We cut through they hype and recommend the very best enduro mountain bikes on the market; bikes that blend the downhill capability of a DH bike with the uphill prowess of a trail bike.
To be competitive, the best enduro mountain 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 best mountain bike rigs destined for enduro race tape 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.
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.
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…
Best enduro mountain bikes in 2021
- Nukeproof Giga 290 Carbon Factory review – WINNER
- Whyte G-180 Works 29er V1 review
- Specialized Enduro S-Works 29 review
- Yeti SB150 T-Series X01 review
- Nukeproof Mega 275c Pro review
- Canyon Torque CF 8 review
- Orbea Rallon M-Team review
- Calibre Sentry review
‘View Deal’ links
You will notice that beneath each of the best enduro mountain bikes product summary is a ‘View Deal’ link. If you click on one of these links then mbr may receive a small amount of money from the retailer should you go to purchase the product from them. Don’t worry, this does not affect the amount you pay.
Nukeproof Giga 290 Carbon Factory
Best enduro mountain bikes: winner!
Price: £5,499 / $5,499 | Wheel size: 29in | Travel: F 180mm R 170mm | Weight: 15.4kg (33.95lb)
Pros: All of the travel, none of the drawback
Cons: Michelin tyres are temperature sensitive
Don’t be fooled by the numbers on the Giga. Sure, it’s got boat loads of travel, and geometry that look out of place on a World Cup DH bike. But for a big rig it’s remarkably versatile. There’s a sharpness to the pedal response that defies the suspension numbers, yet it manages to retain that pitter-patter response normally reserved for coil sprung bikes. It helps too that the full carbon frame looks drop dead gorgeous. Factor In the Fox Factory suspension, XT transmission and DT Swiss wheels and Nukepoof has put together an awesome bike.
Whyte G-180 Works 29er V1
Even better than the G-170
Price: £5,150 | Wheel size: 29in | Travel: F 180mm R 167mm | Weight: 15.53kg (34.24lb)
Pros: Calm and composed.
Cons: Only three sizes in 29.
Whyte has made in its suspension kinematics and geometry. Sure, you’d expect a carbon frame at this price, but at 15.53kg (34.24lb) the alloy G-180 is still lighter than the full-carbon Nukeproof Giga and possibly more durable too. And while both bikes are level-pegging on the descents, Whyte loses out to Nukeproof on the ascents, its slacker seat angle and shorter stays making the G-180 a less comfortable place to be on long, arduous climbs.
Specialized Enduro S-Works 29
Simply amazing (shame about the price tag)
Price: £8,999 / $10,500 | Wheels size: 29in | Travel: F 170mm R 170mm | Weight: 14.59kg (32.17lb)
Pros: Fast in every situation
Cons: Inconsistent XTR brakes. Price doesn’t add up
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
Everyone that’s ridden it simply loves it
Price: £7,199 / $8,400 | Wheel size: 29in | Travel: F 170mm R 150mm | Weight: 13.96kg (30.77lb)
Pros: An early incarnation of an enduro race winning machine
Cons: Showing its age a bit in terms of geometry
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.
Nukeproof Mega 275c Pro
There’s still a place for 27.5in wheels
Price: £4,199 | Wheel size: 27.5in | Travel: F 170mm R 165mm | Weight: 15.01kg (33.09lb)
Pros: Aggressive riding position
Cons: Michelin front tyre undermines confidence
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.
Canyon Torque CF 8.0
Super fast and beautifully poised
Price: £3,899 / $3,899 | Wheel size: 27.5in | Travel: F 180mm R 175mm | Weight: 14.6kg (32.2lb)
Pros: Super fast and beautifully poised machine.
Cons: Heavier than most 160mm enduro bikes.
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.
Orbea Rallon M-Team
Fast and efficient race bike
Price: £5,699 / $6,999 | Wheel size: 29in | Travel: F 160mm R 150mm | Weight: 13.85kg (30.53lb)
Pros: Fast efficient race bike
Cons: Limited to three frame sizes
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.
Factory-level race performance at a fraction of the cost
Price: £2,000 | Wheel size: 29in | Travel: F 160mm R 150mm | Weight: 16.19kg (35.7lb)
Pros: Factory-level race performance at a fraction of the cost
Cons: At 16.19kg it’s not the lightest, but it carries its weight well and doesn’t ride heavy. Cable routing could be neater
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. With Go Outdoors winding up its Calibre brand, the only Calibre you can buy is the better equipped Sentry Pro, which is reduced from £3,900 to £3,000 while stocks last.
What to look for in the best enduro mountain bikes
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.
The very best enduro mountain 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.