The Specialized Turbo Kenevo was an extremely capable eMTB, to begin with. Now, Specialized have radically redesigned the bike, giving it a new frame, a new motor, and speccing it with much more robust componentry. The new Kenevo promises to be even better equipped to handle big hits and demanding descents – but will everyone benefit?

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Specialized Turbo Kenevo | Specialized 2.1 motor (based on a Brose Drive S Mag)/700 Wh battery | 180/180 mm | € 6,899 | manufacturer website

The moment you see it you’ll recognise that the Specialized Turbo Kenevo has been completely redesigned for the new season. The frame now also features the same asymmetric strut as on the Levo, which won our big group test. Apart from that, Specialized have specced the Expert with a double-crown fork. But there are other differences besides.

The new Kenevo not only comes specced with a double-crown fork but also features a completely redesigned frame to make it even more capable on the descents.

What’s changed on the new Specialized Turbo Kenevo compared to its predecessor?

The biggest changes at a glance

  • new, 1 kg lighter aluminium frame featuring the side-arm design
  • longer and slacker geometry
  • 2° steeper seat tube angle for a better climbing position
  • revised rear suspension kinematics
  • Specialized 2.1 motor offering 90 Nm torque and up to 410% support on both models
  • 700 Wh battery on the Expert (500 Wh on the Comp)
  • Turbo Connect Unit in the top tube
  • more robust and downhill-specific componentry
Looking sturdy – the RockShox BoXXer instils you with confidence

Except for the name and the wheel size, hardly anything has remained unchanged on the new Kenevo. Specialized have developed the frame from the ground up, revising the geometry and making it a whole kilogram lighter than its predecessor. The Specialized 2.1 motor based on the Brose Drive S Mag shaves off an additional 400 g while offering increased performance. The geometry and the rear suspension have been adapted for even better downhill performance and the seat tube angle has been made 2° steeper for an improved climbing position. Compared to its predecessor, the battery capacity of the Expert model has been increased by 40% to a whopping 700 Wh. As with the Levo, the Turbo Connect unit is now also neatly integrated into the top tube of the Kenevo, where it indicates the battery level and support mode. If you want more information at a glance, you can still upgrade to the optional Specialized Turbo Connect display, which easily connects via Bluetooth.

New vs. old – thanks to a new motor bracket and other details, the new frame is a full kilogram lighter
The Kenevo is powered by the Specialized 2.1 motor, based on a Brose Drive S Mag
Specialized have also refined the smaller details such as the chainstay protector, making the new Kenevo even quieter.
They’ve closed the gap between the front triangle and the chainstays with a rubber cover to minimise ugly scratches and prevent stones from getting stuck in there
The Turbo Connect unit is now located in the top tube, indicating the battery level and support mode. It features ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity.
As they’ve done here, Specialized were the first brands to integrate the magnet for the speed sensor into the brake rotor
Another familiar feature from their other models is the minimalist remote. If you want to, you can optionally connect the Levo with a wireless display or Garmin device.

Less weight where possible, more weight where necessary – the componentry

As already mentioned, Specialized have managed to make the new aluminium frame around 1 kg lighter compared to its predecessor and the motor with its magnesium housing is another 400 g lighter. Yet the complete bike weighs just as much as before. The reason is that the battery is larger and the componentry more robust. Specialized have specced their Butcher tires with the BLCK DMND casing, powerful SRAM CODE brakes with 200 mm rotors, and the Expert model also features a RockShox BoXXer double crown fork for maximum steering precession. As with the Levo, the Kenevo only comes with an 11-speed drivetrain. Specialized justify this with the powerful motor, eliminating the need for a larger gear range – we would still have preferred the wider gear range and smoother shifting of a 12-speed drivetrain.

The SRAM 1×11 drivetrain performs fine, but in this day and age, we would have preferred a 12-speed drivetrain for its smoother shifting and larger gear range.
The weight that Specialized have saved on the frame, they put back on again in the form of robust componentry such as Butcher tires with the heavy BLCK DMND casing
Both Kenevo models come with a coil shock on which the coil varies according to size: very reliable, simple to set up and unlikely to overheat are the benefits.
The Expert model comes with a RockShox BoXXer Select, whereas the Comp features a 180 mm travel Marzocchi Z1.
Whether Comp or Expert – both models are specced with SRAM CODE R brakes.
Both bikes also feature sturdy Roval rims, though with different hubs.
We doubt whether anyone will miss the old Specialized WU dropper post. The dropper post on the new Kenevo does without the angle adjustment mechanism.

The Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert is priced at € 6,899, the more affordable Kenevo Comp is available for € 5,499. The main difference is that the Comp only has a 500 Wh battery, Marzocchi suspension and a lower-end drivetrain. Both models are available in two colours. The Kenevo Expert comes in Black and Sage-Green, and the Comp comes in Dove Grey/Rocket Red and Gunmetal/Hyper Green. As before, the motor of the new Kenevo can be adjusted to suit your preferences via Specialized’s Mission Control App.

Both Kenevos are powered by the Specialized 2.1 motor. However, the Expert has a 700 Wh battery whereas the Comp has to make do with a 500 Wh unit.

Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert

Fork RockShox Boxxer Select RC 180mm
Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Select 450lb (S2)|500lb (S3)|550lb (S4)|600lb (S5)
Drivetrain SRAM GX 11-speed
Motor Specialized 2.1 250W
Battery Specialized M2-700 700Wh
Brakes SRAM Code R 200
Handlebar Specialized 7050 alloy 800 mm
Stem Spezialized Direct Mount 45 mm
Seatpost Command Post IRcc 130mm (S2)|160mm (S3-S5)
Tires Specialized Butcher 27.5×2.6″
Wheels Roval 27.5″
Price € 6,899

Specialized Turbo Kenevo Comp

Fork Marzzochi Bomber Z1 18mm
Shock Marzzochi Bomber CR 450lb (S2)|500lb (S3)|550lb (S4)|600lb (S5)
Drivetrain SRAM NX11-speed
Motor Specialized 2.1 250W
Battery Specialized M2-500 500Wh
Brakes SRAM Code R 200 mm
Handlebar Specialized 7050 alloy 800 mm
Stem Spezialized Direct Mount 45 mm
Seatpost Command Post IRcc 130mm (S2)|160mm (S3-S5)
Tires Specialized Butcher 27.5×2.6″
Wheels Roval 27.5″
Price € 5,499

Choose the length, not the size – the geometry of the new Kenevo

Specialized have already introduced their new sizing concept on their latest downhill bike, the Demo, the Enduro and the Stumpjumper Evo. Instead of basing the size on the length of the seat tube, you now choose the size you want based on the length of the front triangle. Specialized have made this possible by keeping the seat tube short enough for smaller riders to ride long bikes. You almost always have two possible sizes to choose from. Specialized are offering the new Turbo Kenevo in four lengths from S2-S5. Compared to its predecessor, the reach has grown by about four centimetres, the head angle has become 1° slacker and the seat tube angle has been made 2° steeper to offer a better climbing position.

For the frame size, Specialized are using their new S-designation. You choose the bike based on the length of the front triangle and not on the length of the seat tube

The geometry at a glance

Size S2 S3 S4/th>

Seat tube 400 mm 420 mm 440 mm 465 mm
Top tube 585 mm 612 mm 639 mm 666 mm
Head tube 105 mm 115 mm 125 mm 135 mm
Head angle 64° 64° 64° 64°
Seat angle 77° 77° 77° 77°
Chainstay 454 mm 454 mm 454 mm 454 mm
BB Height 345 mm 345 mm 345 mm 345 mm
Wheelbase 1,234 mm 1,263 mm 1,293 mm 1,322 mm
Reach 445 mm 470 mm 495 mm 520 mm
Stack 605 mm 614 mm 623 mm 632 mm

Get on the gas or get bored – the new Kenevo on the trail

The moment you lay eyes on the new Specialized Turbo Kenevo you’ll know that it’s not a bike meant to go on leisurely Sunday cruises around the lake. Although, you could do that. As soon as you climb aboard, you’ll notice that the riding position is very comfortable and relaxed, sitting upright and central on the bike. The support of the Specialized 2.1 motor is very quiet and it feels as natural as usual. In so-called Shuttle Mode, it provides a powerful push and will get you up anywhere without breaking a sweat. Despite the long-travel suspension, the front wheel stays on the ground, no matter how steep the terrain. The Kenevo is an excellent climber, but that’s not to say you won’t notice the bike’s weight – it couldn’t be called agile or spritely.

Thanks to the central riding position, natural feeling motor and long-range battery, it’ll happily take on big days

Heading downhill, the Kenevo demands two things: a steep gradient and speed. You can tell very quickly that the bike was designed for rough and demanding terrain. On flat and flowing trails, on the other hand, it felt sluggish. You have to work hard to generate speed and to navigate the bike through tight switchbacks. If you stay off the brakes, the Kenevo offers plenty of composure and sheer endless reserves. Although the BoXXer fork has 180 mm travel, it feels very defined and uses only as much of it as it needs. The same applies to the rear suspension, never using up its travel unnecessarily. Although the suspension feels very supportive, as soon as you hit a lip and try to get it airborne, you’ll notice the bike’s weight. On steep descents, the tall front end and the low-slung top tube instil you with the confidence to charge on and stay relaxed, where on a different bike your knees would have been weak and your palms sweaty.

Flowing, flat trails bore the Kenevo, feeling bloated and somewhat lethargic
In steep terrain, on the other hand, the bike shows its true potential…
…making drops and rock gardens suddenly look tame.
Lean back and let it go, the Kenevo will do the rest.

Unfortunately, we could only take a single test-ride on the new Kenevo and the trail we rode didn’t offer the kind of terrain it demands and not offering enough of a challenge. We can’t wait to push the limits of the new Kenevo and hope to hit a few bike parks on it soon – luckily it won’t matter if the lifts are closed.

Our first impression of the 2020 Specialized Turbo Kenevo

Specialized have made the new Kenevo significantly more capable on the descents without detracting from its climbing capabilities – on the contrary. However, with its long geometry and robust componentry, the bike will quickly get bored on flat, easy trails and we would only recommend it to riders who have a clear idea of what they want to do with it. Anyone looking for a versatile eMTB is better off with the Levo. If you want to go as hard and big as possible – the Kenevo will help you find your limit.

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The new Kenevo is much more specialised (no pun) than its predecessor, which proved to be an excellent all-rounder when compared to the old Levo. The new Kenevo is made specifically for the most demanding riders – flat, flowing trails will have you yawning on this bike.

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Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer