To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Specialized. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Specialized products.
Today was an exciting day, because I got to check out the Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert. Earlier, I reviewed the Levo, and the main difference between the two would be the full suspension Levo having a bit of shorter travel, being made more for trail riding or all mountain. The full suspension Kenevo on the other hand is almost more of an all mountain mixed with some enduro. Its climbing capabilities are such too that you don’t need a chair lift, so really great in a lot of situations. The Kenevo does not come in carbon fiber, but it does come in this M5 aluminum alloy that will mach a lot of the sturdiness you will find elsewhere on this bike. The bike overall weighs 53.5lbs and comes in 4 frame sizes and 2 color options as well as a comp version as opposed to this expert version we are testing today. As I said before this is an extremely sturdy and overbuilt setup, thanks to points of interest like this X bar frame design, the super wide 34.9mm seat post, and through axles in not just the wheels, but even the battery housing! The rear suspension has a longer travel thanks to this Öhlins spring suspension with compression adjustment, you can spin this ring to tighten or preload that spring, there are also high speed and low speed compression settings as well as rebound. Similarly, the front fork has charger compression, low speed and high speed adjust, and rapid recovery rebound at the bottom. I am also seeing magnesium lowers on the fork and 35mm stanchions which are lightweight yet sturdier so it can really handle that longer traveling without flexing. Although the front is an air suspension and the rear is a spring, they both share 180mm of travel as well as black anodized coating. The wheel and tire setup here is a 27.5” x 2.8” which is kind of close to a 29”er setup, as it is very floaty with great traction too. The wheels are a set of Roval 28 hole rims with Boost hub spacing sporting 110mm in the front with quick release and 148mm in the rear, both helping to provide a sturdier bracing angle. The dropper seat post here is a Woo post with anodized coating. This post is designed to drop in the rear, so if you are descending a hill with your position back, it will flow with your geometry. For control, you get this super short stem with carbon fiber spacers and a neat little cap that holds extra chain links. The stem flows out to the 800mm long handlebar, really quite long, so great for bracing yourself for any potential hits. Other features include a Zee cage water bottle holder, mini mounted tool kit, rubber sticker slap guard, internally routed cables, and these plastic platform pedals. A pretty complete package for $7,550, something you can justify when you see how purpose built this really is.
Driving the bike is a compact mid-motor from Brose called the S ALU for aluminum. Unfortunately, it didn’t get the lighter-weight S MAG (magnesium motor) which would have had the weight dropped from 7.5lbs to 6.39lbs. But you still get a very narrow Q Factor, optimal spindle placement (to reduce chain stay length for snappier turns and a shorter overall frame length), and excellent ground clearance. This motor is compact and the weight that is there is fully balanced to the bike. There’s a sturdy plastic skid plate below, in case you do take a rock or log strike with the suspension fully compressed on a drop. Note that the crank arms are 165mm vs. 170mm to reduce pedal strikes. I love that Specialized included some decent plastic pedals for test rides, because I tend to not get clip-in shoes for riding ebikes and find it annoying when you have to spend more money for them. I’d still consider swapping the stock pedals for some sturdier alloy or magnesium pedals with adjustable pins over time, but again, these aren’t too bad to start. So, the motor unit is small, but it really packs a punch. You get 250 to 560 watts of power output with up to 90 newton meters of torque! That’s extremely high for a mid-drive unit. Power is delivered based on your rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal pressure. These signals can be adjusted in the optional smartphone app called Mission Control. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the new Shuttle mode, which you to raise it in lower cadence situations, sacrificing battery efficiency for more help if you prefer to pedal slow and reduce cardio while climbing. I personally love this feature and wish it was here because my knees are sensitive and I don’t always want to pedal fast. If, however, you do want to spin, the Brose motors all support 120+ pedal RPM. This means it won’t drop out on you while downshifting on approach to a big hill. Moreso than many other competing products, the Brose motor really hangs in there at high pedal speeds. The S ALU is still light, powerful, and quiet and smooth because it contains a Gates Carbon belt drive that transitions from gears to spindle output. This reduces vibration and provides an organic feeling to the pedal experience that I can vouch for. The older Drive S was my favorite between Bosch, Shimano, and Yamaha for this reason, and Brose is expanding its support and presence in North America. There’s no pedal drag if you do choose to pedal unassisted (no reduction gearing) and the motor is decoupled from pedal strokes beyond the maximum supported speed of 32km/h (20mph). It’s an outstanding drive system, but I do feel that the charging port positioning, on the left side of the motor bulge, requires additional bending over and is in the travel path of the left crank arm… which could get snagged or bumped out of position. At least it’s magnetic, so it won’t break, and the cover seems very durable. Mechanically, they went for lighter weight yet tougher drivetrain with the SRAM GX 11-speed cassette here (with great 11-42 tooth spread) vs. the SRAM eagle 12 speed cassette because that one weighs more, this is also why they went with single click shifters, to reduce drivetrain wear or mashing. There is a narrow wide chain ring in the front with this kind of plastic chain keeper. For stopping power, the Kenevo gets 200mm quad piston caliper hydraulic disc brakes in the front and the rear with 2 finger tool-free adjustable levers.
Powering the Kenevo is a 504 watt hour 36v 14ah battery. The battery is completely built into the frame which looks great and they don’t rattle which is nice for a serious off-road ebike like the Kenevo Expert. One potential complaint about the battery however, is that the thru-axle mounting point that is used to secure it to the frame doesn’t offer a keyed lock… so anyone with a hex wrench could steal your $800 battery if you left the bike unattended. Probably not much of an issue if you keep the bike close and use a u-lock through the frame, hopefully people will play nice or you’ll be keeping an eye on this $7,550 product. The included charger is compact, light weight and pretty fast, putting out 4 Amps vs. 2 or 3 on many others I see and test. I love that they chose to use the magnetic EnergyBus charging standard and feel that the charging port is easy to access (both on the bike near the bottom bracket and on the battery pack itself). The port is covered by a magnetic rubber plug thing so it stays clean and dry while riding. As mentioned before, the charging port on the bike is near the left crank arm so if you’re plugged in charging, you could snag the wire or even collide with the plug as the cranks rotate… but the plug will just pop out and nothing should get bent or broken because of the interface design. To really care for this and other lithium-ion packs, I have heard that storing in a cool dry location vs. extreme heat or cold will extend the life and try to keep it about 50% full when not using for long periods so you won’t stress the cells. Try not to let it run down to zero, because that’s really hard on the cell chemistry.
Controlling the bike is easy given that there is no real display, although the system is compatible with Specialized’s TCD display if you want to mount one onto the handlebar. To turn on the bike, hold the power button on the battery and then you will see a light ring. That light ring has 10 separate lights that indicate the battery charge level. Up and down go through the 3 modes of pedal assist. There is an audible beep, but you can turn it off using mission control. Mission control is an app that syncs with serial number. The app then becomes kind of your deep dive menu letting you look at things like maps, diagnostics, or you can even set it to save exact amounts of battery to make it to your destination. Unfortunately, you cannot turn off LEDs themselves, something some wished was an option so they don’t advertise they are on an electric bike. Also, on the left handlebar, there is now a plus and minus button mounted, while the S button up there takes you straight to the top level of assist with the push of a button.
Wrapping up my time with the Kenevo was a lot of fun. I found the bike to be very stable, very quiet, with a comfortable feeling. The 50/50 weight distribution was very impressive and you could tell this was really purpose built, right down to every hex bolt. But the bike is not without tradeoffs…. I for one wished I could dump gears a bit faster, without the SRAM Eagle setup, you got to click up and down each gear at a time. The bike is also expensive, something that makes probably the bigger tradeoff much more painful; that the battery can be removed by anybody with a hex tool. Now granted, this isn’t exactly a commuter bike that you park at a bike rack, and the would-be-thief would have to know the bike well to get it and run off with it. But it is something I worry about on such an expensive bike. I have been told there is a company called HEXLOX that makes a lock for hex bolts of any kind, so this might be something I would consider. All in all though, the bike has a plush comfortable feeling and offers not only a 2 year warranty on the motor and battery, but an impressive lifetime warranty on the entire frame. Backed by the Specialized brand name, reliable Brose motor, and a nationwide dealer network, its hard to go wrong with something this fun. Thank you Specialized for letting me get to know the Kenevo, it as a great opportunity to get some fun ridding in.
As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comment section below. Whether you own a previous version of the bike, have taken a test ride, or are brand new to the space, my goal is to provide an objective and honest resource. You can also join the Specialized Ebike forums and share your own photos, videos, and review updates to help others! Have fun out there, and ride safe :)
- A purpose built, strong and sturdy, full suspension, all mountain with some enduro, smooth and powerful mid-drive electric mountain bike
- This is an extremely sturdy and overbuilt setup, thanks to points of interest like this X bar frame design, the super wide 34.9mm seat post, and through axles in not just the wheels, but even the battery housing
- A nice 180mm travel rear suspension that has a black anodized coating, longer travel thanks to this Öhlins spring suspension with compression adjustment, you can spin this ring to tighten or preload that spring, there are also high speed and low speed compression settings as well as rebound
- TAlso a front suspension fork with 180mm of travel, black anodized coating, has charger compression, low speed and high speed adjust, and rapid recovery rebound at the bottom, also some magnesium lowers on the fork and 35mm stanchions which are lightweight yet sturdier so it can really handle that longer traveling without flexing
- The wheel and tire setup here is a 27.5” x 2.8”, very floaty with great traction, these are Roval 28 hole rims with Boost hub spacing sporting 110mm in the front with quick release and 148mm in the rear, both helping to provide a sturdier bracing angle
- I love the dropper seat post here, it is a Woo post with anodized coating and this post is designed to drop in the rear, so if you are descending a hill with your position back, it will flow with your geometry quite nicely
- Little touches like this tool kit or the stem cap that holds extra chain links in case you have a break down are reasons why people love Specialized, the thoughtfulness is very apparent in almost every detail
- This motor is compact and the weight that is there is fully balanced to the bike, I love the 50/50 weight distribution going on here, really makes for a well executed machine, also, there’s a sturdy plastic skid plate below, in case you do take a rock or log strike with the suspension fully compressed on a drop
- 200mm quad piston caliper hydraulic disc brakes in the front and rear mean you have quite the advantage in stopping this powerful bike, I is a great setup with the 2 finger tool-free adjustable levers as well
- The 36v 14ah battery is completely built into the frame which looks great and they don’t rattle which is nice for a serious off-road ebike like this
- I love that they chose to use the magnetic EnergyBus charging standard and feel that the charging port is easy to access (both on the bike near the bottom bracket and on the battery pack itself), the port is covered by a magnetic rubber plug thing so it stays clean and dry while riding
- Having no real display makes this a very stealthy offering, but you don’t loose out on much of anything since it is compatible with the Mission Control app from Specialized, allowing you to really dig into the menus if you wish
- While many electric bikes forgo bottle cage bosses (and nearly every full suspension ebike) this one offers them! Specialized managed to work in bottle cage bosses right where you’d expect them on the downtube and they toss in a right mount Zee Cage
- The battery here can be removed by anybody with a hex tool, while it’s true this isn’t exactly a commuter bike that you park at a bike rack, and the would-be-thief would have to know what size tool to have, I still worry about this on such an expensive bike, I have been told there is a company called HEXLOX that makes a lock for hex bolts of any kind, so this might be something I would consider
- Unfortunately, with this setup you cannot dump gears a bit faster, without the SRAM Eagle setup, you need to click up and down each gear at a time
- Specialized products are not cheap, so if you are looking for a value bike, you may want to look at other offerings since this one starts at $7,550
- A common complaint with this stealthy system is that there is a point in which the system advertises that it is indeed electric, and that would be with the LED ring around the controls, unfortunately, there is no way to turn this off, but you can turn off the beeping noise that is there when you switch modes
- There is no place to draw off the battery power through the system to plug in a phone or to charge stuff, this is a bit of a missed opportunity since the bike uses the Mission Control smartphone app and more and more people are using GPS and maps with their phone mounted on the bike
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