From reviews I’d read at the time it was clear the engineering and ride-ability of the bike wasn’t in question, having evolved from a trusted and proven design. On the looks front however, it was very much a Marmite experience, you either loved it, or hated it. When I first clapped eyes on one of these back in 2006 I fell in love with the lines and the burly yet light-footed appearance of this updated classic.
The first thing you notice about the bike is the Future Shock E150 fork, a dual crown affair typically seen on downhill rigs, or motorbikes. This was complimented by the AFR Shock at the rear. The second more unusual aspect was the origin of the suspension setups, each Specialized own brand designs for both front and back. Specialized invested in the expertise of Mike McAndrews, who served six years as head of R&D at SockShox, later moving on to Fox Racing then Maverick. His vision was to create a completely integrated system designed from the ground up.
The idea was to create a suspension ride that allowed a balanced and controlled experience for the rider, and in my opionion it all works very nicely thank you very much.
What surprises me most about this bike is it’s ability to climb. Despite the slack angles and long fork, once the E150 altitude adjustment (the black dial) is turned on the fork compresses 40mm to lower the front and change the geometry for easier climbing. The difference is noticeable and the result is a bike capable of fast, comfortable ascending.
The machine descends just as convincingly and confidently as it climbs. With 2.3 inch tyres and wide riser bars the feel is one of full control and positive feedback when descending trails at speed. The suspension carries out it’s duties effortlessly leaving you to focus on the steering.
I’ll be updating this post with a more indepth review over time. For now enjoy some of the close-up images of the Specialized Enduro SL Expert below.