What’s an Enduro Mountain Bike – A Detailed Guide

Enduro is a form of MTB racing, but you will often hear the term “Enduro” refer to a bike, specific trail, or biking equipment or clothing.

This type of racing started in Europe and was influenced by motorbike enduro racing and car rally racing.

The concept? Ride from the peak of the mountain to the bottom time-trial style and beat your opponents. So, what’s an Enduro mountain bike?

Enduro mountain bikes are purposely built bikes with geometries and components meant to help efficiently climb and flow down effectively on descends. Their front and rear suspension types are not any different from other bikes.

There are a few hardtail enduro bikes out there, but most of them are on full suspension. Most of these bikes have 140-160mm of travel and are shorter than downhill bikes.

Enduro bikes are a lot lighter and stiffer than downhill bikes because a too-weighty bike makes climbing hard.

Why Enduro Mountain Bike Racing?

Downhill racing is a no for the faint in heart. The long, challenging, and technical descents that a rider must cruise at a considerable speed require the rider to have a lot of experience up their sleeve. Besides, the cost of downhill bikes and the equipment can be discouraging to some riders.

Cross country races can equally discourage amateur riders. It takes stamina and fitness to be among the first batch of riders to cross the finish line.

But when it comes to enduro races, it becomes the middle ground of these two extreme types of races. You’ll still require decent levels of fitness as well as excellent bike handling skills to be among the leading riders.

Every rider is set off after another at times intervals. There’s less chance of passing another ride or being passed on the trail, making things less intimidating. You’ll also spend more time on your bike than you would do during a downhill event.

Enduro races also have pro riders, but what’s great about this type of race is whether you are a newbie or a seasoned veteran, you will all ride on the same track. Because of this, there’s always that friendly atmosphere during an enduro event.

As mentioned, bikes used for Enduro are not much different from the bike you ride. They have around 140-170mm suspension travel and usually have 27.5 or 29er wheels, strong brakes with oversized discs, dropper seat posts, and are very light.

They are built to survive a punishing terrain. If your bike can race in an Enduro World Series event, it must be a tough bike.

What to Look Out For When Buying an Enduro Bike

Frame Material

When it comes to frame material, carbon always looks better and lighter for an Enduro bike. A few years back, it seemed like major brands were doing away with aluminum models completely, but the material has been making a comeback for budget models.

Some brands such as Commencal avoid carbon materials altogether and are doing better in sales and winning races. When it comes to your ideal frame type, let the price, weight, impact, and aesthetics guide you into making the right decision.

Front and Rear Suspensions

A long-travel front and rear suspension, which is also easily controllable, is essential to keep your enduro bike performance and balance high.

The forks are between 140-170mm travel and are designed for a 27.5 or 29er wheel. They also feature a 15mm or 20mm diameter through-axle and tapered steerer to add steering authority. The modern forks will crash through a terrain that was only conquered by downhill bikes before.

The forks also feature air springs with rebound and compression adjustments. You are likely to use Rockshox Lyric and Fox 36 in these kinds of terrains.

For the rear shock, a well-designed full-sus enduro frame is nothing without it. To balance the front forks with the bike’s geometry, you’ll always find a Fox or RockShox air spring rear shock.

Air spring weighs less, but some prefer the Cane Creek Double Barrel coil shock you can sometimes see in a serious custom build. These types of rear shocks come with damping adjustment and lock-out to aid efficiency.


After suspension travel, the next thing to be concerned about is the geometry. A slack-headed frame gives you the confidence to ride on a steep train.

The steep seat tube offers the rider some climbing capability, and the weight of the rider is centered and not too far front or back.

The bracket height is also crucial for the center of gravity as well as cornering. Short chainstays are essential, too, in cornering and agility.

The head angle should be 65-degrees on average, seat angle 74-degrees, the bottom bracket heights at 34mm, and 432mm chainstays. A lot of bikes in this category will also come with adjustable geometry and suspension.

One mode could be the head angle degree steeper, and the other one would be to increase the rear shock’s amount of travel.


About the wheels, most enduro bikes run on 27.5” wheel size, but there are selected few that roll on hard-hitting 29ers wheels.

In fact, the niner option is becoming more popular with every passing year. These bikes require tough rims that can take the abuse dished to them in unforgiving terrains.

Rims are becoming wider to give wider tires a better performance. They are also tubeless-ready in most cases. The hubs usually come with cartridge bearing for easy maintenance and long life. There are many options to consider.

The Cockpit

Enduro cockpits are relatively straightforward. Most bikes with 150mm to 170mm travel are packed with 780mm to 800mm wide handlebars tied to 50mm length stems.

The wide bars are suitable for stability and the center of gravity. The short stem is greater to keep your body centered on the bike for better handling.

Higher-end builds come with carbon cockpits. They save on weight, reduce vibration on the rider’s hands, are stiffer, but also, an aluminum cockpit doesn’t disappoint. They work as great too, at a lower price.


Tires are also a determining factor when buying an enduro bike. They take most of the punishment, especially when rolling on dry conditions fast.

Tires weigh about 2-2.5 pounds each. They are typically built tubeless compatible and with tougher casings. They also feature double or triple tread compounds.

The aggressive tread pattern on the front wheel and a faster rolling tread for the rear wheel are perfect combinations for increasing your speed.

The most recommended options are the Maxxis High Roller 2 and the Schwalbe Rock Razor and Magic Mary.

Dropper post

It would be absurd if an enduro-oriented bike doesn’t feature a dropper post. It’s actually Enduro that popularized this type of seat post, and it’s a must-have here.

The good thing is that they have become more affordable since their debut and mostly are standard. Many brands are making budget-minded posts with several travel lengths.


Most of the standard enduro brakes are of two or four pistons and are lightweight. They should be reliable, robust, and with good controllable modulation.

The rotors are mostly 180mm with, probably a larger size for the front brake. Shimano, SRAM, and hope are just some of my favorites.


Another thing to consider when buying an MTB is the groupset. It’s one of the biggest factors determining the overall price of a bike. The more affordable drivetrains such as SRAM GX or Shimano SLX are just as dependable.

However, the more expensive options are the Shimano XTR or SRAM Xo1 that you would cost you an arm and a leg. The less costly drivetrains aren’t light nor responsive, and in some cases, they may not offer a fantastic service.


Here, you decide what works for you between flats and clipless pedals. Many racers prefer the efficiency of ‘clipping in,’ but it all depends on your riding style.

All pedals require sealed, reliable bearings and to be tough to survive all the plenty of knocks and abuse they get on the terrain. They should also be compatible with your footwear of choice.


What’s the difference between all-mountain and Enduro?

There are four most popular MTB categories, namely trail, downhill, XC, or Enduro. Each category is designed for different terrains and ride styles, and so these bikes have different components, geometries, or features.

Let’s assume trail and XC mountain bikes are all-mountain and compare them with Enduro. Enduro bikes have more suspension travel than all-mountain.

Enduro bikes also have slacker head tube angles, hinged bottom brackets, longer wheelbase, and heavier duty components than other mountain bikes, and that’s what makes them unique.

What is the difference between trail and enduro mountain bikes?

The difference is much the same like we mentioned above. But if you go into specifics as far as all-mountain is concerned, trail bikes are advanced but slightly different from enduro bikes.

However, you’ll likely come across rigid and hardtail trail bikes, although there are also full suspension bikes in the trail category. When it comes to enduro bikes, they all come in full-sus.

Enduro was inspired by the motor racing world. They’re a little heavier than trail bikes. The latter are most popular and have decreased weight and mid-range fork travel. A trail bike is built for comfort over performance.

What are Enduro mountain bikes used for?

Many people still don’t get the difference between enduro bikes and other mountain bikes. Enduro components and designs may not look different in the naked eye. The category is still young. But what are the mountain bikes used for?

An enduro bike is used for enduro racing. This racing type is timed, and the bikes should be stiffer, faster, and more capable.

So, if you spent most of your saddle time trail riding, then you don’t need to buy a sexy enduro bike.

Should I buy an enduro or trail bike?

If you know the difference between these two disciplines, you must wonder which bike suits your needs.

Do you prefer crushing your wheels on an unforgiving terrain as gravity pushes you on the descent? Then enduro bike should be your partner in crime.

Are you looking for a bike with shorter-travel designs and favorable riding styles? A bike that you’ll spend the most time on the saddle? Then a trail bike is your kind of thing.

Versatility is the name of the game. Both bikes are different though they look similar. If not sure of which to pick, you could go for an enduro bike, which is capable of serving both purposes.

Can I use a downhill bike for Enduro?

No, the forks of a downhill bike won’t allow you to. An enduro bike will handle most of the riding. If you own only one bike for your MTB needs, it shouldn’t be a downhill bike.

Downhill bikes are not versatile, but if you are into downhill racing, get yourself a downhill bike.

There’s no point in buying a downhill bike for Enduro. The cost almost the same.

What should I carry in my Enduro mountain bike?

The first thing that gets you out there with a bike is motivation. Also, it would be best if you protect yourself by wearing a helmet.

Hydration is essential even on short rides. We always recommend you drink water from time to time. Also, you can carry an energy bar or banana.

Carry your phone along so that you can get in touch with your partners in case of a mechanical incident, take nice pictures of beautiful moments, and record your ride on Strava.

Carry some change so that you can buy things that you need along the way. Carry your multi-tool and lock and the first kit. If you have some riding buddies, the better.  Don’t forget to wear the right outfit.


Enduro bikes are not that complicated, and we have provided most of the information you needed.

If you feel like there’s something we left out and would like us to address, kindly contacts us, and we will love to help. In the meanwhile, it’s time to go Enduro. 

Yes, hardtails are perfect for jumps as you can easily boost and float in the air. Landing can be a tad rough but if you have quality wheels and suspension along with the body strength and good technique, you’d barely feel it. So don’t stop practicing.

Photo of author
Written By Robert Gibbons
From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 50+ trails across the globe. For Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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