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Kenevo becomes the perfect Alpine bike park option

Specialized still leads the way in terms of eMTB packaging and styling
The new Kenevo might be a true shuttle or chairlift replacement eMTB
(Image credit: Specialized)

With its new Kenevo, Specialized has taken another step on their evolution of making eMTBs the only mountain bikes you need to own.

The Californian bicycling brand has set the standard for motor integration and sleekness in eMTB design since 2015, when its Levo pedal-assisted bike debuted.

This was followed by the Kenevo, which featured a rear coil shock and was built specifically for those riders who prioritised descending above all else.

For technically gifted riders who were seeking to progress their riding even further, but were weary of the crash risk due to fatigue, the Kenevo was brilliant. And the new one is even more so.

What Specialized is offering with the 2020 Kenevo is effectively a downhill-grade eMTB, which can enable you to self-shuttle the steepest downhill trails. Or skip the chairlift line. 

Although the Kenevo’s suspension remains unchanged, with a symmetrical 180mm both front and rear, the components which enable its descending ability are all upgraded. You get four piston brakes, which clamp 200mm rotors (front and rear), while the wheelset is extremely robust, featuring 32 J-bend spokes per wheel and shod with Specialized Butcher BLK DMND 650b tyres, sized 2.6-inches wide.

What defines this Kenevo is its suspension. It now uses a triple-clamp 180mm downhill fork, instead of a single-crown, supplied by Rockshox. The frame also features a single-swingarm design, which is reminiscent of Specialized’s latest Stumpjumper.

Geometry improvements tally a roomier frame, with engineers having added 40mm of reach, and a head angle which is slacker by one degree.

Lighter and more efficient

Not only has Specialized improved the Kenevo’s terrain taming ability but it is more agile too, thanks to a frame which is 1kg lighter – which should enable more intuitive directional changes on tight and twisty trails.

If you are interested in the level of pedalling assistance available, the new Kenevo motor is 15 per cent smaller an 400g lighter than before. 

With an energy density of 700Wh, there is no reduction in its potency, with a peak power output of 560 watts, which should convert to amplifying your pedal inputs by up to 410 per cent when required.

For those who simply must have the triple-clamp downhill suspension fork, Specialized is positioning the Kenevo Expert at £6999. If your budget does not extend to that price point, there is the Comp, which will retail for £4999 and has a single-crown Marzocchi.

A curious detail of the new Kenevo range is that the more expensive bike is heavier, with the Expert registering a trail ready mass of 24.58kg versus the Comp’s 23.63kg. With both bikes running coil shocks at the rear, the discrepancy in weight is due to the heavier triple-clamp fork on Specialized’s Kenevo Expert.

Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born media professional who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his fascination with trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. Rides: Morewood Kwela Cotic Simple 26 Pyga 160mm aluminium prototype