I-MTB

Bike Test – Specialized Enduro Comp M5

The Final of the Enduro World Series in Finale Ligure bought us the opportunity to test the 2014 Specialized Enduro Comp M5, on trails that in theory this bike is designed for. After spending probably one of the most intensive few days on an Enduro bike in recent times, riding some very technical world class trails, we were confidently able to understand the bicycle and how it performs in various trail conditions, from technical sections, to fast flowing sections and everything in between, including pedalling up technical single trail.

Frame and Geometry

The Specialized Enduro Comp M5 is a mid range aluminium framed model with fully manipulated M5 alloy  tubes weighing in at around 14 kilos on our scales for a large size frame with pedals. The geometry with a 66.5° head angle is such that this bike likes to be ridden downhill. The short rear chain stays meant the bike was quick into and out of corners. Our large frame size for our test rider height of 185cm was ideal, the reasonably well proportioned top tube gives excellent body position in most situations. The bike is aimed at the serious rider who wants to ride for fun and also might ride in some Enduro races and on technical hard trails when the need arises, but at the same time needs to pedal to get to the top.

Specifications

The bike comes very well equipped with X9 and X7 gear components, Formula C1 brakes, Specialized’s own branded wheel set, based on Roval Rims and Hi – Lo hubs, with Butcher and Purgatory tyres, a 2X10 custom SRAM S-1250 crank set, mounted on a pressfit BB30 bottom bracket. The rear FSR suspension duties are handled by a Fox CTD Evolution unit with Specialized’s patented autosag feature and has a total of 165mm of travel. On the front is the latest fork from Rockshox, the Pike with 170mm of travel. The package is completed with a wide 750mm Specialized bar and grips.  The version we tested had a Specialized Control telescopic seat post with remote and a Specialized body contour Henge saddle.

An excellent combination of components for value and performance.

Sram cassette and Formula C1 brakes.

The brakes and gear levers share the same mounting points.

Component Build Evaluation

There is no doubting a serious point about this bicycle, it is a complete package. At this price range many Enduro bikes still come with triple chain sets, no chain guides and are not ready to race or need modification to be ridden hard. Bikes which are often sold as Enduro, can’t be ridden necessarily as Enduro bikes. This bike can be unboxed, setup and ridden on technical tough Enduro trails without any changes necessary. Firstly we found the control system was ideal for our preferences with a bar that was wide and comfortable, already mounted with good grips. The tyres were robust and grippy (we experienced no punctures during our time on the bike). The brakes, despite the extreme testing conditions, functioned without fault and we at no point experienced fade or lack of power, the bike is shipped with a 203mm front disc and 180mm rear disc as standard, a perfect Enduro riding combination in our opinion. One of our favourite features was the fact that bike came with a chain-guide and bash already mounted, a fundamental aspect when riding on rough trails with a 2×10 system, at no point did we ever loose the chain.

The Included chain guide and inner plate is essential for Enduro trails.

Suspension Performance Evaluation

The FSR system is a four bar linkage and when riding it is noticeable the bike is very active over different types of terrain. The advantages of the FSR system become very apparent when pedalling up technical trails. In Finale Ligure, stage 2 of the Enduro World Series had a very technical pedally middle section which really showed how well the FSR system works uphill. The rear wheel felt glued to the ground transferring the power very efficiently and did not skip over bumps and upset pedal movements. When descending the rear was very active and let the rider know what was happening on the ground without bucking or causing any loss of control. To this end, it is important to set the  suspension correctly, Specialized have made this very easy, with the autosag system, that really does put the suspension in it’s sweet spot. Tweaking the rebound to suit riding style meant that the bike felt very good, taking all the big hits and rough chatter that characterised the Enduro World Series trails.

The Fox Evolution CTD custom shock with auto sag valve and compression lever for easy setup and on the fly shock changes.

On the front the Pike fork in combination with the FSR system was very interesting. The Pike in racing circles has been talked about by all riders including by those on Fox and Marzocchi who have tried it, as the best fork currently on the market. In our opinion based on the time on it, we would have to agree that the new charger cartridge in it plus the other features of the fork design means it is exceptionally good and gave a supple active ride. It did what we wanted when we wanted tracking corners well and working together with the rear FSR system perfectly. Despite the 15mm axle we could not detect any unwanted flex, we could hit rough rocky trails with speed and confidence.

The Pike is a standout feature for the Enduro Comp M5.

Conclusion

Specialized have continued their lineage into 2014 with an excellent bike. They have not jumped into the 27.5″ wheel size market yet. In all honestly with this bike they probably don’t need to. 26″ wheels give a very manoeuvrable bike that with this suspension design and performance characteristics negates any need for bigger wheels. It seems that their view is, if you want to roll fast, try a 29″ Specialized Enduro, which gives all those advantages that 27.5″ gives and more, especially if you are looking for out and out straight-line speed.

This is a mid-range bike, the components all work well together and we needed nothing more to ride a world class trail network under race conditions. We can’t get enough of this bike, we are left wondering how the top of the range S-Works carbon model is. Were there any negatives with this bike? In our opinion we would prefer Shimano brakes compared to Formula, but that is a personal preference. Essentially anyone buying this bike will not be disappointed. It has everything, rides well, pedals well on technical trails, is easier to setup than other bikes due to the autosag feature, and when pointed down technical fast trails, performs with confidence that we haven’t found out of the box before.

Trail Videos from The World Series When Testing

Stage 3

Stage 4

www.specilized.it

31 October 2013  ~  Written by

Posted under:  MTB Bike Test, News

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I-MTB is an online MTB magazine and trail areas operator based in Tuscany, Italy

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