Bike reviews by me are never about the technical specifications of the bike – you can find that anywhere online. They’re all about how the bike feels. My personal preference is playfulness over speed.
The Kenevo is what Specialized have come up with in answer to hills. Put simply, it’s essentially a personal uplift, designed to get you to the top with ease and then allow you to hit pretty much anything on the way down. With 180mm travel front and rear, the Kenevo is a beast. It’s entirely a tank when it comes to descending and, with a little help from the motor, climbs up pretty much anything.
The Kenevo is the first eBike I’ve ridden and to begin with I was a skeptic. I swung a leg over and immediately began attempting a few bunny hops and wheelies to try and get a feel for the bike before heading out onto the trails. At first, it seemed incredibly heavy and cumbersome – but then I ride a carbon Bronson. The engine, of course, meant I zipped off without too much effort but all in all I wasn’t sold.
After a bit of a descent though, I found that the bike felt planted. The engine and battery weight towards the bottom of the bike really wasn’t that noticeable on the descents, even when things got tight and twisty. The bike suddenly seemed more manageable at speed and gripped well in corners, and the more I rode it the more it seemed to become easier to manage.
The pedal assist of the bike became a life-saver over the three days of riding I had. The fire-road ascents were eaten up without too much energy expenditure at all and the technical climbs became much more manageable, though they weren’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. The ability to ride up hill again and again without burning through too much energy was definitely the Kenevo’s main strength. It made a continuous climb of half an hour manageable enough that a conversation could be had even throughout the technical sections.
The drawbacks certainly were much smaller than I had originally imagined them being. Aside from the fact it was a somewhat heavier bike that I’m used to, it still got airborne with a little extra encouragement. The weight downside arose when I got off-line. With a lighter bike, it feels much more natural to make corrections, to almost manhandle the bike back into the line you first aimed for, or rescue an almost crash. When the Kenevo pointed in a certain direction, it became difficult to persuade it into anything other than that. A wet section of fast, loose rock descending caught me off-guard and, despite my best efforts to pull the bike back onto my intended path, it rumbled on at pace into a crash. Luckily I walked away with no injuries or damage to the bike.
The engine ripped up the climbs but on flat, traversing sections, became a nuisance with too much power, even on the lowest setting. In the end, the near drops from ledges into river beds whilst traversing a particular section of trail meant I ended up turning the eBike off entirely and resorted to pedalling around a 24kg monster without any help.
All in all, I was incredibly impressed with the Kenevo and it certainly made me reconsider some of my opinions of eBikes. Yes, it was heavy but not so much that it stopped me having fun altogether. Yes, it sometimes had too much power but overall it meant the energy spent was given in the most fun of places. Yes, after the ride I had the biggest smile…
But no, I wouldn’t be swapping the Bronson in for an eBike any time soon.