In part four of our Backyard Bike Check series, MBUK’s technical-editor-in-chief Rob Weaver gives us a look at his baby blue Specialized Enduro Comp, which he persuaded the Big S to let him keep hold of for the year after it featured in our 2020 Bike of the Year test.
Specialized Enduro Comp, 170mm travel, size S3, £4,499
Our Bike of the Year testing now feels like a distant memory. A time when we were free to ride whatever trails we wanted and when if you’d asked me what COVID-19 was, I’d have probably said it was some godawful boyband from The X Factor. Sadly, it is not. Anyway, it was back then that I was first acquainted with the Enduro Comp, and I enjoyed riding it immensely from day one.
Of course, right now, the Specialized isn’t the most appropriate bike to ride. Putting in gentle, meandering lockdown miles on sedate terrain isn’t exactly what the Enduro was designed for. That’s not to say I haven’t ridden it, though. On a couple of occasions when I’ve just wanted a change from my XC or gravel bike, I’ve dragged it out and around my local loop.
This is mainly on the road, with a bridleway or two and a short section of easygoing singletrack thrown in for good measure. While the Enduro is certainly hard work on the long tarmac stretches, it’s still loads of fun to bounce around on and I can’t wait for the restrictions to be lifted so I can get out and start riding it just as it’s designed to be ridden.
RockShox take care of both the fork and shock on this particular model. I’m running a little under 30 percent sag on the Super Deluxe Select+ shock in a bid to get this beast of a bike feeling a little livelier on flatter trails. But I’m still able to get the full 170mm of travel on big hits and without any harsh bottoming-out. In terms of air pressure, there’s 165psi in the shock (it’s worth noting that I weigh 68kg), which is set in the Enduro’s ‘high’ setting. I’ve got six clicks of rebound damping wound on (counted from fully closed).
Having spent a fair bit of time aboard the top-end S-Works version of the Enduro, which sports a Fox Float X2 shock, I was curious as to how the Enduro Comp and its Super Deluxe Select+ would compare. On the trail, while the Enduro Comp’s back end is supple and smooth, the S-Works Enduro feels a little more sensitive and the Fox shock manages to conjure up even more traction. It also has low-speed compression damping adjustment, which helps with dialling in the feel and ride height of the bike. Still, the difference in feel between the two bikes isn’t a massive jump, more one of refinement, and I’m certainly not complaining about the Enduro Comp.
Up front, I’ve got a Lyrik bolted in place. RockShox sent me a fork with their updated DebonAir spring so I’ve stuck it on the bike so I can get a feel for the changes that have been made. OK, OK, I know, it’s the fancy Ultimate model, but when I can get my hands on all the right tools, I’m planning on upgrading the air spring in the original, cheaper Lyrik Select too, for an even more accurate comparison.
I’ve got 77.5psi in the air spring with one Bottomless Token volume spacer fitted. The Ultimate fork features the fancier Charger 2.1 RC2 damper, which offers more adjustment than the Charger RC in the Select fork, including high-speed compression damping. I’ve got 14 clicks of rebound damping, three clicks of high-speed compression and 10 clicks of low-speed compression (all counted from fully closed) currently dialled in, although until we can properly ride again, these adjustments are just a starting point for me. It does help that the new fork is red too. Looks good on Big Blue, eh?!
When I contacted WTB about getting some fresh tyres (I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 2.6in Specialized Butchers that came as standard), I also asked if I could have a set of their KOM Tough i29 rims (£79.99 each). These alloy numbers have lasted me well in the past. In fact, I’ve used the same set on two other bikes for the past couple of years and, despite numerous dings and dents, I’m yet to flat a tyre. I’m a big fan of durability like that. It’s a plus that they feel on the right side of stiff yet still comfy enough when battering through rock gardens. My original rims were built onto pricey White Industries hubs, but this time around I’ve gone for Hope Pro 4s (WTB don’t currently offer custom wheel builds). Hopefully they’ll last as well as my last set!
The new rims are wrapped in more from WTB – their Verdict Light/High Grip 2.5in tyre (£54.99) up front and Judge Tough/Fast Rolling 2.4in at the rear (£57.99). I haven’t used the Verdict yet but have heard good things. As for the Judge, I ran one before, for about a year, and appreciated how tough it was and how much predictable traction I had on tap. I’ve got 22psi in the front tyre and 24psi in the rear.
As I mentioned in my Bike of the Year review of the Enduro Comp, while the SRAM NX Eagle transmission works well enough, it’s still a little disappointing on a bike that costs as much as this does. The range on offer – courtesy of the 32t chainring up front and 11-50t cassette – has been spot on for what I’ve needed though, so I can’t really complain. The NX cranks are looking a little scuffed up after a hard winter and a lot of muddy miles.
I’ve long been a fan of Crankbrothers’ Mallet pedals. While they may not feel as secure or have such definite engagement as the likes of Shimano’s SPD pedals, I love how they feel. There’s enough float to keep my knees happy, and getting in and out of the mechanism is super-easy. Of all the clipless pedals I’ve tried over the years, the position and feel I can create using the Mallets (if I combine them with my go-to Specialized 2FO Clip shoes) makes them feel closer to the sensation of riding in flat pedals. And I LOVE flat pedals. I slam the pins deep into the platform to ensure they won’t snag the soles of my shoes, making entry and exit even easier.
Aside from chopping the 800mm bar down to 760mm, I’ve not really changed a thing. The 40mm stem feels about right (the original S-Works Enduro shipped with a 50mm stem, which felt too long) and since I’ve dropped it down the fork steerer (thanks for leaving it long enough, Specialized!), my bar height feels spot on. I may swap the Specialized SIP grips for something fractionally thicker, because they aren’t the comfiest when riding rough trails all day long.
A nice touch from Specialized is the SWAT Conceal Carry tool that sits inside the fork steerer. It’s sprung-loaded, so once you swivel the top cap out of the way, the multi-tool pops out and is easy to grab. Mine’s been in constant use for all sorts of jobs, despite its dinky size.
I’m more than happy with the SRAM Code R brakes that come as stock on the Enduro Comp. The reach adjustment is handy and allows me to get the levers feeling pretty much spot-on for my tastes. They’re punchy and powerful too, thanks to the 200mm front and 180mm rear rotors. I’ve had no issues with the brakes pumping up or fading since I started riding the Enduro. The rear pads are starting to wear low now though, so I’ll be changing those soon enough.
Seatpost, saddle and extras
You may recall from my long-term reports in the mag that I was struggling with the X-Fusion Manic dropper not sitting far enough into the seat tube to allow me to ride with the 150mm-drop post fully extended. I’ve now swapped to SDG’s new Bel-Air III saddle, which has a lower profile than the own-brand seat it’s replaced, allowing me to pedal with the post at full height. The SDG perch is really comfy, with just enough padding and flex for longer stints in the saddle.
As for extras, there’s not a whole lot more to talk about. I’ve slotted a tube, tyre levers and a C02 inflator into the down tube SWAT box, which sits beneath the bottle cage (and means I don’t need to wear a pack on shorter rides). Earlier in the year I was running a Mudhugger Shorty front mudguard, but I’ve now whipped that off. I attached it using their quick-release Velcro straps, which may not look quite as neat as thinner zipties but make taking the fender on and off much quicker and easier. It also meant I wasn’t wasting zipties, which is better for the environment.
For the latest on all our staff bikes, check out the long-term rides section in MBUK every month.