Dear Specialized, we hate you for making us love a 29er. - Vital MTB
Some would say that we're a stubborn bunch here at Vital, stuck in our ways. Well, that's true to some extent. We're 26-inch fans through and through. We don't hate all 29ers though - they certainly have their purpose, and some are better than others. It's just that, up until now, there really hasn't been anything great for the kinds of riding we like to do.
Two months ago when we asked Specialized to test their Enduro, we fully expected the 26-inch model to arrive. When this thing showed up by surprise we were scratching our heads. Confused, bewildered, and honestly a little disappointed to be stuck with a wagon wheeler, we sucked up our pride and took to the trails. We've got to admit that we were a little ashamed as we unloaded it for the first time, franticly pedaling away into the woods.
It was less than a minute into the ride before we changed our minds.
For ride number one we made our way up an incredibly rocky, rough, tight trail littered with drops, hairpin turns and precision moves. Turning around at the top and coming back down was quite the experience. The ability to monster-truck over anything combined with the 155mm travel FSR platform allowed us to really open it up. Well, that and a "Send it! I'm on a 29er" mentality. The bike gave us a sort of Matrix-like sensation of slowing down the speed the trail was coming at us, which in turn made us go faster and faster.
What surprised us more than anything, though, was the agileness of the bike. It handles very similarly to a 26-inch bike. You can manual it, jump it, and whip it around with ease. Add to that some substantial gains in traction, rolling speed, and corner exit speed that is nothing short of phenomenal without even trying and well, you've got yourself one very fast bike. Sure, there's an ever so slightly awkward feeling between tight turns and over slow maneuvers, we can feel some flex in the wheels, and the fork isn't quite up to the same standards as the rear shock, but it's nothing like any other 29er we've ever ridden.
They say the clock doesn't lie, and when our times rolled in after that first ride, we were blown away at the results. We were hauling ass and didn't even know it. Having ridden the same trail multiple times on 26-inch bikes, with seemingly the same effort, our jaws hit the floor when we saw we were dozens of seconds faster through many sections. This continued ride after ride, after ride, and in the end, this made us love the Enduro 29 - something we never thought would happen.
We're not alone on this one. The boys at Specialized tell us that Curtis Keene won't get off of his...
How did Specialized pull it off? Watch the slideshow to find out, then cruise over to www.specialized.com or the Vital MTB Product Guide for full specs and more details. The three model strong Enduro 29 lineup drops late March to early April, and ranges from $3500 to $9000.