We cut through the hype to find the very best of the current crop of race-ready enduro bikes
Enduro is still the hottest ticket in mountain biking but let’s cut through they hype and find the very best enduro mountain bikes.
What is an enduro mountain bike?
An enduro bike is basically a mountain bike with at least 150mm of suspension travel. They’re built for the rigours of racing full-bore downhill whilst being sufficiently efficient on climbs and contouring trails too.
Best enduro mountain bikes in 2020
Here our are current favourite best enduro mountain bikes. Links to full reviews below.
- Yeti SB150 T-Series X01, £7,199
- Specialized Enduro S-Works 29, £8,999
- Nukeproof Mega 275c Pro, £4,199
- Giant Reign Advanced 0, £6,499
- Canyon Torque CF 8.0, £3,269
- Whyte G-170 S, £2,399
- Orbea Rallon M-Team, £5,699
- Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01, £6,399
- Identiti Mettle GX, £3,599
- Whyte S-150C RS, £3,499
- Cube Stereo 150 C:62 SL 29, £3,499
- Calibre Sentry, £2,000
What makes the best enduro mountain bikes?
With almost as many different enduro race formats as models of bike, designers of enduro race bikes really have their work cut out. From chairlift-accessed events in the Alps and Canada, to lung-bursting pedal-fests in Colorado and Scotland, top-level enduro racing isn’t just tough on riders.
Enduro has exploded from a niche race discipline into a buzzword that has become synonymous with ‘extreme’ mountain biking. Hardly a month goes by without the launch of another new enduro bike. And, if it’s not new bikes to get you fired up, it’s new enduro events to ride them at.
Cut through the hype, however, and you’ll quickly discover that it’s also a hotbed of product development. Improvements in suspension fork and shock technology are particularly key in driving forward the genre. Lightweight and able to handle prolonged descents, top-notch components feature heavily on the latest crop of 160mm race bikes.
To be competitive, the bikes need to strike the perfect balance between speed and efficiency on flatter trails, yet still be able to blast descents that wouldn’t look out of place on the World Cup DH circuit. A compromise that is further complicated by the fact that minimal mechanical support is allowed at races, so the bikes need to be ultra-reliable too.
Timing has also played a massive part in the making of enduro. With bigger wheels, 1x drivetrains and carbon fibre frame construction trickling down to ever-lower price points, the latest bikes truly can be lighter, stiffer, faster and more capable.
That is why you shouldn’t rush straight out and buy a sexy new enduro bike if most of your saddle time is spent trail riding. If you do, you’ll quickly find that you’re totally over-biked for the majority of your riding. Even the lightest bikes are overkill on all but the toughest trails.
Enough with the preamble though, if you’re intent on racing, what you really want to know is which bike is the fastest. So let’s get to it…
Our current pick of the best enduro mountain bikes in 2020
Specialized Enduro S-Works 29, £8,999
It took time to get to grips with the latest Enduro 29. Initially we couldn’t get centred on the bike, and no amount of suspension tweaking seemed to improve matters. Once we fitted a shorter stem and flipped the geometry to the high setting though, we instantly hit it off. This bike is rapid, and the rougher the trail, the better it is. It rides light too, but most impressive is that this 170mm beast climbs more efficiently than many trail bikes with considerably less travel. Yes, the XTR brakes can’t be trusted, and the price should be £7,999 not £8,999, but there’s no disputing the ride quality of the Enduro 29. It’s simply amazing.
Yeti SB150 T-Series X01, £7,199
Yeti’s bikes have always looked amazing but the new SB150 is different animal. With 150mm travel on the rear, combined with a 170mm fork and a slack 64.3degree head angle, this modern 29er enduro bike is an absolute weapon on the descents, yet you can still beast everyone on the climbs. The suspension is superbly balanced and the sizing is on point. Yes, Yeti has dumbed down some aspects of the built-kit from what the race team use, but that doesn’t stop the SB150 from being a truly impressive bike. Everyone at MBR that’s ridden it simply loves it.
Nukeproof Mega 275c Pro, £4,199
By adding the 275c Pro to the Mega range, Nukeproof brings top level performance to more competitive price point. You get the same racing winning carbon frame and shock as the top-tier bike, and the 12-speed SRAM Eagle GX drivetrain ensures that you don’t have to compromise on gearing. Factor in the race tuned geometry and sizing and the Mega 275c Pro handles like a charm. It needs a front tyre that can cope a wider verity of conditions though, but given how good this bike rides, we couldn’t let that get in the way of a perfect 10 rating.
Giant Reign Advanced 0, £6,499
Winning our Enduro Bike Test two years in a row the Giant Reign has an undisputed pedigree. So it’s fair to say that we were a little nervous when Giant announced that it was changing its winning formula. Our concerns proved unfounded though, as Giant has retained the superb sensitivity of the suspension, the balanced geometry and the forgiving flex in the frame. By increasing the sizing, and adding a longer stoke shock with more support in the linkage the 160mm travel Reign Advanced 0 is better than ever and by far the best race bike in this test.
Canyon Torque CF 8.0, £3,269
Canyon’s Torque CF 8.0 challenges ideas of what a bike with this much travel can do. The beautifully finished frame is built like a tank and descends like a rocket, yet it’s smooth, nimble and playful on easier mellow trails. Rider position is perfect, it’s dialled to ride out of the box with easy to set up suspension, and has brilliant parts for the money. The overall bulk and 175/180mm is noticeable to lug around, but the Torque makes as light work of it as possible for all this punch and speed bandits will love how much of a hero the Torque makes you feel on the best DH trails.
Whyte G-170 S, £2,399.00
With cutting-edge sizing and geometry the G-170 S slices straight through the marketing BS. OK, so the G-170 still has its fair share of acronyms and initializations, and it’s even sporting an on-trend reduced offset fork, the frame geometry designed specifically around it. But it’s actually the super low BB height and painstakingly tuned rear suspension that make the G-170 such a formidable race bike. It what puts you “in” rather than “on” the Whyte, and that added sense of security allows you to ride faster and take more chances, without ever feeling like you’re in over your head. As such, it may take some time for your current limits to catch up with those of the G-170.
Orbea Rallon M-Team, £5,699.00
After tyres, the fork is easily the most important component on a mountain bike, and at present there’s simply no better option for enduro than the Fox 36 RC2 fitted to the Rallon M-Team. And good as the new Rallon is, it isn’t perfect. The size range is limited and the rear suspension isn’t as capable as a Specialized Enduro or Evil Wreckoning for example, even if Orbea’s geometry has the measure of both. Would it be even better if it were a full 160mm bike? Probably. Would it be better still if Orbea offer a more comprehensive range of sizes? Definitely. Still, if the shoe fits, you’re in for a treat.
Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01, £6,399.00
Do-it-all bikes that deliver the goods are few and far between but Santa Cruz has nailed it with the latest Nomad. It strikes a perfect balance between fun, speed and versatility, so if you’re looking for one bike to cover every occasion the Nomad really should be top of your list. Sizing comes up short by modern standards though, but the frame has stacks of standover clearance so upsizing to gain some extra reach isn’t an issue proving you not over 6ft 2in tall, and shorter riders are well catered for too with the air shock option being ideal for anyone of slight build. All things considered, the Nomad V4 is the best Santa Cruz suspension bike to date.
Identiti Mettle GX, £3,599.99
Identiti has done a great job with the Mettle. The proportions and angles align perfectly, and even with three frame sizes, it offers a great fit. With 160mm travel, it’s unashamedly a big-hit rig. It carries its 14.63kg heft well too, with more muscle than fat, so it’s solid without ever feeling sluggish. Timing has helped too, as the newly released GX Eagle drivetrain enables you to spin, rather than grind, up every climb. It can’t compete with direct-sales rivals’ pricing though, so even though the sizing is better, the complete package isn’t as good value.
Whyte S-150C RS, £3,499
The whole Whyte S-150C RS experience exudes calmness and confidence. The damped, stiff chassis, together with the stable and planted steering, allows riders of all levels to push hard and ride faster with plenty of control. It doesn’t hurt either that the low dynamic BB height and long frame offers a planted, attacking foundation for berm-slashing and holding tight lines on off cambers too. The flip side of Whyte’s solidity is that the weight is pushing 15kg. It masks its bulk really well, but sudden accelerations are muted. Also we’d like to a grippy rear tyre fitted as standard.
Cube Stereo 150 C:62 SL 29, £3,499
On paper, the Cube Stereo 150 SL 29 is tough to beat. It’s light, capable and comes with an amazing build kit. The ride quality is versatile and balanced too. So even if the 150mm travel Stereo leans more towards aggro trail riding than pure enduro speed that’s no bad thing when the majority of UK trails mean carrying speed. So the latest Stereo feels light and urgent, but the revised geometry still won’t be progressive enough for the most aggressive riders. So even though the huge improvements in shape, looks and attitude make this a really successful Stereo reboot, the Whyte S-150 has the edge.
Calibe Sentry, £2,000
It’s no featherweight, but it rides light and that’s what counts. And while part of the extra weight is due to the SRAM NX cassette and rear derailleur, it’s also because the Sentry comes with tyres that would actually survive the demands of full-blown enduro racing. The Tough casing WTB tyres adding almost 0.5kg over standard casing tyres, so there are definitely cost effective ways to get the weight down if you’re just mucking around in the woods, as opposed to racing on the toughest terrain. Either way, the new Calibre Sentry has your back, without burdening you with debt.
The best enduro mountain bikes: the verdict
The best value enduro mountain bike: Whyte G-170 S
The best all-round enduro mountain bike: Nukeproof Mega 275C
The best no-compromise enduro mountain bike: Yeti SB150 T-Series X01
Side-by-side geometry table of the best enduro mountain bikes
|Bike||Head angle||Seat angle||Reach (size L)||BB height||Chainstay|
|Nukeproof Mega 275c||64.1°||70.5°||470mm||435mm||435mm|
|Canyon Torque CF||64.6°||67.9°||460mm||334mm||430mm|
|Cube Stereo 150 29||66°||75.5°||457mm||341mm||435mm|
|Santa Cruz Nomad||64.6°||70°||460mm||338mm||431mm|
What to look for in an enduro mountain bike
First it needs to be lightning fast downhill. That’s because downhill sections make up the bulk of the timed runs in an enduro race.
With some stages lasting upwards of ten minutes, and with limited practice time to learn the courses, the bike needs to be easy to ride and forgiving of bad line choices and cock-ups that are inevitable in the heat of the moment when fatigue sets in. That’s the reason 150mm of travel or more on these bikes is ideal.
But enduro isn’t simply about high-alpine marathon DH runs. The bikes also need to climb and pedal efficiently.
With long liaison stages linking up the timed sections, the weight of the bike is also a factor as you don’t want to be carrying excess baggage on the climbs. Lighter bikes also needs less manhandling to guide them when you get tired, which becomes a massive bonus for those long days in the saddle.
In a nutshell, a good enduro bike needs to be every bit as capable as a downhill bike, but as agile and efficient as a typical trail bike. That’s a pretty tall order, but hopefully these chosen bikes fit the bill.
The bottom bracket heights of a lot of our bikes hover at around the 350mm mark. But this measurement can’t be taken at full value, as all of the bikes have different amounts of suspension travel. If the bikes are all set with the same amount of suspension sag, then the bike with the shorter travel will have a higher bottom bracket.
Another point to note about the BB height is that the axles of the 29 in wheels are higher than for the 650b wheels, so there is a greater BB drop, giving added stability.
Enduro bikes are for racing
It’s amazing how enduro bikes have evolved in such a short space of time; the best new designs are now essentially lightweight mini-downhill bikes and, it seems, every man and his dog is now an enduro racer (mbr staff included). Cut through the marketing spiel, however, and one thing is crystal clear: longer-travel bikes are better than ever before, and we have enduro to thank for it.
The reason is simple; racing breeds development. The latest enduro bike may not look dissimilar to the all-mountain bikes of yesteryear, but in fact they are very different animals. Due to the nature of the racing, this new breed is more DH focused, with slacker angles and better high-speed handling. In fact, the geometry isn’t too far off what you’d see if you strolled the pits at a World Cup DH race.