Interested in the comparison between the Specialized Enduro 650b vs Enduro 29″? Read the review here!
Last week we carried out the biggest comparative test we have ever organised, it took place at our trail test location and well known Enduro spot in Punta Ala, Tuscany. We took 15 Enduro bikes, from 15 different brands, then for 5 days they were ridden by 6 testers back to back. All supported logistically with the full time help of a professional mechanic who took care of all the technical preparation.
Although there are 15 bikes, some brands are not present in the test because their bikes were not available, however the response from the industry in general was amazing and we would like to thank all our partners for their help.
We have to point out that we tested the bikes which we received: wrong/incorrect specifications or older frames are taken into account in our comments, as well as the those companies’ responses to our results regarding these bikes.
We tested only Enduro bikes with between 160-170mm of rear travel. Only one bike had less travel: the Lapierre Spicy Team (150mm). The French company specifies a 160mm fork on the front, but prefers less travel on the rear.
It should also be known that Specialized sells an Enduro 29er, but this will be the subject of an individual review that will be published very soon.
[expand title=”Geometries” expanded=”true”]
|Banshee Rune||650b/setting neutral||1166/1191.2||65.5||436||357||74|
|Cube Stereo||mod. 160 HPA SL||1170/1183||66.5||441.5||-14||74.6|
|Lapierre Spicy Team||ND||66.7||435||-5||73.7|
|MDE Damper 650b||1173/1199||65.5||445||356||73|
|Pivot Mach 6||Head angle tg. M/L||1139.2/1154||66/66.25||430||345||72.3|
|Santacruz Nomad Carbon||1169.8/1195.4||65||433.1||340||74.2|
|Scott Genius LT Tuned||low setting||1176.4/1202.8||66.3||440||346||74|
|Specialized Enduro 27.5||1160/1188||65.5||422||352||74.6|
|Transition Patrol||Seat angle tg. M/L||1181/1210||65||430||339||75.4/74.9|
|Trek Slash Carbon||Low setting/actual SA||1192/1205||65||435||350||66.5|
|YT Capra||Mod. CF PRO||1169.2/1196.2||65.3||430||-7.5||75|
Our base camp for the week was at Punta Ala Camping Resort, a great location directly on the beach with very fast access to the trail network of the Bandite Trail Area. We just had to pedal for 5 minutes before hitting the first trail of our testing loop. The down hills were the same ones that were used at the Enduro World Series in 2013. We had the technical support of Bagnoli Bike Shop: run by two great guys who you’ll love to talk mountain biking and have a beer with at their well furnished shop.
It’s possible to find all the notes on every bike further down in the article, we’d now like to focus on how the testing went.
The first point we noticed when looking at the field of bikes was that different companies have slightly different approaches and conceptual realisations for the Enduro category. Scott, Cannondale and Lapierre invested lots of time and energy in developing bikes that are also great to pedal uphill and accelerate well, while others like GT, Santacruz, Banshee, Nukeproof and YT concentrated more on the downhill performance. Other companies like Specialized, Trek, Transition, Cube, Rose and MDE are in the middle, especially Specialized, which all testers defined their offering as the, “Golden Middle” a term often used in German to try and describe the perfect combination.
The two bikes that came highest in the ranking have custom builds that give them a slight advantage compared to the other bikes. The Specialized Enduro had the highest ranking for the “Out of the box” bikes.
Further more, Trek and Cannondale also sent us regular builds, the Jekyll which was also the only bike with a Shimano rear dérailleur. You read it right: SRAM currently has a near monopoly for all that concerns the current 1×11 drivetrain market, and not only in the high end segment: consider that the Cube Stereo only costs €2.999. Notice that SRAM supplies a lot of suspension components on a lot of the bikes with their Rock Shox branded products. They are able to offer nearly all the components on a bike. It is a serious strength that puts the American company at a clear advantage, especially when you consider the number of Pikes that come on Enduro bikes and how seriously they are seen in the industry as a competitive supplier.
When talking about suspension it has to be said that Bos is doing an excellent job with their current line up. The Deville was present on three test bikes, one of them being the winning bike. The Bos rear shock, the Kirk, was very well liked by the testers and was found on the YT and the Banshee bikes. At the end of the testing, everybody agreed that the Bos component build was the best performing, especially on the Rune. If the overall weight of the Rune wouldn’t have been so high, this bike would have scored much higher in the ranking. The weight was also the main issue for the Nukeproof, together with the poor performance of its Marzocchi fork.
The suspension was the big problem for the Rose Uncle Jimbo. The Fox 34 that was mounted on it was under performing compared to the competition and we couldn’t understand why the German brand didn’t build the bike up with the newer Fox 36 (its standard build) on the test bike they sent us. The rear suspension was regressive at the beginning of the travel stroke and too progressive at its end. Exactly the contrary to what the compression curve says should happen. Rose, who was notified of the problem, stated that the rear shock needs a service and/or check to ensure it was performing as required. We will review the bike one more time very soon.
Transition has changed completely its philosophy with its new bike, the Patrol, saying goodbye to the single pivot and hello to the Horst link. The Patrol is agile, with very plush suspension, it has lost the harsher character of it predecessor, the Covert. It is defiantly now a bike, “for everybody”, easy to handle.
Lapierre sent us a Spicy team with the electronic E:I shock. This is the system that mountain biking legend Nicolas Vouilloz uses for Enduro racing and it gives great reactivity to the bike. This together with the simplicity when riding as the E:I thinks for you. You don’t need a remote control to soften or harden your suspension as you pedal. Unfortunately though the chainstays were too wide for some riders wearing Shimano and Five Ten downhill shoes, due to the inner brake mount. They touched the frame on nearly every pedal stroke, also in the downhill sections when the chainstays were moving solely because of the suspension movements.
Pivot was the only test bike supplied with a DW Link rear suspension, a great system for its anti-squat properties and sensitivity. Though this frame (a 2014 MY) had a problem with its rear gear system, we found the 1×11 chain was touching the chainstay near the rear drop-out when put on the 10T cog. Pivot stated that they provide some spacers for the 2014 frames and that the 2015 Mach 6 now have already a new rear triangle that solves this problem.
Specifications – And Also What We Liked (Plus What We Didn’t Like)
[expand title=”Click to see the builds, prices, photos and what we think of these bikes” expanded=”true”]
[expandsub1 title=”Banshee Rune”]
Frame: Banshee Rune alloy.
Fork: Bos Deville 170mm.
Rear shock: Bos Kirk, 160mm.
Drivetrain: SRAM X1, 32T.
Brakes: Shimano XTR, Ice Tech rotors, 180mm front and rear.
Wheels: E.Thirteen TRS Plus.
Tyres: Schwalbe Magic Mary 2.35″ Supergravity front, Hans Dampf Supergravity 2.35″ rear.
Handlebar: K9 Switch 780mm.
Stem: Hope 50mm.
Saddle and seatpost: SDG Flite – Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 125mm
Weight: Kg 14.46
Price: Build custom €6,000 Euros.
Well balanced Geometry.
Finish could be improved.
[expandsub1 title=”Cube Stereo 160 HPA”]
Frame: Cube Stereo 160 HPA
Fork: Rock Shox Pike RC Solo Air 27.5 160mm
Rear shock: Fox Float CTD BoostValve LV
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 – Guarnitura Race Face Evolve 32T 170mm – Catena KMC X11
Brakes: SRAM Guide R – 200mm/200mm
Wheels: DT Swiss CSW EM 2.7 wheelset
Tyres: Schwalbe Hans Dampf Kevlar 2.35 – TrailStar Front / PaceStar Rear
Handlebar: Race Face Chester 740mm – Cube Fritzz Grip 2-clamp
Stem: Race Face Chester
Saddle and seatpost: SDG Circuit MTN – Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 125mm
Weight: Kg 13,37
Rear suspension was linear, very easy to bottom out.
[expandsub1 title=”Cannondale Jekyll Carbon 2″ ]
Frame: Cannondale Jekyll BallisTec Hi-MOD Carbon.
Fork: SuperMax 2.0 PBR 160 27.5, PBR Enduro damper, Hybrid Needle Bearing Tech, 50mm offset.
Rear shock: Fox DYAD RT2, 160/95mm adj. travel, 2015 tune.
Drivetrain: SRAM S2210 AM, BB30A, 36/22T w/MRP 2x guide.
Brakes: Shimano XT Trail, 180/180mm.
Wheels: Mavic Crossroc 27.5 WTS, tubeless ready.
Tyres: Mavic Crossroc 27.5 WTS, 27.5×2.2″, tubeless ready.
Handlebar: Cannondale C2 riser, 2014 double-butted alloy, 740x18mm.
Stem: FSA Gravity Light, 1.5″, 31.8, 5 deg.
Saddle and seatpost: WTB Silverado Race, CroMo. KS LEV Integra dropper, internal routing, 31.6.
Weight: Kg 13.89
Composure in technical climbs and relaunch on the trail thanks to the possibility to change the amount of travel with the Dyad2 shock.
Lefty fork can’t have the compression regulated.
The remote for the suspension was hard to use.
[expandsub1 title=”GT Sanction” ]
Frame: GT Sanction, aluminium.
Fork: Bos Deville, 170mm travel.
Rear shock: Fox Float X CTD Kashima, 165mm travel with handlebar remote.
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 – crankset X1.
Brakes: Shimano XT Trail, rotors 180mm.
Wheels: Crank Brothers Iodine 3.
Tyres: Kenda Honey Badger 2.4 up front, Maxxis High Roller II on the rear.
Handlebar: Spank 777mm.
Stem: Spank, 40mm.
Saddle and seatpost: Fizik Tundra 2, Rock Shox Reverb, 125mmtravel version.
Weight: Kg 13.50
Price: custom build. Only one build type is available from GT: €4,499.
Remote control on the Fox Float X, good for relaunches and climbs.
Easy and fast on descents.
[expandsub1 title=”Lapierre Spicy Team” ]
Frame: Lapierre Spicy Carbon, stays in aluminium.
Fork: Rock Shox Pike RCT3 Solo Air, 160mm travel version.
Rear shock: Rock Shox Monarch E:i RT3, 150mm travel.
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 / crank-set XX1.
Brakes: SRAM Guide RSC 200 mm / 180 mm
Wheels: SRAM Rail 50.
Tires: Michelin Wildrock’r Magi-X 2.35″ up front, Wildgrip’r Gum-X 2.35″ on the rear.
Handlebar: Truvativ Blackbox LTD Carbon, 20mm Rise, 750mm, 31.8″ diameter.
Stem: Lapierre CNC Funn 55 mm
Saddle and seatpost: SDG Duster, Rock Shox Reverb 125 mm.
Weight: kg 13.38
Fast rear suspension adjustment.
Very good descent focused tyres.
Rear triangle is too wide, a few riders rubbed the stays with their shoes.
Tyres were a bit slow on smooth tracks.
[expandsub1 title=”MDE Damper 650b” ]
Frame: MDE Damper 650b alloy.
Fork: Marzocchi 350 CR.
Rear shock: Fox Float CTD Kashima Trail Adjust.
Drivetrain: SRAM X1.
Brakes: SRAM Guide RS – 180mm/180mm.
Wheels: Hubs MDE Prototype – Rims WTB Frequency i25 front / i23 rear.
Tyres: Maxxis Ardent 2.25 EXO rear / Maxxis High Roller II 2.4 EXO front.
Handlebar: MDE Prototype Carbon 750mm.
Stem: Truvativ Holzfeller FR 50mm.
Saddle and seatpost: WTB Volt Race – Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 125mm.
Weight: Kg 13,80
Bike was easy and intuitive to use.
[expandsub1 title=”Nukeproof Meta” ]
Frame: Nukeproof Mega Alluminio x7.
Fork: Marzocchi 350 CR, 160mm of travel.
Rear shock: Rock Shox Monarch Plus RCT3 Debon Air, 160mm travel.
Drivetrain: SRAM X1.
Brakes: Formula CR1, 180mm rotors front and rear.
Wheels: Nukeproof Generator AM.
Tyres: Maxxis High Roller EXO 2.3″.
Handlebar: Nukeproof Warhead, 760mm.
Stem: Nukeproof Warhead 50mm.
Saddle and seatpost: Nukeproof, Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 125 mm.
Weight: kg 14.8
Price: Complete €3,890 / Frame only €1,690.
Performance in climbs considering the weight.
Heavy component build.
[expandsub1 title=”Pivot Mach 6 Carbon” ]
Frame: Pivot Mach 6 carbon.
Fork: Fox 34 CTD Kashima, 160mm travel.
Rear shock: Float X CTD Kashima, 155mm of travel.
Drivetrain: SRAM X01, guarnitura X1.
Brakes: Avid X0 Trail, rotors 180mm up front and 160mm rear.
Whels: Kore Durox 650b.
Tires: Kenda Nevegal, Nevegal X-pro 2.35″.
Handlebar: Kore Mega 770mm.
Stem: FSA Afterburner 60mm.
Saddle and seatpost: WTB, Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 125 mm.
Weight: kg 13.05
Price: € 6,499 with Fox 36 and €6,399 with Rock Shox Pike RCT3. The wheels in the photos were a special kit from Tribe Distribution.
Easy to pedal uphill with shock open (DW Link).
Responsive on relaunches.
Control/Stack height very high due to handlebar rise.
[expandsub1 title=”Rose Uncle Jimbo 3″ ]
Frame: ROSE Uncle Jimbo 650B / 160 mm travel.
Fork: Fox 34 Talas 160 Factory FIT CTD Trail Adjust.
Rear shock: Fox FloatX CTD, 165mm travel.
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 / crankset E13 TRSr 32Z.
Brakes. SRAM Guide RSC 200 mm / 180 mm
Whels: Mavic Crossmax Enduro WTS LTD 27.5”
Tires: Mavic Tyre System
Handlebar: Race Face SIXC 785 mm / Ergon GE1 grips.
Stem: Race Face Atlas 50 mm
Saddle and seatpost: SDG Circuit MTN, Rock Shox Reverb 150 mm travel version.
Weight: Kg 13.35
Hard to bottom out.
The rear suspension sagged too much in climbs due to the rear shock, (currently being analysed).
[expandsub1 title=”Santacruz Nomad Carbon” ]
Frame: Nomad carbon.
Fork: Formula 35, 160mm travel.
Rear shock: Rock Shox Monarch Plus Debon Air RC3, 165 mm travel.
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1, crank-set Race Face Next SL.
Brakes. Shimano XTR, rotors 180mm.
Wheels and Hubs: Novatec Diablo.
Tyres: Front: Minion DHF Exo 2.30″, rear Minion DHR 2.3″.
Handlebar: Race Face 6c, 800mm.
Stem: Thomson Elite X4, 50mm.
Saddle and seatpost: WTB Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 150 mm travel.
Weight: 12.68 Kg with tubes.
Price: around €8,000
Geometry, good stability, reactive.
[expandsub1 title=”Scott Genius LT” ]
Frame: Genius LT 700 Carbon.
Fork:FOX 36 Float Factory CTD FIT Air / KashimaCTD with 3 position remote to regulate compression. 170mm travel.
Rear shock: Fox Nude / SCOTT custom, 170mm travel.
Drivetrain: SRAM X01¨
Brakes. Shimano XTR, rotors 180mm.
Wheels and Hubs: Synchros AM1.528H, TR.
Tyres: Front Hans Dampf EVO / 27.5 × 2.35 / TrailStar. Rear: Rock Razor EVO / 27.5 × 2.35 / PaceStar.
Handlebar: Syncros AM1.0 Carbon 10Rise / 35mm9° / 760mmSyncros Pro lock-on grips.
Stem: Syncros XM1.5, 35mm HB diameter / 0° angle
Saddle and seatpost: Synchros, Rock Shox Reverb 125mm travel.
Weight: 12.29 Kg with tubes.
Performance in climbs due to Twin Lock.
Nervous in descents considering the amount of travel.
In climb mode the fork is locked out,but not the shock due to the boost valve.
[expandsub1 title=”Specialized Enduro Expert Carbon 650b” ]
Frame: Carbon FACT IS-X 11m rear stays in alloy M5.
Fork: RockShox Pike RC 650b, travel 160mm, cartridge Solo Air, front axle 15mm, tapered headset.
Rear shock: Cane Creek DB Inline, 165mm travel.
Drivetrain: SRAM X01, crank-set Custom SRAM S-2200 carbon, 34 tooth.
Brakes:SRAM Guide RS – 200mm/180mm,
Wheels: Roval Traverse Fattie 650b, internal width 19mm.
Tires: Specialized Slaughter 2.3″ rear, Butcher 2.3″ front.
Handlebar: Specialized All-Mountain, low-rise, 7050 alloy, 8-degree back sweep, 6-degree up sweep, 31.8mm.
Stem: Specialized XC, 3D forged alloy, 4-bolt, 6-degree rise, 60mm.
Saddle and seatpost: Body Geometry Henge Comp, hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mm, Command Post IR 125mm travel.
Weight: Kg 12.62
Balanced ride between uphill and downhill.
Excellent traction climbing with Inline shock from Cane Creek.
Gear ratio a bit tall, due to 34 tooth front ring.
[expandsub1 title=”Transition Patrol” ]
Frame: Patrol Alloy.
Fork: Rock Shox Pike RCT3 160mm 27.5.
Rear shock:RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair, 155mm travel.
Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 , crank-set Race Face SixC Cinch DM32t NW (175mm).
Brakes: Shimano XT, rotors 180mm.
Whels: Stans Flow EX w/DT Swiss 350.
Tires: Schwalbe Magic Mary 27.5 x 2.35 Trailstar Evo Front, Schwalbe Rock Razor 27.5 x 2.35 Pacestar Evo Rear.
Handlebar: Race Face SixC 35 Carbon (800mm x 35mm).
Saddle and seatpost: ANVL Forge Chromoly,Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 125mm.
Weight: Kg 13.75
Reactive and agile.
Balanced and reactive suspension in descents.
Rear suspension bobs when open.
[expandsub1 title=”Trek Slash Carbon” ]
Frame: Front carbon triangle OCLV Mountain, rear stays in aluminium.
Fork: RockShox Pike RC, 160mm travel.
Rear shock: RockShox Monarch Plus R DebonAir.
Drivetrain: SRAM X1, 34 tooth.
Brakes: Shimano XT, 200mm front, 180mm rear.
Wheels: Bontrager Maverick Pro Tubeless Ready w/TLR strips, Stacked Lacing, 142×12 rear, 15mm front.
Tires: Bontrager XR4 Expert, Tubeless Ready, 27,5 x 2,35″.
Handlebar: Bontrager Rhythm Pro Carbon Riser, 31,8mm, rise 15mm.
Stem: Bontrager Rhythm Pro, 31.8mm, 0°.
Saddle and seatpost: Bontrager Evoke 3, RockShox Reverb Stealth 125mm travel.
Weight: Kg 12.96
Rear suspension bobs.
[expandsub1 title=”YT Industries Capra CF Pro” ]
Frame: YT Industries Capra Pro Carbon
Fork: BOS Deville 170mm
Rear shock: BOS Kirk
Drivetrain: SRAM X01
Brakes: Avid X0 Trail – 200mm/200mm
Wheels: Mavic Crossmax Enduro 27.5”
Tyres: Maxxis High Roller II 2.4 EXO
Handlebar: Renthal Fatbar 78omm – Race Face Lock-on grips
Stem: Renthal Duo Stem 40mm
Saddle and seatpost: SDG Duster – Rock Shox Reverb Stealth 150mm.
Weight: Kg 13.18
High end specification.
Technical climb composure.
Every bike has been evaluated by each of the six testers. Each element tested on the bikes has a score that ranges from 1 to 10. This number was multiplied by the “Enduro” factor (a way of balancing the use of different bikes that we test, like a golf handicap) that you can see in the second column. All these results then have been aggregated in one table.
The GT Sanction is our winning bike. Developed and tested together with Dan Atherton, this bike is essentially an Enduro missile. The rear shock remote control makes it possible to put the power down on the pedals on climbs or during sprints easily. The unique geometry reminded us of a mini-DH bike in the downhill sections. Read here why.
Also on our podium in second place is the extensively discussed Santacruz Nomad, a great bike but with a price tag that is not for everybody. The first “out of the box” bike is ranked in third position: the Specialized Enduro Expert Carbon 650b it is the “golden middle” of this test and probably the most suitable bike for most of our readers.
Our advice is to not go crazy on the numbers. Everyone can have fun on all of these bikes, especially if their various geometries suit your riding style and you choose carefully the build kit you like before buying. A good fork makes a huge difference on an Enduro bike, for example it doesn’t make sense specifying a Fox 34 when the excellent Fox 36 exists on the market at this point in time.
The evolution of Enduro bikes has been huge over the past few years. It is possible now to ride nearly everything with one bike, this fact alone makes this segment probably the most attractive of current times.
Alex Boyce, Mauro Franzi, Francesco Mazza, Marco Milivinti, Daniel Naftali, Marco Toniolo.