By Eric McKeegan, photos by Adam Newman
Any mountain biker with an internet connection and at least one working eyeball has probably read the news of the Specialized Enduro 29. Yes, there have been plenty of 29ers with longer travel before, why all the hype for this bike from the Big S?
The current 26-inch wheeled Enduro may be one of the most universally respected all-mountain bikes on the market. The Enduro didn’t just pop out of a mold already close to perfect, it’s been changing and adapting to new tech and more travel since 1999.
It wasn’t until 2008 that Specialized hopped aboard the 29er train, but since then it hasn’t wasted any time, developing three full suspension platforms, and the big wheels taking over almost the entire hardtail line-up. It is no surprise it wanted to see how some 29-inch peanut butter would go with the Enduro chocolate.
There are plenty of longer travel 29er out there, although few with anything near the 155mm rear travel of the Enduro 29. Paired up with a 150mm Fox Float CTD Evolution 34, the Enduro would be news with just those travel numbers, but those are just minor players here. The big news is 16.9-inch chainstays, paired up with a 13.1-inch high bottom bracket, and things just got really interesting. That’s 430mm for you metric fans, versus the 26-inch bike’s 419mm.
In the past, it was pretty much physically impossible to get chainstays this short and a BB this low on a 29er, and run a front derailleur, especially when dealing with the added complexity of full suspension. Fortunately for fans of short chainstays (I count myself in that fanbase) Specialized wasn’t satisfied with a long rear end, and worked with SRAM to develop a solution.
This result, a new “mid-mount” derailleur, is the key to the short rear end. I asked Sam Benedict, Specialized MTB Product Marketing stud, how they got around the clearance issues. He said “We worked with SRAM on making the mid-mount exclusive for Specialized but it is not patented. It’s a good middle ground: away from the pivot/tire and lower than a high direct mount. Part of the reason for it is that a low mount FD adds a lot of mechanism behind the seat tube… where the tire needs to go so that would not work. The mid is modeled after the SRAM band style of mount in the position we needed.”
The new derailleur is paired with a Taco Plate, which is a removable mount for the new derailleur. This makes for a clean look when running a 1x system, and ISCG05 tabs allow for plenty of chain guide options.
Sizing will be medium, large, and XL for now, a small isn’t going to happen. All that big-wheeled travel doesn’t fit into a small-sized package, and that can’t be changed with a redesigned component. Head angles across all sizes are a nice 67.5-degrees, and the effective seat angle is a steep 75-degrees, with a layback post offsetting some of that steepness. The Fox Float CTD shock is equipped with Specialized’s AutoSag setup too.
The Comp model we have is made from M5 aluminum, while the S-Works and Expert models are carbon fiber. The Comp’s build kit is rounded out with a SRAM double crankset, Specialized Roval all mountain wheels, Specialized Butcher and Purgatory tires, Avid Exlir 5 brakes, and SRAM X7 shifters mated to X9 derailleurs. Retail price is $3,500.
For me, these numbers very closely resemble a 650b bike I’ve been riding (and loving) lately, I’m very curious to see if the same geometry on bigger wheels can translate to the same handling with the increased rollover that 29er are known for.
Stay tuned to for more news about the Enduro 29, and from Specialized. When asked if we would see the short chainstay treatment on other 29-inch models, Benedict simply said: “I like where your head is at.”