Luxury Bikes

Important Test Sessions – Specialized Enduro Expert – Mountain Bike Feature

bBefore there was the Enduro category as we know it today, there was the Specialized Enduro. Dating back to 1999, the first generation of Enduro was ahead of its time, and the current generation is no exception. With much of the development taking place in 2018 and first hitting the market in 2020, the Enduro has proven itself to be one of the most advanced endurance 29ers of the last five years. It was imperative that we include it in our enduro bike testing session this year to see where it stacks up against the current range of endurance bikes.


  • 29 inch wheels
  • 170 mm (6.7 inches) rear travel // 170 mm (6.7 inches) fork travel
  • Full carbon frame
  • 64.3 degree head tube angle (high) 63.9 (low)
  • 76 degree seat tube angle
  • 511 mm reach (size S5)
  • 442mm chainstay length in all sizes
  • Horst link suspension
  • Internal storage space in the down tube
  • Multitool mounted on the head tube
  • Internal cable routing
  • Screw-on downtube protection
  • Molded chainstay guard
  • Integrated rear fender
  • 12 x 148mm Boost rear hub spacing
  • 73mm bottom bracket with BSA thread and ISCG05 tabs
  • Price: $7,000 as tested (Expert model)
Strengthen weaknesses
  • The rear suspension chains grind incredibly well
  • Centered feeling on the trail
  • Excellent for aggressive terrain
  • Requires more foresight in narrow sections
  • Climbing at low cadence proved difficult
  • The previous generation GX AXS front derailleur is loud


Enduro overview

Dubbed the “inventor” of this whole enduro thing, the Enduro consists of 170mm Horst-Link FSR rear suspension and a 170mm travel fork with 29-inch wheels front and rear. We tested the Expert Level kit, which retails for $7,000 and comes complete with Specialized aluminum components, a Rockshox ZEB Select+ fork, and a Super Deluxe Select+ shock with hydraulic bottom-out adjustment. Stopping power is handled by SRAM Code RS brakes with 200mm front and rear discs, as well as a SRAM GX AXS Eagle drivetrain and OneUp 210mm dropper to top it off.


The adjustment integrated into the frame comes in the form of a flip chip for the rear shock eyelet, which allows the head tube angle to be adjusted by just under half a degree and the bottom bracket height to be adjusted by 7mm. The frame also offers plenty of space for a water bottle, a SWAT box for downtube storage and a SWAT tool integrated into the head tube. The ribbed chainstay guard keeps things quiet, although the GX front derailleur can be noisy under heavy compression. Otherwise, the rest of the bike is nearly silent and straightforward; With this type of bike you know exactly what you are getting into. Or is it?


We tested our S5 size Enduro in the Low setting, which gives a reach of 511mm and a head tube angle of 63.9 degrees. The 1,302mm wheelbase includes a 442mm chainstay length, providing a mostly planted feel that requires a little more effort. The seat angle of 76 degrees, which was just the flattest in the test, ensures a relaxed pedaling position and is not the enduro’s strongest feature. However, the flatter seat angle means the seat is a little less in the way when going downhill and is appreciated for wider use than just pedaling.

S2 S3 S4 S5
Crank length 170mm 170mm 170mm 170mm
Handlebar width 800mm 800mm 800mm 800mm
stem length 40mm 40mm 40mm 50mm
Saddle width 155mm 143mm 143mm 143mm
Seat post length 150mm 180mm 180mm 210mm
Stack (low BB) 616mm 620mm 629mm 638mm
Range (low BB) 437mm 464mm 487mm 511mm
Head tube length 95mm 100mm 110mm 120mm
Head tube angle (low BB) 63.9° 63.9° 63.9° 63.9°
Head tube angle 64.3° 64.3° 64.3° 64.3°
BB height (low BB) 347mm 347mm 347mm 347mm
BB height 354mm 354mm 354mm 354mm
BB Drop (low BB) 28mm 28mm 28mm 28mm
BB drop 21mm 21mm 21mm 21mm
Trail (low BB) 132mm 132mm 132mm 132mm
Fork length (full) 581mm 581mm 581mm 581mm
Fork tilt/offset 46mm 46mm 46mm 46mm
Front-Center (low BB) 777mm 806mm 833mm 862mm
Chain stay length 442mm 442mm 442mm 442mm
wheelbase 1217mm 1246mm 1274mm 1302mm
Seat tube length 400mm 420mm 440mm 465mm
Seat tube angle 76° 76° 76° 76°
Top tube length (horizontal) 591mm 619mm 644mm 670mm

On the path

Going downhill, it immediately became clear that the enduro has always remained relevant. The rear suspension performance is one of the most impressive I’ve ever tested. Cornering traction was adequate and straight edge compliance was phenomenal. Small bump sensitivity could be described as a little dead, but it added to overall comfort on longer descents and ramps in a way that provided plenty of support in the second half of the travel. The spring rate initially felt a little softer than expected, but that didn’t stop me from topping a few jumps on the first lap.



Uphill, the Enduro was less impressive compared to the current range of bikes. It’s an efficient pedal, the power transfer is excellent, and although the pedaling position could be more upright, it rewards those with better fitness by making a higher cadence more comfortable. Steeper geometry angles shine when pedaling at a lower cadence, which is one of the reasons we all struggled with the Enduro on our test climb, which gets steeper and rougher towards the summit. The loss of speed during the climb caused the front wheel to sway a lot and cadence was lost unless we pedaled to compensate.


The Enduro isn’t the most playful bike, but it performed surprisingly well on the gentler trails and is still fun to ride around as long as the terrain suits the size of the bike. It’s not the kind of bike that lets you pump and jump out of every bump in the trail; The suspension eats this for breakfast, but for larger hits it feels well-placed when thrown sideways. To ride sideways on the ground, this bike corners on rails, which inspired us to dive into corners. However, as with anything on rails, it’s quite a challenge to make tighter turns when necessary. While we struggled a bit with this, after just a few rounds we may find ourselves having to lean a little harder than we’d like *insert “you’re not that guy, buddy” meme*.


What is the end result?

Two out of three testers gave the Enduro the seal of approval in our test, and Charlie chose this as the bike he would buy with his own money if downsized to an S4. Because the Enduro is older than some previous generations of bikes on the market, it is always ahead of its time and over the last four years has helped bring many other enduro motorcycles to where they are today.

We stayed right at the base of the mountain, courtesy of Visit Big Bear, and we couldn’t have imagined a more convenient way to spend the week testing bikes. Since our condo was less than a minute from Snow Summit Village, we were able to easily return to our unit between laps to swap bikes and had plenty of room to work on our bikes. Off the bike, we were grateful to have enough space for our entire test crew, as well as a pool and hot tub within walking distance to relax after each day of testing. Big Bear has a wide variety of dining options and a great downtown area that we explored when we wanted to mix up our dinner plans or just grab some ice cream afterward. If you’d like to explore Snow Summit or Big Bear, California for yourself, come visit us or for more information…

Thank you to everyone who sponsored this test and made our trip possible!

Click here to watch the whole thing Enduro test session feature 2023

Find out more about the Specialized Enduro at

View key specs, compare and rate bikes Specialized Enduro in the Vital MTB product manual.

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