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What's the Best Mountain Bike for Moab and The Whole Enchilada?

Moab is paradise for mountain bikers, and The Whole Enchilada is its crown jewel. What's the best mountain bike to take on this epic trail and all of Moab's chunky terrain? Our bike experts give us their picks.

What's the Best Mountain Bike for Moab and The Whole Enchilada?

Written by:Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:MTB

The desert riding season is upon us, and many mountain bikers are making their yearly pilgrimage to Moab, Utah. This little desert town is home to some of the world’s most unique and engaging trails, including the king of them all: The Whole Enchilada. 

The Whole Enchilada is a big day in the saddle. It features thousands of feet of glorious descending, but plenty of tough climbs too. You start on high-alpine trails that are steep, loose, and fast. As you make your way down you'll find slickrock, big drops, gnarly rock gardens, and a good mix of flow and jank. 

So what’s the best mountain bike for the job? Would you ride a light and fast cross-country bike or a super plush enduro bike? I reached out to all the mountain bike geeks here at TPC to get their take on the perfect Moab rig.

If you need personal advice for a Moab trip, don’t hesitate to reach out to our expert Ride Guides, or try out bikes at our Denver-area retail store

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Big Enduro Bruisers

Santa Cruz Megatower

Our most popular pick for Moab riding is the long-travel enduro bike. These bikes have 150mm of rear travel or more, plus big and burly forks, and longer and slacker geometry for more stability. They let you charge downhill and hit all the biggest features with absolute confidence. 

Santa Cruz Megatower CC

[product-block handle="2020-santa-cruz-megatower-xtr-reserve-carbon-cc-l"/]

“I'm going with a Megatower for sure. It has 160mm of plush suspension, and the frame is bomber Santa Cruz carbon. We’ve got a full XTR drivetrain. And it's only just over 30 lbs! Plus, I'm a sucker for pastel bikes.” - Chase Robertson, Consumables Coordinator

Hope HB. 160

[product-block handle="2019-unknown-hb-160-m"/]

“I would pick the Hope HB 160 Mountain Bike. I've always wanted to try one of their rigs and the aesthetic appeal of the purple anodized Hope components has me drooling. I know it's kind of a big travel bike for climbing, but I think hitting the descent on those 650b wheels with all that travel will make the suffering worth it. Plus, it has a Sram AXS dropper and drivetrain. You can't go wrong with that.” - Nick Leng, External Compliance Specialist

Cannondale Jekyll

[product-block handle="2022-cannondale-jekyll-1-l"/]

“I'm a big "high pivot/idler" fan with both the Norco Range and Forbidden Druid in my personal quiver. The Jekyll employs a relatively low high-pivot location and Cannondale claims improved suspension kinematics over other high-pivot options. It has Fox Factory suspension, a burly 38 fork, and the WeAreOne Union carbon hoops that will help the bike stay on track through the Moab's rocky terrain. The Assegai/DHR tire combo paired with SRAM's Code RSC's (looks like a 223mm rotor up front) is arguably the ideal setup for The Whole Enchilada. With a SRAM X01 AXS group, OneUp cockpit, and the WTB Volt saddle, this is actually how I'd spec my own bike if I were to build it from scratch. Bonus: The paint on this bike is hands-down the best finish in the industry. The Jekyll would be recognizable from outer space under the Southern Utah sun.” - Travis Erwin, Head of Purchasing

Specialized Enduro

[product-block handle="2021-specialized-s-works-enduro-l-2"/]

"Even with the climbs, it's all about that downhill. I say get the biggest, baddest enduro bike possible so you can really open it up and hit every feature. To me, the top pick is the current 170mm Specialized Enduro. I’d feel confident letting go of the brakes on Burro Pass and hucking to flat on Porcupine Rim. Best of all, it still pedals pretty well so you won't find yourself constantly getting off and pushing it up the hill.” - Bruce Lin, Senior Writer

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO

[product-block handle="2021-specialized-s-works-stumpjumper-evo-m-4"/]

“The Stumpy EVO is a bike that I have always loved and this one is absolutely dialed! It has a full SRAM AXS drivetrain and dropper, Reserve carbon wheels with an Onyx rear hub, and Fox Factory suspension front and rear. What more do you need?” - Clint Hobbs, Inbound Operations Manager

Yeti SB6c

[product-block handle="2018-yeti-cycles-sb6c-l"/]

“I have ridden The Whole Enchilada multiple times on a Yeti SB6 and had a blast, so I think a solid Enduro bike like this, or any of the new Yeti SB models is the way to go.” - Gregory Boucher, Senior Product Manager

Do-it-all Carbon Shred Sleds

Pivot Switchblade

Nestled just below enduro bikes when it comes to downhill capability are mid-travel trail bikes. These quiver-killing machines have around 140mm of travel. This is enough to absorb big hits and keep you in control but also feels a bit more efficient for pedaling uphill. 

Pivot Switchblade 

[product-block handle="2020-pivot-switchblade-medium"/]

“The DW-Link suspension and Shimano XTR/XT drivetrain is the perfect combo. You get a good pedaling platform and snappy shifting for all that twisty XC desert tech on UPS/LPS. The geometry and suspension are still plenty capable for the gnarly/faster parts, but reasonable enough for all the aforementioned XC desert tech. This bike already has good tires installed too.” - Charlie Madden, Fraud Prevention

Evil Offering LS

[product-block handle="evil-offering-ls-absinthe-medium-x01axs-industry-nine-enduro-s"/]

“I've ridden this trail on a 120mm bike and a 150mm bike. Longer travel works better for me on the Enchilada. It's a big day with some very fast rough descents where longer travel really shines, especially when that ‘oh sh*t” moment happens and you find yourself coming up on a feature you weren't expecting! I'm choosing the Offering mainly because I've never ridden an Evil but hear such good things from the other Evil riders here at TPC that I’m curious!” - Sheldon Thompson, Merchandising Associate

Evil Offering V2

[product-block handle="2021-evil-offering-29-wasabi-shadow-large-x01-2 "/]

“I love everything about my Evil Following, but to handle the hours and hours of technical downhill, the added suspension travel of the Offering would certainly be appreciated. Personally, I wouldn't go any bigger than the Offering. I like my bike to still feel spritely when I get out of the saddle and hit the pedals and there's still plenty of climbing and pedaly sections on this trail.” - Adam Vadeboncoeur, Merchandising Associate

High-Speed XC Climbers

Orbea Oiz TR

Some riders suffer to earn their turns, but some live for the climb. If you’re all about cleaning techy sections and racing your buddies to the top, then nothing beats a light and efficient full-suspension XC bike. XC riders in Moab are a special breed. With 100-120mm of travel, it’ll take the edge off the chunk, but you have to stay sharp and precise on gnarly sections. 

Orbea Oiz TR

[product-block handle="2022-orbea-oiz-m10-tr-l-cor-blk-1"/]

“A 120mm travel bike is capable enough for the technical parts, but it makes it easier to float up the climbs and eat up miles and miles of Jeep road. Plus, I get to correct people's mispronunciation of ‘Oiz’ for the entire trip (it’s ‘Oy-eth’).” - Justin England, Sr. Category Purchasing Manager

Cannondale Scalpel Si

[product-block handle="2020-cannondale-scalpel-si-hi-mod-s"/]

“I love love love my Scalpel. The gospel of Lefty needs to be spread far and wide. (Plus, the tight frame/fork/component integration makes the Scalpel a complete joy to ride in all scenarios.)” - Murat Tasan, Data Science Guy

Tough Alloy Trail Bikes

Commencal Meta TR

Carbon may rule the bike industry, but there are still those that prefer the increased durability and lower cost of a nice aluminum frame. Pair that with long and slack geometry and high-performance suspension and you have a recipe for an affordable Moab shredder that can take some hard knocks and keep on going. 

Commencal Meta TR

[product-block handle="2021-commencal-meta-tr-l"/]

“Since The Whole Enchilada is mostly downhill, why not. Coil would be really nice on the long chunky descent while staying smooth and controlled, probably over forked at 170mm but the 140 rear will not have me swimming in travel for some of the transfers and flat sections. Overall it just looks like a fun bike that will keep the whole ride interesting.” - Owen Halseth, SEO Strategist

Rocky Mountain Instinct A50

[product-block handle="nc_2022-rocky-mountain-instinct-a50-xl-29-gl-rd-xl-1"/]

“It has the right amount of travel: 150/140mm. It’s aluminum, pretty light for such a big bike. Perfect.” - John Watson, Director of Content and Special Projects

In Search of Maximum Comfort

Framed Montana

Fat bikes are not a common sight in Moab, but if your goal is to cruise and not get beat up by the rocky terrain, then big fat tires might be the ticket. Since the upper sections of Burro Pass and Hazard County are often snowed out in the spring, it might actually be a good choice if you want to snag a full top-to-bottom run on The Whole Enchilada early in the season. 

Framed Montana Carbon Fat 27.5"

[product-block handle="2022-framed-montana-carbon-fat-27-5-m"/]

“It’s a full-squish fat bike! With how much snow pack they've got up there this year I’ll be the only one who can actually ride the whole thing hahaha!” - Dan Hanafin, Creative Director

There’s Always Someone on a Hardtail

Carver Titanium 420

I don’t recommend riding a trail like The Whole Enchilada on a hardtail. But it’s been done, and there are always some hardcore riders out there doing it. If you’re rugged enough, then a rigid rear end will let you feel every bump and make every rider you pass go, “Holy crap. Can you believe they’re riding a hardtail!?” 

Carver Titanium 420

[product-block handle="2021-carver-420-m"/]

“As much as I want to get a sweet full-suspension bike at some point, I've only ever ridden hardtails, and riding The Whole Enchilada is not the time to try out something new. I like this bike since it's got a big fork (160mm) for all that descending, and I wouldn't be worried about damaging the titanium frame and aluminum wheelset. Plus this thing is a ‘Rare Find!’” - Ethan Martin, Product Manager

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Do you agree with any of our bike picks? What do you think the best bike for Moab/The Whole Enchilada is?


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