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Specialized Enduro Elite 29

The Benefits of having a broken bike

Now luckily with the sort of person you get riding with us in TFIT, they are normally very receptive to lending less fortunate accomplices various pieces of equipment, including their newest and dearest bikes. The only proviso it seems is that you have to give a write up afterwards (and the usual ‘you bend you mend’ policy) so here goes…

With the chainstay well and truly knackered on my Stumpy, Mark was quick to lend me his Specialized Enduro 29er. Notwithstanding the fact that it needed some tlc (fix the flat tyre, degunk drivetrain and get all 11 gears operational). With that done and with some extra pressure in the shocks and fork we headed off for our usual romp in the Surrey darkness. It was on my way to the meeting point I felt an urgent need to raise the saddle as even in the ‘up’ position my knees were far to close to my chin.

That quickly sorted we were off, I can only say that this bike was like wearing a comfy slipper, the handling felt almost exactly like my own wheels, but with the added bonus that the monarch plus rear shock was a revelation, ground hugging, plush without excessive bob and still plenty of deep down grunt when everything got a bit more vertical and quick. Some quick Strava times confirmed that this is a bike I could live with very happily. I would put some thicker sidewall tyres on to help with a couple of sideways moments, and tune the front brake to prevent it being so grabby, but otherwise a very stable machine.

A week later and it was a very kind Matt who offered his very new and incredibly shiny Transition Smuggler, again in the 29 flavour.

Now, there was a slight difference in the condition of this bike. I did find a speck of dust on the frame, but thought I’d leave it, just in case that was how Matt liked it. I also resisted the urge to change any of the shock/fork pressures or the positioning of handlebars or saddle as Matt has a micrometer and he’s not afraid to use it. To be honest though his size is fairly similar to myself so this wasn’t really much of an issue.

The ride I did on this was a little different to our usual Thursday outings as I was with my nearly teenage son, so just a 9 mile trip starting from Puttenham and heading over to the Crooksbury pumps and jumps. Again immediately I got jealous of the ability of the rear shock (another Rockshox offering) and has me wondering about upgrading my Fox CTD. This bike was another ground hugging trail smasher, for myself I would raise the stem and handlebar upsweep to get me into a more comfortable position when attacking a downhill section or getting airborne, but when on uphill, gentle or flat terrain this bike was effortless. But oh my god the SRAM XX1 drive train was like a dream, so light and precise. A mere four hours later of washing and cleaning and the bike was ready to give back to its owner.

So just another thank you to the boys in question, it’s a good eye opener to realise the pro’s or shortcomings of your own equipment.

And if any TFITers, needs to borrow my bike (and I’m not using it) then just ask. I might just need to injure my bike more often.

In every bloke there is a blog

So Mark T has two bikes, a Nicolai Helius AM and a Specialized Enduro Elite. I’ve been on a Mark for a while to do a comparison, so without further ado:

In every bloke there is a blog

In every bloke there is a blog. Thinking a “blog” was something I occasionally do in the woods, I was a bit perplexed when Chris urged me to write a blog !!

Chris wanted me to blog about back-to-back testing of my bikes. So, here goes..

In the beginning I “accidentally” bought a bike at Christmas leaving me with two plush travel bikes (I do live in Surrey). With Mrs T not quite understanding the “n+1” rule of bikes , there is pressure to sell one. But which one?

Which is the best? Which is the fastest? Which do I keep? Which is posted on ebay?

The thing is though one bike is a 27.5 and the other 29er which is a fervent discussion point for most mountain bikers and the TFITers are no different.

So long overdue, I get the opportunity to play on both bikes. Heading for the Devils Punch Bowl to for a couple of favourite blasts, I parked at the top with the route being an 8 mile round trip, down to the west of DPB along “FATBOY”, back to the top and then head east, heading down the “DEVILS COW” and then “FLAT OUT FUN” to the stream at the bottom. A good route with some fast runs but also a fair amount of uphill at 700m. Strava was at the ready to be the acid test ruling out any subjective “it felt faster” syndrome.

So the bikes. My 12 year triggers broom bike which has morphed into a Nicolai AM frame now carrying 27.5 inch wheels (instead of intended 26 inch), with 150mmm Pike up front and somewhere between 130 and 160mm at the back – it’s adjustable don’t you know! Head angle and BB height I don’t know yet and independently tested by David D who reported “it’s a cracking bike”.

The “accidentally” bought bike, (should have been a new frame but the bastard in the shop gave me a 50% discount..) is a Specialiazed Enduro Elite, now with a Reverb dropper post, Monarch plus shock, carbon fat bars and known XT brakes This caries 160mm Pike upfront and 155mmm travel at the back with 29er wheeels, described by better better blogs than this (controversial Mark…) as a “bit of a beast”. Head angle 67 degree, BB 351mm.

Both have similar tyres, a bit meaty upfront and faster rolling at the back.

The Nicolai was up first, sit on it, this feels aggressive, wide bars and wheel well out in front. “FATBOY” here we come , damn highest gear not working for the straight speedy bits….back to the top and down to the wooded section.. whey hey , damn Labrador in the way, up the “BABY ZEDS”, back to the top, swap pedals and out with the 29er.

Oh this is comfy , wheel less in front but comfy, “FATBOY” all gears working to get some speed. “FATBOY” done I head back to the top, headed down east , wooded section, bump over dead Labrador, “BABY ZEDS” again and back to the top.

Even the National Trust café has WiFi so out with the Strava upload, think of witty name for route, whirl whirl of 0’s and 1’s , which bike do I sell which do I keep which is the fastest?

“FATBOY” PR on the Nicolai 1.40 , 29er 1.40. – Oh I have to keep both now ..but how… why… the two runs felt totally different?

And here in lies the rub between the 29er and the 27.5.

Flat out speed was there with the 29er , but when it got to the corners the 27.5 went exactly where I thought it should. It pre-empted me, taking the line I expected it too. This was where the time difference was made . It was slower on the flat bit because I ran out of gears on the straight bit, but woosh through the corners – joyous. The 29er was so fast down the straight into the first corner out wide, messed up the second regain a bit by third but rider now all of a fuddle for the fourth.

Around the whole 8 mile route, the 29er sprinted out PR’s back to the top and to down the wooded section but “Labrador free”, and PR’d the Zed’s ..all routes done on the Nicolai many times before.

Total time was 50.20 vs 52.31. I then headed for the golden valley and bagged some more PR’s because this is what 29ers do. The 29er is also a confident jumper, “BACK OF THE CHAIR” and “MARE HILL” gap jumps accomplished, steep uphill gradients eaten up.

However, it’s the Nicolai that’s going to Morzine.

It’s about the corners you see, it’s about the flow. It seems that the geometry and BB height enable the flow, slack and low, out way travel and weight.

Luckily I have growing boys and they need bikes too so the 29er Surrey trail slayer stays in the stable too, no on eBay.

To sort out the corners on the 29er then this article on Dirt Mountain Bike is going to be handy and I’ m going to fit some offset bushes.

I must now measure the Nicolai head angle and BB to test the subjective.

Mark T’s New Toy

Spank me with a soggy badger, Mark T has only gone and picked up a contender for “MTB Bargain of the Century”.

So last night we got to meet Mark’s new steed, his Specilized Enduro Elite 29er. Completely bucking the trend for 27.5, Mr T has plumped for long travel on a 29er and what a piece of kit.

A 155mm Pike RC Solo, Crane Creek rear shock, SRAM X1 dripping in abundance, Specialized’s own dropper and some wide, wide rims on those Roval wheels. We also very much like a bike with a horizontal shock although the linkage at the rear of the shock does look a bit “mud trappy”. However, that minor niggle cannot detract from a very nice looking trail weapon and despite the reported weight of 30 lbs (14 kg) I have to be honest when I employed the tried and trusted ‘picking it up with one hand’ test it felt a lot lighter than that and very well balanced. Nice. Very, very nice.

Ignoring the fact that Mark turned up with his plastic spoke guard still in place (fail),  much collective ooh-ing and ahh-ing was to be heard by the assembled TFITs, particularly by the 29er brigade who have added another to their ranks. And the best thing of all – it cost him half-price thanks to lovely guys at Cycleworks in Haslemere.

Now I only have one question – how the f*ck I’m going to keep up with Mark now?

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