Out of the shadows walks the big brother of the lauded Turbo Levo, a bike with the brawns for bike parks and rough terrain that goes by the name Specialized Turbo Kenevo. We’ve tested the mettle of this big-throw bike in the US and here at home in Bavaria, taking in the trails, drops and wallrides in the name of testing. So is it more Kenev-al or Kenev-oh?
Bye bye shuttles, lifts and pushing
What do you do when the lift is shut? Just pedal off on the Kenevo with a casual shrug! With 180 mm suspension, aggressive geometry and the new Turbo 1.3 Rx Trail-tuned motor, this well-equipped bike is more than ready for some big throw days at the bike park – but forget any reliance on shuttles or uplifts, the Kenevo doesn’t bow down to anyone!
Specialized Turbo Kenevo in detail
Built with the same technical system as the Levo – we’re talking the same motor, same 504 Wh battery, motor set-up and heat management – the Kenevo has some distinguishing features when compared to its little brother. The aluminium frame borrows a lot of design cues from the non-motorised Specialized enduro bike, and teamed with a host of downhill-primed components leaves you with a bike weighing in at 23.65 kg in a size M.
Fork: RockShox Lyrik RCT3 Dual Position Air 180 mm
Rear shock: Öhlins TTX22M Coil 180 mm
Brakes: SRAM Code R 200/200 mm
Drivetrain: SRAM GX
Seatpost: Command Post Wu
Stem: Specialized Trail
Handlebar: Specialized 6061 alloy
Rims: Roval 650b alloy construction
Hubs: Specialized alloy disc
Tires: Butcher GRID casing
Weight: 23.65 kg
Price: € 6,299
The RockShox Lyrik fork and the Öhlins steel spring rear shock, both with 180 mm of travel, are highlight pieces alongside the massive SRAM Code brakes with 200 mm discs and the new 27.5 x 2.6″ Specialized Butcher tires. The Americans went for a SRAM GX groupset with a 1×11 set-up, teamed with a GX shifter that limits each shift to just one gear, which – much like the SRAM EX1 – should minimize wear and tear on the chain and cassette.
The Specialized Command Post WU is another eye-catcher, as it’s a basically a dropper that also alters the seat angle by 14° as the post sinks. According to Specialized this duly optimises the position for the descents and grants the rider even more benefits.
The Specialized Turbo 1.3 motor on the Kenevo
The Kenevo makes use of the new Turbo 1.3 motor, which is an elevated version of the Brose motor and has already demonstrated an improved performance on the Specialized Levo Carbon (review). Our in-depth review of this reworked motor can be found here.
Specialized Turbo Kenevo: Price, Models, and Availability
So far there’s just one build of the Specialized Turbo Kenevo on sale, which comes in two colourways: green (as shown) and black. It’s available from the start of September 2017 onwards and retails at € 6,299.
Specialized Turbo Kenevo: Geometry, Sizes
Clearly sporting some aggressive geometry, the Kenevo promises the ultimate mix of smoothness and agility with a slack 65° head angle and short 443 mm chainstays. The steep seat angle looks like a climb-friendly position.
|Top tube||566 mm||597 mm||626 mm||655 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||110 mm||120 mm||130 mm|
|Chainstays||443 mm||443mm||443 mm||443 mm|
|Wheelbase||1177 mm||1205 mm||1233 mm||1261 mm|
|Reach||407 mm||431 mm||455 mm||478 mm|
|Stack||601 mm||610 mm||619 mm||629 mm|
Review: Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert 6Fattie
The Kenevo concluded what we already knew about Specialized bikes: this is one you’ll immediately feel at home on, with top-notch handling and a great position. A bit more upright than the Levo, the Kenevo takes on climbs with a casual smile and we were happy to leave the lift queue in our wake.
Pared-down and within easy reach, the Trail remote lever is an intuitive and easy way to shift through the levels of pedal-assist on the motor. As the ascent got more technical, the Kenevo still pulled out a decent climbing performance but didn’t display the same punchiness as the Levo.
Once we’d reached the trailhead, it was time to point the bike downhill and drop the Command Post WU. Unfortunately this wasn’t the crowning moment, as it transpired that the 150 mm of adjustment on paper doesn’t match up to reality. The post could only drop a nominal 115 mm due to the additional lowering of the back of the saddle that arguably does go down a full 150 mm (but not the front part). If you’re a leggy rider then you’ll bemoan the lack of space to throw your body around. Basically the complex construction of the seatpost hasn’t just contributed to a bigger construction (and more raised minimum height), but also pretty notable lateral and vertical play.
The plushness of the suspension and stable, confidence-inspiring geometry turn each downhill into an event, with a fairytale-esque performance from the bump-absorbing Öhlins TTX22M steel spring shock. Rock gardens and roots are well within the capabilities of this bike. As the trail gets steeper, the bike demonstrates stellar handling to navigate masterfully through the gnarliest sections.
Weighing in at a decent 23 kg doesn’t stop the bike getting close friends with gravity and it loves a bit of air time. Wall rides elevate the excitement even more, but it’ll take serious muscle and a real hands-on approach to pull off a decent wall ride execution! After just half a day in the bike park, the testers were unanimous about what a workout this bike was giving them! Narrow, twisty trails lower the pace, but the Kenevo keeps composed and under control, showing a willingness to be steered.
So, how’s it different to the Levo?
Pit the Kenevo directly against the S-Works Levo Carbon and you’ll note that the Kenevo’s handling isn’t quite as precise or as docile, which goes back to its more downhill-tuned geometry and extra 2.3 kilos. On technical sections the Levo is equally as well planted on the trails with its low centre of gravity, but the Kenevo strides ahead on rough and steep ground. The biggest surprise in our eyes is that despite having exactly the same motor (see above), the Kenevo isn’t able to convert as much power into speed as the Levo. We turned to the experts at Specialized for confirmation of this, and they nodded, citing its kinematics and slacker geometry as the causes.
The new Specialized Turbo Kenevo should be christened evil Kenev-al! It’s going to find a warm place in the hearts of any big-throw stunt riders, Evel Knievel-lovers and bike parkers – let it be a revelation to you! The well-considered and supremely chosen spec turns this bike into a weapon on technical trails and in bike parks. No longer will you need a shuttle, and the best thing is that you’ll also be well warmed-up for the descents. Could the Kenevo be the answer to every physiotherapist’s recovery prescription? For sure!
The Levo remains a better bet if you’re more into a balanced climb/descent sort of ride, as it’s got a touch more speed (despite the same motor) and a more mountain goat approach to climbing. The Kenevo admittedly doesn’t come cheap at € 6,299 but it strikes us as great bang for your buck!
For more info head to: specialized.com
Words: Robin Schmitt Photos: Olivier Beart, Christoph Bayer