2013 Bike of the Year, Vital MTB Shreddy Awards 19

Two years ago, if you told us a Bike of the Year Shreddy would be given to a 29er, we would have laughed in your face as we sprinted off on our deus-six machines. Fast forward to 2013, our minds are open and the Bike of the Year has begrudgingly won our hearts. Following a whirlwind debut and winning the Sea Otter downhill under Aaron Gwin, the bike found success with Curtis Keene in the Enduro World Series. A short time after, the bike surprised everyone as Mitch Whipelato scorched his way past the haters to a 2nd place seeding time at downhill World Champs in Pietermaritzburg. The Shreddy Award for the 2013 Bike of the Year goes to the Specialized Enduro 29, a bike we wanted to hate, but couldn't. Sporting geometry that looks impossible to pull off on paper, 6.1-inches of finely-tuned travel and a dialed build kit, the Enduro 29 rides like no other wagon wheeler before it. Thanks to some Taco Blade magic, its agility is akin to it’s smaller-wheeled brothers while maintaining substantial gains in traction, rolling speed, and the ability to monster truck through anything in its path. This unique combination creates a ride where corner exit speed is nothing short of phenomenal and the uphill-ability (a Vital trademarked word) is what you'd expect from a big wheeler. If going balls to the wall on rough trails is your thing, this bike is an unlikely match you should consider and is flat out fun to ride. Congrats, Specialized. You earned this Shreddy for the Enduro 29.

Read the Vital Review of the Specialized Enduro 29, our 2013 Bike of the Year

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19 comments
  • yokev

    6/23/2014 3:30 AM

    I had a carbon-copy experience with the Enduro 29 as well.
    I'm friggen old(46) and set in my ways- I HATED 29ers.
    I was perfectly happy with my '13 26" Enduro Expert(Carbon). I put Saint brakes on it, Chris King-hub'ed wheels, KS Lev dropper, and carbon bars, and I rode it 4-5 times weekly, climbing ONLY to access my favorite descent(at my age, I've EARNED the right to ONLY climb when there's something FUN on the backside. I NO longer climb simply because there's a zillion hills on my ride.
    So one day, I'm happily minding my own fricken business, riding my trusty Enduro over to my favorite descent, when I stop for a breather and some dude comes up to me and asks if I'd be willing to sell it.
    EVERYTHING has its price(except my dogs, but including the little woman), so I said 'sure' and threw out a price that was roughly $2k more than I had into it, and to my COMPLETE disbelief, he countered with a price that was about $1600 more than what I paid for it, so I freaking TOOK IT!
    I had been thinking (in the closet) about a 27.5", as with my LBS's BARELY stocking ANY 26" tires, and the ones they do typically being crappy XC baloney, and more and more companies abandoning the 26ers altogether, the thought of WHAT I'm gonna replace my trusty 26er with seems to always be on my mind. I'm sure I'm no different from others who are still riding their trust-dusty 26" bikes, so I asked my LBS if I could 'borrow' their '13 Intense Tracer 27.5" demo bike. Unfortunately, I doubt the bike has ever had any maintenance. So in addition to a rear hub that was so dry, it was a LOT noisier than even my CK, its suspension's damping 'fluid' was reduced to an extremely dirty light vinaigrette, so the thing acted like the front and rear were attached to two separate bikes. Oh, and it also shook its head when forced to ride through the rock-strewn trails that we have here in SoKal, thanks to an even DRIER winter than usual.
    At this point the mgr of my LBS(a Specialized store obviously) told me he'd let me ride their 29" demo bike if I agreed to ride it for three days in a row before I brought it back. He told me this was because I was prolly gonna HATE the thing the first time I rode it, but by the third day I'd be singing a new tune.
    It too was completely clapped out('14 Stumpy FSR) but regardless, the second I threw a leg over it, it was night and freaking DAY more efficient than my Enduro 26".
    I have to ride at night during the week sometimes, so I took it on a mild loop that consisted of some sand, and some ups and downs. It rode through the sand like it was on freaking asphalt, compared to my 26er, which ALWAYS slid the front through it, and it motored the flats AND the hills like there was an electric motor on-board.
    NOT trying, I took two minutes off my loop, AND I went two MPH faster down my favorite descent of the loop(not to be confused with my FAVORITE descent PERIOD-which is located in a different riding area, mmmmm-kay?)
    So needless to say I became thoroughly confused. How could the DEVIL(29ers) BE so much BETTER than my Golden Chariot(s) of JOY-my tried and true 26ers?
    So I talked with the mgr about which 29er would suit me best, and it was decided that low and behold, the ENDURO 29er would. I'm not into paying $6500 for a fricken bike(I bought my Carbon 26er at their end of the year sale for $4k), but they didn't have an Enduro carbon in stock anyway, so we decided to grab the 'Comp', slap some carbon fiber wheels on it, pitch the JUNK Fox Float Evolution shock in favor of the 'Performance' version, which includes their boost valve, but more importantly, also a rebound piston, and I had 'em replace the CRAP stock Formula brakes in favor of a set of XO Trails that I had laying around(which the day after I had them installed, they were replaced by a set of Saints-what can I say....once you ride with the Saints, nothing else is good enough), and finally, pitch the stock 2x drive-train favor of X01.
    The bike weighed 32.xx lbs sitting on the showroom floor, with 'resin' pedals and tubes. The stock wheels weigh 2200 grams +, and the Roval carbon fiber wheels that replaced 'em weigh right around 1580gr's.
    Despite adding a dropper post, now that it's all said and done, the bike weighs a smidge UNDER 29lbs(28lbs 14oz to be exact), WITH my XT Trail pedals.
    [Really] long story short, my favorite descent I spoke about earlier.. The FIRST time down it on the Enduro 29er, I took TWO seconds off my previous best(as verified on Strava). The second time down it I took ANOTHER two seconds off-and lemme tell ya...these times have me sitting 18th out of prolly over a THOUSAND people that've recorded a time on Strava down that run, so it's not like the Enduro 29er is on a freaking Sunday drive going down that thing.
    The biggest thing I notice(d) going down, was while I am [barely] in control of the general direction I'm traveling on the 26er on that run, on the 29er it's so SMOOOOOTHHHH running over all the exposed rock, and barreling through the rock garden, it feels like I'm going slower.
    For those of us who'd never ridden a 29er, we'd always hear about how good they are at rolling over 'obstacles' that smaller wheels get bounced around on, and I'm now here to tell 'ya...it's the FREAKING TRUTH!
    They're so fricken SMOOTH, it's cheating gawdamnit!
    And the beauty of this thing is, it's JUST as 'light' and flickable as my 26" Enduro was.
    Specialized REALLY did hit a home-run with the 29" Enduro. They attempted to mimic the 26er's geometry, and not only did they accomplish that HUGE feat, it WORKS!
    Contrary to what your common sense tells you, I can throw this thing around JUST as easily as I could my 26er, I can change lines AND/ OR direction EASIER at speed on this thing, mainly because(IMO) the 26er is busy deflecting off all the baseball/softball sized rocks all over the place, while the 29er stays perfectly composed as it simply rolls over the top of 'em. It's also pretty easy to throw it around in the air as well.
    So I did something I was SURE I'd never do. I freaking CONVERTED to a damn 29er rider, and it's because my Enduro 29er literally leaves my previous 26" Enduro(CARBON no less) in the DaMn weeDS!

  • beerguzlinfool

    12/31/2013 4:01 PM

    Sorry cant see why this would get bike of the year. What did it really do to set itself apart from the crowd. In my opinion the gt fury would have to be one of the strong contenders. It was ridden to victory at rampage, took second place on the men's W.C. Circuit, took first in the women's W.C. Circuit and first in the team category.

  • Nicholast

    12/30/2013 11:45 AM

    Props to Vital for bringing out all the haters, conspiracy theorists, and XYZ-brand fan boys on this one. It's like complainers think this award somehow discredits their personal favorite bike and they need to defend it.

    To the haters, if you're angry because you think something besides the Enduro 29 should have won, get over it; this is Vital's award and their choice based on their criteria, not yours. It wasn't a vote or a poll. So it's up to you to decide how much influence you want this award to have on your next bike purchase.

    Personally, I've never ridden one of these, but can see where Vital is coming from and why it won. I'm just stoked there is one more option on the long list when it comes time to get a new trail bike.

  • Fox

    12/29/2013 10:12 PM

    I didn't want to ride a Specialized until I rode one of these. Now I own one and I like it. They are very fast bikes. They handle very well, ripping up corners and plowing through both wide open rough and tight technical terrain. They will likely make you faster if you can fit on one. I know 5 riders on these and so far they are holding up well to race condition abuse by some large, very strong riders. Specialized is a corporate monster that probably has higher profit margins on all their products than most in the MTB industry. As such, its easy to not like them, but they did an excellent job of massively improving one of the biggest shortcomings of 29" wheels: poor handling. Picking it for the 2013 Shreddy Award was a fine choice as I do believe the Enduro 29" represents a significant breakthrough in MTB development.

  • iRossum

    12/29/2013 4:18 PM

    The Enduro pictured here is a $10,000 S-WORKS bike (if you argue $9250 get effed.) If it's not an absolute ripper there is a huge problem. I've spent enough time on 29er's, and this bike and the YETI sb-95 are the only two I would consider buying. With the sb-95 aluminum race build at half the price and in my opinion (which is yes my opinion) more agile/ playful theres my decision. At the top of our sport it IS about the horse keeping up with the rider. The sb-66C steed did just that under Grubby across the board.

  • JonnyC

    12/29/2013 1:58 PM

    hhmmmm... That's odd there's a Specialized add on the right side of this page

  • enrico650

    12/29/2013 5:41 AM

    Marketing at its best!
    The enduro world cup was won on a Cannondale jekill 26" and the second place on a SB66 also on 26" Shame on you!
    We all have heard about the bribes that are taking place,(Free bikes angle gear) can't keep this going forever guys !

  • bturman

    12/29/2013 7:11 AM

    I'd love to know who's getting free bikes, because it isn't us. Keep the conspiracy theories coming though - they're quite entertaining. Or better yet, go ride one for yourself. It might just blow your mind.

  • enrico650

    12/29/2013 7:22 AM

    I work for an specialized dealer.
    2 of this 29ers came back already with loose chainstays and we already switch one of them to 650b wheels.
    Further more, we did it by using the 26" chainstays and seat stays because the 29 pieces are to weak causing too much flex.

  • gobo

    12/28/2013 2:39 AM

    i thing bike of the year is a user bike!?

  • emsley

    12/27/2013 11:43 PM

    Wow! Have any of you sour d-bags sat on this bike, let alone spent any lengthy amount of time on a 29-er? (sorry, test rides or grumpy days out don't count)

    Have you ridden more than a handful of bikes in your life?

    No? Shocking...

    Vital, post some vids of you guys riding the beast!

  • Justcruizing

    12/28/2013 4:41 AM

    No arguments about the bike performance...just can't give the nod as bike of the year when keen buyers or a huge segment of the matket keen on owning one can't even fit it. That's a reality and fact and a massive point hard to ignore.

  • emsley

    12/28/2013 6:33 AM

    @justcruizing - dude, my comment wasn't aimed at you--it's aimed at the whiny pansies locked in their close-minded ways. i have a 5'8" buddy (also asian) ;-) on the medium 29er. he swapped the seatpost for a 100mm KS dropper, and he's now like a pig in shit. go sit on one, man. i ditched my 26" enduro for a 29er stumpjumper carb evo and adore it. i also have a 26" mojo hdr--the wheelsize argument is for ignorant twats...all high-end bikes are a shitload of fun!

  • Justcruizing

    12/27/2013 10:53 PM

    Totally cool, I'm going to dump my Trek and grab one of these incredible machines in the new year. Ah! But wait...they only come in medium upwards meaning myself and about 80% of the Asian market as well as the balance of 5.7 feet riders and below cannot ride one. Great bike hey((((

  • Dogboy

    12/27/2013 8:52 PM

    Blegh.

  • SCparkstreetdirt

    12/27/2013 7:34 PM

    Should have gone to the Bronson.

  • aleeann

    12/27/2013 5:20 PM

    Nothing to see here...

  • Krispy

    12/27/2013 5:07 PM

    Hitler would ride it, but Napoleon wouldn't- it doesn't come in a size small.

  • Varaxis

    12/27/2013 4:36 PM

    Delivered in a well-executed unexcited monotone manner. Perhaps coincidentally, that happens to describe my reaction to this award.