2017 Specialized Enduro Comp 650b

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Review - 2017 Specialized Enduro 650b from Vital MTB Test Sessions

While there's not a major difference in the way it rides, this continually refined machine gets even radder for 2017 as Specialized dials in all the little details.

Rating: Vital Review
Review - 2017 Specialized Enduro 650b from Vital MTB Test Sessions

Hailing from a long legacy of trail and enduro performance, the 2017 Specialized Enduro brings some updates to a classic design. Available in both 650b (27.5) and 29/6Fattie (27.5+) versions, the new frame is longer, lower, comes in more sizes, and sports a little more travel. With 170mm of suspension and not-quite-plus 2.6-inch tires, the new Enduro is on the leading edge of new trends in an ever-changing category. We thrashed the Enduro Comp 650b down the loose and rocky trails of Tucson, Arizona during Vital MTB Test Sessions to see if this price point model can take a serious beating.

Highlights

  • M5 aluminum frame
  • 27.5-inch wheels
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Hailing from a long legacy of trail and enduro performance, the 2017 Specialized Enduro brings some updates to a classic design. Available in both 650b (27.5) and 29/6Fattie (27.5+) versions, the new frame is longer, lower, comes in more sizes, and sports a little more travel. With 170mm of suspension and not-quite-plus 2.6-inch tires, the new Enduro is on the leading edge of new trends in an ever-changing category. We thrashed the Enduro Comp 650b down the loose and rocky trails of Tucson, Arizona during Vital MTB Test Sessions to see if this price point model can take a serious beating.

Highlights

  • M5 aluminum frame
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 170mm (6.7-inches) of rear wheel travel // 170mm (6.7-inches) fork travel
  • FSR suspension design
  • Tapered headtube
  • Internal cable routing
  • Oversized pivot bearings
  • Updated X-Wing design with increased rear travel
  • 1x specific frameset
  • Threaded 73mm bottom bracket shell with ISCG05 mounts
  • Boost 148mm rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured weight (size XL, no pedals): 32.3 pounds (14.67kg)
  • MSRP $3,200 USD

While the previous Enduro 650b made use of the existing 26-inch front triangle and some new parts, this bike is built from the ground up around the 650b wheel size. The M5 alloy construction of the Enduro Comp mimics its carbon fiber counterpart. Modernizing the look and feel with an across the line update to the widely recognized X-wing frame design, the new Enduro Comp now features clean and well thought out internal routing. "The lazy loop is gone," Specialized says, "and so are dirty, messy cables. Cables run over the top of the bottom bracket in order to reduce the pull/bend on the cable housing. This creates more consistent and crisper shifting." On carbon frames, independently molded carbon tubes inside the frame ensure there's no cable rattle and maintenance is simpler.

Specialized bumped the front and rear travel up 5mm from the previous model to 170mm. The beefed up rear end is now bridgeless like the Stumpjumper FSR, made possible in part by oversized pivot bearings and hardware that "increase bearing life and balance, as well as the handling characteristics of the chassis." Specialized continues to use a proprietary rear shock mount, although more and more suspension companies are making shocks to fit their bikes should you feel the need to switch. High-end models sport a 216x57mm Öhlins STX22 air shock with a refined but usable adjustment range, while the alloy Comp model we tested relies on a RockShox Monarch Plus with Specialized's Rx All-Mountain Tune and Autosag. Even with piggyback style shocks there's plenty of room inside the front triangle for a water bottle.

On par with the changing times, Specialized boosted the front and rear axle spacing allowing proper clearance for their latest category of 2.6-inch trail tires. The wider tires can be found on 650b models sold in the USA, but due to CE standards may not be available with the larger rubber in all countries. There's plenty of mud clearance with the big meats installed.

Perhaps one of the most exciting changes made to the Enduro Comp for 2017 is the switch from a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket back to a threaded 73mm shell. This change gets us stoked as it will help ensure less creaking and easier maintenance. The 1X drivetrain specific frameset has two of three ISCG05 mounts for installing a chainguide with a bash, though Specialized already includes an upper guide that most will find sufficient.

The new Enduro is available in four models ranging from $3,200 USD for the Comp (tested) to $8,500 for the blinged out S-Works Carbon. You can also pick it up as a S-Works frame and Öhlins STX22 shock combo for $3,500. S-Works and Pro models have full FACT 11m carbon frames, and the Elite Carbon has a carbon front chassis. Every model comes with 1x gearing, GRID casing tires, 780mm handlebars, Command Post IRcc dropper, SRAM Guide brakes, Autosag, and 30mm internal width Traverse rims.

Those interested in learning more about the 29/6Fattie or carbon versions can reference our First Look feature where we rode the bikes on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast. More expensive models feature the unique downtube SWAT door storage system.

With lots of new updates and tweaks, we were excited to give the new Enduro a run for its money to find out if these changes are all hype or if they are well warranted for improved trail performance.

Geometry

While the 29-inch version gets a major geometry overhaul for 2017, the 650b version sees minor adjustments here and there. The biggest change is slightly lengthier reach measurements across the board. With the latest release, the bike is also available in an XL size for tall riders.

Even in the 170mm travel category, maintaining climbing performance is a must have for a modern trail/enduro bike. To improve this the Enduro features a slightly steeper effective seat tube angle to keep your weight over the front end as well as offer clearance for the higher volume tires near bottom out.

Another notable change is the bottom bracket height which used to be a bit high at 352mm due to the use of the 26-inch front triangle. We measured the new bike at 341mm. Changing to 650b x 2.3-inch tires will drop the bottom bracket 5-6mm.

Our 6'0" and 6'5" (1.83 and 1.96m) test riders opted for the new size XL with a reach of 470mm, 1,225mm wheelbase, 425mm chainstays, and 65.5-degree head angle.

Suspension Analysis

Using the bike industry's leading linkage analysis software, André Santos, the Youtube suspension whiz, was able to determine a close approximation of the Enduro 650b's kinematics for the purpose of this review. These charts provide great insight into several key factors that impact how it rides. Those unfamiliar with these types of graphs should watch André's excellent series of suspension fundamentals videos. The results of his analysis are as follows:

Observations:

  • The Specialized Enduro 650b has low progressivity for an enduro bike at 6%, meaning that it’s quite linear. Therefore, bottoming out can be an issue for more aggressive riding (even with spacers on the shock).
  • Pedaling efficiency is slightly lower than most trail/enduro bikes with anti-squat values ranging between 80-90% for a 30-tooth chainring. The bigger the chainring the lower the anti-squat values.
  • Pedal kickback is slightly lower than many enduro bikes.
  • Anti-rise of 55% at sag, meaning that the suspension is quite isolated from braking forces.
  • Overall, the Specialized Enduro 650b has quite linear suspension and relatively good pedaling efficiency, especially on smaller chainrings (eg: 28-tooth).

How does science meet the dirt? Did our real life ride time confirm the analysis? It's back to Vital's testers to hear how the Enduro performed on trail.

On The Trail

Miles of chunky and loose terrain on Bug Springs, Prison Camp, and La Milagrosa trails extending high above the city of Tucson served as a great proving ground for the Enduro. The traction-compromising decomposed granite and solid mix of high and slow speed tech was great for getting to know all the aspects of the newly re-designed bike.

The Enduro Comp comes stock with a 780mm wide Specialized DH riser bar and a 60mm Trail stem for a quick and comfortable setup out of the box. There are no tricky, gimmicky, or half-ergo-what-have-yous featured as part of the spec on this bike, making it largely compatible with most riders out of the box.

At 6’5” tall, our taller tested noted that the reach of the Enduro was noticeably shorter in comparison to other XL bikes in this travel range, leaving him feeling slightly further over the front end than desired. Riders on the taller end of the recommended rider height spectrum may find that a slightly longer stem or wider bars are required for a less cramped handlebar position, as the stock position seems geared more towards riders on the shorter end of the spectrum. Compared to the Pivot Firebird, we felt much more on top of the Enduro as opposed to ‘in’ the bike. Although a bit on the smaller side of XL, the Enduro is quick and easy to set up.

We began testing with both the Rock Shox Yari RC fork and the Rock Shox Monarch Plus shock fit with Specialized’s proprietary Autosag valve set at the recommended 30% sag (17.1mm). While a clever feature, we've rarely had good luck with the Autosag feature and often need to resort to manually adjusting sag. Being on the heavier end of the user weight spectrum we also added two additional Bottomless Tokens to the Yari, which comes stock with just one token, in order to achieve a more progressive and supported feel. The higher volume 2.6-inch tires took a little bit of playing around to get a nice balance between suppleness and support, but we ultimately settled on 20psi in the front and 21psi in the rear.

Measuring in as one of the shortest bikes in its category with respect to wheelbase and chainstay length, the Enduro makes quick work of tight, technical switchbacks while keeping the fun factor pegged on the straights and rollers. Although it made climbing slow technical terrain a little more difficult, the slack 65.5-degree head angle matched the 170mm front end travel perfectly, keeping our confidence level high in steeper terrain.

Especially with this paint job, the bike was frothing like a teenager on Monster Energy to be put to the test on the downhills. Well planted even in limited traction and deflective terrain, yet still flickable and quick to respond to rider input, the Enduro is definitely geared towards poppy and playful fun. The higher volume 2.6-inch tires paired well with the suspension by adding the slightest bit of small bump compliance, smoothing out trail imperfections and providing excellent traction.

Well planted even in limited traction and deflective terrain, yet still flickable and quick to respond to rider input, the Enduro is definitely geared towards poppy and playful fun.

The Enduro felt at home on steeper terrain with its slack head angle and the short wheelbase kept it agile in tight, steep, switchbacks. On faster terrain with big hits and g-outs, the bike didn’t quite have the supremely comfortable and stable feel of the new Pivot Firebird, however. The relatively short wheelbase and chainstays are great for tighter and steeper terrain, but in wide open gnar it takes a little bit more focus to keep the bike tracking well. That said, this bike proved capable of tackling a wide variety of terrain and seemed to recover from the rough bits better than the previous generation.

The relatively short wheelbase and chainstays are great for tighter and steeper terrain, but in wide open gnar it takes a little bit more focus to keep the bike tracking well. That said, this bike proved capable of tackling a wide variety of terrain and seemed to recover from the rough bits better than the previous generation.

Proving to be an excellent combination, the FSR suspension design plays nicely with the RockShox Monarch Plus. The user-friendly setup got the rear end to a good baseline quickly, making for more time on the trails for users who just want their bike to work well. During the course of the test we did dabble a bit with air pressure adjustment in an attempt to boost mid-stroke support. After a few adjustments, however, we felt that larger riders and riders who prefer the progression of the Yari with multiple Bottomless Tokens may consider a larger volume spacer in the rear shock to achieve a slightly more progressive feel. The bike relies heavily on the progressive nature of the air shock for bottom-out support. Regardless, the base tune did not have any glaring oversights, felt evenly damped, and the majority of riders will find the base tune to be surprisingly well rounded.

When it came time to get back to the top, the Enduro got it done on the climbs. Seated and grinding with the shock fully open the FSR suspension pedaled efficiently with surefooted grip and relatively low bob in the system. Throw some watts at it out of the saddle though and the bike seemed a bit sluggish to respond with the suspension fully open. For longer climbs we felt that putting the rear end in the firm or locked out setting helped with power transfer, proving that it was capable of getting the job done but just not quite as responsively and efficiently as some of its competitors. The overall weight of the bike is also a slight hindrance here, slotting in at a pretty hefty 32.3-pounds (14.67kg).

Build Kit

Obtainable at a fair price of $3,200, the Enduro Comp comes stock with a few key components to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. With proper tires, functioning drivetrain and braking systems, and even mid to high-end suspension components, Specialized put the value into parts that really make a difference in out-of-the-box shredability. Other than the shock mount and Autosag, there are no odd, crazy, or proprietary features that buyers should be wary of.

Specialized's 30.9mm diameter Command Post IRcc dropper features stops at 12-positions, internal routing, and a slick thumb remote. Aside from the sometimes scary fast return speed (which is easy to adjust using a shock pump), we've found it to be very reliable in the field. Many bikes are moving towards droppers with 150mm and more travel, and with just 125mm on offer the Command Post can feel a little limiting at times for tall riders. It's paired with a comfortable Body Geometry Henge Comp saddle. And what of that larger than necessary 34.9mm diameter seat tube? It could be a sign of things to come...

Up front the Enduro features RockShox’s Yari RC, a price point version of the Lyrik. Though it lacks the Charger damper, the SoloAir fork shares the same stiff chassis as its more expensive counterpart and is a quality product. The Yari has low-speed compression and rebound adjustability, as well as Bottomless Token tuneability, so finding a good baseline setting was achievable and not overly complicated. Save one glitch, the Yari proved to be a good match for the Enduro.

During the second ride the fork locked out entirely following a rough section of trail. We verified the compression damping adjustment wasn't at fault then began to drop pressure from the air spring. Even at very low pressures (1/3 of recommended) it still wouldn't compress much, and our tester had to ride out with a near rigid front end. After getting home we dropped the lowers, resetting the negative spring and returning the fork to normal. It performed just fine on several subsequent rides. RockShox says the air swap issue was likely "due to a damaged o-ring that lead to air swapping between the negative and positive air chambers – either at assembly or off-site maintenance." Replacement of the o-ring would have set us back just 50 cents and some elbow grease.

The higher volume 2.6-inch tires paired well with the suspension by adding the slightest bit of small bump compliance, smoothing out trail imperfections and providing excellent traction.

The Enduro came stock with a 2.6-inch GRID casing Specialized Butcher and Slaughter tire combo, striking a balance between the added float of plus tires and good sidewall support. Traction was easy to find with this setup whether climbing, cornering, or braking. In fact, the semi-slick tread pattern of the rear Slaughter tire had impressive braking and climbing traction in the loose over hard Tucson desert. Although the larger volume certainly seemed to improve things, we found that the soft rubber compound also added to the exceptional traction. In the loose decomposing granite, though, the softer rubber definitely wears quicker than average and has a bit more rolling resistance. Tire pressure is critical, and it's key to air up the tires if riding somewhere with lots of high-speed berms or odd compressions to prevent squirming.

Sufficiently large with a 29mm internal width, the Roval Traverse alloy rims were a good match for the tires by providing the right amount of support. The hookless, tubeless ready rims came set up tubeless out of the box, which is nice to not have any hidden costs to make the switch. Even through the higher volume tires, we did manage to create a few dents in the relatively soft aluminum rims on square edge hits. The hubs roll quickly and use sealed cartridge bearings.

Fit with SRAM Guide R brakes, a 200mm rotor up front, and a 180mm rotor out back, the Enduro had good braking power. Although the Guide R brakes are less adjustable than their more expensive versions, we didn’t have any issues with the brakes fading or lack of power. Modulation was definitely an improvement over SRAM’s legacy brakes.

The mix of SRAM’s NX shifter and 11-speed GX rear derailleur is definitely a budget but functional spec. The drivetrain worked but wasn't exceptionally crisp and had a spongey feel to it. We could manage many of the steeper Tucson climbs thanks to the 10-42 tooth cassette, but some users may consider a wider range cassette or 12-speed upgrade down the line to make the Enduro Comp more versatile. Note, however, that increasing the chainring size will detract from the bike's pedaling performance by lowering anti-squat values. The RaceFace Aeffect cranks and 30-tooth narrow/wide chainring performed flawlessly, and having the extra confidence in chain retention thanks to the small upper chainguide was nice for peace of mind.

Between the clutch on the GX rear derailleur and the FSR suspension platform, the Enduro stayed relatively quiet. Specialized did a nice job of securing internal cables and placing protective molded rubber on the chainstay to dampen chainslap. We suggest adding some mastic tape to the inside of the seatstay for the quietest ride.

The Specialized Enduro Comp is an excellent value thanks to a parts spec that is both functional and uncompromising for the price and intended use. The alloy frame performed well, proving to be stiff and reliable. There’s nothing we would change about the original spec as we felt Specialized put dollars into key components, leaving a few extra bucks in the bank for some good post-ride beers.

Long Term Durability

After a few months of hard riding, the Enduro Comp may find itself in need of some new feet and shoes. As mentioned, the tires are comprised of the tough Grid casing but feature a relatively soft rubber compound, so it’s likely that most riders will find that the tread wears out quickly. Between the soft alloy of the Traverse rims and relatively low spoke count of 24 up front and 28 out back, there's a good chance that the rims will need some love after a few hard months on the trail.

On the positive side, the threaded bottom bracket and easily accessible bearings will make for simple routine maintenance down the line. All FSR linkage bearings are the same size and injected with grease from both sides. Only time will tell, but aside from a few minor yet potential weak spots the Enduro Comp means business and we have no doubt that it’s ready to be put through the paces. Specialized backs several of the components with a one year warranty, the frame with a lifetime warranty, and suspension attachment points and related equipment (including chainstays and seatstays) for five years.

What's The Bottom Line?

The 2017 Specialized Enduro Comp 650b is an immediately comfortable, high-value beast of a bike that begs to be unleashed on rowdy terrain. With 170mm of front and rear travel, the new Enduro lives for long days in the bike park and shuttling downhill trails while remaining playful and fun. Designed for the rider looking for a gravity oriented one bike quiver, the Enduro easily outperforms downhill bikes of yesteryear and can pedal right back to the top. Riding well beyond the $3,200 price point on the trail, this high value ride is capable of shredding hard while keeping the lift ticket fund well padded.

Visit www.specialized.com for more details.

Vital MTB Rating

  • Climbing: 3.5 stars - Very Good
  • Descending: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Fun Factor: 4 stars - Excellent
  • Value: 5 stars - Spectacular
  • Overall Impression: 4 stars - Excellent

Bonus Gallery: 26 photos of the 2017 Specialized Enduro Comp 650B up close and in action


About The Reviewers

Dylan Stucki - Age: 28 // Years Riding MTB: 17 // Height: 6'5" (1.96m) // Weight: 195-pounds (88.5kg)

"I'm a fun-haver, always looking for new ways to interpret the trail. Gettin' sidewayze and balls out fast is rad too!" Dylan brings some serious speed to the Vital test crew, a heavy dose of hijinks, and routinely breaks things you think can't be broken. He's been testing mountain bikes and parts for several years which gives him good perspective on the full spectrum of what's on the market.

Mint Henk - Age: 32 // Years Riding MTB: 18 // Height: 6'0" (1.83m) // Weight: 180-pounds (81.6kg)

"Ragged, with a hint of Neanderthal." We decided to bring Mint onboard after watching him absolutely rocket up and down Colorado's high country like it was no big deal. Meanwhile, we were huffing and puffing trying to keep up. Mint is the real deal, and he brings a fresh eye to the Vital MTB testing game backed with years of relevant experience.

Which reviewer resembles you the most? Don't miss our Q&A with the testers for more insight about their styles and preferences.

About Test Sessions

For five years a dedicated crew of Vital MTB testers have been bringing you the most honest, unbiased reviews you'll find anywhere. This time around we rode 2017's most exciting trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes on a wide variety of rowdy trails in Tucson, Arizona. Reviews can be accessed 24/7 in our Product Guide. Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Arizona Cyclist. Tester gear provided by Troy Lee Designs, Specialized, Five Ten, ZOIC, Sombrio, Race Face, and EVOC. All photos by Lear Miller.

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Specifications

Product Specialized Enduro Comp 650b
Model Year 2017
Riding Type Trail
Rider Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L, XL View Geometry
Size S M L XL
Top Tube Length 551mm 576mm 604mm 632mm
Head Tube Angle 65.5° 65.5° 65.5° 65.5°
Head Tube Length 95mm 100mm 115mm 125mm
Seat Tube Angle 76.5° 76° 76° 75°
Seat Tube Length 396mm 430mm 467mm 521mm
Bottom Bracket Height 350mm 350mm 350mm 350mm
Chainstay Length 425mm 425mm 425mm 425mm
Wheelbase 1153mm 1175mm 1201mm 1225mm
Standover 761mm 771mm 782mm 796mm
Reach 410mm 430mm 450mm 470mm
Stack 585mm 590mm 604mm 613mm
* Additional Info Bottom Bracket Height with 650x2.6" Tires
Frame Material Aluminum
Frame Material Details M5 Alloy, X-Wing Layout, Internal Cable Routing
Rear Travel 170mm
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch Plus, Rx All-Mountain Tune, AUTOSAG, Rebound and 3-Position Compression Adjust, 216x57mm
Fork RockShox Yari RC 27.5, Solo Air, Rebound and Compression Adjust, 15mm x 110mm Maxle Ultimate Thru-Axle
Fork Travel 170mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered
Headset
Handlebar Specialized DH, 6061 Alloy, 6º Upsweep x 8º Backsweep x 27mm Rise x 780mm Width
Stem Specialized Trail, 3D Forged Alloy, 4-Bolt, 6º Rise
Grips Specialized Sip Grip, Half-Waffle, S/M: Regular Thickness, L/XL: XL Thickness
Brakes SRAM Guide R, Hydraulic Disc, Organic Pads, Guide S4 4-Piston Caliper, 200mm Front / 180mm Rear Rotors
Brake Levers SRAM
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM NX, 11-Speed, Trigger
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX, Long Cage, 11-Speed
ISCG Tabs Yes
Chainguide Top Guide
Cranks Race Face Aeffect, 6000-Series Alloy, 24mm Spindle, 52mm Chainline
Chainrings 30 Tooth
Bottom Bracket Threaded
Pedals Resin Test Ride with Toe Clips
Chain SRAM PC-1110, 11-Speed with PowerLink
Cassette SRAM XG-1150, 11-Speed, 10-42 Tooth
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Rims Roval Traverse 650b, Hookless Alloy, 29mm Inner Width, 24/28 Hole, Tubeless Ready
Hubs Front: Specialized Disc, Alloy, Sealed Cartridge Bearings,15mm x 110mm Thru-Axle, 24 Hole
Rear: Specialized Disc, Alloy, Sealed Cartridge Bearings, 12mm x 148mm Thru-Axle, 28 Hole
Spokes DT Swiss Industry, Stainless, 3x, 2.0"
Tires Front: Butcher, GRID Casing, 650x2.6", 60TPI, Aramid Folding Bead, 2Bliss Ready
Rear: Slaughter, GRID Casing, 650x2.6", 60TPI, Aramid Folding Bead, 2Bliss Ready
Saddle Body Geometry Henge Comp, Hollow Cr-Mo Rails, 143mm
Seatpost Command Post IRcc, 12 Position Micro-Height Adjustable, Alien Head Design, Bottom Mount Cable Routing, Remote Adjust SRL Lever, S: 100mm, M/L/XL: 125mm Travel
Seat Post Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Specialized, Alloy, 2-Bolt, 27.2mm
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 12mm x 148mm
Max. Tire Size 2.6-inches
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Gloss Moto Green/Monster Green/Hyper, Satin Black/Charcoal
Warranty Lifetime Frame
Weight 32 lb 5.5 oz (14670 g)
Miscellaneous
Price $3,200
More Info

​Specialized Website