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Current Enduro Bikes, One bike to rule them all, or all hype?

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1/25/2018 4:34 PM

The way so many bike reviews read these days you would think that the current generation of enduro bikes were flawless, and one would wonder why anyone would buy anything else. But is the current crop of enduro bikes really good enough to adequately replace a two bike quiver with a trail and DH bike?

I would love to hear from all you fine ladies and gentlemen, but to help add context, please let us know what bikes you have ridden to bring you to your conclusion, as well as the approximate time you have spent ridding them. Also, keep in mind that your answer is based on what you would prefer to do if your budget was bigger than you could spend.


1/25/2018 6:42 PM

I just run the trial bike, I live in whistler but just cant justify having a full DH bike for the amount of times I really need it. 160mm front and rear is plenty if your not a lazy rider.


1/25/2018 7:18 PM

taldfind wrote:

The way so many bike reviews read these days you would think that the current generation of enduro bikes were flawless, and ...more

I've been running my 170mm Capra as my DH bike and trail bike for the last year (totally time owned 2.5 years), and raced everything from local XC to proper full on DH on it with as much success as my skill level will allow. A dedicated bike in either discipline will always be better, but as a 'one-bike-quiver' I actually feel well catered for.

I will get another DH bike for our local Bike Park and for dedicated racing, but that'll be a pure thrash bike to keep my new Capra in better condition.


1/25/2018 7:29 PM


Well I'm convinced that biking is probably the only sport where you can get a versatile product that is not average everywhere and good nowhere, but instead can really shine on a wide variety of conditions.

I have been riding trail or enduro bikes since I've started riding seriously 10 years ago. In recent years I've owned a yeti asr 5 (trail bike), then a yeti sb66c ("small" enduro bike) and now a santa nomad 3 (full on enduro weapon).
I've also had the chance to test very different bikes (albeit for a very short time, like a couple runs or ride): cdale flash, intense m16.

So yeah, on those short tests I didn't liked those bikes, the 29" XC hardtail race machine was terrible to ride downhill (and yet on some mellow terrain) and I was expecting a lot more punch on the uphills. The downhill bike was more confortable than my regular bike and gave me a safe feeling on big hits (like jumps) but was quite terrible on short turns and quite less fun than any enduro bike I tried that same day (on the black track at pleney morzine).

But the real reason I believe a modern enduro bike can rule them all, is that my current bike (nomad) allows me to stay competitive (strava mostly) with locals XC racers, and at the same time allows me to ride some pretty big stuffs (like 10-15m jumps or alpine tracks). I've even done some mtb-packing in the alps with it.
So yeah I don't believe I would be a lot faster (up or downs), whatever the terrain is with a trail bike or a downhill one. Maybe a freeride or downhill bike would allow me to ride bigger stuff, but I don't think my bike is currently limiting me on that front either.
So basically the limit is not the bike but the rider.

Full disclaimer, I believe all that applies thanks to a few conditions: I am a light but fit rider ( 65kg at 176cm), my bike has a very high end build (so very light and yet pretty tough) and I'm (or believe I am) quite a decent rider (I'd say above average but no out of the ordinary either).
So light bike + fit rider = good pedaling performances, strong bike + 160mm of travel + light rider = capable to go big and get away with it.

And if I had unlimited budget, my main bike would be an aggro trail bike (santa 5010 or evil the calling) with an enduro build because my local trails aren't super difficult and I find it more fun to push a small bike's limits rather than stay in a bigger bike's confort zone. And I would still own an enduro bike to race and do some freeride sessions.


1/26/2018 2:37 PM

I'm leaning toward the "one bike to rule them all" crowd, with a minor concession to admit that you'd be fractionally better off by owning a sport-specific bike. Here's my background and reasoning:

-I'm a motocross rider who trains on a bicycle, so I have a slightly different set of perceptions.
-I had a 2005 "All Mountain" bike, which in retrospect meant in 2005, "An XC bike with an extra inch of travel bolted up."
-I now have a Commencal Meta AM V4.2; surely an Enduro-centric machine.

The new bike is so much better going downhill that it more than makes up for the minor reduction in climbing ability. In fact, with the shock locked out it's almost a wash. Honestly, I don't notice much difference in climbing.

I took my old bike to the bike park and realized it was out of its element. I could ride it, but I worried for its and my safety! laughing Based on what I've ridden on the new bike, I could do anything at the bike park that I'd be inclined to do on a full DH rig.

The only exceptions? If I wanted to race XC (I don't,) I could do a little better on a more pedal-friendly bike. If I were to race DH (again, not my thing,) I may find myself able to mash through really gnarly sections faster with a triple clamp setup and more travel. For what I want to do, however, which is ride up anything I can physically climb and then bomb back down, the Enduro bike is perfect.


1/26/2018 3:38 PM
Edited Date/Time: 1/26/2018 3:40 PM

I was a member of the one bike quiver crew for a while (not entirely by choice) but trail/enduro bikes are good enough (I ride a Patrol) and mine never failed me so I just kept on keeping on.

But then, I remembered (in my opinion) that dirt jumps are a lot more fun on a dirt jumper, and dh tracks/bike parks are more fun on a dh bike so my quiver has grown to 3.

Short answer, I would rather have 3 cheaper bikes for different disciplines, than one bitchin do it all bike.


1/26/2018 9:29 PM

Thanks for the replies, you guys are awesome! One thing I think is so great about mountain biking, is that there are so many ways to enjoy it.

Anyway, let's keep this thread going!


1/27/2018 6:46 AM

I just recently went from the Enduro (specialized Enduro) and tested many bikes (did a small write up already on that) and ended up going with a Trail bike (stumpjumper Expert w/ carbon wheels, just could not pass up the deal I got on it), 27.5 and 150mm front and rear travel. It works great and I couldn't be happier.

While I have strava as an app, I do not look at any other times, for me it is about getting to see the real distances I am riding out here.

The reason I went with the trail option of another enduro was just a bit more reduction in weight. I felt just as good downhill on the trail, but could tell the difference in weight while climbing or even on level terrain. Of course the most limiting factor on the bike is me. I wanted more suspension than a XC bike and the ability to go to a bike park if I wanted while still riding with my son and my friends during their XC practice and just regular weekend trail rides.

You really can have a single bike stable and be very happy (you will be with the bike you picked up) and have a blast.


1/29/2018 8:17 AM

killer question, taldfind! at the beginning of march, we'll have some test data that relates to this question a bit (enduro vs DH). super interesting.

personally, if i lived near a bike park (that i could hit once a week or so), i'd have a DH bike along with a trail or enduro bike (depending on regularly ridden trails) for sure. IMO, there's no substitute if the ability to ride a DH bike is there.

i can't, however, think about owning a DH bike with the infrequency of downhilling i have access too. lifts are 3 hours away and the nearby shuttles, while fun, just feel like a big chore and almost waste of a day considering the amount of ride time IMO. 20 years ago, i would have felt completely different about it, ha!


1/29/2018 8:32 AM

Aside from the various racing disciplines you really can have it all with one bike now. They are so much better than 5-10 years ago. My "enduro" bike Downhills better than my full race DH bike of 2006. no question


1/29/2018 9:05 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/30/2018 10:22 PM

The current All-Mountain bike is incredible, if your a no compromise rider you’ll never fill the gaps a modern DH Bike is too good @ what it was designed to do.

A 1 bike solution will only work for those willing to compromise I’m still happily searching the limitations of my own(Commencal Meta AM V4.2)AM bike it checks off all the boxes for the things I want to do on a bike when I head out for a adventure.


1/29/2018 9:47 AM

Over the last 10 years my DH bike kept getting ridden less and less as the current enduro/all mountain bike in my quiver evolved.

Until my latest Enduro type bike, I was still able to justify keeping my DH bike around because it was still more fun to ride on rowdy DH trails that I could shuttle and at lift assisted bike parks. On top of that my favorite lift assisted mountain in weekend trip range is also notorious for beating the crap out of whatever bike you take there, and it was never a good idea to bring a bike you relied on to relieve stress on a day to day basis because it would probably come home with a busted wheel or missing a derailleur.

Then I bought my latest enduro type bike (2018 Intense Carbine). Suddenly I have a bike that I feel more comfortable at speed on rough dh trails than my(now aging) DH bike. At that point I knew I needed to sell my dh bike and either drop a pile of money on a new one that I only ride a few times a year, or get some new not carbon wheels(so I don't cry myself to sleep after busting fancy carbon on a sharp rock) and DH tires for my carbine.

Bought the wheels and tires for the carbine and got one weekend at my favorite lift assisted mountain this year before it closed for the winter and it was amazing. I kept trying to find somewhere on the mountain that my DH bike was preferable and couldn't. Followed a buddy near the end of the day on a demo and found myself awkwardly braking through the rough stuff to keep from rolling up on his rear tire.

Never thought I'd say this but I'm now a believer in a 1 bike quiver(as long as I get to swap in some beefy rims and sticky DH casing tires for real DH trails).


1/29/2018 9:53 AM

Jared Graves and Sam Hill at World Champs re-defined for me what is the "best bike." It's the one you're most comfortable on. After that I began riding my Yeti 29er everywhere, and focused on developing my skills rather than trying to "buy" better riding with endless bike and equipment upgrades.


1/29/2018 10:29 AM

I have been trying to build this one bike for year starting by adding a front derailleur to a Orange 222 many years ago.
Each iterations were better and better especially when I got a Nomad v1 then v2. Current bikes are now amazing and I could live/travel with one bike. I ever found myself racing and being faster in bike park with my trail bike than with a DH bike..and maybe having more fun.
However I still ride and race few tracks a year where a trail bike is not up to the job (like DH nationals) or steep and rough stuff.. Ridable for sure but not raceable on trail bike.
The same bike can also change tremendously based on equipement like tires and suspension however even if modern bike abilities expanded a lot, it still doesn't reach both ends of the spectrum..
Another thought about DH: it's maybe time to redefine DH racing. DH bike are really capable and if a trail bike can be faster, it's maybe time to challenge what a DH track is..especially domestically in the US


1/29/2018 10:50 AM

taldfind wrote:

The way so many bike reviews read these days you would think that the current generation of enduro bikes were flawless, and ...more

I have been riding a Yeti SB-66 with a 160mm fork for the last few years and it honestly is a quiver killer. I use it for XC to full downhill races, and feel completely comfortable. I also know that if I truly feel out of my element on a truly gnarly course, I can just throw a fox 40 on the front and chunder-crush my way through.
It is capable on the Downhills and consistent on the uphills, and yeah, it is 26".
I believe that unless you are hitting Josh Bender size drops, that a true DH bike isn't necessary and that 1 good trail bike will keep anyone happy. Plus they are a lot easier to ride, and that is all any off us really want.


1/29/2018 12:15 PM

Having grown up racing XC I am more inclined to say one bike quiver. When you look at the "enduro" bikes of today they are in the realm of DH bikes just a few years ago. While a true XC bike would be more efficient the advantages are not that high. This, of course, is limited by where you live and what your local trails are. Living in Squamish an "enduro" bike makes the most sense because of the technical terrain you can find your self in real fast. However growing up in Northern California I would prefer to have a shorter travel bike because of the distances you have to go to get the same riding in. (In Squamish often rides are 10-15 miles and you're really tired. But from what I remember in NorCal I would go average 25-30 miles to get the same elevation and trails in.) I think that the one bike quiver is just a financial decision to be made and has nothing to do with the trails or the bikes.

In any situation, a single bike will provide you with the same amount of fun as multiple bikes because you would end up riding the bike which you have the most fun on more often than switching bikes. Just having the right bike for where you live is the most important part. If I ever got to the point where I convinced myself that a DH bike was worth the money I probably wouldn't ride it that often because the Whistler Bike Park is only opened for the summer whereas the trails in and around Squamish are ridable year round. Having a trail bike, which could be ridden the few times anyone would want to go to the bike park seems to be the best bet. Therefore one bike quiver seems to make the most sense.

The idea of having a DJ bike makes sense as an exception to this because similarly to a road bike, a trail bike cannot ride the same trails or roads as these specific bikes. No matter what your local looks like having a DJ or road bike as a second bike make sense because they are so separate in purpose. An "enduro" bike and an XC bike are effectively the same bikes but with more specific geometry and purposes. You could make the argument that a DH bike also fits this exception however with the growing crop of "super enduro" bikes they could handle nearly the same.

(I am riding the new Rocky Mountain Altitude in slackest settings, but my favorite bike in NorCal was the Blur TRc)


1/29/2018 12:42 PM

Can an Enduro bike do both and have fun... Yes. Will it be as good as either for their respective discipline.. Probably not depending on the terrain. My 2018 Spartan is does really good on xc and proper downhill (Windrock Bike Park, for example).



1/29/2018 12:45 PM

The jack of all trades is the master of none


Callous Hands an Bloody Shins since 1979

1/29/2018 12:50 PM

I think it depends on what your expectations are. An enduro bike is never going to be competitive in a Cat 1 XC race. Even if you can participate in these events, you can't say an SB-66 is great for XC racing. A 130mm travel "trail bike" is not going to be competitive in a high level DH race and likely not even an EWS event. For most of us out having fun, one well built trail/enduro bike rides all trail types well enough to enjoy. A casual riding might be better served getting really used to how one bike handles instead of trying to jump back and forth.

If money is no concern, I think 2 bikes at the opposite ends of the spectrum would be great. A highly capable enduro bike like a SC Nomad or Trek Slash would take care of enduro/shuttles/DH. A really lightweight and sporty XC bike like a Spec Epic or SC 5010 would take care of a lot of other riding.


1/29/2018 2:03 PM

Jonzilla wrote:

The jack of all trades is the master of none

Nailed it. I am a big believer in having "the right tool for the job".

That said, mountain bikes are expensive and an enduro bike is no doubt the best jack of all trades if you can only have one bike.


1/29/2018 2:04 PM

I’ve owned multiple Downhill/ Park Bikes (Session, Darkside, Legend, OG Ironhorse) and multiple Enduro bikes (Thank the lord for EP) and honestly when it comes down to it the only guys in my area that still own a Downhill bike are the ones that race world cups) outside that everyone rides trailbikes. I’ve watched the local DH tracks go from DH only to mostly Enduro, with the same thing happening at the park. Since changing to the 1 bike to rule them all and selling my trail and Dh bikes I’ve been extremely happy and have only missed having a DH bike a few times. And it was more of a fleeting nostalgia kind of miss. My Carbine 29 with a coil does everything my Downhill bike can do, yet I can go ride more terrain on it than my Dh bike or trail bike. Is it the same as a dedicated DH bike? No. But for me it’s 85%-90% of The same. No ragrets


1/29/2018 2:21 PM

Go thru Vital’s bike checks filter just the All Mountain/Trail Bikes some of the most capable bikes you’ll find anywhere, if you want just 1 then get out & ride it, get it dialed & better your skills on that 1 bike chances are the bike is better than you. I know mine is!


1/29/2018 2:21 PM

I am fortunate enough to live in Denver and have access to several lift-assisted bike parts. I hit Whistler each year for several days. Therefore I have both a DH and a trail bike. Modern enduro/trail bikes are excellent machines in so many ways. However, My 3-year old DH bike is still that much better on bigger/faster/techy stuff than my trail bike plus is a bit more forgiving in certain situations. Additionally, my trail bike doesn't get beat up as much.


1/29/2018 2:31 PM


1/29/2018 2:35 PM

Coming from a guy who occasionally chooses to race DH in the ‘Single Crown Showdown’ class. Which, by the way is typically composed of Dudes in their 20’s...In my experience, the Downhill bike has some distinct advantages over a 160-170mm Enduro bike. 1) Race Pace: in the hand of an experienced racer, at race pace on a Downhill track, even a proper Enduro rig like a Canyon Strive with a Fox 36 or a Canfield Balance with a Lyrik will not be able to provide the traction and stability of a 200mm+ travel bike at 30% sag with a dual crown. A single crown fork flexes, especially off camber, even in the hands of a old guy like me. 2) Durability (self explanatory). 3) Rider Fatigue: I can enjoy multiple, consecutive days on DH terrain (Whistler, Windrock, Snowshoe) when I have a proper DH bike. I start to feel it on Day 2 if I’m riding an Enduro bike.


1/29/2018 2:51 PM

Like Spomer touched on, I think it has a lot to do with where you live/you local terrain. Here in the northeast, we're loaded with lift accessed DH. I'm lucky enough to be an hour and a half from Thunder or Highland. And within a 2-3 hour drive I can be at 8-10 more parks. I'm a big fan of having the right tool for the right job. My 155mm travel trail bike doesn't hold a candle to my DH bike when trails get steep and rowdy. I think it says a lot about the abilities of new bikes that people can have one bike that'll do it all, but it also says a lot about the direction that trail building is going as well. There definitely are trails at the local parks that I could get away with a modern trail bike on, but those trails just aren't as fun on any bike. IMO.


1/29/2018 6:31 PM

Enduro bikes are perfect for riding balls out, downhill, in rough terrain.

And, for me, an absolute bore on less steep, less technical and less outing of the balls.

Enduro bikes are designed to race on near DH level terrain. Just as enduro bikes have moved into DH bike territory, the trail bike, with a very low dropper and wide and low pressure tires punches way above it's class.

But then I like poppy and playful bikes where you know where are in travel so you can smash burms, manual out and seek the next rock to pop off and flow the trail. It's amazing when your body is the primary travel on the bike. So give me a trail bike.

It's all about what you want out of a ride.


1/29/2018 6:53 PM

I personally will never buy more than 1 bike again. I've had an aggressive hardtail (130 front end), trail (140/140), and DH (200/208) bike all at once and i found myself only riding the DH bike at the bike park, and the hardtail when I had that nostalgic feeling of learning how to ride back in the day. So first i sold the hardtail and didnt miss it at all. Few months later I started taking the trail bike to the bike parks and found that it was more than capable if you arn't trying to be the craziest and dumbest kid out there (as DH bikes are more forgiving). Next came the sell of the DH bike, then the trail bike and I bought an enduro bike (170/165). Best thing ever, I've saved time and money with having less to upkeep, and less to replace. I can have more money to spend on the things i want to upgrade on my "do it all" bike, sure its not as capable as those others but if you like to save money and time I would highly recommend just 1 bike. DJ/Road Bikes are not in the same realm as some have previously stated. But for mountain biking purposes, 1 bike can do it all just might take some more effort or thinking with line choices/climbing.


1/29/2018 7:06 PM
Edited Date/Time: 1/29/2018 7:08 PM

I think you have to have at least two bikes so you can spend a portion of every ride wishing you'd brought the other. =)

I agree with most everyone: I don't need a DH bike because my Rallon is enough bike most of the time in the terrain I ride most frequently. And big ole enduro bikes are pretty fun in most bike parks IMO. I am not able to give up my 120mm 29er though. It's noticeably faster and more fun on the flatter or smoother trails that I ride most of the time. I might envision myself frequently crushing the gnar, but the fact is I ride a ton of mellow terrain on long rides where the amount of climbing and descending tends to be equal. 5-7K climbing in 30 miles is a lot more fun on a light trail bike that wouldn't survive a week in the park (ask me how I know). And I know my home trails well enough to keep speed in the sketchier areas where a bigger bike might be fun. Either that or I break tires and wish I had my enduro bike.


1/29/2018 8:07 PM

I ride and race a Knolly Warden Carbon. 170mm Fox 36 and Cane Creek Coli IL.

Honestly this bike is crazy capable. I race Enduro and I built this bike with that in mind.My Warden is still fun for after work trail rides and all the way to DH races. Its all about feeling comfortable and confident with your bike and set up and try to focus on the positives and try to improve on the negatives. Of coarse for some race courses I would be better off on a down hill bike and for some trail rides I would be better off with a bike with less travel but thats not what it is about. Get out and ride and race what you have and enjoy this amazing opportunity and privilege that we all share in Mountain Bike riding. Cheers to sweet trails with awesome friends!