Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL Comp

Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL Comp review

by 23

The Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL is a fabulous trail bike. It’s not a bike just for self-shuttling. This bike loves it out on the hills.

  • Brand: Specialized
  • Product: Turbo Kenevo SL Comp
  • Price: £7,750 £5,435 currently on sale
  • FromSpecialized
  • Reviewed by: Benji for 5 months
Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL Comp

Three things I loved:

  • The ride
  • The handling
  • The range

Three things I’d change:

  • More dropper insertion
  • Better tyres
  • Shorter stem
4-Bar+

Due to the development of electric mountain bikes being so fast, and the uptake so great, we’re now seeing e-MTB not just as a spin-off from mountain biking, but with new categories within this segment. In addition to enduro, trail and cross-country, we also have ‘full-fat’ e-bikes competing for market share with lighter weight, lower-powered models.

The Levo SL was a decent enough trail ebike, but for some riders – myself included – the geometry and the suspension capability didn’t suit their preferred terrain or riding style. What we wanted was an electric Enduro please!

35Nm motor

Electric Enduro

Enter the Kenevo SL. Which, to all intents and purposes, is exactly that. An Specialized E-Enduro. Actually, “exactly” is not quite right. Although the general geometry and suspension layout (not a 6-bar, it’s a 4-bar with an extra set of links driving the shock) are very much Enduro, there is one small but totally significant difference. Namely, there’s less dropper post insertion. This is because the motor has ‘forced’ the shock tunnel further upon the seat tube. This S4 (kinda like a regular Large) can only just about fit the 170mm travel X-Fusion dropper in it.

Is this a real deal-breaker? Hmm… yes and no. At 185cm tall, my legs and I can live with 170mm droppers (and would probably swap out the X-Fusion post for another brand dropper that packs more drop into the same overall post length). Shorter legged riders will have to think hard and do some maths and dropper post browsing.

The Kenevo SL gets the same Specialized SL 1.1 lightweight motor and 320Wh integrated battery as the Levo SL. This offers 35Nm of torque and, roughly speaking, doubles your own input effort. This combination of lightweight technology and carbon frame equals a bike that weighs as much as 12lbs less than a full-power Kenevo.

Cute mudguard for the shock

Suspension and spec

Despite the weight saving, the SL version doesn’t really cut corners in terms of spec. Everything on the bike is fit for purpose. And that includes the Fox 36 fork which I prefer to the bigger Fox 38; the travel of the 36 feels much more achievable and useable. And for 73kg me, it’s stiff enough thanks.

On the rear suspension side of the build, we have a Fox Float X shock. Which, again, is totally fine. I didn’t miss the bells and whistles of the X2.

In terms of suspension set-up I typically ran both dampers fully open in terms of compression (the rear shock doesn’t have any compression adjustment apart from a rather redundant Climb switch) and twiddled the rebound as and when required. Running the rebound entirely open for fast tracks and dialling it to around 75% open when terrain speeds were generally slower.

Love a 36

Geo adjust

The bike ships with removable and replaceable headset cups for adjusting the head angle, while a flip chip in the chain stays allows adjustment of BB height, chain stay length and seat angle.

Needless to say I messed with all these geometry adjustments. FWIW in the end I ran slackest headset cup and the chain stay in short/steep/high setting. With the chain stay in long/slack/low position the seat angle was uncomfortably slack uphill and the BB was just too low and robbed the bike of dynamism when hustling curvy and tricksy trails.

Despite all the adjustments, I’d actually like it if the BB/stays/seat angle were more independently adjustable. Slack head angle, steep seat angle, high BB and longer chain stays would be great.

Stem too long

TCU

Specialized’s control panel interface is the best there is. Located in the top tube it’s called the MasterMind TCU. This unit includes the power button for switching on, along with a clear colour display for displaying how much battery remains, the speed, assist mode and other useful features. The TCU is also the brain of the system that allows riders to connect via smartphone Bluetooth to unlock more features and tuning options.

You can also ‘trim’ the various power setting in 10% increments purely via the handlebar remote, if you’re a fiddler (press-and-hold etc).

Good stoppers

PIggybacking

For testing we had a range extender battery supplied. This 160Wh battery weighs a tad more than a bottle of water and connects to the bike via a short cable that locks into position in the main charging port. When connected, and fully charged, the Kenevo SL displays 150% of battery. It’s a nice option to have, and at around £340 it’s not insanely expensive.

We did experience the piggyback battery cable being disconnected (which cuts off the whole system power) a few times when the bike received a big impact. It wasn’t a major problem and didn’t cause any crashes or anything. Just a bit annoying now and then. Maybe it was us not pushing it in properly and/or having a clean port? Either way, for a brand that does the whole bike packaging better than anyone else, a slightly more secure cable would be nice.

Spec-wise, there were no real clangers. The bars were a bit low rise for me. The stem was too long for everyone. The Butcher tyres are okayish but not anywhere near as capable as the rest of the bike (I swapped in a pair of T9 Hillbilly rubbers for most of the set period). The drivetrain was fine. The brakes were great.

Disappointing dropper insertion

Is it any good then?

I’ll just come out and say that the Kenevo SL is one of the finest handling bikes I’ve ever ridden. It made me think that 40ish lbs is the perfect weight for an amazing handling mountain bike. Stay with me here.

The motor is there to help offset the extra weight/inertia to help the bike ride like a regular non-E bike when it needs to. The rest of the time the bike just feels incredible. Planted but nimble. It’s a feeling that is totally unreachable on a non-E bike. It’s amazing, addictive, beautiful even.

Getting back on lighter (non-E) bikes, they feel skittish and frightening. Getting back on full-bore ebikes, they feel sluggish and frightening. The weight of the Kenevo SL is entirely Goldilocks and is something that it not really picked up upon by a lot of folk.

The weight, how it’s positioned on the bike and the excellent suspension feel is just ace.

A great trail bike

Ignore/because/despite the abundance of suspension travel on offer, the Kenevo SL is a fabulous trail bike. It’s not a bike that is shackled to some odd self-shuttling woodland play area. This bike loves it out on the fells and mountains.

Having said that, it will absolutely do the whole ‘local laps’ self-shuttling thing. And do it incredibly well. But the bike is much more capable and versatile than that.

It’s not perfect. The actual seat angle is not as steep as I’d like. It can get a bit front wheel lifty on steep ascents and is just not as all-day comfy as a steep seat angled bike is.

In terms of ‘stood-up riding’ (descending or technical traversing) the Kenevo SL has great overall geometry. No doubt helped by being able to tweak it via headset cups and flip chips. But still, this was one of the few ebikes I’ve ridden that I was perfectly calm (happy!) to hit sketchy trails on ‘blind’. Everything about the bike seems to help – rather than freak – you out.

Power and range

Power then. Is 35Nm enough? I don’t know. I can’t answer that. A 35Nm ebike is a lot closer to a 85Nm ebike than it is to a 0Nm normal bike. The Kenevo SL may be a ‘diet ebike’ but it’s still loads easier than a non-assisted bike. Loads easier.

I would say that the 35Nm Keneno SL cannot do the severity of climbs that full fat 85Nm ebikes can do. You won’t be doing trials-motorbike style climbing challenges on the Kenevo SL, as you might find yourself doing on full power ebikes.

A word here about range. The Kenevo SL constantly impressed me with how far it would go on a full charge (especially with the piggyback battery). It’s this decent ‘MPG’ that helps the bike rides alongside full-power ebike riders. While they’re riding along in Eco and Trail, the Kenevo SL is fine to be working at Trail and Turbo respectively.

I also think that brochure Nm and Wh numbers don’t tell the whole story. I’ve ridden the Kenevo SL back to back with 50Nm bikes and there is little on trail difference to both the power on offer and the range capabilty. In fact, the 50Nm bikes ran their battery down noticeably faster whilst not offering any real extra power. Well, that’s how it felt to me anyway. YMMV. Literally.

Anyhoo.

The Kenevo SL is a future classic mountain bike.

p.s. a word about noise. Yes, the Kenevo SL is as whiny-loud as a normal full-fat ebike. It is in no way as silent as the new breed of super quiet mid-power ebikes. I personally don’t mind the noise (I actually quite like it!) but appreciate that some folks are resentful of it/bothered about such things!

Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL Comp
Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL Comp: A Future Classic

Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL Comp Specification

  • Frame // FACT 11m full carbon, 170mm
  • Shock // FOX FLOAT X Performance, LSR, 2-position lever, 62.5x230mm
  • Fork // FOX FLOAT 36 RHYTHM 29, GRIP damper, 44mm offset, 2-position sweep adjust, 170mm
  • Wheels // Specialized 29
  • Front Tyre // Butcher, GRID TRAIL casing, GRIPTON® T9 compound, 2Bliss Ready, 29×2.3″
  • Rear Tyre // Butcher, GRID TRAIL casing, GRIPTON® T7 compound, 2Bliss Ready, 29×2.3″
  • Chainset // Praxis Forged/M30 Spindle Interface
  • Drivetrain // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
  • Brakes // SRAM Code R, 4-piston caliper, 220mm/200mm
  • Stem // Alloy Trail Stem
  • Bars // Specialized, 6061 alloy, 6-degree upsweep, 8-degree backsweep, 30mm rise, 800mm width
  • Grips // Specialized Lock-On
  • Seatpost // X-Fusion Manic, 170mm
  • Saddle // Bridge Comp
  • Motor // Specialized SL 1.1, 35Nm
  • Battery // Specialized SL1-320, fully integrated, 320Wh (plus 160Wh range extender)
  • Size Tested // S4
  • Sizes Available // S2, S3, S4, S5
  • Weight // 20kg/44lb

*slack headset cup & short/steep/high chainstay setting

SizesS2S3S4S5
Stack (MM)618626635644
Reach (MM)435460485510
Top Tube Length (MM)
Seat Tube Length (MM)400420440465
Seat Tube Angle76767676
Head Tube Length (MM)105115125135
Head Tube Angle63.563.563.563.5
Chainstay Length (MM)447447.3447447
Bottom Bracket Drop (MM)25252525
Bottom Bracket Height (MM)350350350350
Stack Reach Ratio1.4211.3611.3091.263
Rake (MM)46464646
Trail (MM)135135135135
Front Center (MM)782812841870

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Viewing 23 posts - 1 through 23 (of 23 total)
  • Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL Comp review
  • sargey2003
    Full Member

    so how long was the too-long stem? (couldn’t find that detail in the text)

    Ben_Haworth
    Full Member

    I measured it at 55mm.

    doomanic
    Full Member

    We did experience the piggyback battery cable being disconnected (which cuts off the whole system power) a few times when the bike received a big impact.

    I’ve got about 1500km on my KSL and never had this, which end came unplugged?

    xora
    Full Member

    that cable is a complete bawache to remove. I think you did not attach it right or its faulty.

    bowglie
    Full Member

    I recently bought an ex-demo KSL Comp, and I think the review is pretty much spot-on. It took me three or four rides to get the set-up dialled and get familiar with the power modes, but I’m now really liking the bike – and I agree with Ben that it’s a more versatile bike than its suspension travel and ‘enduroness’ might suggest.

    The guys at the LBS had done a great job of servicing the bike, and after sticking a smaller 200mm rotor on the front, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the boggo Code R brakes. The main set-up issue I had was the Rhythm fork, which I found lacked mid stroke support. I’m about 85kg, so gradually increased number of tokens to five (out of 6 max) and, again I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how good the fork is. I almost bought a Perf Elite 38 to replace it, but am not going to bother.

    My bike is an S4 and stem is 55mm, and yes, it is a bit too long. I’m just over 6’ with 34” inside leg, and I’ve just managed to wrangle a One-Up 180mm dropper into the frame (works ok in the workshop, but I’ve not test ridden it yet!).

    I’ve held off buying a range extender, as I wanted to see if the onboard battery would be ok for my usual rides (typically 30km-ish 1000m alt gain) – so far, so good.

    HoratioHufnagel
    Free Member

    Hypothetically, what size would someone 5’11 suit? S3 or S4. 185mm reach on the S4 sounds quite long. Just out of interest…

    doomanic
    Full Member

    Either. I’ve got 3 mates on S4s, they range from 5’8″ to 6’2″… I’m 5’9″ (and a quarter) on an S3 but I’ve got short legs.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    For those that own Kenevo Sl’s – how does it compare on rides where your mates are on full fat ebikes?

    Most of my mates have gone high torque full power but I really like the look of the kenevo sl…..

    weeksy
    Full Member

    Based upon yesterday, not very well. I don’t know the exact model a bloke we were out with was in, but it’s 18kg or so, SL model. He struggled big time. I rode it and it’s like riding my Liv at 2/5 dots. It’s ok and it gets you up stuff, but it’s a gentle hand on the back, rather than a shove.
    Downhill it wasn’t noticeably better that I’d pick an SL over a full fat.

    I liked the idea of it and it was deffo worth trying. But if your mates are getting on with it, you’ll need better fitness. I held the group, but using determination rather than power

    CheesybeanZ
    Full Member

    Hypothetically, what size would someone 5’11 suit?

    I’m 5’10 on an S4 with a 42.5mm stem. Feels a lot better than with the standard 50mm.

    We use the range extender on both our bikes and never had a cable come loose.

    Our regular riding mates have full power bikes and we are noticeably slower on the ups and I’m way fitter than one of them .

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    Tbf I’d mainly be using it at bike parks like windhill, fod and only the occasional route ride. My mates & I were all at a similar fitness level, but now they all have ebikes 🤷‍♂️😏. I’m keeping my xc fat bike for regular local xc rides. This would very much be a park bike.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    Yesterday’s Peak ride does highlight the difference more than somewhere like fod of Wind hill would yes.

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    This is my thinking – it’s quite rare that we go for longer hilly rides, much more likely to meet up for a small loop at FoD followed by DH session. Windhill is very much for the winch up/catch up, as I’m currently only doing half the laps of others. BPW would possibly be an acception which I could see being an issue as some (I) would uplift and others may eeb up.

    Seems to be an ideal bike for the downs and a helping hand on the ups which suits me more than a full ebike at the moment. I’m also quite worried if I went full ebike, my xc bike would never be used 😂

    HobNob
    Free Member

    For those that own Kenevo Sl’s – how does it compare on rides where your mates are on full fat ebikes?

    It doesn’t, in short. You need to turbo to run alongside Tour on the Bosch Smart system & your ride will be over in about 4/500m of vert.

    It’s more aligned to a very fit normal bike rider – local in our group who races Expert XC & can still rip down hills rides at a pace thats somewhere between Trail & Turbo on the KSL.

    Also was a victim of the cable coming loose on mine & it switching off. Not a common issue, but we were doing DH runs at Dunkeld, so it was fairly long, sustained rough stuff.

    CheesybeanZ
    Full Member

    It’s ok and it gets you up stuff, but it’s a gentle hand on the back, rather than a shove.

    This ^^^

    monkeyboyjc
    Full Member

    Mmmmm 🤔 gives me something to think about… Thanks

    FarandAway
    Full Member

    RE disconnecting. Need to give the ‘bike end’ some heft ie. make sure it’s well pushed it and properly locked. Thanks to Biketreks, Grizedale for the advice.

    SirHC
    Full Member

    For those that own Kenevo Sl’s – how does it compare on rides where your mates are on full fat ebikes

    Golfie on Sunday, mate on his Trek rail in tour, I’m on my ksl. 22miles and 5200ft in 3hrs moving time, I still had 20% left and he was out of battery dropping into the last descent. I was on a range extender plus main battery and in 50/60 assistance.

    If you all have sls and lightweights, then there isn’t an issue. If your mates are on full fats and are wanting to charge up the hills, then you either need to be fitas**** or you will be burning through the battery fast.

    Our group has a mix of both, one of the full fats was moaning that we are slow up the hills. If we want to ride as a group he will just have to wait. No difference to the pre eeeb days!!!

    monkeysfeet
    Free Member

    Full fat ebikes are much different. I tried a fair few on the Whinlatter demo day. Cube/yeti and the Orbea Rise. Ended up with Levo SL.
    Took SL out for the first time on Saturday. Lakes ride, 33 miles with 4500ft of climbing.
    I couldnt believe just how good it pedals with the power off, so we probably only used “Trail” on the climbs towards the end of the ride. Used turbo once to get up a really steep grassy climb, but otherwise a great bike for just a little bit of assistance when you need it.
    Finished with 4 bars of power still left, so probably good for another 10-15 mile.
    Only downside was the rear tyre got a pinch flat, so probably going to swap out to something a bit more burly.
    Otherwise great bike.

    mudfish
    Full Member

    I’m well over 60 and really enjoying the natural feel of the KSL. I was lucky enough to borrow a full power Levo for a week but I thought it ran away with me, I prefer to stand to pedal and thus need something to “pedal against” – the full Levo had to be turned right down in in Mission Control app settings to work well like that.
    So why cart that extra weight around.
    I also felt it ran on approaching obstacles and had a slight activation delay, I guess you get used to that but tech singletrack getting the front over roots was not fun to me. Sit, pedal and plough through everything isn’t my bag.
    The KSL is perfect for standing pedalling.
    Do I miss anything about the full Levo, well the “shuttle” mode was a VERY easy way to get up those boring fire roads. But, hey, they are also an excuse to get fitter.
    Even on the KSL I rarely use Turbo and even so have it turned down in Mission Control app to 80%
    Riding with the full power crew? I dont.

    intheborders
    Free Member

    I’ve had one 8 months now, done just over 1400 miles.

    Love it.  Last night I rode at Thornielee in the Tweed Valley (12 miles & 3000ft, used 50% of the internal battery) with a fast & fit lad who’s 20 years younger.  Going down it’s a brilliant enduro bike, going up it enables me to ride at his pace (using Eco ‘30%’).

    Rode Sunday with a load of full-fats, needed to use Trail ‘50%’ and the extender – they were the ones worrying about battery consumption, not me.  But yes, on fireroad climbs I can’t stay with them at full pace, and then they realise that they can’t use that pace and expect to manage 5,000ft…

    A question for fellow riders, anyone got shorter cranks – looking for 155-160’s to replace the 170’s as I’m pedal clipping a lot (and no, I don’t want to raise the ride-height)?

    mudfish
    Full Member

    I think shorter cranks are a good idea. Try getting them for an SL tho. I’ve been waiting since last September. Upgrade are now saying October.
    Maybe the SL has wider Q factor but for some reason it does seem to gather more crabs than my G1 with same static BB height. I’m not sitting pedalling though rough stuff so that’s not it. Luckily I’m pretty much used to it.

    Hope are considering making an M30 E crank they told me. They are into 145 now! Wow that’s short.

Viewing 23 posts - 1 through 23 (of 23 total)

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