A week’s worth of bike testing in Tuscany, shredding Berber trails in Morocco, and indulging in hours of tech talk with the rest of the ENDURO team – nope, no fun at all went into creating this issue, we promise.
Well… we admit that isn’t quite true. But if we look around at what’s going on in the mountain biking world, it’s fair to say that something seems to have gone amiss. With pro enduro racers testing positive for doping and trails getting cut on every corner just to clock a quicker time on Strava, the desire to win seems to have hit unjustifiable extremes. Is the spirit of enduro in danger?
Measuring performance isn’t anything new – Western culture has long embraced the notion of competition. It goes as far back as 776 BC when the first Olympic games were staged. Over the centuries it has evolved into what it is today: a constant contest that plays out on race tracks, playing fields, inside open-plan offices, and all over our Instagram feeds. The need to stand out and be recognised is everywhere and even extends to the controversial topic of eMTBs.
As events rush to include eMTB categories, a race has begun for the title of ‘official’ eMTB World Cup series – will it be the UCI, WES or the Enduro World Series, which just held a test event in Finale Ligure. The latter represents the most professional player on the scene, and we feel would be most capable of transforming it into a reality that works in the best interests of the riders.
Yet then there’s the existential question of whether the sport actually needs it? Are eMTB races in an enduro-style format a betrayal of the sport or do they represent the next level of enduro? Either way, the nominal racing budgets from brands will be stretched even further, leaving less in the pot for regular mountain bike racing.
Often competitions are cited as a tool for consolidating the R&D that goes into a product. Is this really the case? Does such a development method simply detract from the end consumers’ actual needs? Take skis, for example. is there anyone out there who’d consider using pro-race skis for their annual ski trip? The winter sports industry is clued up, developing fun-focused products offering ultimate accessibility for newbies alongside its aggressive, race-tuned equipment. The good news is that mountain biking is already doing the same – just look at trail bikes, the true do-alls of the off road world.
In recent years we’ve seen all-rounder, touring-style mountain bikes go through myriad development, and they now cut a fine figure on everything from your local trail loop to major Alpine rides, or even getting loose in the bike park. As their playground has grown, so too has the amount of suspension – on paper, they’re looking more and more like enduro bikes. In our Group Test this issue we’ve gathered 13 of the current most exciting bikes under one roof, with one clear winner emerging. Even though the standard bike categories of Trail, Enduro and Super Enduro have now blurred to oblivion, there’s one do-it-all bike that decisively claims the well-deserved title of Test Winner.
A bike’s suspension is critical for good handling – but we aren’t talking about the amount of travel, more about its kinematics and the effect on the bike’s ride. If you’re a fan of tech talk, we delve much further into the topic in our two-page Suspension special. Expect to be enlightened when it comes to anti-squat, anti-rise and wheel rate. We’ve got you covered for your next trailside chat.
Having the most expensive, high-end bike is pretty useless if you don’t go out on it. Lasting memories aren’t (usually) made in your shed – they’re made by visiting new places, riding with great people, and experiencing special moments. Our trip to Morocco did exactly that, and we won’t be forgetting it any time soon.
So as you see, we didn’t have an ounce of fun while creating this issue. Hopefully you’ll experience the same while reading it! And on that note, have fun and please keep the spirit of enduro alive – some of us have to!
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