2017 S-Works Enduro 650B – Review

January 5, 2017 MTB Enthusiasts of Utah

Specialized hadn’t crossed my mind over the years as I’ve stuck to more of the ’boutique’ brands, but not necessarily because I was against the big ‘S’ like so many profess to be.   To make a major generalization, I’ve always been of the mindset that successful individuals as well as organizations with the largest target on their back generally know what they’re doing.   If I had a dollar for every time I heard cliches like, “my hate for Specialized is real.” I could probably buy this bike all over again.  I have never understood how so many could loathe this brand so much, which is exactly why I decided to take the plunge with the 650b Specialized Enduro for my first ‘big’ brand bike.  Must be good if they get that much hate.

Our Custom S-Works Jawbreaker Specialized Enduro 650b Details – 28.8lbs

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  • 650b Specialized Enduro Jawbreaker Limited Edition Frameset – Large
  • 170mm Ohlins STX
  • NOBL TR33 Wheels
  • NOBL Hubs
  • Eagle XX1 Full Drivetrain (175mm Cranks)
  • Guide Ultimate Brakeset
  • Sram Centerline X 180mm Rotors
  • Rockshox B1 170mm Dropper
  • Renthal Apex 40mm Stem
  • Ltd. Edition Renthal Carbon DH Bar -780mm | 30mm Rise
  • 180mm Rockshox Lyrik = 64.8° head angle
  • Front tire: 2.3″ Maxxis DHF
  • Rear Tire: 2.3″ Maxxis Aggressor
  • Threaded Sram GPX Bottom Bracket

On The Trail:  It’s hard to review a top end superbike and say much bad about it.   The thing flat out rips. The Southern Utah trails it was first tested on are wildly technical and demanding.  With rock ledges, drops, g-outs, jumps, you have got to be on your game both uphill and down.   It’s exhausting terrain.

Setupimg_2457

I had pored through reviews, comments, asked friends with experience on setup for the Ohlins STX since I had heard of two of them blowing up on friends just a few weeks prior.   What I decided to do is set it up with Specialized’s nice auto sag feature and just forget it.   I brought a pump with me on the first ride, and about 10 minutes into the climb added 5 more PSI since I noticed some bobbing, but didn’t touch it afterwards.   I am a big fan of coil shocks personally so an air shock in and of itself was different, but I was pretty stoked on it.   It was plush and supportive – reminded me of a Fox X2 I had on a previous bike.   We’ll see how things go, but so far I’m intrigued.

Being a big Fox 36 rider for so long, the Lyrik made me skeptical, but I was pleasantly surprised.   I had always liked the damping in the Pike, but loved the stout Fox 36 chassis.  The Lyrik offered the best of both worlds.     I think I am a new Lyrik fanboy.

Other than that I didn’t touch another thing.   The 40mm stem and 780mm bars were spot on.  Pretty important feature to mention: The SWAT box should be standard on every single bike.   That will be a hard feature to go away from.   No longer do I need to use my sweet fanny pack that I have been using for so long, everything fits in the SWAT box nice and tidy.   Loved that.   And it holds a full size water bottle.  Winning.  Only other thing to mention is the first descent the rear axle came halfway out and nearly destroyed my drivetrain, probably a rookie setup move, but something to be aware of.    Speaking of drivetrain, this bike probably needs Eagle as well as infinite engagement NOBL Hubs, but more to come on climbing below.

Climbing

It could be that I hadn’t ridden in over a month since breaking my fibula on a previous ride.  Yeah I know, rookie move.   Or maybe it was the nasty head cold I had at the time, but initial impressions left something to be desired on the first climb up the Zen Trail.  It is a demanding climb, fairly short, but I was done by the end of it when on previous rides on other bikes I’m feeling solid.   Some things to keep in mind:  It’s still a 170mm Enduro bike with a super slack front end – especially with the 180mm fork I decided to use I found the front end wandering about more often than I have been used too.   But if you’re not looking to win any XC sprints on it anytime soon, what is the harm?   The second climb I used the Lyrik’s lockout feature, added PSI to the Ohlins STX, which made impressive gains from the first ascent.   There are quite a few tricky spots on the climb, that demand some finesse, I was pretty impressed with how it motored right up them.   I’d assume the NOBL Hubs helped a little with the steep and ledgy climbs.  All in all, a fine climber for what it is, probably a good thing most builds come with an Eagle drivetrain.

Descending

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This rainbow colored machine accompanied me on some of the rowdiest terrain around Southern Utah and boy did it impress.  The first thing that comes to mind is how smooth and quiet it is downhill.    It seemed to glide over some of the rockiest terrain like it was nothing.  At some points I had the feeling that it wasn’t as fast of a bike as others I’d ridden, but my onboard computer proved that wrong immediately PRing almost every DH segment I had taken it on.   It was really fun to take a hard line and just smash through stuff that you may not have on previous bikes.   Something to note was the traction.   Most of the days on this trip saw overnight rain and going from wet clay to dry pebble covered slickrock could generally be a slippery combo, but the Enduro held its line with the best of them.

As noted above, the Ohlins STX made me somewhat hesitant before riding due to research, but I’m definitely a fan at this point.  It soaks up drops and jumps even to flatter surfaces extremely well and ramps up nicely.  Easy setup with endless adjustment options, very impressive.

Cornering through steep and technical terrain was smooth and firm, it held it’s line in the corners extremely well and despite the massive 170mm suspension setup it was quite responsive to tight cornering situations.    Remember it is a big bike, definitely have had better handling bikes, but for everything else this bike offers it exceeded expectations when pointed downhill.

Other Notables:

NOBL TR33 Wheels:  Coming from many other carbon offerings,  Derby, Ibis, Enve, I couldn’t be more impressed with the NOBL TR33’s.    They’re extremely light and stiff, yet not overly stout like some of the industries recent popular ultra wide wheels.  They took a massive beating through the Southern Utah terrain and are still as true as the day they were new.  For the value offered, they are second to none.  The laced NOBL hubs although heavier than other hub choices, offer Infinite engagement which makes your techy climbs a breeze.  Not only is the infinite engagement something to note, but their rolling efficiency in terms of wind up and especially rate of decay vastly outperform all other hubs I’ve tried.   These two things alone far surpass the (hub-centric not rotational) weight gains.   Plus the silence will have you smiling ear-to-ear downhill listening to nothing but your tires making sweet love to the rocks, roots, loam or whatever medium you chose to shred.

Fabric Scoop Saddle:  As a saddle snob, who’s been fairly keen to Ergon SME3 saddles as of late, I’m super impressed with the Scoop.   Super comfy yet sturdy, would highly recommend.

Overall Takeaway:

If you’re in the market for a snappy trailbike that can get you by at your local Enduro Race, there might be better options out there.  The Enduro would be like bringing a chainsaw to a knife fight.  If a longer travel Enduro bike that is lightweight and has more tech than an 80’s space shuttle is your jam… than make no mistake, this is a suitable weapon for the most elitist of riders.

Review by: MTB Enthusiasts of Utah:  Instagram | Facebook

Build Sponsors: nobl NOBL Wheels | bingham Bingham Cyclery | download  Laketown Bikesefb12 East Fork Bikes

Build your very own 2017 650b S-Works Enduro using bikologi:  Click Here

Would love to interact in comments below!

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MTB Enthusiasts of Utah

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mtbenthusiastsofutah/

Comments (10)

  1. Aaron

    Great review, in depth reviews like this are enjoyable to read but there had to have been something that you didn’t like about the bike?

  2. Steven

    Thoughts on a coil? I was hoping for an elevensix but the falling rate makes it a no-go for this bike. I’ve seen some riders from the specialized team running the ohlins Ttx coil in Santa Cruz and thinking of trying it.

    Great review… I picked up some jawbreaker stickers from stikrd.

  3. Steven

    Jaja, I keep reading this short review and more comments.

    I saw your running the 27.5×2.5 WT, which is a wide rim specific tire, maxxis designed them around a 35mm internal width like the ibis 741/742 and derby’s. The nobl 33s are a 27mm internal and 33mm outer rim and I would have imagined the side knobs on your wheels would be really weirdly placed, IE too far over. Can you post some pics? Cause I’ve really been curious, I have some i9 pillarCarbon and ibis 735s, 27mm and 29mm respectively, and possibly grabbing a wider tire for the front. Specialized 2.6 aren’t easily available yet, they were designed for 26-30mm internal width wheels.

  4. JR

    would it be possible to do another review on climbing with the 2017 650b enduro again where you are not just getting back from recovery on an injury? I hear so much about how well this bike climbs (for an enduro/slack bike). if not thanks anyways, great review.

    • I have riddethis bike about 100 more miles since the review was written and stand by the poor climbing performance. I wouldnt’t make a change to my comments about the way it climbs.

  5. Ben

    Would the stumpy be the snappy bike that could get me by enduro racing? I like really playful bikes but I want it to handle EWS courses for this season and the stumpy is very appealing to me.

Comments are closed.

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