Dream Builds: Ryan Palmer’s Custom Specialized Enduro

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This article originally appeared on Bikemag.com and was republished with permission.

I know, I know. A Specialized Dream Build two years in a row? It makes me look like a Specialized fanboy. Truth is, I’m not. I’m actually kind of pissed at myself for last year’s Stumpy, and kind of pissed at Specialized for making that bass boat purple color that I just had to have. And bummed they made every size like 30 millimeters too short. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a sweet bike, for a midget.

If I wasn’t such an idiot and had ordered an XL like I should have, perhaps I wouldn’t still regret my choice to forgo the bike I really fell in love with last summer, the Ibis Ripmo. Again, don’t get me wrong, the Stumpy is a very good bike, a solid update from the previous version, probably the best Stumpy they’ve made to date, and the build did come out looking insanely good. Out of all the builds I’ve done, last year’s definitely received the most peering eyes. It came out far better looking than the Ripmo ever could have with the two unfortunate colors Ibis offered it in.

What I really should have done, was had a Ripmo custom painted bass boat purple. My vanity and love for the EXT Storia shock (which wouldn’t have jibed perfectly with the Ripmo’s kinematics), got me whipped into a frenzy and I chose a bike that I did like, but didn’t absolutely love. Sometimes I wish I could be more like our gear editor Travis Engel who doesn’t care one iota about aesthetics. Travis wears a helmet with the visor pulled off because he thinks visors are impractical and takes his baggy shorts off on long climbs because climbing in just liner shorts is cooler. Temperature cooler, not cooler cooler.

At least I got a SWAT box with the Stumpy. I hate seeing stuff strapped to frames, so I must love the SWAT box, right? I must love the disgusting mold factory inside my downtube that I could put anything in as long as I take it all back out after each ride to wring it out and let dry, just to forget to put back in before the next ride, right? Nope. It’s often wet where I live. Until it’s watertight, I’m not a hundred percent into it.

So what the hell? Why another Specialized?

I wasn’t going to do it. The pressure from my coworkers not to do two Specialized Dream Builds in a row was heavy and I knew the internet trolls would come blast me for it, but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake I did last time. I wasn’t going to choose a bike I didn’t absolutely love.

When I rode the Enduro for the first time at Crankworx Whistler, I knew it was going to be my next dream build. And when I rode it again at our Bible of Bike Tests in Park City, it was cemented. I got to check out a lot of great bikes in 2019, but the Enduro was by far my favorite. It’s like riding with a security blanket. It’s like cheating. When I get going fast on this bike, it just makes me giggle. How could I not choose it?

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Dream Build first tracks, on an absolutely dreamy afternoon on the trail. Photo: Courtesy of Satchel Cronk/BIKE Magazine
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How the Enduro makes Palmer feel. Photo: Courtesy of Satchel Cronk/BIKE Magazine

Specialized nailed the geometry, killed it on kinematics and slayed the colorways. Both S-Works frame-only color options are superb, and then, each spec level has two colors, one with a highly visible logo, and one with subdued lettering. I love the grey and copper combo on the Enduro Expert, the off-white and green Enduro Elite and of course the stealth black Enduro Comp, but the wrinkled black and grey colorway I decided on is off-the-charts.

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Photo: Courtesy of Satchel Cronk/BIKE Magazine

I chose the Enduro because it climbs, it pops and it mobs. It’s a massive bike with 29-inch wheels and 170 millimeters of front and rear travel, but it’s easy to ride. It’s not a light bike, but it feels lively and light underfoot. It’s more travel than I typically go with, but it rarely feels like overkill. That’s why I chose the Enduro. I do not think I’ll be regretting it anytime soon.