Updated: 15th May 2018
The Turbo Kenevo is Specialized’s long travel electric mountain bike. With slack angles and 180mm of suspension travel front and rear, this is a bike for riding challenging enduro trails and sessioning DH tracks. The beauty of the Kenevo is that you can easily ride back up to the top of the hill, so you can have more fun for your effort.
If the Turbo Levo is a Stumpjumper with a motor, then the Turbo Kenevo is an Enduro with a built-in uplift. The Turbo Kenevo we review here has similar lines and angels to the Specialized Enduro. This is an e bike built for taking on more challenging bike park tracks, and steep hand cut trails, but can also be a lot of fun at a trail centre.
The Turbo Kenevo is loosely based on the Specialized Enduro, the X-wing frame layout gives it a familiar look. As you would expect on an e MTB like this, the geometry is focused towards the descents. At 65 degrees the head tube angle is slacker than both the Enduro and the Turbo Levo. As with most e bikes the chainstays are slightly longer. This helps the Kenevo on the climbs, where the motor will allow you to take on the most challenging assents with ease.
There is just one model of the Kenevo available at present and this is built around an M5 aluminium alloy frame. As with the Levo, the motor and battery pack are neatly integrated into the frame. The battery pack sits inside the down tube. This is a very secure fit and there are no rattles, even when the going gets really rough. The battery is easy to remove if you want to charge it off the bike.
It’s infectious just how much fun this bike is, no matter the terrain you point it towards.
On the topic of traction, the Kenevo’s Öhlins TTX rear shock worked really, really well. In the short time aboard the Kenevo the rear shock truly impressed, with a tune that provided great support at the bottom end while the top was nice and light, further increasing traction.
With 180mm of suspension travel front and rear the Kenevo takes e biking to the next level. With even more travel than the Enduro, combined with the additional weight of the drive unit, the Kenevo eats up rock gardens with the poise and confidence of a full-on downhill bike. This is because the extra weight, slung low down on the frame, makes the suspension work better.
The RockShox Lyric RCT3 up front needs no introduction. This is one of the very best performing enduro forks and is a perfect match for the Kenevo’s ambitions. The Öhlins TTX22M Coil shock is also an ideal fit and can handle the longest, roughest descents without getting out of shape. Combined with Specialized’s signature FSR active suspension design, you get composed suspension control even when hard on the brakes.
The Turbo Kenevo shares the same Turbo 1.3 Brose motor and 504Wh battery pack as the new Turbo Levo. This offers 15% more power than the previous models and is now even quieter than before. This is probably the quietest ebike motor on the market right now. Being a pedal assist motor, the power kicks in as soon as you turn the cranks. The more effort you put in the more power the motor gives you. With a maximum torque of 90Nm you get a serious amount of power to play with.
Power delivery is smooth as well as mighty. You can easily switch between the three power modes - Eco, Trail & Turbo - with the neat handlebar mounted remote. A push assist button also takes the work out of push-ups, so you can session DH tracks with your mates just like you do on your regular bike. ANT+ and Bluetooth compatibility allows you to connect to your phone as well as your Garmin. The Mission Control smartphone app gives you the ability to adjust the power output of the different modes as well as fine tuning the motor delivery. There are also some other great features accessible through Mission Control, including smart battery management and GPS navigation.
The new Turbo 1.3 is substantially more masterful at dealing with a lack of [pedalling] smoothness, which makes for a calmer ride. The increased power output is definitely noticeable, and it is still much more natural feeling than the Bosch CX motor.
it’s when the trail points down that the Kenevo properly comes alive. Rather than being a lumbering beast that requires the strength of Olympus to hang on to, it is an e-bike that makes you forget you’re riding an e-bike.
The SRAM Code R brakes, with 200mm rotors front and rear, give you incredible stopping power. This is just want with an e MTB of this character and means you can tackle the steeps with confidence. The SRAM GX 1x11 speed drivetrain offers the no-nonsense performance you need, with plenty of gear ratios for an ebike. A one-click shifter will help to preserve the drivetrain when changing gear under power.
The Wu dropper post is a nice touch. Unlike most droppers, this one tilts back at full drop which makes it much easier to get off the back of the bike on steep terrain. Being a Specialized you get lots of neat touches to make life on the trail that bit easier. There is a trail tool attached to the bottle cage and a chain breaker, with spare split links, tucked neatly into the steerer tube.
The Turbo Kenevo rolls on Roval Traverse wheels with extra wide 38mm rims. These are plenty tough enough for riding rough terrain. The extra width gives more support to the tyres and helps to increase the contact patch. The rims come taped ready for tubeless running and the bike is supplied with valves. Tubeless set-up is as easy as it gets.
The 2.8” Specialized Butcher tyres are another highlight. The aggressive tread is great for a wide variety of trail conditions, while the Gripton rubber compound offers great adhesion in less than perfect conditions. The GRID casing protects the side walls from cuts and abrasions, reducing the risk of punctures. The extra plus sized tyre width is ideal for ebikes as the extra volume helps to cope with the extra weight of the bike.
In short, the Kenevo is one covert bike. If you want to stand apart from the crowd don’t choose this bike because no one will hear you. Or catch you.
If you are looking for your own personal uplift, for smashing out bike park laps, then the Turbo Kenevo is the bike for you. That said this is far more versatile than most 180mm travel bikes. The usual downsides of having ‘too much bike’ on mellower trails; slow to accelerate and hard to get up the climbs, are dealt with by the ebike motor. This means that you can enjoy a long, red grade trail centre loop one day, then hit up the black runs at the bike park the next.
The Specialized Turbo Kenevo is a bike built for going big, while still being fun to ride on regular trails. If you don’t like riding steep technical terrain, then the Turbo Levo will be a better choice. On the other hand, if you like to ride every trail on the mountain, then the Kenevo might just be your perfect e bike.