Specialized’s Turbo Kenevo e-mtb is quite some gravity monster, both up and down. Flatter trails aren’t its foray, but point it down a steep and rough track and it becomes a rocket ship, the 180mm of travel combined with the weight that comes with an e-bike, and it’ll suck up anything in its path.
The Kenevo is an all-mountain, heavy hitter with 180mm of Lyrik RCT3 fork up front and the same amount of bounce in the form of an Ohlins TTX coil shock on the rear. Big 2.8" Butcher Grid tyres are mounted to heavy but durable Roval 37mm internal width wheels. Gearing is Sram’s 1x11 e-bike specific drivetrain, allowing only one downshift at a time to prevent the increased torque mangling the chain, the Brose motor uses 165mm Praxis cranks which have been fine throughout. Cockpit is typically Specialized - a fairly high rise 27mm x 800 alloy bar and an unsuitably long 50mm stem. Stoppers are Sram’s basic but powerful Code R’s which grip 200mm rotors front and rear - more than adequate for hauling up the big rig. Finally, the dropper post is Spesh’s odd but durable, WU seat post.
There are a few flaws in the spec, the dropper post has a very high stack meaning despite the brands claimed drop at the rear of the saddle, it regularly feels like you’re using a 100mm dropper. The chunky 2.8" Grid Butcher tyres tend to produce an undamped feel due to their high volume. I also experimented with some stiffer and slightly narrower 2.6" rubber, things got much more precise and less wallowy. I also swapped out the 50mm stem for a 35mm option and cut the bars down slightly, the difference made the Kenevo a lot more fun and easier to live with.
Despite making the bike feel more lively with the above changes, the Kenevo is no flyweight, it's nearly 25kg’s, and the 180mm of coil sprung rear travel does make him feel a bit ‘stuck in the mud’ at times, especially on flatter trails. But then, that was never Spesh’s intention for the Kenevo, it's designed to ride bigger features, gnarlier and steeper trails and to rip laps of the bike park without the need for an uplift. And, with that in mind, it does those things very, very well.
The large comes with a 455mm reach, a 65 degree head angle, a 74.5 degree effective seat angle, 443mm chainstays and a wheelbase of 1233mm -all pretty ‘safe’ and ‘on-trend’. For a bike with such intentions, a slightly slacker head angle would be nice and more reach would eek out the Kenevo’s real potential for speed. A shorter seat tube (468mm) would make it easier for shorter riders to get the seat post out of the way whilst descending too. Whilst some may say seat angles are less important on e-bikes due to the fact that you have a motor to help you up hills, I’d disagree entirely. That motor makes me want to climb up the steepest, most technical and loosest pinch climbs whenever possible, a steeper seat angle, let's say around the 77 degree mark, as Specialized already employ on their Enduro’s, would make maintaining front wheel weight a far easier affair.
Aside from that aforementioned seat angle, the 504 watt battery and 250watt motor is high on torque, low on friction and will propel you to the top of steep fire roads and technical climbs with minimal fuss. You can use the Mission Control app to adjust your desired power settings for each mode, customising your riding experience. I turned the eco mode down to 15% and managed to squeeze out a Welsh Valleys 2000m day of vertical on one charge which was pretty impressive.
The added weight that comes with an e-bike enhances the levels of grip on tap, and with the weight being right down low and between the wheels, traction is immense. The downside is it take a few rides to get the hang of hopping and popping off trail obstacles and manhandling direction changes when needed. That said, its just more of an adaptation that’s required, a few rides in and the weight is far less noticeable.
When your ride is done, the battery can be removed for charging easily using an Allen key, a few hours later, and you’re ready to go again. The cockpit is minimalistic too, which is great - a neat handlebar mounted push button adjuster selects power mode and on/off is on the side of the downtube, next to the LED indicator loop for battery level. There’s no speed or ‘miles remaining’ indicator as is the case with other brands but I didn't find I missed that, it doesn’t take long to get a feel for how much riding you’ve got left based on the number of LED’s left.
The Specialized Kenevo is a great e-bike package, albeit a pricey and heavy one. It's one which is best made the most of at the steeper, looser trails or bike park features, it's no bike for flat trails! The 2019 Kenevo's are now available but you can still get this one for a bit of a discount with certain retailers. If you want the 2019 version, the same spec as this is still £5,500 or you can opt for the cheaper comp version at £4,250.
You might also like: