The word “enduro” applies to a few different things in the world of mountain biking. First and foremost: heavy, fast, aggressive trail riding. Second, it is used to describe a class of bikes that sit in the 6-inch suspension travel category. Lastly, it’s a buzz word that mountain bike companies use to sell bikes, helmets, clothing and more. Regardless, riding enduro bikes, and taking on enduro bike terrain, requires a specific kit that goes beyond that of standard trail riding. Your enduro riding checklist: six-inch travel mountain bike, full face helmet, knee and elbow pads, goggles or sunglasses that provide full coverage and supportive shoes.
Beyond that, style (as with any outdoor sport) is paramount in putting together the ultimate enduro riding kit. Gone are the days of wearing baggie oversized mountain bike clothing with bright and bold logos. Today’s style requires a more subtle approach; tonal colorways, minimalist design and a tailored fit. Of course, we can’t forget about the bike. In years past, enduro bikes tipped the scales at around 35 pounds. Thankfully (my legs are joyous), bike companies have been able to shed around eight pounds off that number — affording the bikes on this list more than adequate climbing capabilities. Our test shed light on that capability, blowing us out of the water with pedaling efficiency that was reminiscent of bikes in the “trail” category.
Our exploration of the enduro category made one thing clear: that these bikes have graduated from the bike park and are more than capable of being daily drivers on your local trails.
Additional contribution by Tanner Bowden. Video by Jarry Truong.
Minimalist Perfection from Kitsbow
When it comes to minimal, well-designed, tonal mountain bike clothing, one brand stands out above the rest: Kitsbow. The Petaluma, CA based brand is making some of the best mountain bike clothing on the market. Pieces like the Origin A/M short and the Trials Softshell waterproof jacket epitomize thoughtful design and have become staples in my mountain bike kit. —AJ Powell
Merino AM Hoodie by Kitsbow $195
Trials Softshell Waterproof Jacket by Kitsbow $395
Front Range Merino Sweatshirt by Kitsbow $150
Origin A/M Short by Kitsbow $155
Origin Base Short by Kitsbow $125
Block K Merino Primaloft 6″ Sock by Kitsbow $30
Collared Henley by Kitsbow $120
All Mountain Glove by Kitsbow $99
Durable Gear from Sombrio
British Columbia is to mountain biking what Hawaii is to surfing; it’s the sport’s epicenter, and it’s here that Sombrio calls home. Sombrio evolved in the 1980s from one progressive idea: that mountain biking apparel could and should be different from the lycra-heavy styles of the period. It could be, to put it plainly, much cooler. The tree print on Sombrio’s Spun Gloves is a good example of how the brand leverages design to keep things fresh, but doesn’t skimp on performance either. Items like the Pinner Shorts, which are constructed with durable four-way stretch fabric, routinely garner awards. —Tanner Bowden
When taking on enduro trails, protection is paramount. If you’re going to spend a decent amount of money on your kit, spend it here.
Elite Elbow Guards by G-Form $90
Elite Knee Pads by G-Form $99
Pro-B Bike Compression Shorts by G-Form $120
Switchblade by Giro $250
Coron Spin by POC (available spring 2018) Learn More: Here
Airbrake MX Goggles by Oakley Buy Now: $190
Terraduro by Giro $180
Terraduro Mid by Giro $190
Vital MTB Pack by Thule Available 2018
The SB6 is the bike that set the bar for all other enduro bikes. I’ve been guilty of waxing on about Yeti’s Switch Infinity system in the past, so I’ll spare you and just say that it is absurdly good. For a bike that’s this burly, it has no right pedaling the way it does. After taking one out for a spin, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was a trail bike. The SB6 is a confidence-inspiring all-mountain slayer — it’s no wonder that Richie Rude rides the team edition as his do-it-all bike. —AJ Powell
SB6 by Yeti $11,000
Specialized S-Works Enduro
There’s a reason Specialized bikes have taken to nearly every trail system like an invasive species, and the S-Works Enduro is a prime example — they’re downright fun. Like all the bikes on this list, the Enduro is loaded with high-end componentry but it goes the extra mile. The WU seatpost tilts the saddle back at its lowest point for more downhill comfort and the rear shock is probably the most easily adjustable suspension we’ve seen, thanks to Specialized’s AUTOSAG tech (there’s even a S.W.A.T. tool tucked into the steering tube). Oh, and did I mention, it rips? —Tanner Bowden
S-Works Enduro by Specialized $8,500
Mondraker Dune Carbon XR
Mondraker may be new to the US (like, really new — it started shipping bikes in the states earlier this month), but it’s been building bikes in Spain for 15 years and has been pushing mountain bike design for just as many. Its main concept? Longer geometry, shorter stem. The idea is to get more stability out of the bike, and stability the Dune has. It charges down hills (and up), taking rocks and roots smoothly at high speeds — thanks in no small part to Mondraker’s unique Zero Suspension System. In the end, all that tech adds up to more control, and in turn, a lot of fun. Welcome to the USA, Mondraker, we’re glad to have you. —Tanner Bowden
Dune Carbon XR by Mondraker Learn More: Here
Santa Cruz Nomad
In the Gloss Tan/Black colorway, this bike is a stunner. Though it’s a bit more matte than gloss, this is easily one of the best color schemes we’ve seen on a bike. As for its riding capabilities, it’s long, low, slack and aggressive. It doesn’t pedal quite as well as some of the other bikes on this list, but it doesn’t need to. It’ll win you over with one extended schralp down your favorite gravity trail. In the simplest terms, it’s a mini downhill bike. The center of gravity is low (if the shock were any lower it’d be in the bottom bracket) which makes for a stable ride at high speeds. If I had one criticism for the Nomad, it’s the rear brake cable routing and maybe the grips — but that’s just getting nitpicky. —AJ Powell
Nomad by Santa Cruz $9,399
Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Team
The Strive is an interesting bike. In all fairness, it might be the best deal in enduro mountain biking coming it at just under $6,000 (enduro bikes are expensive!). The CF 9.0 Team is the top of the line spec, but you can also get it built with Sram GX components for just under $4,000. Beyond the mouth-watering parts spec of the Strive CF 9.0 Team, the bike has a pretty impressive new piece of technology that Canyon is calling Shapeshifter. By pressing a switch on the handlebar, an air chamber releases pressure and tweaks the geometry, suspension kinematics and travel of the rear suspension. When it’s time for a bit of pedaling, simply take some weight off the saddle and press the switch again engaging the bike’s climb mode. —AJ Powell
Strive CF 9.0 Team by Canyon $5,999
Trek Slash 9.8
Just by looking at the Slash, you can tell that it is a capable downhill bike built to take on everything from steep technical terrain to flowy downhill trails. What you can’t tell by looking at it is that it is also a more than capable uphill climber — like shockingly good. It’s a burly bike and a big bike, but it never feels sluggish or heavy — I’d label the ride characteristics the opposite of that actually: spry, quick and nimble. The Slash also features an adjustable geometry the slackens the head tube angle and lowers the bottom bracket — making the bike even more aggressive — if you dare. —AJ Powell
Slash 9.8 by Trek $5,500
The ultimate truck for shuttling bikes to and from the trailhead. The Ford Raptor is nothing short of ludicrous. It’s big, powerful and can shuttle you and eight friends plus bikes with ease. When you put the pedal down it’s pure power (don’t expect the rear tires to hold grip too well when you do). Despite all that power, the Raptor is surprisingly refined and composed when you want it to be. The interior is comfortable and has all the bells and whistles — like cooled seats which are perfect post-ride. A Ford Raptor kitted for hauling bikes wouldn’t be complete without the newest hitch mount racks from Thule.
After the day is done, and the ride is over, there’s nothing sweeter than kicking back with a cold beer and putting on some tunes. Whether you’re at home or a campsite, three pieces of gear are necessities for post-ride: a quality beer, something to keep the beer cold and a bombproof Bluetooth speaker.