Racer X Tested: Specialized Enduro Expert EVO
by David Langran
|The Specialized Enduro Expert EVO.|
Mountain biking is sometimes overlooked by moto athletes as a training tool in preference of road cycling. Truth is, mountain biking can be a lot more beneficial than just pounding out miles on a road bike (just ask Eli Tomac). While mountain biking, not only are you getting a great cardio work out, but you are also using a lot of the same control muscles as in moto. All the while having to process the terrain and make line choices, etc. So, if you are one of the moto guys that does mountain bike for training, which bike should you go for? A full XC bike? A trail bike? Or something more downhill orientated that you can still pedal up?
Enduro bikes are becoming more and more popular in the mountain bike world. These bikes are basically hybrids of an xc and downhill mountain bike. They have more suspension than your typical trail bike (up to 180 mm), wider tires and bars, slacker geometry, and more heavy duty frames so they can take the abuse of gnarly descents. But they are still nimble enough to be pedaled up steep inclines.
Many of us here at Racer X are big mountain bike fans and Specialized sent us one of their 2012 Enduro Expert EVOs to try out for a long term test. The "EVO" part of the name indicating that this particular model is more equipped to handle downhill terrain than the other Enduro models in the Specialized line. When I pulled the bike out of the box, the first thing I noticed was just how burly the frame is. It definitely looks a lot more like a downhill bike than a trail bike. The only thing I changed on the bike set up was to swap out the stem for a shorter one as I prefer a more downhill style riding position, then it was time to hit the dirt. I'm lucky enough to live in a place with some great mountain biking, Laguna Beach. Laguna is known for having everything from steep, technical inclines and descents, to full downhill fast and flowing trails and everything inbetween.
For my first ride I wanted to test the Enduro Expert EVO on the type of terrain your typical moto rider would be using a mountain bike for, cross country/trail riding with some steep inclines. I embarked on a 14 mile loop around the hills of Laguna taking in the whole spectrum of what the area has to offer. Once I hit the inclines, I noticed a little more bobbing as I pedaled than with my usual trail bike, and I perhaps did have to labor a little more due to the extra weight and slacker geometry. But, the Enduro Expert EVO is still a confident climber and was easy to maneuver even on the tight, technical climbs. Of course the real pay back of this bike is when you get to the top of the mountain and point the bike down. From slow technical rocky descents, to big drops, to the faster downhill trails, the Enduro Expert EVO literally handled everything I threw at it and then some. The bike truly inspires confidence on the descents and will leave you grinning from ear to ear by the time the ground levels out again.
After a couple of weeks of getting used to the bike on the trails around Laguna, for the next part of my test I decided to enter a local Super D race in Fontana. Super D is a combination of cross country and downhill racing where each run lasts anything from five to ten minutes and has the riders taking on terrain that requires pedaling as well as downhill sections. The runs are intense and require good fitness as you have to be pedaling hard whenever possible to save time. I had done one of these events prior on more of a trail bike that had less suspension and more of an XC set up, so I was curious to see how the Enduro Expert EVO would help my results. As soon as I hit the course in practice I felt a lot more comfortable than my previous race there. This type of riding is exactly what this bike was meant for. We competed on two timed courses over the event. A shorter, faster course, and a longer, more technical course with a steep rock garden at the bottom. The second course also had some long traverse sections where you had to pedal as hard as you could to the next downhill section. Although the traverse sections weren't super steep, they still required a lot of pedaling. The Enduro Expert EVO was in it's element and handled both courses with no problems at all. I ended the day 5th overall in my class. It was a national event and I was very happy to go home with a top 5. Knowing that the bike definitely helped improve my result.
|Langers racing Super D at Fontana on the Specialized Enduro Expert EVO.|
Mountain biking isn't just a training tool for motocross, it's also pretty damn fun. Mammoth Mountain has one of the most fun bike parks in the country. During Racer X's visit there for the annual Monster Energy Mammoth Motocross, I decided to load up the Enduro Expert EVO so I could hit the bike park inbetween spending time at the track. I was in some good company when I hit the mountain including downhill skier and moto head Darron Rahlves, KTM test rider and Loretta's Lynn's champion Michael Sleeter, as well as our own David Pingree. All these guys are no slouches on mountain bikes and were charging everything the park had to offer. I'll admit there were times that I felt I was in over my head. "Flow Drop" was one of those moments. I looked over the edge of the 10 foot vertical drop and questioned what I was about to do. But after watching Darron, Ping, and Sleeter all take on the drop on their 200 mm suspension, full-on downhill bikes, I decided to suck it up and just go for it. The Enduro Expert EVO didn't miss a beat as I landed onto the wooden boards after the drop and finally took a breath! After that it was on and my confidence in the bike continued to grow. Everything from wall rides to ramp jumps to table top sections and steep rocky sections felt like a breeze. The bike felt stable in the air and the suspension soaked up the landings no problem. The Enduro Expert EVO had prooved itself again.
|Langers riding the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park|
|Langers and crew at Mammoth Mountain.|
In total I have been riding this bike for about 6 months and on every type of terrain. I can honestly say (depending on what you want to get out of a mountain bike and your training) this could be the only mountain bike you will ever need. Don't expect to be able to keep up with full XC bikes on climbs, you won't. But if you want your training to be fun and ride something that you can pedal up pretty much anything, but then have the confidence of a downhill bike on the declines, the Enduro Expert EVO is a perfect choice. Also keep in mind that Specialized offer other models in their Enduro line that aren't quite as aggressive as the Enduro Expert EVO, are more trail orientated, but still very capable on the downhill stuff.
Check out www.specialized.com for more info and pricing on the entire Enduro range.
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.