After a few days of pure XC and then all out Enduro riding, Specialized had something different in mind for our final day in Tahoe. This would not only be the longest ride of the week, but it would have the most climbing – and it would all be done on an e-bike with a dual crown fork.

Since the early days of the e-bike, people have theorized that the e-bike could eventually replace the chairlift or shuttle. The new Turbo Kenevo is that bike. After the Levo got more capable, it left the Kenevo too close in abilities so Specialized went back to the drawing board to make the bike even more capable. That meant component changes like the obvious dual crown fork, but also changes in geometry and kinematics that let it charge through the gnarliest trails while still allowing you to pedal to the top.

First Ride: Specialized Turbo Kenevo sends like a big bike, but pedals like a trail bike
Photo c. Dylan Dunkerton/Specialzied

For such a long, slack bike, the Kenevo still climbs admirably well. Obviously, you have the benefit of a motor to assist you, which is a good thing since this bike weighs in at 54lbs. The pedal assist means that there’s no need for lockouts or any suspension trickery to make the bike efficient. Just mash the pedals and go. On this ride we ended up climbing about 5,000 feet at altitude, and covered almost 34 miles.

First Ride: Specialized Turbo Kenevo sends like a big bike, but pedals like a trail bike
Photo c. Harookz/Specialized
First Ride: Specialized Turbo Kenevo sends like a big bike, but pedals like a trail bike
Photo c. Harookz/Specialized

Technically, this ride could have been done on a single 700Wh battery as I had a little more than a half charge at the half way point where we stopped for lunch (using Turbo mode almost the whole ride to this point). Honestly though, I was having way too much fun riding in Turbo and Trail mode, so I accepted a fresh battery to finish the ride. Swapping the battery is extremely easy and can be done trailside with a single tool. So extended rides by yourself where you carry your own spare battery aren’t out of the question.

First Ride: Specialized Turbo Kenevo sends like a big bike, but pedals like a trail bike
Photo c. Dylan Dunkerton/Specialzied

After pedaling for a while on fire roads, we eventually got to some of the gnarlier trails to really put the bike to the test. I rode fairly conservatively due to feeling like we were way out in the woods, but the Kenevo was still impressive on technical terrain.

First Ride: Specialized Turbo Kenevo sends like a big bike, but pedals like a trail bike
Photo c. Harookz/Specialized

In spite of the added heft to the motor, the bike still felt very well balanced – enough that I was trying new things like the stoppie above.

First Ride: Specialized Turbo Kenevo sends like a big bike, but pedals like a trail bike
Photo c. Dylan Dunkerton/Specialzied

Fortunately, big brakes and big 27.5 x 2.6″ tires are included in the build since the Kenevo can get going pretty quick. At a certain point, the bike isn’t any faster than a standard DH bike since you can only pedal so much when going downhill, but it certainly pedals better at slower speeds.

First Ride: Specialized Turbo Kenevo sends like a big bike, but pedals like a trail bike
Photo c. Dylan Dunkerton/Specialzied
First Ride: Specialized Turbo Kenevo sends like a big bike, but pedals like a trail bike
Not the size I rode. This is the biggest, S5 model.

Takeaway

At the end of the day, I ended up having more fun on the Kenevo than I expected. Which is to say, I had a lot of fun on the bike since I figured it would be a good time from the get go. It was weird looking down and seeing a dual crown fork on a bike that was so eager to pedal, but it made for a plush ride that was extremely capable through rough trails. If the goal for Specialized was to set the Kenevo apart from the Levo and open up a new style of e-bike riding, they seem to have succeeded.

For more on the Turbo Kenevo including all the specs, check out our first post here.

specialized.com

29 COMMENTS

  1. Weighs about the same as an old-time downhill bike, but certainly not as rough on the trail from my experiences. Rode one at a demo day and it was sweet!

    • Where would you ride it? How would you get it there?

      Rhetorical questions. People who want an MX bike, buy MX bikes, people who want E-MTB’s, buy MTB’s. From what I’m hearing, there are more and more people who buy both, though.

      • Exactly Dinger. The MX versus e-bike pricing argument is a tired one. The purchasing doesn’t stop after you get the 250. There’s more expensive gear (both for bike and body), a vehicle to haul it around in (or with) and they are harder on parts overall.

  2. I was at Post Canyon in Hood River on 10/15 and saw a lot of ebikes. Most were older riders but it seems that this is the way things are going. I don’t want one until I can’t pedal by myself anymore. As regular bikes have become more capable the trails have become more extreme. As fitter riders ride ebikes the uphill sections will become tougher to challenge these bikes and riders. If you are not on an ebike good luck. I just don’t get the need to have a motor. Being able to get away under my own power is one of the reasons I ride my bike. No fuel required (I do drive to trailheads, but not all of the time). Just my opinion.

    • ‘Need’ is actually the flaw in your comment. Bikes are more of a ‘want’ than ‘need’. Semantics like that matter. Do I own an e bike? Nope, nor am I looking to purchase one some day. But I’ve ridden them and i will say I get that fun can be had on em as I’ve had some hoots. But I hope I’ll never feel the ‘need’ for one to go out and play bikes in the woods or elsewhere. Hope the same for you, but let’s not judge each other should one find themselves in that position.

  3. When I read 54 pounds I thought that’s an amazingly good weight considering old school DH bikes were tipping towards 50 at one point. A friend of mine just got an enduro e.bike and can get in 8 runs on our local trail in 2.5 hours. Shuttling in a vehicle though he was getting in 4 runs in a similar period of time. And riding the e.bike it’s fun exercise back up the hill vs negotiating traffic in the car.

  4. environment
    https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lithium-batteries-environment-impact

    children
    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/oct/12/phone-misery-children-congo-cobalt-mines-drc

    Simply because you didn’t want to pedal yourself. And I am not talking about products for the elderly or injured, or those designed to replace a car. I am a huge supporter to commuter e-bikes. But purely recreational e-bikes are the embodiment of human waste and negligence.

  5. My other post may be flagged due to the links I included.

    Purely recreational bikes? How do people look past the environmental damage and labor issues (child labor) associated with li-ion battery production? Just so you can “shuttle” a run 2x more before?

        • F150 has less environmental impact? really? i guess if you don’t ever drive it…. i highly doubt the manufacture of an f150 has less impact than the manufacture of a battery… but lets assume for the moment it is. once you make that F150, you do realize that it burns gas when you drive it, right? what’s the environmental impact of drilling for oil? whats the environmental impact of transporting that crude, and then refining it, and then transporting it to your local gas station? what’s the environmental impact of building and then operating 2 carrier battlegroups to keep the oil supply lines open? do you think the total of all of that is less than a battery?

        • The F150 will consume thousands of gallons of fuel (which is also mined, refined and transported with significant environmental impacts) and produce tons of Co2 as well as many other waste products (glycol coolant, used motor oil, as well as a couple of LEAD acid batteries) in its lifetime.

          Do you believe that the one-time production of an EV’s battery is worse than all of that^?

      • That’s an interesting question that I’ve never seen explored: What is the marginal cost (in terms of dollars and embedded energy/resources) of two E-peds (you need two to shuttle) vs. the miles they displace on a typical shuttle rig (Tacoma, of course). Say ten miles per week, 25 weeks per year- about fourteen gallons of gas annually?

        I would imagine that the environmental inputs and emissions associated with building and shipping two batteries/motors/etc. would be more than that needed to run an existing Taco an extra handful of miles for a few years.

        Anyone looking for a thesis project?

  6. That’s cool, but like others have said, I’d rather have a motorcycle with a gasoline engine and 100+ miles of range… and way better resale value.

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