Our latest team member, Joe Winston, recently purchased his 2015 Specialized Enduro Elite 650b and was compelled to review it for us as he enjoyed it so much. His words below...

"I’ve had my new 650b Enduro Elite for a few weeks now and to sum it up in one word…. Wow!

I first rode an Enduro during the summer at the Banjo Cycles Demo day and loved it. I didn’t really want to like it that much because it was a 29er! Although it was lightening quick and the wheels didn’t feel overly big, I felt way too paranoid that I was going to fold a wheel in half if I hit a berm at full tilt! As soon as I heard there was a 650b version on the horizon I knew it was going to be a pretty special piece of kit. I was lucky enough to be the first person to ride the 650b Enduro demo bike when it arrived at the concept store in Newbury and from the first pedal stroke I knew it was ‘the one’. The super short back end makes it a lot of fun to ride, so easy to hop and manual, I just felt at home on it straight away. The CCDB air shock is so soft and supple, so much so that I thought the pedal bob going up hills would be terrible. In fact, the back end is so efficient that I hardly ever use the climb switch unless it’s a big fire road climb or a long section on the road. It’s a lot lighter than I expected as well, I was previously riding another 650b bike with 150mm of travel and even with 165mm travel the Enduro Is nearly a pound lighter! After using the demo bike for the weekend I put my order in for one a few days later.

One of the first things I was going to change was the dropper post, I’d heard mixed reports on the command post so planned to swap it out for a reverb as soon as I got it. However, I wasn’t organised enough so stuck with the specialized dropper and after a few rides I’ve got used to it and really like it. I’ve let a bit of air out of it so it’s not so much of an ejector seat, and once I got used to the three positions the post locks in to I realised you don’t need any more adjustment than that. It sits all the way down for descents, all the way up for flat sections and climbs, and about an inch from the top for technical section where you still want to sit down and do a bit of pedalling. The only thing that did catch me out to start with was sitting on the saddle to slam it down, letting go of the lever expecting it to stay down but not quite having hit the very bottom the post didn’t lock in to position. As I stood back up to take off out of a compression the saddle shot back up as I stood up and I got a right wobble on in the air. It’s just something to get used to, and a mistake I only made once! The lever itself is a work of art, sitting where a thumb lever on a front shifter would be it’s so easy to reach even on a technical piece of trail. I prefer a cable activated system to hydraulic as well, less to go wrong, easier to service and one less hose to split if you ever spin the bars round in a crash. Because the shifter and dropper lever mount to the brake levers I couldn’t get the shifter far enough in and brake lever far enough out. However a local company, RaceWare Direct, do some great mounts to allow the shifter to be mounted separately from the brake lever. Once I got a set of these I could set up all the controls exactly where I wanted them.

So its light, pedals really well, is super fun to ride, looks great and comes with some top kit. But the one thing that really sets it apart for me is the way it goes downhill. The rear end works so well and soaks up so much more than any air shock I’ve ever ridden with before. Its super stiff and the slack 65.5 degree head angle makes it feel so planted and inspires so much confidence. On my previous trail bike I always felt like I had to hold back and nurse it a bit when things got a bit rough, but now I feel like I can’t hit the rough sections fast enough! It makes you want to hit stuff faster and faster and blows your mind every time as it can cope with anything you throw at it. The rear shock is so supple that it really sits in to its travel round corners, giving a nice low centre of gravity and the feeling like it really digging in and gripping. The shock is so tuneable too, with high and low speed rebound and compression so you can set it up exactly how you want it. I had ridden with Rock Shox Pike’s before so I knew how good they would be and they haven’t disappointed! They transformed my last bike when I put them on and feel even better teamed with a back end that works so well. I can’t wait to get it to some races next year to see how fast I can make it go.

If you’re on the hunt for a new ‘do it all’ trail bike get in touch with the guys at the Banjo Cycles in Newbury and book a test ride on their Enduro demo bike."

- Joe Winston