We wanted to find the best enduro bike of 2015, but how many of us who buy ‘enduro’ bikes actually race? Even those that do spend more time riding with buddies than against the clock. So when we talk about enduro bikes, why do we always focus just on ‘how fast’. It’s a valid question for sure, but most of us rarely stray between the tapes. So if we don’t buy an enduro bike as a ‘race only’ weapon, what are we buying them for?
Most of us want a bike that can handle everything we throw at it, from sessioning DH tracks with buddies, to racing the odd enduro and wringing the life out of it on the weekend ‘big ride’. Most of us care more about beating our buddies down the local technical trail than shaving a millisecond off a stage time.
Some bikes are built for uncompromising speed, with bottom brackets that skim the earth and top tubes that stretch to the horizon, but what are these anorexic downhill bikes like to live with day-to-day. Does a super aggressive geometry make for a comfortable companion for a full day mountain epic, or is something a little less uncompromising the thinking riders choice.
These were all questions that our experienced test team were keen to answer, ten international riders, featuring Top10 EWS racers, WC DH riders and regular riders like many of us. We wanted to find the ultimate enduro bike, so tested nine of the best, not just against the clock but also over long rides, big mountain epics and over some of the UK’s most rugged back country terrain.
Rather than choose which bikes we thought were the best, we asked the main brands to send in the bike they would choose, based on the following brief we sent them:
We believe that an enduro bike should be able to handle it all. As standard it should be race ready and come with a build kit that allows a keen amateur racer to compete at weekends. It should also be capable of long big mountain epics and be comfortable and enjoyable on day long rides.
For this test we have opened up the price range, so it’s your decision which bike you send us. We will rate the performance,
but value for money will also be taken into consideration. The Bike should have around 150–170 mm of travel and has to be a regular production bike (no pre series versions,or modifications to the standard specification will be allowed).
The bikes we were sent included:
- Cannondale Jekyll Carbon Team
- Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Race
- Giant Reign 2
- Santa Cruz Nomad C XO1
- Rose Uncle Jimbo 3
- Trek Slash 9.0
- Yeti SB6C X01
- YT Capra Pro Race
- Vitus Sommet VRX
Note: Radon supplied a Slide and Focus supplied a new SAM Carbon, but both bikes arrived after the testing. Specialized were excited but could not supply a bike in time.
When it came to testing high performance in rugged terrain, one location stood out above the rest, Scotland, or more precisely the Scottish Highlands. This rugged land, the knuckle end of the UK specializes in tough and challenging terrain. From the technical Enduro World Series stages of the Tweed Valley to the bleak and remote mountains of Torridon, nine bikes were brutally tested. Pushing them to the limit, on legendary trails like Kinlochleven, the Ciaran Path, Coire Lair and the brutal Fort William Downhill track. Weaknesses were exposed, tyres were torn and punctures were common.
As a group we clocked up over 500 hours of testing time, after many ripped tyres, punctures and lengthy discussions we had our winner, the ultimate do-it-all enduro bike. To find out which one won you will have to wait for Issue #017 coming soon!
Words and photos: Trev Worsey
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