Over the last decade, enduro has grown from a grassroots scene in the French Alps to a worldwide phenomenon. Enduro is now one of mountain biking’s most popular racing formats because it focuses on the part of the trail that (most) riders love: the descents.
Enduro has also changed the way modern bikes are designed. To survive the gnarliest trails, enduro bikes have become longer and slacker, with more suspension travel and 29" wheels. These features give any rider the confidence to send it downhill at warp speeds. At the same time, these bikes need to be efficient enough to pedal back uphill and handle all-day epics. If you’re looking for a fast and capable enduro bike that can tackle everything from weekly trail rides to bike park trips to an Enduro World Series race, these are the top contenders.
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Yeti has dominated enduro for years and won multiple championships with its Switch Infinity suspension system. Switch Infinity provides a solid pedaling platform, but it allows the main suspension pivot to switch directions as the bike moves through its travel so there’s still a plush, bottomless feel. The current SB150 has already scored several wins in major races under two-time Enduro World Series champion Richie Rude.
The Specialized Enduro actually predates modern enduro racing, but I like to think it’s named after the discipline it excels in most. Completely redesigned in 2020, it takes suspension and frame design cues from the World Cup-winning Demo downhill bike, so you know it’s fast. It pushes the limits of travel and geometry with 170mm of travel all around and an ultra-slack 63.9° head angle, essentially creating a mini downhill bike that can be pedaled uphill.
The Slash keeps things under control with Trek’s patented ABP (Active Braking Pivot) suspension system. With a pivot at the rear axle, ABP separates braking forces from suspension forces so the suspension always stays active, even when the rear brake is engaged. This helps maintain traction on steep and loose descents, giving riders the confidence to brake later and go faster.
Santa Cruz Megatower
Santa Cruz was one of the first to discover the descending power of big 29” wheels with the original Hightower trail bike. Its factory enduro team even opted for the Hightower over the longer-travel Nomad. To satisfy its racers, Santa Cruz began boosting the travel numbers until the Hightower evolved into the 160mm-travel Megatower. It balances efficiency and plushness with Santa Cruz’s proven low-mount VPP suspension system.
Canyon Strive CF
The Canyon Strive CF is the bike of the reigning Enduro World Series champion, Jack Moir. He rode it to five race wins in 2021, beating Richie Rude and his Yeti SB150. Moir chose the 150mm travel Strive over the longer-travel Spectral 29 because he found it faster and more maneuverable on tight and technical European enduro tracks. The Spectral is a smart choice for straighter, higher-speed tracks or a rider who wants maximum monster-truck capabilies.
Nukeproof Mega 290C
Before the Canyon Strive CF topped the EWS podium, the Nukeproof Mega, ridden by downhill legend Sam Hill, was decorated with three consecutive Enduro World Series Championships from 2017-2019. The 29er version of the Mega was released in 2019, and it became the first 29er to win an EWS title. Though the longer travel Nukeproof Giga has since been released, the 160mm Mega is still a formidable downhill weapon.
The Rallon has been a long-time favorite of bike reviewers and it’s the bike of choice for the PinkBike Academy. The beautiful asymmetrical frame maximizes stiffness and reduces weight, while the progressive rear suspension is happy to play with coil and air shocks. Orbea also runs one of the biggest enduro teams around. With top riders like Martin Maes on the Rallon, you can expect some big race results in the near future.
The Jekyll made headlines when it was completely redesigned for 2022 with high-pivot suspension. The high-pivot design provides a more rearward axle path, helping the suspension absorb impacts, while an idler pulley compensates for chain growth so there’s no nasty pedal kickback. The result is an ultra-plush-feeling rear end that easily soaks up bumps and keeps the bike in control through the gnarliest terrain. Plus, the Jekyll's enduro pedigree runs deep, having carried Jerome Clementz to many an EWS victory in the early days of that series.
Under fast riders like Robin Wallner and Bex Baraona, the Ibis Ripmo has been a consistent podium threat. It uses a tried and true DW-Link suspension system, which provides excellent pedaling efficiency for long transfers and all-day rides. Of the bikes listed here, it’s more conservative in terms of travel (147mm), making it perfect for riders seeking a sportier ride or who value the ability to climb quickly.
Rocky Mountain Altitude
Rocky Mountain has been at the sharp end of enduro racing for years with one of the best race teams on the circuit, which includes race-winner and crowd favorite, Jesse Melamed. The Altitude uses Rocky Mountain’s Smoothlink suspension with the RIDE-9 flip-chip and a flippable rear dropout. This provides nine geometry settings and two chain stay lengths so geometry geeks can customize the bike to match their trails or riding style.
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With 10 of the best enduro bikes on the market lined up here, which would you choose? Personally, I’ve lusted after the Yeti SB150 for years. The previous generation SB bikes were some of the best bikes I’ve ever ridden, and the SB150 turned things up to 11. Plus it’s a proven race winner. But, I’ve recently developed a hunger for more travel, and with 170mm front and rear, the latest Specialized Enduro has been the bike of my dreams. In fact, I chose the Enduro for my previous Ultimate Enduro Bike Dream Build.
In reality, all these bikes are extremely fast and capable, and I’d be stoked to ride any of them. Which would you choose? Or do you think there’s some other enduro bike that belongs on this list instead? Let me know in the comments!