We hear a lot about enduro, but what exactly is it? It’s a term which people use to describe their riding style a lot, but have they ever been near an enduro race? In short Enduro is a race which has the emphasis on racing downhill, gravity assisted, but with short sections of uphill to separate the men from the boys, or those with good cardio, from those with none.
The uphill factor means that riders have to take into account the weight, and pedalability when choosing their bike. These uphill sections are what firmly separate it from pure downhill racing. This often means that bike choice lands on a full-suspension bike of around 160mm travel bike, on either 650b or 29 inch wheels. Whilst there are uphill sections, of around 10-15% of the course, they’re not timed. This means that the downhills are where the gains are made, so racing is still dramatic and fast. These uphill sections have a time limit set for their completion, and they’re clearly marked as you embark on each section with a notice telling riders of the time limit, so that you racers have no excuse (except exhaustion) if they don’t make the grade. The downhill sections are, as we’ve mentioned, where the time is gained. This means that racers will be using all 160mm of their travel, and on very technical, rocky and rooty sections, like with downhill, line choice becomes important.
Although now it has become more than just racing, enduro now means a riding and bike style. In the UK, XC racing generally means riding a 29er hardtail with around 120mm of travel upfront. Then trail riding means a hardcore hardtail or a full-sus with 140mm of travel on either 650b or 29er wheels. Then there comes enduro style riding, which is possibly at a bike park with uplifts, maybe full-face helmets and pads. The fashion of enduro style riding has had an impact all the way through the mountain biking spectrum though with people opting for ¾ length sleeves, baggier shorts, bigger hydration packs and less XC focussed helmets.
The Specialized Enduro is the bike that Specialized designed for both enduro racing and all-mountain or enduro style riding. There’s the choice of 650b or 29 inch wheels. The 650b has a full 165mm of travel on the rear end, and takes 160mm forks. The frame comes in either carbon or aluminium. The S-Works model is as light as a lot of smaller trail bikes and is ridden by some of the world’s top pro riders, like Hannah Barnes.