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Specialized presents the new Kenevo SL. With this light E-MTB, the Californians combine their light SL drive with the driving characteristics of the popular enduro and rely on modern geometry, a lot of spring travel and a lot of fun on the descent.

In the last few years, hardly any other brand has influenced the eMTB market as much as Specialized. With the Levo Gen 3, a few weeks ago they released a potent, powerful and revised version of the popular trail e-bike.

Now the more downhill-oriented Kenevo is getting a new model. The Californians do not rely on their most powerful engine, but on an overall concept that is supposed to shine with a lot of fun in downhill and natural support behavior in uphill.

The Specialized Kenevo SL - in a nutshell

  • Frame: carbon
  • Travel: 170mm
  • Motor: Turbo SL 35 Nm
  • Battery: 240 Wh
  • Weight: 19.21 kg
  • Price: from 9,499 euros

Optics for the rough

Similar to the Levo SL, at first glance you could almost overlook the fact that this is an e-bike. Despite the integrated battery, the slim tubes are not much wider than those of the non-motorized enduro. In general, the entire structure is reminiscent of the model that was revised in 2019. The articulation of the damper as well as the structure of the entire frame was taken over from the long-stroke mountain bike and adapted to the Kenevo.

In terms of color, the Kenevo SL is available in four different versions, depending on the equipment variant. The Expert is available in a chic gray / white and a bright yellow. The S-Works models are available in green / black and gray / black.

It's called Kenevo - looks like an enduro

As already mentioned above - the SL is less reminiscent of the well-known Kenevo, but rather resembles the non-motorized Enduro like one egg to the next. The only really noticeable difference is the small motor on the bottom bracket.

The geometry - point and shoot!

What becomes clear after a few meters on the new Kenevo SL is that this bike is made for the rough. The modern reach of 489mm and the long wheelbase scream for fast downhill. In addition, there is the adjustable head angle of 64.5 °, 63.5 ° and 62.5 ° thanks to various headset shells. 62.5 °? Yes, it is possible and it is actually extremely flat.

But not only the headset is adjustable, the bottom bracket can also be raised or lowered by 6mm.

If we compare the geometry data of the Enduro and the Kenevo SL, one immediately notices the similarity. The “biggest” difference is in the length of the chainstays.

Bikes size: S4Kenevo SLEnduro Turbo Kenevo
Steering angle:63.5°63.9°64°
Seat angle:76°76°77°
Chain stay:447442454

If we take a closer look at the geometry of the Kenevo SL, it quickly becomes clear that the focus here is on speed and stability in rough terrain. As mentioned above, the extremely flat steering angle in connection with the long reach of 485mm (size S4) results in a very high degree of smoothness. The SL wants to drive fast, but it needs an active driving style. If you don't put enough pressure on the front wheel, you will quickly reach the limits of the long-stroke racing car.

Proven chassis design - Demo, Enduro, Kenevo SL

When Specialized presented the Enduro in 2019, the Californians advertised the demo's proven suspension design. The chassis design tested in the World Cup is now also installed in the Kenevo SL. It is primarily based on a four-bar linkage with Horst link that is used in front of the dropouts. The whole thing should enable the engineers to optimize the axle travel for impact force management and to match anti-rise and anti-squat to the pedaling performance. One of the side effects is that when you hit the iron, the braking forces are decoupled and you can still keep more control of the bike.

The special suspension linkage of the Kenevo SL was introduced for the first time on our DH world champion bike, the demo, and was later adapted to the Enduro. It offers an unmatched combination of control, impact force management on big hits, pedaling performance and durability. - Specialized

The six-strut design of the rear triangle has been revised a little compared to the Enduro and now offers more rigidity. You could feel this on the trail as well. The chassis works extremely plush, but can be pushed onto the trail with a lot of pressure even in loose and flat corners.

However, we noticed that the new rear triangle rocks a little more when pedaling. In the past, the Enduro had impressed us with its surprisingly good uphill performance. This now suffers from the rocking of the Kenevo, but the motor makes up for this loss of power.

Axle travel - curves for the nerds

The axle travel of the Kenevo SL moves backwards in the first third of the travel and then vertically in the middle of the travel, before turning into a forward movement towards the end of the travel. In plain language this means that the backward path in the first part of the spring travel should allow the wheel to “swing” backwards with the impact force. This will reduce the bike's snagging and help you gain speed. This movement is hardly noticeable on the trail, but if we take a closer look at the ground, you quickly notice that the chassis is working more than you notice, as minor bumps on the trails are ironed out. The damper actually feels like a lot more travel than it actually has. Of course, 170mm is a lot, but with the Kenevo you never feel it is pushed to the limit.

Components for the rough

Not only is the geometry created for the hard terrain, the components also feel comfortable there. At the front of our Kenevo SL in the Expert version is a Fox Float 38 Performance Elite (quasi a factory only without Kashima) and at the rear sits the Fox Performance Float X2. This chassis harmonizes incredibly well with the geometry and irons everything that is presented to it on the trail. Nevertheless, at a price of 9,499 euros, we would have been happy about a factory chassis.

You can argue about the brake as usual, but the Sram Code RS does what it should. The 4-piston brake system is combined with a 220mm disc at the front and 200mm at the rear and can be comfortably controlled even on longer descents without losing braking power due to overheating.

Components Specialized Kenevo SL Expert

Frame: FACT 11m full carbon
Drive: Specialized SL 1.1
Battery pack: 320 Wh + optional 160 Wh range extender

Suspension fork: Fox 38 Performance Elite Grip2, 170mm
Mute: Fox Float X2 Performance

Circuit: Sram Xo1 Eagle
Brakes: Sram Code RS 220/203 mm
Impellers: Roval traverse 29
Seat post: X-Fusion Maniac

Price: 9,499 euros

Components Specialized Kenevo SL S-Works

Frame: FACT 11m full carbon
Drive: Specialized SL 1.1
Battery pack: 320 Wh + optional 160 Wh range extender

Suspension fork: Fox 38 Factory Grip2, 170mm
Mute: Fox Float X2 Factory

Circuit: Sram XX1 Eagle AXS
Brakes: Sram Code RSC 220/203 mm
Impellers: Roval Traverse SL 29
Seat post: RockShox Reverb AXS

Price: 13,999 euros

Cheers to Specialized - SWAT

Anyone who travels a lot with their mountain bike and, like most of us, does without a backpack, will be happy about details such as the SWAT system from Specialized. The Californian cult company has been installing this system for a few years now and has provided one of the best innovations in the scene with the tool integrated in the headset and the storage space embedded in the down tube.

With the Specialized Kenevo SL, of course, we have to do without the SWAT box in the down tube (this is where the battery is located), but we still have the practical multitool in the headset. We can also look forward to a lot of space in the frame and even stow large drinking bottles in the mounted bottle holder. If that's not enough - you can simply tie your banana to the top tube with a hip bike strap.

The heart - Specialized SL 1.1 motor

One of the most important elements on an e-bike is of course the motor. Specialized is one of the pioneers in the field of light eMTBs and has already presented the revised and light SL motor with the LEVO SL. With the new Kenevo we can look forward to the 35Nm “strong” drive again. The company advertises the engine with the slogan “2x you”. We think that's pretty good too. You can't expect the same performance from a 35Nm motor as from a powerful Bosch or Specialized motor with around 90Nm - but the Kenevo SL doesn't want to go there at all.

2x you

What do you mean with that? If we assume that we can regularly pedal 240 watts, then the motor supports us with precisely this power. The driving experience is extremely similar to a non-motorized mountain bike and feels very natural. In addition to the familiar modes: Eco, Trail and Turbo, the fact that the engine is switched off is particularly interesting for the SL. If we switch off the Kenevo, the motor decouples and we feel like we are on a mountain bike that is a little too heavy without a motor. If the going is steep uphill, we can switch between the modes and get enough power for steep and technical uphill sections.

Mastermind Tubro Control Unit

The MasterMind Turbo Control Unit (TCU) is essentially the “brain” of the bike. It's the hardware and software that controls how the motor, battery, bike, and you interact. Among other things, it enables real-time tuning while driving and displays all relevant data. We also find it exciting that no cables are used for updates and that the latest software can simply be uploaded wirelessly from the Mission Control app to the bike.

If you prefer something individual, you can configure your setup thanks to the Mission Control app. This also applies to the new display that has been installed since the Levo was launched. The narrow screen integrates nicely into the top tube and offers you all the information you could want. The speed, mode, time, power and and and can be read here.

S-Sizing - The Specialized Sizes

In addition to the S4 size provided to us, the Kenevo SL is also available in three other versions - S2, S3 and S5. Although this information is similar to the classic S-XL sizes, it is intended to blur the boundaries between body size and preferred riding style or behavior of the bike.

Let's say we are all 1.85 m tall. Normally the S4 model would fit perfectly here. However, if I want a more agile and more playful bike, I can get a size smaller, or if I want a long race bike I can get one size larger. So it is independent of your height which bike suits you. The best thing to do is just drop by your local Specialized dealer and arrange a test drive.

The Kenevo SL on the trail

Let's go to the most important part of the test. The performance in uphill and downhill. The former works surprisingly well with the new Kenevo SL. You can't expect any feats in steep climbing passages here, as the wheelbase is long and the steering angle is pretty flat, but the steep seat angle of 76 ° ensures an efficient pedaling position. However, if we want to venture into really steep sections, we switch the engine to trail or turbo and, with a little force, get up even the nastiest stab.

Briefly about the individual modes

Let's start in the switched-off mode - here you don't really notice that we are sitting on an e-bike. The engine decouples completely and there is a slightly heavy mountain bike below us. If we switch to Eco, we immediately feel a pleasant support, but still have to muster strength to be able to ride uphill. It looks different here in trail mode. The trail mode pushes us up the mountain properly, we also master steeper passages here comfortably. However, if we come to our limits, we turn on the turbo. It should be noted, however, that the trail and turbo gnaw heavily at the battery capacity and we couldn't do long tours that way. However, if the battery is empty, the SL pedals comfortably home in contrast to the classic Kenevo.

Downhill - close your eyes and go for it

As already mentioned, the geometry has some advantages in demanding terrain. The extremely flat steering angle and the long reach ensure excellent smoothness on the trail. Despite the 170mm travel and the geometry mentioned, the Kenevo SL looks very trendy. If we ever wanted to pull off a root or a stone, it was unexpectedly easy for us.

We were on our home trails in the Bavarian Forest and mainly concentrated on the natural enduro routes. The Kenevo SL feels extremely at home here. As soon as the trails get steep, fast and rough, you notice the balanced interplay of the well thought-out chassis and the potent geometry. The bike gives you the feeling of point to shoot - aim and shoot over it.

The conclusion to the Specialized Kenevo SL

The Kenevo SL is a pure enduro mountain bike that, with its light engine, provides extra reserves on the uphill. If you don't want to do without the enduro lap with your well-trained friends, you can keep up thanks to the SL 1.1 drive. Anyone who thinks that the bike is ideal for the enduro beginner is mistaken. The progressive geometry demands an active driving style and needs to be kept under control. However, if you can keep enough pressure on the front wheel, you will have a lot of fun on demanding and fast trails with this trendy monster truck.

All in all, the Specialized Kenvo SL is a damn well-balanced overall concept that makes for a big grin on the downhill.

⚡ You can find more driving impressions in our following video about the Specialized Kenevo. ⚡

You can find more about the Kenevo SL at: