Posted Oct. 6, 2004
Cool bike: 2005 Specialized Enduro

I am a huge fan of the all-mountain trail bike. With four to six inches of travel and three rings you can ride just about everything -- and you can do it aggressively. I've been running Enduros since 2002. You can build them light and long for cross country or build 'em heavy and short for jumping and light DH. As a matter of fact, I want to form a club: "The Enduro Bro's - Celebrating the spirit of the all-mountain trail bike"

Here's a little disclaimer: I like Specialized bikes. I am buddies with some Specialized employees, who are fine people and excellent riders, and who make great bikes at reasonable prices. It should come as no surprise that I dig the new Enduro. This review focuses on the differences between it and the older Enduro.

Specialized learned there were two types of Enduro owners. 1) The cross country crew, who did long rides with 100mm stems and light tires. 2) The more aggro group, who shortened their stems, lowered their seats and let fly. The bike was solid enough for some aggressive riding, but it wasn't made for hard-core bashing, and this second group was asking the Enduro to do things it wasn't made for.

Enter the 2005 Enduro, Specialized's answer to the rider who wants to ride all over the mountain, who looks at the scenery while he climbs and just freaking pins it on the descents.

What's new
The 2005 Enduro is new from the dropouts up. Compared with the 2002-2004 Enduro:
  • It has six inches of travel in the rear and is made for a six-inch fork, vs. five and five.
  • It is WAY stiffer. Forgings, squared tubes and more metal make this feel like a mini Demo.
  • It has a longer top tube and stays, which add up to a longer wheelbase.
  • It has a slacker head angle for more stable handling at speed and on gnarl. A switchable shock mount gives you two BB heights and head angles. I run it low and slack.
  • It has a steeper seat angle for better pedaling.
  • The custom 5th Element shock is crazy-tunable. You can dial in a firm pedaling platform or go pretty plush. Depending on whether you like the feel, you can call it either "dead" or "planted." It's less lively and plush than a Fox Float or AVA, but it definitely holds onto the trail, and it makes this semi-big bike pedal very well.
  • It's a bit heavier. My old Enduro is about 29 pounds with a DH rear rim, XC front rim and light tires. The new one is 32 pounds with DH rims and heavy tires front and rear. The new Enduro is way more bike, and because you can ride it so much harder, you pretty much need burlier parts. Forget keeping air in cross country tires and tubes. Just forget it.

My setup
  • Fork: Marzocchi Z.150 SL. About 25 psi in the positive chambers and 150 psi in the negative chambers.
  • Shock: 115 psi in the main chamber. 70 psi in the CV-T chamber. This keeps the rear end tracking and the pedaling platform in effect.
  • Wheels: Front Mavic 3.1 with ti spokes (off my DH bike). Rear Mavic 521 (greatest rim ever made).
  • Cranks: New Shimano XT Hollowtech II. Awesome.
  • Cockpit: Easton 50 mm mag stem, carbon bars cut to 26 inches like always
  • Drivetrain: Triple rings with Heim 3Guide, SRAM X-9 shifters, X-0 rear derailleur, XTR front derailleur
  • Tires: I've had great luck with special-edition WTB 2.4 Mutano Raptors with soft rubber and DH casings. The 2.3 Weir Wolf front and 2.1 Epic Wolf rear make the bike lighter and quicker, but beware flats!

How it feels
The new Enduro is definitely more bike than the old Enduro. At speed it feels like the Demo: stable and bottomless. In tight sections the length and slackness make it a bit of a handful at first, but when you learn to use the stiffness you can whip this bike around like crazy. I did a coaster race along a very tight, rocky trail against guys on full DH bikes, and the Enduro waxed everyone.

Photo: Technical climbing action in Nederland. Is the bike bigger? Yes. Is it more sluggish? No.

While it's bigger and heavier, it seems to climb as well as or better than the older Enduro. Credit that to the crazy-stiff frame and the 5th Element shock. The super-long top tube encourages you to run a short stem (I run a 50 mm) for great handling. The steepish seat tube puts you in a good position for pedaling.

After a DH shuttle I lowered my seat and hit some dirt jumps. Wow. 1) The bike jumped perfectly. On the first pass, even with clips and too much seat post, I was hitting all my normal stuff perfectly. This is the trademark Specialized/Brandon Sloan neutral feel. 2) I swear this bike is quicker than my little 2003 SX. Brandon says that's because of the crazy stiffness. (The 2005 SX will be both stiffer and lighter than the current one. Whoo, yeah!)

The frame is made for a Fox 36. In the mean time I've been running a Rock Shox Pike Team and a Marzocchi Z.150 SL. The Pike is very stiff and reasonably plush. On fast, square hits it has a noticeable (and loud) blow-off, which surprised me every time but sucked up the impacts just fine. The problem was it's too short for the bike (1/2 too little travel plus a low crown), and my head angle was too steep for my taste. The Z.150 is a little on the tall side (10 mm taller than the Fox), which makes a slack front end even slacker. I only have a few hours on this fork, but so far I'm not super stoked. It's a bit sticky, and the rebound damping feels random. Fork height aside, I would pick the Pike over the Z.150. I'm told the 36 will feel like a Talas, only bigger. Perfect. When the Fox six-inch single crown ships, this bike will be SUPER dialed.

Who it's for
If you have trails on big hills, and you care more about descending than climbing, the Enduro will do the trick.

Photo: Yet another flat! Factory wardrobe courtesy of my friend from SoCal.

So far I've ridden mine on seven 30-minute shuttles down a fast, rocky trail here in Colorado. The bike worked perfectly, but I rode so fast and took such straight lines that I got flats every time I tried non-DH tires. I also rode the bike down the Mammoth Super D course three times. The course was steep and rocky at the top, with a long climb, then lots of swoopy, moderately rocky singletrack, then ultra-fat fire road. Again, the bike was perfect except for the flat tires. I tried to run XC treads and tubes so I could make time on the climbs, but -- again -- this bike is too fast and burly to skimp on tires. Lastly, I rode it on some mellow XC trails in Nederland, CO. The trails were relatively flat through the woods, with lots of pedaling and tons of tight turns. I must say the new Enduro was a bit much for this situation.

If you want a nice, all-around trail bike that climbs better than the Enduro and still handles terrain well, you might prefer the 2005 Stumpjumper FSR 120. It has five inches front and rear, steeper angles and weighs way under 30 pounds.

By the way, the older Enduro frame design will remain for the lower-end models. This is still an awesome bike, and I'd say it bridges the gap between the six-inch Enduro and the five-inch Stumpjumper.

Photo: The current Enduro is still a sweet bike, perhaps better than the new Enduro on flatter, slower trails.

I plan to ride my Enduro all over tarnation this winter. Moab, Fruita and anywhere else I can think of. As a publicity stunt for the Enduro Bro's I'm thinking of racing that bike in every event at the Sea Otter: DH, slalom, 4X and even XC. The only think I'll change is the seat height.

For more info check out the Specialized site.

Home  Email Lee
2004 Lee McCormack. All rights reserved.