Living with the e150 Fork

I purchased an ’08 Specialized Enduro with the fabled e150 fork.  It’s commonly known that the e150 suffers from a design flaw in the internal air/oil cartridge; the web is full of posts describing suspension failures in these first generation forks.  However, Specialized has acknowledged the problem, beefed up the cartridges and extended the warranty to 5 years.  I knew this upfront and decided it was acceptable, mainly because of reports that the replacement cartridges took care of the problem and the shock was rock solid afterwards.


e150 on the Mean Green Machine

Sure enough, I blew out the fork after one good ride.  Specialized sent a replacement to my LBS within two days.  I was a bit relieved to get that out of the way, so that I didn’t have to deal with it when I was out of town.

Surprisingly, my problems with the shock did not end there.  I enjoyed a fantastic trip to Moab; the bike completely redefined the experience.  After I returned, I noticed that the shock had lost a noticeable amount of air pressure.  I called my LBS to get their impression on what amount of air loss is reasonable.  The kid I worked with had a lot of experience with these forks and he recommended swapping out the cartridges a second time.  This time, it took two days again for the replacements to arrive but, alas, they were the wrong size.  Four business days after that, the right ones arrived and were installed.  To be on the safe side, I added a couple additional pounds of pressure to the fork just to ensure that I didn’t bottom it out.  Then I took it to Lambert Park for a nice, getting reacquainted ride.

Lambert Park is a local trail system of prime single track with a ton of variety.  Steep walled bobsled runs, wavy turns in the trees, sage brush burners, and a couple runs with some moderate stunts.  I’m not a heavy guy and I don’t pound the bike terribly hard, but I gave the hits a little extra oomph to test everything out.

The following morning, I took the bike for a spin and checked the fork’s travel indicator.  Sure enough, it traveled a millimeter or two further than the day before.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the e150 looses air at a rate relatively faster than other brands and models of air/oil forks.  So I’ll be carrying my shock pump with me and checking the pressure prior to each ride.

It’s definitely a bit of a hassle to baby the fork before each ride, but would I buy a different bike or fork if I had a chance to do it over again?  Certainly not.  The e150 is a flat out amazing shock.  After eight weeks on the bike, I’m getting a good handle on adjusting the compression and rebound for different conditions.  The bike’s performance is stupefying.  It rides so clean and there is zero flex up front.  Specialized’s goal of designing a perfect suspension package for the Enduro was certainly achieved.  It’s too bad the design is slightly flawed, but one can’t push the envelope without taking some risks.

I’ll happily deal with this issue because of the quality of ride the bike/shock combination provides.  If I blow another cartridge, I’m satisfied that Specialized will honor their commitment in a timely fashion.  After the warranty expires in five years, I imagine that suspension technology will have progressed even further and I’ll probably be ready to upgrade (don’t tell Jenny).

UPDATE 8/12/2009

I have good news to report about my shock.  First of all, The amount of air loss between rides is negligible.  I purchased a new shock pump shortly after I bought this bike and I underestimated its volume.  I have since calculated the actual amount and discovered that I was incorrectly blaming the shock.  In fact, I rarely have to adjust my air pressure unless I happen to be riding at a radically different elevation.  I still check my sag before each ride, just to be safe, but I’m finally to the point where I can relax and not worry about it.

Tuning the shock has been a fun exercise.  The recommended defaults were a vast improvement over my former 3″ travel shock, but I didn’t know how much better it could get.  I’ve started riding with much lower compression and I’ve slowed the rebound about 1/3 from wide open.  I can really feel the difference in the overall ride and I’m getting better at selecting optimal settings for my favorite trails.  This bike has been awesome and my faith has been fully restored in the shock.  If you’re considering an Enduro with an e150 fork, you won’t be disappointed.

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17 Responses to Living with the e150 Fork

  1. Whit says:

    I just purchased an 07 Enduro Expert (I was told it was an 08) but I think it is an 07 due to the color. Anno Brown. This was a bike that was new old stock at my LBS. Got a good deal. Bought it for the great looks and the good rep of Specialized. I love the bike….disappointing to see that there are design flaws in the e150 fork.

    Anyway, I have not had it out on any serious down hill yet and wanted to get your advice on what I need to look out for if the shock starts to fail. I hope it doesn’t fail in a big way while I’m on the hill. If the fork is destine to fail I would like it to happen close to home. Should I try to do some jumps in my back yard to see if it is faulty? Or should I just wait for it to fail (gracefully I hope) and get the warranty rebuild? It sounds like Specialized took care of you pretty well. I’m glad to hear the 5 year suspension warranty. Thanks for the great info on the e150.

    • Jim says:

      I say get out and enjoy it, just make sure that you check your sag before each ride. Luckily, in both of my incidents, I didn’t know it had happened until I noticed a significant loss of pressure the following day. I was never stranded on the trail. Since I’ve written this post, I’ve flogged the poor bike and have not had any trouble. I just check my air pressure and have stopped worrying about a repeat.

      BTW, I learned that Specialized is still specing this fork on their top-of-the-line S-Works Enduro models. They still feel (and I agree) that this fork provides the best suspension possible for the Enduro.

  2. chris says:

    Hi – I bought one of the very first Enduro S.L.,s (carbon) pro,s in the U.K. 2007 , I have ridden the bollox off it – its battered its way across hundreds maybee thousands of miles of gnarly moorside singletrack – bouldery yorkshire dales – and has tare-arsed its way through some of the U.K.,s best trail centres – it does everything , there have been times when I ve felt like I was carring too much bike and have been left behind – but on every ride there will come a time when it romps into its own – and all of a sudden your showing everyone how it should be done – Ive had one replacement shock all covered by the waranty and one set of replacement cartridges , in 3 years .
    I always lube the stanctions before a ride and always keep the moving suss parts clean and well lubricated. I always run my spike valve betweeen 45 and 50 psi , and front sag = 36mm ish – and shock sag 10-15 mm. The worst thing about this bike is the REGRET , let me explain….you ride a fast flowing section full of berms into jumps into switchbacks into drop offs – and at the end you,ll be sat there just knowing that iff you,d had the balls for it …the bike could have gone bigger harder faster , and you REGRET not bieng man enough to go with it , it draws you in , makes you more mental in 3 yrs I still havent found its limits ? , time for a new bike I think – but god only knows what I,m gonna replace it with ??????????????

  3. john says:

    well what can i say got a enduro and fell in love havent had a bit of problems so far only had it for 3 months the e150 fork rocks gives a smooth ride with plenty of forgiveness im not a bad ass on the trail but do enjoy a good spine now and again only wish it was a little lighter in weight but can’t complain enjoy

  4. mark says:

    just had my e150 fork and shock revalved with the mic mod(s-tune). what a difference! no more harshness.feels much smoother…finally..

  5. Jim – Need help. I’m loving my E150 but the 25mm through axel is killing me for hub options. So, now that my wheels are barely holding up, I’m choosing to stick the custom hub and build the wheel myself. Challenge is that I can’t find specs for the hub in order to determine spoke length. My local shop tried Specialized but they don’t have the dimensions. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks

  6. Mitch says:

    I have the same year bike and have also experienced significant air loss. What is the process to get the cartridge replaced by specialized. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



    • Jim says:

      Hi Mitch, Take your bike to a Specialized dealer and they will handle it for you. If it is a certified shop, they usually just order the parts and perform the work on site. Otherwise, they will ship the whole fork to Specialized. In the meantime, hop on the road bike and day dream about the plush ride that is in the mail.

  7. Neil says:

    Hi Jim I bought the 2009 Enduro SL which came with the spesh rear shock, but with Fox 32s, whilst not experiencing many problems I felt the bike whilst light and great to handle it lacked something when it came to bigger hits, my previous bikes include Ransoms and Commencals to I have a rough Idea of what a 6×6 bike should handle on rougher terrain. Rather than ditch the enduro, I swapped out the rear shock first and replaced it with a DHX5, this had an instant impact, I could leave the bike in the plush setting for the duration and just get on with it, this replacement however showed up the weakness of the Fox32s which to me, seemed flexy, the front end clearly lacked the same capability as the back end, so despite all the negative stuff on all the forums, I found a pair of e150s, after reading various posts from Specialized insiders and reassured by their improvements to the o8s over the 07s (apparently they are now fox internals) I took the plunge.

    In short the enduro was meant to have these forks on it, the bike handles superbly, I’ve ridden it everywhere, England, Scotland, Wales, trail centres and natural stuff, its near perfect and even better, there’s minimal maintenance. The only thing I would say is specialized recommmend a psi of 120, I have mine nearer 70-80 and find this works better for me, finally, I’d say this, I’ve run Marzocchi and Fox in the past and they all have issues, and to reiterate these forks were designed around this bike.

    • Cole says:

      Thanks for all of the good input- I just traded my 2010 stumpy comp ht for a custom built enduro. The guy said it was an 08 – but like whit said, I think it is an 07. It has the stock suspension but all x9 components an crank- with a 1×10 setup. I have been very pleased with my swap. Although I haven’t put many miles on it- I love the way this bike rides! I havent had any issues with the e150 and it feels good on the bike. It’s a large size and I’m 5-10 165. I have read about all of the issues- and I have been trying to put the shock through some abuse to see if it will give way- but it is rock solid. Love the geometry of this bike also- very comfy ride. I say screw all of the bad press- this is an amazing bike with a slight factory defect that is easily fixed. If you have any doubts- get on one and shred some dirt- get back with me then.

  8. Pingback: I bought one of… | mtbbuds

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