot of different types of trails.
So with all that in mind, let’s talk about the Enduro 29.
I own the 26″ wheeled version of the Enduro (the 2013 “Expert” model, which I reviewed here), so it was with some interest that I climbed aboard the Enduro 29 at the Interbike demo. Is it faster? Is it better? Do I need to sell off my 26er and put in an order for the wagon wheeler?
The Enduro 29 that I rode was the top of the line S-Works version, meaning that it has fancier carbon fiber in the front, and and comes kitted out with top of the line components. It comes with the new Cane Creek Double Barrel Air rear shock that has all of the adjustability that we’ve come to know and love from Cane Creek, with the addition of a climb switch to dramatically firm things up for climbing.
While I haven’t spent a ton of time on the Double Barrel Air, I’ve put in a lot of time on a coil Double Barrel. It pretty much sets the standard for user-tunable suspension; it’s a fantastic shock. That said, it takes some time and patience to get the shock dialed. The Double Barrel (both coil and air versions) have high and low speed compression adjustments as well as high and low speed rebound. Each adjustment has a pretty huge range, so dialing in each setting takes a while.
The upside of this is that, eventually, it’s possible to get the suspension to feel awesome. The downside is that for a relatively short test at the Interbike demo, I definitely didn’t have time to get the rear shock dialed.
The shock on my test bike felt firm, and it was a bit harsh over small and medium size hits. While this made the test ride less awesome, I’m also very confident that this isn’t the fault of the frame or the FSR design. Without a doubt, if I had been able to tinker around with the suspension setting, I would have been able to get the rear end feeling much better.
Aside from issues with the suspension settings, the rear end felt much like my smaller wheeled Enduro. It climbs okay; there’s definitely some suspension movement while pedaling. The climb switch on the Double Barrel does a good job of taking care of this issue, but the switch was a little tough to get at on the medium frame that I rode. Not the end of the world, but somewhat annoying considering that I use the climb switch on my Enduro fairly often.
For front suspending duties, Specialized spec’d the Enduro 29 with the new Rockshox Pike, which is a great piece of equipment. I didn’t have time to put the Pike through its paces during my short test, but it felt buttery smooth, stayed high in its travel, and resisted diving.
NEXT PAGE: On the Trail