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· No Clue Crew
7,821 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(x-post from Specialized forum)

Reader's Digest review: Holy shikeys!

Long review: Last weekend I made the jump back to a FS 29er. I'm coming from a carbon Bronson 27.5/650b. Nothing wrong with the wheel size and the Bronson was the best overall bike I've ever owned.

I have owned several Specialized bikes previously and enjoyed all of them immensely: Two Enduro 26ers, two SX Trails and a Stumpy 29er. I do like Horst/FSR suspension, particularly for descending.

Anyway, I picked up the comp model from a local shop last Saturday for a bit more than $3,300 with tax. It's a size L; I'm 6'2 and 185 before gear. I ride in Arizona, so we don't have extended climbs and we don't have smooth climbs.

I basically tore the bike down to frame/headset/fork. Here's the build:

Frame: Stock with CTD Float
Fork: Stock Pike RC 160mm
Wheels: Speed Dream custom build, Flow EX to Hadley hubs, stock tires, tubeless
Drivetrain: Complete XX1
Seating: KS Lev 6-inch, WTB Silverado
Brakes: Hope Tech X3, 203/185
Cockpit: Chromag BZA 35mm carbons bars and 50mm stem, ESI grips

Complete stock weight when I brought it home: 32.4 pounds. Weight as shown with pedals: 30 pounds on the nose.

(Top of Cheesegrater climb)

(On the truck arriving at the trailhead)

So far, I've gotten two rides in. Note: I've been riding a lot of SS lately; Saturday was my first FS ride in maybe three weeks.

Saturday was Phoenix Mountain Preserves. Extensive mildly technical climbing and some high-speed flow (for locals, T100 around to Lower Cheesegrater, up to VOAZ, down to the Chutes, back around T100 to the time trial run back to 40th Street lot).

Sunday was South Mountain. Up Javelina, up Mormon Loop, around to National, down National then back up onto Javelina and descend to the car.

The bike seems big when you're looking at it, but doesn't seem big at all when riding. I've read complaints of a tall front end. Mine measures 43 inches at the grips, which is exactly the same as most bigger-travel bikes I've built. The bike also seems heavy when you pick it up (although it's only 2 pounds heavier than my carbon Bronson), but pedals much lighter.

I've owned several bigger travel 29ers (Kona Satori, Rip9, Lenz Behemoth), but nothing this slack with this much travel. Seated pedaling it appears the entire front wheel is stuck way out in front of you visually.

To be honest, at my height, I could probably go either L or XL, but the XL just seemed really big. The L is a touch tight particularly in TT length.

Climbing performance: Make no mistake, this bike is not going to win any races to the top of the mountain. It's very slack and it's very plush. Also keep in mind, I don't like to use switches, so all my feedback is with the shock in descend mode. That said, this bike is likely the most efficient FSR bike I've ridden, easily as good a climber as my Stumpy 29er.

Not as efficient as, say, a multi-link suspension design (DW, VPP, etc.), particularly on smoother climbs. FSR, however, does shine on technical, ledgy climbs. In fact, over two days, I cleared three individual obstacles that I've only cleaned once or twice in years of riding.

The bike rewards mostly seated climbing with a smooth cadence. Yes, stand to shift weight to clear big obstacles, but if you're a stand-up masher or have a bunch of smooth fire road-type climbing, this bike might not be for you.

Descending: I've read this bike described as "game-changing." I haven't owned it long enough to make that statement, but I can certainly understand where it's coming from.

Bottom line, this thing is freaky fast. Scary fast and it gets there in a hurry. Make sure your brakes are dialed. I overcooked nearly every turn on my first ride.

It's very, very plush. Even considering a so-so shock, this bike is sweet. It's quiet and despite being plush it doesn't seem too squatty.

It really, really rewards aggressive riding, particularly in turns. With the short stays, you can really whip it into corners and the bike will respond. In super steeps, it responds well to weight-back hip steering. This is important for me, as many modern bikes tend to work better with your weight centered. I like to hang off the back and let the bike do its thing.

Mostly what I took away from a couple days of riding: This bike is really, really fast. No, really.

It's very much like riding a super-dialed 160mm AM 26er, but with the great rollover, contact patch and speed of a 29er.

Very impressive.

Regrets? I really wanted the S-Works carbon frame from both a weight and aesthetics perspective. There's one available locally at a good price, but I wanted to be sure I would like the bike before I dropped that much coin.

Sorry for the long read; hope it's useful for someone.

· Registered
55 Posts
Cool review.

How much does your wheel set weigh? I have a stock '14 expert which weighs 28.5 with pedals and a lev integra and feel like the pedaling is somewhat slow compared to my last 29er which was the same weight. I'm also using the stock tires setup tubeless.

The Carbon frame looks awesome and rides great but its a huge price to pay for not a big weight diff.

I agree with you that this is no DH bike but it loves to be ridden hard and fast and deep into turns, its easy to fling around. Love the geo, nothing else I rode came close.

· Registered
2,822 Posts
Thanks for this. Great read. I've got a Lenz Lunchbox on order, which ticks many of the same boxes as the Enduro. Once I get some time on the Lunchbox, I'll probably demo an E29 just out of curiosity.

Thanks again!

· Elitest thrill junkie
41,649 Posts
Cool. The S-works is meh IMO, the parts are great, but the only "carbon" is the main-frame, which surely saves some weight, but I have problems with paying that much for "only" a carbon front-end and not getting a carbon rear out of it.

I'd highly recommend keeping the rear end on "trail" most of the time, unless your descent is sustained. The pedal-wallow is pretty crazy in the "D" mode. If there was one thing I could fix, this would be it, and I will when I send my shock to Avalanche. They'll give you the ability to have good support and still great bump absorption, although "T" isn't terrible.

It is a super fun bike, loves to be thrown into turns, can do some pretty big air and gaps/doubles, just fun all around to ride.

· Registered
1,088 Posts
I have no idea what this wallow is you speak of, but I have the CCDB ;) I actually reduced the slow speed compression from stock tune for more compliance on small trail chatter. If I use the CS switch it feels very similar pedaling to how I had my old Ibis HD shock tuned. The feel of this bike is incredible. I've ridden a lot of 650b bikes and don't understand the hype at all. This thing changes directions crazy fast and whips easier than my last bike which was 26" and built to win Air DH races, but when you aren't giving those inputs it tracks like a DH bike through the chunk.

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

· No Clue Crew
7,821 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was talking about the S-Works frame only, just to swap these parts over. I agree it should have a complete carbon frame not just front triangle. The matte white/black is gorgeous, though, and I can buy it frame/CCDB-only locally.

Probably won't though. Coming off a carbon frame, not sure exactly what the big deal is, honestly. Carbon wheels, however, big deal.

Wheel weight: Sadly, I weighed the custom wheels when I got them and didn't write it down. It was a touch more than 1900 grams with tape and valves; about 160-ish grams lighter than the stockers.

Regarding wallow, I'll ride tomorrow in "trail" mode to see any difference. The bike is a touch wallowy in "descend," but not as much as previous FSR bikes I've owned.

· No Clue Crew
7,821 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Another good ride today and my thoughts haven't changed much.

I did try "trail" mode on the CTD today. It did make an improvement in squatting under power while climbing. A noticeable improvement. And a noticeable detriment in descending. Actually, not so bad at slower speeds, but the added compression took away a lot of the plushness as speeds increased.

Guess I'll have to try to remember to use the switches.

I've had a number of people ask for more direct impressions to the Bronson and or other multi-link bikes.

I'm not a suspension expert by any means. And I ride rocky gnar almost exclusively, so you'll need to take my commentary with a grain.

I've owned or extensively ridden VPP and DW Link bikes. Both accelerate with a sense of urgency. I'd say my carbon Bronson was the best-accelerating bigger-travel rig I've ever owned. When you hit the pedals the bike just surged forward.

The E29 does not do that on level ground or inclines. I don't want to be negative; it's not exactly "lazy" per se, more like "deliberate." If you're providing power, the bike is going forward … just not with a great sense of purpose.

When you get to more technical, ledgy climbing, that deliberateness becomes traction and conformity to the terrain.

I guess if you really like multi-link suspension and have smoother terrain, you may not be stoked with the climbing activity of this rig. It does hide its size, weight and amount of travel decently well … but it's still a 6-inch, 30-pound 29er.

Of course, you pretty quickly forget all that when the trail turns down. This rig is a freakin' rocket and it takes a couple rides to get yourself dialed to that speed so you're not panic-braking (like I spent much of my first ride doing).

Not really much more to be said about this bike's descending prowess. If there's a weakness, it's rider skillset and not the bike.

Still stoked. Probably hit National again tomorrow.

· Registered
219 Posts

Your opinions are just about exactly how I feel about my E29. I did about 10 miles today with 1800' of uphill and it gets up pretty darn well. I've got 4 rides on it now and it also took me about a ride and a half to get used to the speed that it generates going down. I frickin love this thing! It's so stable and the confidence that it gives me is insane. Rode with the wheels tubeless today and it had even more traction than before. It truly is an amazing bike.

· Registered
205 Posts
I ride a XL, and have a dozen or so rides on mine. I bought the comp and immediately went to Enve AM rims, CCDBA CS, 65mm stem, Enve DH bars and XX1. With Xpeedo magnesium flats and Reverb stealth she weighs in at 30.1 LBS. Not bad considering the CCDBA is quite a bit heavier than the Fox, but it's so with it. The rebound dampening increase with compression dampening has enabled me to clean obstacles regularly that I've ALWAYS missed in the past. With the switch off and the bike pointed down, I've significantly bested my PR's on EVERY DH segment I've ridden (and I wasn't really even trying). The bike is really that good.

I'm like th OP...I would love to try/own the carbon now that I'm so in love with the ride. I had no idea life could be this good. :p. Anyone want to buy an XL comp frame with a CCDBA CS? ;).

Tomorrow is a 3000' climb decend. I can't wait!

· No Clue Crew
7,821 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
RR: How tall are you?'

Fluidworks: That's mostly what I've been doing above.

Regarding the Bronson, the stays could be shorter and you'll get some pedal feedback, particularly when pedaling through square-edged rough. And, you know, SC's sizing can be a little weird.

Otherwise, the Bronson is a tremendous bicycle. Light, stiff, geo is dialed. It's an aggressive bike that happens to pedal very well. Easy to get on it and ride it like you've owned it for years.

The E29 is just a different sort of beast as I've been discussing.

A lot of it really comes down to what you're looking for in a rig, particularly in regards to wheel size. For me, my style and my typical terrain, I wasn't 100% sold on 27.5. And the E29 manages to package most of the positive attributes of the larger wheel size with very few of the negatives.

I would have been happy staying on the Bronson, but I'm also stoked to have the opportunity to experience the E29. It was really the only bike that would have made me move away from the SC.
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