What Is Enduro Mountain Bike Racing?

Enduro was started by a group of friends in France. Since then, the sport has evolved to what it is right now. It’s an international event with fans and athletes from all over the world.

Here’s all you need to know about it.

Enduro Mountain Bike Racing. What is it?

What’s Enduro? It’s a mountain bike discipline or a form of mountain bike racing, but it may also refer to a bike, certain trail, mountain bike equipment, or clothing.

When the word ‘Enduro’ is used as an adjective, the person talks about something available at the enduro racing scene or event.

Enduro race can last a whole day or for a couple of days when it’s just you and your bike trying to beat time.

Racers ride between timed downhill stages and the rider who beats the cumulative time wins the race.

Technical racing is for riders to avoid the long tracks of downhill and cross-country racing. Enduro, in fact, merges the styles of these disciplines.

While the race involves multiple downhill stages, timed to generate the results, it also includes uphills known as ‘liaisons.’ Riders complete up to six timed stages on a single day.

All the stage results based on the time are added together to decide the rider’s finishing position.

Each race has a different style, skill, and fitness requirement, but above all, Enduro is a race that is enjoyable and exciting to watch or participate in.

History of Enduro MTB Racing

Downhill bikes were there since the 90s, and it’s the bikes that have become better and components such as dropper posts developed.

Enduro racing, however, is a baby born on the other day. It all started in France, back in 2003.

The Frenchman, Fred Glo, one of the main organizers of the Enduro World Series, held his first event in Val d’Allos to kickoff the first national enduro series race.

Later on, the other home of bike racing, Italy, created the Superenduro series, which revolutionized the race even more.

The Italian version of enduro racing allowed racers to practice and race on the stages, while most uphill liaisons were pedal power only.

That meant racers studying or test riding on the course before the actual race day. Riders would risk their lives and use their skills to familiarize themselves with the trail.

The stages were accessed by cable cars, lifts, or shuttle vehicles, but today riders pedal to the top to enjoy the mountainous scene.

The liaison sees riders pedaling up or riding on lifts or cable cars for up to ten timed stages. Races come with their own rules. Some require athletes to pedal uphill within a time limit and carry their own spares.

How Are the Race Courses?

Enduro race stages are no different from downhill courses, except the latter is a continuous race while Enduro has stages.

Both often happen on raw and natural terrain, not gravel. The enduro race might include short sprints or extreme physical tests for the participants and takes up to 15 minutes to complete for the fastest racers.

It’s always the rider and their bike running over rocks, jumping tree roots, accelerating fast on flat, and having complete control over super technical terrain.

You can find every element of nature that makes mountain biking a thing. Since an enduro race is mostly downhill, it takes place in a mountainous area, but it can also occur anywhere.

Mountainous areas are sweet when downhill riding, but it also means tough uphill pedaling when a racer liaisons. It can be as challenging as you can imagine, and the rider’s climbing prowess is tested.

Organizers decide the time riders take getting from one stage to the other. If a rider takes longer on the liaisons and turns up at the starting point later than their start time, they get a penalty.

Enduro Racing: The Excitement

While cross-country is much about fitness, they are becoming more technical and require better suspension travel and downhill racing skills along with a lot of courage.

The latter also requires a full-face helmet and knee guards, unlike XC. But where does the excitement come in? Well, the moment you sit on the bike, you are ready to race against the clock.

Anyone with a decent trail bike, which is a full-suspension bike with 140 mm of travel or so, and some riding experience on technical terrain, can ride Enduro.

You are probably already into it if you are the rider that loves high speeds while descending.

The chances are that you have the potential to scoop medals and stand on the podium if you show up in a race.

In every mountain biking race, you’ll find top athletes coming to win and take the prize money, while some are there just to enjoy.

It’s the same for enduro racers. Enduro events provide a friendly atmosphere that allows riders to interact, know one another, and even learn more about bikes and skills regardless of their skill level. But do you need to be a pro to race?

No! Enduro is not for the Pros

You were probably wondering whether you can do enduro riding or racing without being a pro.

Well, everyone who does it is not a pro, but it does require some physical fitness, skills, and preparation to complete the course or race. Enduro is for amateurs and pros alike, and this is why.

When racing, it’s you and your bike trying to beat the clock. Whether you are riding with slower or faster riders, that doesn’t matter as long as you beat the clock.

Besides, it’s not much complicated to pass other racers as it is in a cross-country race.

Besides, men, women, teens, beginners, pros, and anyone who attends an enduro race rides on the same course. It’s all matters with the levels of riders.

You also get to carry a backpack with your tools and bikes to refuel after every time stage.

Moreover, you can race against your friends and meet new people with the same goal of pushing their limits on the descents.

The Essentials

Enduro racing is enjoyable and only for the courageous. However, you can have the courage and end up on the surgeon’s table if lucky enough not to end up in a morgue if you don’t carry and use the right equipment. Here’s what you need.

Full Face Helmet

One of the essential things in any riding is the type of helmet you wear. Full face helmets are mandatory for every enduro rider. You’ll likely need it in your next race, so get one. 

One of the best things about these full helmets is that they are detachable, and therefore, you can remain with the upper side.

Carry an extra helmet, though. So, depending on the course’s terrain and steepness, you can find the right enduro helmet for the event.

Knee Pads

You don’t want to be between a knee and a hard place. Sorry, that saying does not go like that. However, you risk hitting your knee against a hard place or, even worse, a rock when you crush it at high speed.

Always wear a pair of knee pads to protect yourself, just in case! And not just the knees that require the protection but also the elbows and shins. Get pads that will keep them protected.


Riding with your bare feet is unheard of, and riding with your expensive pair of Nikies or Jordans looks absurd too. Get the right pair of shoes.

Clipless shoes work for me, and they have some power advantage. You can also opt for stiff-soled shoes.


Considering the amount of dirt that hits your face, eyewear would be essential. Googles will protect you from the debris and the flying mud and let you see where you are going.

Oncoming dust particles won’t make you shut your eyes when you need to see the sharp corners ahead of you.

Long-Sleeved Jersey, Baggy Shorts, and a Raincoat

The more clothing you have while riding a bike, the more protected you are. Baggy shorts and long sleeve shirts will help you a lot in case of a crush.

Your skin will be protected from bruises. A raincoat is essential, especially if you are unsure whether there will be a downpour on the course.


Carry an inner tube, CO2 inflator, levers, and a few cartridges to get you back on track as soon as possible, in case you get a flat tire. Also, carry a multitool to tighten loose bolts.

Wrapping Up

Aside from the essentials, your bike must have a dropper seat post. It comes in handy in your riding. When descending, your seat post needs to stay low.

When on flat terrain, it should be in a rideable position, but you won’t need to come on and off the bike to lower your seat.

That said, that’s everything you need t know about enduro bike racing. Have any questions? We will try our best to help.

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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