Even to the uninitiated, hearing the words “Enduro Mountain Biking” conjures up some intense images.
Human and human-powered machine hurtling down sun-baked trails or weaving through trees at breakneck speeds, the dust from their tires lingering even as the sound fades. Every decision and movement a balance of bravery and finesse.
It goes without saying, enduro riders will find no arguments against their hobby (or career) being extreme.
As the title of this article implies, the text below will paint a clear picture of what exactly an Enduro Mountain Bike is. By the end, you will not only have a clear definition of this mountain biking subcategory, but also a solid platform from which to build your knowledge about the gear, terrain and lifestyle that comes with it.
Our introduction to Enduro Mountain Bikes is based firstly on the expertise of Pro Mountain Bike’s team, which we can honestly say is in no short supply.
However, our experience has also led to the understanding that the strongest perspectives and opinions are those that take other sources and information into account. Always include other minds, if you will. And thus, we made sure to put in the time and research to make sure this guide is among the most well-rounded and informed you can find on the subject.
We love riding mountain biking, dear reader, and we hope to help you fall in love with it too.
You may jump to the relevant topic by using one of the links below, or you may read on for all the information about Enduro Mountain Bikes.
#1 – Let’s Start with the Why
Before we move into the nitty-gritty and slightly technical elements of what makes an Enduro Mountain Bike, we think it’s important ask the question, “Why do Enduro Mountain Bikes exist? Or “What purpose does an Enduro Mountain Bike serve?”.
In a nutshell, Enduro Mountain Biking is about being able to tackle any trail, which is achieved by combining all the elements of cross country (XC) and downhill (DH).
Many types of bicycles can get you across a variety of terrain. Hardtails and trailbikes can climb and descend and manage just fine in getting you from A to B.
Enduro Mountain Bikes stand apart because they are designed to tackle any trail, and do it well.
The deeper you get into this MTB discipline, the more you will see that every part and every design detail on a complete Enduro Bike is aimed at increasing the accessibility of any trail you find before you.
This applies to riders of all skill levels. Fast riders will find more speed overall and novice riders will broaden their comfort zone by significant margins when they swing their legs over an Enduro machine.
#2 – Frame & Suspension
Ah, yes, the subsections that get at the juicy center of our love for cycling. Whether you’re a gearhead or casual trail thrasher, we are willing to bet that parts and gear make you feel just a little warm inside. Shiny, precision machined and assembled components are a delight to behold, and there is a special type of beauty to the harmony that is a well put together Enduro Mountain Bike.
Like all types of ride, the frame and suspension are where it all begins. Everything bolts onto what is essentially the skeleton of the bike. So, let’s break down where Enduro stacks up in this category against its closest siblings; trail and downhill bikes.
The following are the typical equipment measurements/stats of Enduro Bikes compared to Trail and Downhill (DH):
Don’t worry if these figures are unfamiliar to you now, understanding the fundamentals of what you want from each type of mountain bike will begin to put them into perspective.
Suspension is the most straightforward and easy to comprehend. Trail bike riding is not as speed or terrain intensive as downhill, therefore requires less front and rear suspension travel, which also provides a better/more efficient bike to pedal and climb with.
Boiled down to the basics, a downhill bike needs to have stability to give the rider a controllable bike beneath them as they hurtle down a rocky trail at speed. The lower head tube angle extends the front wheel further forward than its trail and enduro counterparts, while at the rear, the chainstay is significantly longer on a DH bike than even an enduro machine, meaning the rear wheel is further away as well, both these combining to give a long wheelbase, which equals stability. The lower headtube angle also positions the front fork better for absorbing all the rocks, roots, ruts and rugged terrain thrown its way.
That leaning toward one side or the other is one of Enduro’s most interesting characteristics. While some specifications fall at or very close to the midpoint between trail and downhill, in others enduro bikes lean significantly to one side.
The reason for this is that in some areas, performance cannot be a compromise otherwise it would render an Enduro Mountain Bike too difficult to use in that particular area. For example, chainstay length is only a few millimeters off the average trail bike but 10mm less than most downhill rides.
This comes down to the rarity of pedaling a downhill bike, whereas with enduro, you’re not only expected to pedal but also climb trails in a manner that isn’t far off trail or even cross-country bicycles. A long chainstay would have a big negative impact on that both climbing and handling performance.
Headtube angle, on the other hand, trends toward a downhill setup, because having an enduro bike that doesn’t glide down trails like silk pretty much defeats the purpose.
Bottom bracket height tends toward the trail side of the fence to keep center of gravity and balance within a range that facilitates balance and stability under movement, whether than be pedaling, climbing or otherwise.
For all intents and purposes, in the other areas such as suspension travel and wheelbase, enduro bikes toe the center line between the two other categories. Balanced, as the MTB gods intended.
#3 – Materials & Design
From a distance, seeing a full-suspension trail bike, enduro mountain bike and downhill machine side by side, it can be hard to tell the difference. The lines between each type of mountain bike may seem quite blurred, but after grasping the concepts and becoming familiar with the components, riders will be able to see the clear distinctions.
Enduro mountain bikes, whether with 27.5- or 29-inch wheel sets, are considerably beefier than their trail bike brethren, with chunkier frame construction and heavier-duty suspension ready to get you through the rough sections.
You will also notice a more aggressive stance even when the bike is just sitting there. The head tube angle and straight (rather than flowing) lines make Enduro bikes look like they are ready to rock at all times. The brakes will likely have larger discs and the wheels come in a sturdier, heavier design.
Enduro MTB machines will usually weigh in between 30-35 lbs. (roughly 14-16 kilograms) with a comparable trail bike usually coming in around 2-3 lbs. lighter.
For gearing and groupsets (drivetrains and gear systems made and sold as a complete set), Enduro has fully embraced the current cross-category trend of having single chainring cranks up front (the gear that you turn with your pedals) working in conjunction with wide-range drivetrains at the rear. These are often called 1x or “one-by”, but that’s a deep dive for another day! They are popular on Enduro bikes because they offer simplicity and ease of use.
#4 – So, are Enduro Mountain Bikes for You?
We like honesty and transparency at Pro Mountain Bike, so let’s conclude this article with some straight talk.
If you are new to mountain biking, our words provide a little window into the Enduro category, but as with all things in life, we only know through experience.
However, it would be a big plunge to shell out for an Enduro bike not knowing whether you will love it, so what should you do?
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Do I want to take on all the elements of Mountain Bike riding?
- Ie: climbing, descending and everything in between
- Do I tend to lean a little bit toward extreme activities?
If the answer to those questions is yes, then we can confidently say that Enduro Mountain Biking sounds like the best fit for you.
So, what is an enduro mountain bike? The beauty of these types of bike is that you don’t need to go fast or take big risks to enjoy them to the fullest. You do not have to earn your way into this category. Enduro bikes were conceived to be Jacks of all trades with some major tricks up their sleeves. They will put the smiles on faces of newbies and seasoned riders alike.
Buy Smart. Ride Safe. Have Fun.
Now that we know what an enduro bike is, let’s have a look a how to choose a mountain bike!
How to Choose a Mountain Bike: We have curated a simplified but thorough guide to help you make that decision.