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Should Enduro Be a Riding Type?

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12/24/2015 2:31 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/24/2015 2:32 AM

Before you cry troll, hear us out...:

As much as we all like to complain about labels, they are useful. Labels help us instantly categorize and classify stuff, and when it comes to something as diverse as mountain biking, that can be of great help. The rise of Enduro racing has led to much confusion and debate however, with many people wanting for it to be referred to as a racing discipline and a racing discipline only. It's easy to take the "well it's just mountain biking and we did it for years before Enduro came along" high road, but that does not actually jive with how we label the other disciplines of our sport.

The following are well-established and fully accepted riding types:


The good thing about these riding types is that they translate nicely to a scale of technical difficulty that everybody can relate to. As you progress from one riding type to the next, your skillset needs to evolve. Trails get gnarlier, jumps get bigger, and so forth. Now funnily enough, two of the riding types listed here ARE ALSO RACING DISCIPLINES. If XC and DH can be both racing categories and riding types, why can't Enduro?

Diving deeper, we'd argue that there is a very strong case for maintaining Enduro as a riding type, and it has to do with the bike. There is a real differentiator between Trail, All-Mountain, and Enduro riding when it comes to the bike, and that in turn has to do with the kind of trails that correspond to each category. On the Trail and All-Mountain side of the equation, climbing performance and carrying speed across undulating terrain is an important part of the experience. You can ride loops with little elevation gain and still consider it a proper All-Mountain ride, if the type of trails and features warrant it. A solid 4-5" bike with good angles is going to be a better choice for most of these trails. Many riders in this category will also be concerned with uphill performance, actively seeking a bike that allows them to climb faster and tackle technical uphill sections.

When it comes to Enduro, the focus is shifted. The racing discipline defines the riding type (as with XC and DH), and Enduro is all about descending. Climbing becomes a means to an end, and the most important uphill performance aspect the comes into play here is the ability to get through a big day out with potentially lots of climbing without blowing up. Setting KOMs on the way up is never part of the story, and if you have to walk a technical climb to conserve energy, then so be it. The fun starts when you get to the top. The ideal Enduro bike is your 6", slack HA, long wheelbase slayer with a steep enough seat tube to help you get back up the hill comfortably. Many of these bikes are less fun to ride as soon as the gradient of the trail becomes too flat. And that is precisely why we think it's entirely justified to refer to this type of riding with a name of its own, that helps define it and more importantly helps us choose the right tool for the job.

Now of course, we're not saying that you can't use most bikes for a lot of cross-discipline riding (outside of racing). And yes, you could argue that Enduro is just the racing discipline that corresponds to the All-Mountain riding type, but as mentioned above, we think there is an important distinction between the two. In other words, what we're saying is that there is a real and tangible differentiator between a Trail or AM bike, and an Enduro bike. Of course, many AM bikes are also great Enduro bikes and vice versa, so we're not arguing that there should be a black and white distinction between the categories, we're just offering that Enduro has enough unique attributes that it should be considered as a distinct riding type.

Of course, Park is also a riding type that should be added to the list, for those who live for the downs and the airtime but don't measure their fun against the clock. To make it all even more confusing, some people nowadays like to ride Park on their Enduro bikes...and many Enduro races take place on DH trails... smile

Measured in inches, it's all pretty clear cut.

XC - 3
Trail - 4
All-Mountain - 5
Enduro - 6
Park - 7
DH - 8

What do YOU think?

photo Sven Martin


12/24/2015 3:00 AM

I agree - apart from your 'inches'... It's a bit more subtle than travel - it's about the build too. It's about the gnarl-factor of the component spec, especially the suspension and brakes.

I would say

XC - 3-4 inches, 80-100mm
Trail - 4-5 inches, 100-140mm
All-Mountain - 5 to 6 inches, 140-160mm
Enduro - 6 - yes - 150/160mm
Park - 7
DH - 8


12/24/2015 4:33 AM

'The bloke in the photo does not seem too worried , me neither , buy a bike you like, for the riding you do, and ride it as often as you can......simple!


12/24/2015 4:46 AM

Yeah, you're right. What Mick said.


12/24/2015 4:48 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/24/2015 4:48 AM

mickT13 wrote:

'The bloke in the photo does not seem too worried , me neither , buy a bike you like, for the riding you do, and ride it as ...more

That's exactly the point of the article... wink


12/24/2015 4:56 AM

It's downhilling on smaller bikes on multiple trails. That's all. How is this complicated?


12/24/2015 5:51 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/24/2015 6:13 AM

I've written about this subject before in detail and summed it up as Enduro being almost the same as AM, but the main difference being that select DH sections are timed as a race. It's technically AM-Race, for those wanting to take their AM riding to serious levels...

Trail is XC, but further removed from the roadie-image. Joe Blow can one day be riding the trails on a 5" 650b bike with low profile knobbed tires in his logo'd spandex, and people would categorize him as an XC rider. On the next day, Joe Blow can ride the same trails and bike, but with a meatier tires up front and baggier clothes, and people will categorize him as a trail rider. He could be doing the same routine on his ride, at the same intensity, just changing his image. Hell, if Joe Blow took his trail rider image and added a dropper post to his bike, he could call himself AM, and all it would take is a picture of himself getting air, to back it up.


12/24/2015 6:32 AM

not gunna lie, enduro has already established its self as a discipline. People like specialized and cannondale have produced endure specific bikes from pre 2012. The only thing i would say is that there is a lack of amateur races in endure its all about British enduro series and ews, which are great to watch but only a select few can participate.


12/24/2015 6:55 AM

captainain wrote:

I agree - apart from your 'inches'... It's a bit more subtle than travel - it's about the build too. It's about the ...more

I'd say it's more about the rider than the bike's travel. Remember that Enduro races have been won on bikes with below 6 inches of travel. It's more about crushing the descents and relaxing on the climbs than what bike and terrain you're riding.


12/24/2015 9:30 AM

It is definitely a style of riding and not just a racing discipline. Categorizing bikes based on travel alone is always tough because it comes down more to the build than the bike. I have seen Nomads that I would destroy in about 100' of riding and hardtails that I would rock anywhere. For me it is about riding up the biggest hills I can find so that I can smash down the roughest lines available.


12/24/2015 10:46 AM

I am all on board for calling Enduro a riding discipline in addition to a racing format. Labels can really help us to understand a bikes designed strengths and weaknesses, which help us to choose a bike (or bikes for the fortunate) that are right for us. However, I disagree with using travel for segregation. While travel was a good indicator in the past, the last few years have seen "bracket buster" bikes like Evil's The Following come out, a bike with way better descending than it's travel lets on (according to reviews I've read and videos I have seen). So I made a picture to illustrate my thought process on this matter. Please note, I just noticed that I Spelled "striking" as stiking...sorry for my terrible spelling.Photo


12/24/2015 11:30 AM

I agree entirely.

Obviously there's no hard cut line in travel but the 3, 4, 5, etc is a pretty good guide. I get the feeling people don't like being pigeon holed but anything that helps us differentiate between one bike and the next or even equipment and their intended uses is a good thing.
The jokes start when you see guys riding mellow trails with goggles and an xc lid, etc. There's a time and place where such things may be necessary and not just a fashion thing.
People say 'let's just all ride our bikes, blah blah blah' - we all do that. That's why we're here. Why not enter the debate with an opinion, it's chucking it down and second best to riding is chatting shit about riding, get off your high horses.


12/24/2015 11:37 AM

Enduro is a race format! How hard can it be? No racing, no enduro. No racing, and youare trail riding. AM shouldn't even be a label. Either you are riding trails, or you are freeiding or gravel grinding.


12/24/2015 12:08 PM

taldfind wrote:

I am all on board for calling Enduro a riding discipline in addition to a racing format. Labels can really help us to ...more

Your spelling might be a bit hit and miss but the triangle works pretty damn well! I Like.


12/24/2015 12:09 PM

What if you're looking for a new bike to race Enduro with? Something that has been built specifically for the racing you're gonna be doing, that's evolved in such a way to meet the demands of Enduro racers..? Isn't that an Enduro bike? That seems to legitimise the category somewhat to me. And what to stop any average Joe wanting a bike that's like an AM bike but with a bit more DH performance bias - an Enduro bike? Whether or not Enduro is accepted as a category or a riding type the fact that there are Enduro races means there are also Enduro race bikes which are developed specifically for those races. Those bikes are put on sale and maybe Average Joe buys one not because he wants to race it but because it's the best tool for the job - Enduro i.e. Incredible DH performance whit the ability to get yourself back to the top.


12/24/2015 3:06 PM



12/24/2015 3:29 PM

I saw a hardtail and a bunch of fat bikes raced during a few enduro races I was in last season. Since they were technically raced during an enduro race, would they fall into the enduro race bike category also? Didn't Tomac race DH with a drop bar back in the day? DH bike or road bike

I personally consider enduro a race format. I don't go enduro-ing when I ride, I go trail riding. All trails are created differently; some more uphill, some more down the hill, some are real tech and some are not. I race enduro events and when people ask me what enduro racing is; I tell them its exactly like riding trails with your buddies, you putter on the uphills and hammer the downs, but with a stop watch for the downs. I think specific bike disciplines are only truthful if the bike must be so heavily skewed to one style that it would otherwise be useless for competive use for the other style. DH vs XC. You could race a DH bike in a XC race but you won't be near the top. Good luck making the podium on a carbon hardtail with 2.1" race tires and 80mm fork down Mont Saint Ann DH course. You could be competive racing enduro on a "trail bike" or an " all-mountain bike". Some bikes are speced for more aggressive trails


12/24/2015 3:46 PM

its a discipline of racing and nothing more.


12/24/2015 10:25 PM

I'd enduro this Photo


12/24/2015 10:33 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/24/2015 10:56 PM

If Enduro racing didn't exist, and someone thought of it now, it could just as easily be called AM Racing or some other crap.

It's a race format.

XC - Hardtails and sub 120mm FS.
Trail - 120-140mm
AM - 140-160mm
DH - 180-220mm

Two caveats. Hardtails can run rigid to moron travel but anything beyond 120mm is for guys with ginger beards who eat used tampons and live on boats. Second, Freeride and Park bikes are shit DH bikes for guys who look at your dick in the swimming pool showers.


12/25/2015 12:33 AM

Its a race type only for me... everything else is just marketing to sell bikes. And rightly so.
Unfortunately the mountain bike community is very image focused, so we'll always be plagued by fads for the sake of fashion.Thankfully this fad is producing some amazing bikes and allowed us as riders to try ever more exciting things.

The race format works superbly and has encourage so many more people into racing. There's so many great events now (Trans-Savoie, Enduro2, TransNZ, Trans BC... not to mention the Mega) that its super easy to get involved.

Call it what you will and be a dick about it, as long as you enjoy riding it doesn't matter. For those that are jumping on the bandwagon for the sake of profit/image, they won't last long. So let them have their moment and they'll be pissing someone else off before you know it.


12/25/2015 12:49 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/25/2015 1:06 AM

I would call it either all mountain or enduro. All mountain to me is pedalling the climbs and ripping the decents, enduro is that in a race format. I'm not opposed to calling enduro a riding type but in my opinion we call it all mountain or enduro, I think they're the same thing.


12/25/2015 5:54 AM

"Everything else is just marketing to sell bikes."

"Thankfully this fad is producing some amazing bikes and allowed us as riders to try ever more exciting things."

So, which is it? They just got lucky or what?


12/25/2015 6:28 AM

I have been somewhat persuaded that Enduro is kind of a lesser category than the more established riding types. I see it a bit like Park is to DH - Enduro is to AM...park can be (and is very often) ridden on DH race bikes but they're sometimes a bit too long and low - too race orientated for getting air time and throwing shapes. You could say the same about all mountain trail riding that most of us do - you can ride AM on an Enduro (style) bike but they're often also longer, lower, slacker and not as fun across the board - on the ups, the jumps, the slower trails - as a more well rounded AM bike.
In my mind Park bikes are very similar to DH bikes, so too are Enduro to AM but there are subtle differences that warrant a separate category.
As for whether you're going out 'Enduroing', does anyone actually say they're off out to do some All Mountaining? Or even say "I'm off out DHing" no. We all just say we're off for a ride regardless whether DJ or XC or whatever. But we all have bikes from a certain one of these categories and that's where I think Enduro should be recognised as not only a race type.
So I've copped out an compromised on my original idea but it is Christmas after all. Merry Christmas peeps


12/25/2015 8:33 AM

scarface wrote:

"Everything else is just marketing to sell bikes."

"Thankfully this fad is producing some amazing bikes and allowed us as ...more

Which is what and who got lucky?


12/25/2015 10:09 AM

scarface wrote:

"Everything else is just marketing to sell bikes."

"Thankfully this fad is producing some amazing bikes and allowed us as ...more

TimBud wrote:

Which is what and who got lucky?

You said it's all just marketing fads to sell bikes, but then you go on to say it's producing amazing bikes. SO my question is, if it's just marketing making stuff up to sell bikes, how come the actual bikes turn out amazing? Like, luck?


12/25/2015 3:33 PM

Think you've misunderstood what I said, so I'll try to explain it a bit clearer.

There is a huge amount of marketing using Enduro to sell stuff. Some of it (the products) is amazingly good, but equally some of it is amazingly bad. Its not luck, but it is allowing companies to sell more... look how many people are buying SantaCruz at the moment (in the UK at least).
Remember the marking hype around 'free ride' years ago. That was another fad that the marketers overused to sell product, to the point were you could hardly say the word without someone sneering at you.
People are already starting to turn their noses up at Enduro... the term at least.

Marketing is not a fad, but the way they are pushing Enduro is (worst case) ultimately going to bore people until they stop buying anything with that label anywhere near it.

Not sure if thats any clearer, but I think your reading between the lines too much and have misinterpreted my point.


12/25/2015 8:33 PM

This thread is funny.

There are specific bikes designed to race at a high level, which have significant compromise for more general use outside the template they are designed.

Competition formats:
Slope style

There are also more general use bikes that are not as specific to a particular style of racing, but can be used by a non-elite rider to compete in these race formats, or just generally have fun on in a fairly broad range of trails.

Those would be:
Trail bikes
Park bikes
Dj bikes

There are also terms that have fallen out of favor but mean pretty much the same thing now as something else
All mountain = enduro bike
Free ride = park bike


12/25/2015 11:23 PM

I'm going to look at this from both sides of the coin, I cringe whenever I hear someone say something like, "I went to do Enduro this morning.." It just sounds overblown, like the person is trying to prove their training and racing prowess to me.. I feel like saying, "Mm no, you rode your bike for a few hours in the hills this morning."

On the other side, for the industry's labels sakes: I agree that Enduro is the racing discipline that corresponds to All-Mountain riding, so why not save ourselves some time and energy and confusion, and retire the "All-Mountain" label and call it "Enduro"?

I still cringe at what I just suggested, but.. It seems logical.

By the way, Yo taldfind, I'm really happy for you, I'ma say that triangle graph is pretty good, but you forgot Freeride on that graph, one of the best riding types of all time!


12/26/2015 4:16 AM

It's all in the name. XC - across the country, up and down. Trail - riding performed on a trail. All Mountain - riding whatever there is or more rather all of the mountain. Downhill - riding down the hill. Enduro - well ummm a race format.