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The best enduro mountain bikes of 2023 | 27 top-rated enduro MTBs

The big-hitting rigs you need to look out for in 2023

Norco Shore 2 freeride mountain bike

Looking for the best enduro bike? You’re in the right place; here we list the best enduro bikes on the market in 2023, as tested by our experienced, independent test team.


Enduro racing is currently at the forefront of mountain biking, with the demands of epic days on the pedals competing with long, technical descents that challenge downhill courses for their difficulty.

As such, the latest breed of enduro bikes have to be able to spin up hills as well as throw themselves down steep chutes, through rock gardens and over huge gaps.

Not all enduro bikes are born the same, though, and some will be better suited to long days in the mountains, with pedalling characteristics to boot, while others are basically downhill bikes in disguise – flat-out down the gnarliest of tracks, but possibly more of a slog back up the other side.

We’ve put together a buyer’s guide at the bottom of this article to help you choose the best enduro bike for you.

The best enduro mountain bikes of 2023, as rated by our expert testers

Norco Shore 2

5.0 out of 5 star rating
The Shore 2 is one of the best bikes we’ve tested in recent times.
Steve Behr / Immediate Media
  • £3,399 / $5,199
  • Dialled geometry
  • Fast handling
  • Quality component spec

Although its weight may be an issue for some, the Shore is one of the best-riding, confidence-inspiring, long-travel mountain bikes on the market and all for a reasonable asking price. Offering 180mm of rear-wheel travel, the Shore is a high-pivot enduro mountain bike with a Horst-link suspension design.

Built around an aluminium frame, the Shore features an excellent and progressive geometry with a generous 480mm reach, 63-degree head tube angle and 445mm chainstays on our size large.

Norco is one of the only brands to vary chainstay lengths across its range. Considering its weight, the Shore climbs well despite the MaxxGrip compound on the Maxxis DoubleDown casing tyres, which we swapped to a MaxxTerra.

The Shore is a very comfortable bike to ride over rough terrain and is also incredibly predictable. Thanks to the ideal geometry, you can weight the front wheel confidently and it feels super-composed, both at speed and in technical sections.

Canyon Strive CFR

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Canyon Strive is a race-bred enduro bike with stage-ready performance.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media
  • £5,999 / $7,299 / €6,299
  • Chassis provides stability at high speeds
  • Race bike feel with high performance potential
  • Suspension can feel harsh at low speeds

The Strive CFR is Canyon’s race bike offering 170mm of travel and 29in wheels.

The Strive is well-specced compared to its contemporaries, with a Shimano XTR drivetrain and brakes paired with a Race Face Next RS crankset.

The Shapeshifter system allows for better on-the-fly adjustment to the bike’s geometry and presents a marked improvement on the previous model.

Cube Stereo 170 SL 29

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Cube’s new Stereo 170 SL 29 was a ridiculous amount of fun to ride and offers a seriously killer spec for the cash.
Dan Milner/MBUK
  • £4,699 / €3,999 as tested
  • Incredible value for money with Fox Factory suspension and RaceFace finishing kit
  • Well balanced and adjustable geometry
  • A fun, lively and involving ride

A real return to form from Cube with a light and lively handling bike that gave us massive grins while riding it. It might not have the most progressive geometry, nor the most planted feel of some enduro bikes out there, but its fun-loving ride quality more than made up for that.

Cube has packed plenty of top-level kit onto the alloy frameset, with Fox’s top-end Factory spec suspension at both ends, a Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes, as well as plenty of RaceFace finishing kit.

Nukeproof Giga 297 Carbon Elite

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Nukeproof Giga 297 came out on top in our 2022 Enduro Bike of the Year test.
Steve Behr / Our Media
  • £4,600 / $6,000 / AU$8,000 / €5,800 as tested
  • Dialled geometry
  • Fast handling
  • Quality component spec

The Nukeproof Giga 297 Carbon Elite came out top of the enduro category in our 2022 Bike of the Year. It offers a little more suspension travel than the Mega, with up to 180mm for the 27.5in bike and variable progression.

The 297 is the mullet build. All specs are carbon, with internal cabling and a recessed bottle cage mount on the down tube. There’s clearance for a 2.6in rear tyre.

Equipment-wise, there’s a Fox 38 Performance Elite Grip 2 fork and Fox Float Performance Elite X2 shock, Shimano SLX gearing and Nukeproof Horizon V2 wheels with Maxxis Assegai/Minion tyres.

Climbing performance is decent, while fast, steep downhills are handled with balance, pace and traction. You can carve a line harder and at great pace, outstripping the competition.

Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro is a formidable bike on any trail and rides like a bike that costs a lot more cash.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £3,700 / $3,800 / AU$6,852 / €4,700 as tested
  • Confident ride even over rough terrain
  • Well-specced bike offering good kit for the money
  • More pop than the previous version

With the latest Mega, Nukeproof has upped the performance, making it livelier and more fun to ride while ensuring it’s still capable over the rough stuff. The bike is available in five frame sizes, making it easier for riders to find a bike that fits.

As frame size increases, the seat tube angle steepens to help put riders in the most comfortable position possible. On descents, the bike feels more exciting and playful compared to its predecessor and it pitches well into high-speed corners thanks to the well-balanced geometry.

Climbing, the Mega pedals well and despite the short cockpit, it feels comfortable and not cramped. The suspension feels well balanced with a 170mm-travel RockShox Lyrik Select+ fork and 160mm at the rear damped by a Super Deluxe Select+ shock.

Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon RS

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon RS full-suspension bike is bred to tackle the roughest and rowdiest trails.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £6,000 / $6,000 / AU$8,300 / €7,600 as tested
  • Easy to set up and balanced suspension
  • Climbs well even with lots of travel
  • Solid spec but could do with changes based on personal preference

The Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon RS is the fanciest (and priciest) Mega build on offer and closest to the spec the Nukeproof team uses.

As might be expected from such a high-spec bike, this new version of the Mega delivers a fast and lively ride thanks to its updated geometry and suspension. The revamped suspension brings 160mm of travel to the rear of the bike, thanks to a four-bar Horst link platform.

This delivers a more dynamic ride compared to the previous version of the Mega, with plenty of support too. The shorter chainstays and longer front end of the new geometry, paired with the updated suspension, give the confidence to tackle rocky terrain and steeper sections.

The spec is top-class on the Mega, but the tyres and saddle could be swapped for a better ride. The saddle proved uncomfortable on longer climbs in testing and the tyres weren’t the fastest rolling.

Specialized Enduro Comp Carbon 29

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Specialized has made one of the smoothest enduro bikes around.
Dan Milner
  • £5,000 / $4,510 / AU$6,800 / €4,999 as tested
  • Category-defining bike that has had a refresh for 2020
  • Super-smooth, bump-eating suspension
  • Perhaps not the best-value bike around

The Enduro and ‘enduro’ riding go hand in hand, with Specialized’s long-travel bike almost defining the genre over the last decade. There was a complete redesign of this classic in 2019, with clear inspiration from the Demo DH bike.

The suspension is as smooth and supple as any on the market, making it one of the quickest, most capable descenders out there, backed up with contemporary geometry that gives little in the way of excuses.

Specialized’s frame detailing is great too, and includes the SWAT compartment in the down tube to stash handy bits and bobs.

The ground-hugging nature of the suspension adds plenty of grip, but can also make the bike feel a little sluggish on flatter, more pedally sections. However, if out-and-out descending performance is what you’re after, the Enduro should be towards the top of your list.

Specialized Status 160

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The Specialized Status returns after a number of years and looks more versatile and better value than ever.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £2,600 as tested
  • Stretched-out geometry is great for high speed
  • Plush suspension
  • Solid build with good kit for the money

The Specialized Status 160 is billed as a no-nonsense and solid enduro bike. To achieve this, Specialized has specced the bike with kit that isn’t the flashiest, but is hard-wearing, and has stuck to metal throughout the bike, as opposed to using carbon fibre.

The Status uses a 29in wheel in the front and a 650b in the back, making it a mullet bike, joining a growing number of off-the-shelf bikes available with this setup.

The smaller wheel in the back keeps the chainstays short, which should help manoeuvrability on the trails. This, paired with the long front end, makes for a lively ride, but it does affect balance while cornering.

Having said this, the Status feels like a solid bruiser from the off and is a seriously fun, exciting bike – especially given its lower price point.

Trek Slash 8

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The new Trek Slash 8 packs a serious punch considering its price.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £3,450 / $4,200 / AU$6,300 / €3,699 as tested
  • Our 2021 Enduro Bike of the Year
  • Natural-feeling geometry and great finishing kit
  • Seriously impressive suspension

From a playing field that felt the most level it had ever been, the Trek Slash 8 was crowned our 2021 Enduro Bike of the Year, so we’ll happily recommend it to any rider looking for a new enduro bike.

The Slash 8 hits the sweet spot between delivering a fun and lively ride and being calm and composed on the rowdiest terrain. Like many enduro bikes, the Slash 8’s geometry has been slackened, steepened and stretched in the relevant areas, creating a ride that is confident and stable on descents and centred on climbs.

The bike is fitted out with kit that will have people thinking it’s worth a bit more than its £3,450 price tag.

A SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain offers a good spread of gears and the proprietary RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate Thru Shaft rear shock is paired with a Lyrik Select+ fork for 170mm of travel up-front.

Vitus Sommet 29 CRX

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The new Vitus Sommet CRX 29 is one sleek-looking machine and packs a considerable punch when it comes to value and performance.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £3,600 / $4,600 / AU$6,677 / €5,100 as tested
  • Lively and energetic but feels composed on rough terrain
  • Carbon mainframe with great kit provides excellent value for money
  • Fox 38 shock can feel over-damped for lighter riders

Thanks to the amazing spec of its parts, the new carbon mainframe and revised suspension, the Vitus Sommet 29 CRX offers real value for money. Highlights on the Sommet 29 CRX include Maxxis tyres, Shimano brakes and a full XT 12-speed groupset.

The suspension is also top-end with a Kashima-coated, 170mm-travel Fox Factory 38 fork and Float X2 rear shock, both of which allow high- and low-speed compression adjustment.

While climbing, there’s no energy sapping from the suspension. On descents, the bike is reactive without feeling harsh when things get bumpier, even if it isn’t the most gravity-orientated machine.

This makes the Vitus a great all-rounder, whether clocking up big miles, at the bike park or even between the tape at enduro-style events.

Whyte G-180 RS MX

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The 2022 Whyte G-180 enduro mountain bike comes with this mullet build.
Steve Behr / Our Media
  • £4,200 as tested
  • Plenty of confidence, grip and fun
  • Excellent spec for the money
  • Well-balanced suspension that is livelier than the amount of travel might suggest

The Whyte G-180 RS MX is an alloy-framed bike with a mullet build. Its rear suspension is damped by a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ RT shock, like the 2021 29er bike, but the fork has been swapped out for a 190mm-travel ZEB Select+ fork. This capable pairing makes for a bike that can deal with rowdy trails, but it still has plenty of pop for mellower sections.

While climbing, the comfortable seat position provides a roomy feel, and even with the rear shock left open the suspension remains relatively calm, finding traction on loose surfaces.

The Whyte might not be the fastest bike in certain sections but it carries momentum well and is worth considering if you’re after a big hitter that climbs well. It’s worth noting that it’s not available in a size small.

Devinci Spartan HP GX

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Devinici’s Spartan has a 170mm front fork and 160mm at the rear.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • Not available in UK / $6,149 / €6,249 as tested
  • Impressive suspension
  • Really well-specced for the asking price
  • A capable descender

The Spartan HP is a bump-munching, race-ready, high-pivot enduro machine and the entry model we tested has a solid spec for the price. The suspension platform is impressively supple, with a 170mm fork at the front and 160mm at the back.

The frame is fully carbon fibre (including rocker link) and our test bike was specced with a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and Code R brakes. The Spartan is sure-footed on tight and twisty trails, and it’s at home when ridden aggressively with intent. When pushed very hard, the Spartan can punish its rear wheel, though. We’d prefer a steeper seat tube angle for climbing.

Cannondale Jekyll 2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Cannondale Jekyll 2’s high pivot and hidden shock make for striking looks.
Steve Behr / Our Media
  • £4,800 / $4,550 / AU$6,899 / €4,999 as tested
  • Striking looks
  • Great geometry
  • Composed when it matters

The Jekyll 2 uses the same carbon frame as the top-end Jekyll 1, just with a lower component spec. It’s a striking-looking enduro bike, with its hidden shock designed to lower the centre of gravity and a great paintjob. It’s available as a 29er only.

The high-pivot suspension design incorporates Cannondale’s Ai asymmetric rear triangle to increase frame clearance. There’s an idler wheel in the chainline to help prevent the kickback that can come with high-pivot kinematics.

Spec-wise, there’s Shimano Deore, which despite being low-spec for the Jekyll 2’s price, worked just fine. Cannondale specs 165mm cranks to reduce pedal strikes. Suspension is provided by a 170mm RockShox Zeb Select fork and a Fox Float DPX2 Performance shock with 165mm of travel. We had issues with wheel build quality though.

We really liked the forward seated position and absence of bob when climbing. Head back down and the Jekyll’s balanced handling and geometry make it predictable and easy to guide through turns.

We also rated the Cannondale Jekyll 1 at 4 stars if you fancy a more decked-out spec.

Canyon Torque Mullet

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Torque Mullet CF8 comes with Canyon’s usual high spec for its price.
Steve Behr / Our Media
  • £4,499 / $5,399 / AU$7,299 / €4,799 as tested
  • Balanced ride feel from sorted geometry
  • High spec for its price
  • Not quite the grip and ride-smoothing of the best enduro bikes

The Torque is now available as a 29er, 27.5in bike or this mullet option with a carbon frame and in all sizes except small. It comes with 175mm of travel out back from its Fox DHX2 Factory shock and a Fox 38 Performance Elite GRIP2 fork with 170mm travel.

There’s a flip chip built in that changes geometry by 0.5 degrees and bottom bracket height by 8mm.

The Torque isn’t quite a full-on enduro bike; we didn’t feel it had quite the grip or bump-swallowing ability of the best. The updated Canyon Strive is designed more specifically to fit that mandate.

As usual with Canyon, you get a great spec for the price, with Shimano XT and DT Swiss wheels with Maxxis tyres.

Downhill performance delivered fun by the bucketful, with well-balanced, predictable handling. There’s a bit more feedback over bumpy terrain than some of its rivals though.

Cotic RocketMAX Gen3 Silver SLX

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Cotic’s latest RocketMAX Gen3 features a number of changes that all add up to make it a serious speed machine in the right hands.

  • £4,199 as tested
  • Exciting and dynamic ride feel
  • Suspension that is easy to adjust and works excellently
  • Great composure at high speed, but not that easy-going on the rough stuff

The latest Gen3 RocketMAX has been tweaked to offer some improvements on the previous iteration. The Gen 3 version now has improved suspension that’s well balanced and, when paired with the frame, results in a ride that is feedback-rich, zingy and most importantly exciting.

When it comes to rougher terrain, the RocketMAX doesn’t quite have the same level of calm as other bikes in testing, but the comfort and composure has been elevated when compared to the previous version, and the engaging ride feel has always been part of what makes this bike great.

Thanks to its stretched-out geometry, the RideMAX comes into its own when things get really steep or the pace picks up, feeling stable and impressively confident.

Giant Trance X 1

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Trance X1 is a confidence-inspiring ride and you start having fun as soon as the tyres hit the dirt.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
  • £3,999 / $4,500 / AU$6,199
  • Suspension easy to set up
  • Solid spec for the asking price
  • Pretty sorted geometry

Although the Trance is traditionally a do-it-all trail machine, the smaller 27.5in-wheeled Trance X boasts a more aggressive, adjustable geometry with 145mm of rear-wheel travel.

Using its double-link Maestro suspension system, the Trance X 1 runs on a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, punchy Code brakes and suspension courtesy of Fox.

With 30 per cent of sag, the suspension was sorted straightaway and it’s a bike that certainly delivers on the fun factor.

It’s not the best climber, but the steep seat tube angle and 52t easiest cog enable you to claw your way up the ascents. When gravity kicks in, the Trance X feels lively and fun. It’s hard to shake it out of its depth and it’s really responsive in turns, as long as they’re not too tough.

Giant Reign 29 1

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The new Giant Reign rolls on 29in wheels and sports 146mm of rear-wheel travel.
Dan Milner/MBUK
  • £4,499 / $5,000 / €4,199 as tested
  • Decent adjustment and control from Fox’s suspension
  • Giant has got the shape of the bike just right
  • A fairly direct-feeling bike that might not suit everyone

The Reign has a really direct, snappy feeling that makes picking lines through technical terrain a lot of fun, and impressively fast too. The geometry adds to the bike’s capabilities, as does the kit, which is solid throughout.

The rear suspension doesn’t have quite the big-hit-smoothing capabilities of some enduro bikes, leaving it feeling like a long-legged trail bike rather than a mini DH bike, but this will suit a lot of riders who like picking fast and smooth lines through the chunder, rather than bashing over the top of it all.

Give the Reign plenty of focus and commitment, and it’ll fire you down the trail at flat-out speeds with plenty of grins along the way.

Hope HB.916

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Hope’s high-pivot beast is focused on enduro riding and racing.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media
  • £6,995 as tested
  • Impressive geometry with dependable spec
  • Calm and controlled through the rough stuff
  • Suspension is hard to set up for lighter riders

Hope’s new HB.916 enduro bike features a high-pivot linkage delivering 160mm of rear travel. The bike feels well-balanced and happy to plunge into the most technical terrain without dulling any of the fun.

The HB.916 is specced with the British brand’s own wheels, brakes and crankset. Our tester didn’t take to Hope’s carbon bar though, feeling that it was too stiff.

An Öhlins RXF38 M2 fork supports the front of the bike with 170mm of travel, while a TTX2 Air shock controls the rear. We found it took a while to find the right setup for the bike.

Marin Alpine Trail XR

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Marin’s Alpine Trail XR is a well-specced enduro bike.
Steve Behr / Our Media
  • £3,475 / $3,999 / AU$5,499 / €3,955 as tested
  • Flickable geometry with short rear triangle
  • Good spec for the price
  • Brakes would merit an upgrade

The alloy Alpine Trail XR has 150mm of travel – slightly lower than many of its competitors – thanks to its MultiTrac suspension system. Its 62.5-degree head angle and 78.5-degree seat tube angle are, respectively, among the slackest and steepest out there. There’s a low bottom bracket too, which keeps the centre of gravity low, but does risk rock strikes.

Spec-wise, the Marin Alpine Trail XR is impressive for its price, compared to its competitors. There is a high-spec RockShox Lyrik Ultimate fork and Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate RCT shock, paired with a mixed Shimano XT drivetrain.

The forward seating position means you’re over the pedals for efficient climbing, while the short back end makes the bike easy to flick and loft. One irritant was there’s not enough room to fit a bottle in anything other than the L and XL frames, and we found the brakes a bit lacking in bite.

Propain Tyee AL 29 Performance

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Tyee was put through its paces over a broad range of terrain.
Steve Behr / Our Media
  • £5,250 (with upgraded brakes and wheels)
  • A fast and agile ride
  • Good climber
  • Capable in technical terrain at speed

Direct-to-consumer brand Propain is renowned for offering great value for money and its enduro Tyee offering is no exception. Available in either 27.5 or 29-inch wheels, as reviewed here, the bike climbs efficiently and the brand’s PR010 suspension system, consisting of two counter-rotating links, resisted any bob during testing.

On the descents, it has plenty of pop and playfulness, and its agility means you can switch between lines without a lot of effort.

Our test bike came with a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain, upgraded Formula Cura brakes and RockShox suspension, the rear a coil shock that Propain says is a no up-charge extra if you don’t want to use an air shock.

Although the aluminium frame transmits more feedback than other best enduro bikes, the Tyee is a serious amount of fun to ride and it’s a great jack-of-all-trades.

Orange Alpine Evo LE

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The slack geometry and light weight make the Alpine Evo LE a true tackle-all trail bike.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £5,900
  • Inspired geometry
  • Spot-on spec for the asking price
  • Awesome fun for jumping or popping down a trail

Orange’s single-pivot Alpine Evo LE comes shod with 155mm of rear-wheel travel and a 6061-T6 aluminium frame. Our test bike was equipped with a Shimano XT 12-speed groupset and suspension courtesy of RockShox.

It feels best when worked hard, offering a sharp yet efficient ride. There’s a narrower margin for error with the single-pivot design, but once you’ve mastered a particular jump or trail feature, the Alpine excels, landing with a notable surge in speed.

Santa Cruz Bronson CC MX X01 AXS RSV

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Bronson is a good-looking bike.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £8,599 / $9,849
  • An excellent climber with a supple ride feel
  • Top-spec carbon fibre frame
  • Well sorted geometry

Santa Cruz’s Bronson transitions to a 29in front wheel and 27.5in rear wheel, with the brand saying it retains the same do-it-all characteristics of its non-mullet guise.

With 150mm of rear-wheel travel, the latest version of the Bronson comes with adjustable geometry and, like the rest of its line with the exception of the cross-country focused Blur, migrates the rear shock low down in the frame.

For its travel, the Bronson felt reasonably nippy up the climbs, although we’d prefer a steeper seat tube angle. It offers a comfortable riding position and thrashes down well-known trails creatively and confidently, once you’ve mastered its riding characteristics.

There are some spec compromises that let the side down, and we weren’t keen on the tall front end, but if you can live with its quirks, the Bronson is a hoot to ride.

Santa Cruz Nomad C GX AXS RSV Coil

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Santa Cruz Nomad C GX AXS RSV Coil
Andy Lloyd / Our Media
  • £8,999 as tested
  • Confident handling on all terrain
  • Well designed glovebox
  • Flip-chip does little to change the bike’s geometry

Santa Cruz’s Nomad proves years of small refinements are just as important as unique design features. The mullet set-up makes the Nomad more capable than the previous model when pointed downhill, with the bike making a happy companion through the gnarliest of terrain.

The coil shock gives a supportive platform to push against when pumping down the trail, with the 170mm of rear travel happy to eat up even the biggest impacts.

While the price is steep, the Nomad is ready to for whatever you throw at it.


4.0 out of 5 star rating
The SCOR is well specced and very responsive.
Andy Lloyd / Our Media
  • €6,899 / $7,199 as tested
  • Very efficient to pedal
  • Stash box featuring spare derailleur

SCOR is Swiss brand BMC’s enduro division, with this 4060 LT GX featuring 29in wheels and 160mm of rear-wheel travel. The bike is nearer to an aggressive trail bike than it is to a downhill bike, and its low weight and snappy geometry give a feeling of eagerness even at moderate speeds.

The 348mm bottom bracket height doesn’t give the most planted feel through turns, though this doesn’t take away from the bike’s sense of fun. While not suited to the steepest, roughest trails, the 4060 LT GX provides a great all-round ride.

Pole Stamina 160 Remastered

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The Stamina 160 is an aggressive bike that responds well to being ridden quickly.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • €5,684 as tested
  • Fantastic appearance
  • Exceptionally progressive geometry and incredibly fast
  • The suspension requires careful setting up

The Finnish brand’s mid-travel trail-cum-enduro bike features adjustable travel (by swapping out the shock yoke) and is compatible with both 29in wheels and a mullet setup. It’s an outrageously fast bike to ride on all terrain types and despite its stand-out geometry, it pedals well on both uphill and flatter terrain.

Its descending performance is remarkably stable and calm, and it can be ridden incredibly quickly over any terrain with composure and calmness. You’ll want to pay careful attention to the suspension setup, which can feel quite aggressive, and will require some fettling for it to be optimal.

Yeti SB165

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The SB165 is a fast-looking monster truck of a bike.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media
  • £3,799 / $4,000 as tested
  • A fast and forgiving fun bike to ride
  • A fast descender that isn’t held back by its 27.5in wheels
  • Exceeds expectations of what a coil-sprung 165mm-travel bike can do

The Yeti SB165 is a monster truck of a bike. The SB165’s rear end is progressive and absorbs bumps quickly, while it provides a massive amount of grip, meaning even poor line choices don’t pose problems for the rider. The geometry, with its slack head angle, enhances the confidence-inspiring performance of the suspension, but longer chainstays might further improve its stability.

Despite the Fox Factory DHX2 coil-sprung 165mm rear shock, ascending on the Yeti is easier than expected. The suspension on the bike does make it feel slower on the flat, but this is offset by the bike’s low weight.

You can thank the fully carbon frame for that. Internal cable routing gives this Yeti a minimal-fuss aesthetic. This is a great look – and helps the bike look as fast as it rides – but one that can lead to extra hassle in the work stand.

YT Capra Shred 27.5

4.0 out of 5 star rating
The YT Capra Shred uses the same frame as the standard Capra, but comes with a burlier build.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £3,825 as tested
  • Low-slung, planted suspension
  • Solid feel over rougher terrain
  • The kit isn’t the flashiest, but everything works well

The YT Capra Shred 27.5 has sleek aluminium tubing that’s pleasing to the eye and is built for ripping around bike parks and local trails. The Shred feels more agile than stable with its low bottom bracket and a relatively short reach.

With a bit more room and slightly longer chainstays, the Shred could feel more confident at high speeds, but it’s still loads of fun to ride and incredibly reactive thanks to its solid frame and 650b wheels.

Going uphill isn’t the easiest work on the Capra Shred. The relatively slack seat angle makes it necessary to shift bodyweight around to get comfortable and at 15.6kg it’s a fairly average weight. But an enduro bike built and specced like this is never going to about the climbing.

The Capra Shred is a robust bruiser that’s instantly at home carving turns and launching skywards, putting a smile on your face in the process.

If you’re after a top-flight Capra, we’ve reviewed the Uncaged edition which also scored 4 stars.

What is an enduro bike?

Enduro bikes are distinct from their trail-oriented siblings.
Steve Behr / Our Media

Which came first, enduro racing, or the enduro bike? It’s a bit chicken and egg, but the race genre and the bike genre have pushed each other’s limits, and driven development of bike tech far beyond the confines of the course tapes.

Enduro bikes sit in the middle ground between downhill bikes and trail bikes. Like a DH bike, they’re designed to get down hills as fast as possible, tackling chunky rock gardens, matted root beds, big drops and canyon-like gaps, doing it all with a little less suspension travel.

However, like the best trail mountain bikes, they’re also designed to be pedalled back up; so rather than pushing to the top of the track, they can be ridden up thanks to more suitable geometry, wider gear ranges and lighter builds than a DH bike.

As such, they’re slightly less capable downhill than a DH bike, but far more capable up, and more capable down but less capable up than a trail bike… got it?!

How much travel does an enduro bike have?

There’s no hard and fast definition of how much travel an enduro bike should have.
Mick Kirkman / Our Media

While there’s no set definition of travel that defines an enduro bike, the majority have between 150 and 170mm of suspension front and rear. Some 27.5in-wheel enduro bikes may push travel a touch higher and there are a few with a little less at the rear – usually 29in bikes.

Expect to see the burliest single-crown suspension forks a brand has to offer with stanchion diameters varying from 35mm to 38mm. They’re built to be stiff, smooth and supportive, with higher-end models sporting plenty of adjustability.

Rear shocks on enduro bikes will feature a ‘piggyback’ chamber.

Rear shocks, especially when you’re buying bikes from the mid-range up, will have a ‘piggyback’ design.

This is an additional chamber connected to one end of the shock that allows for additional oil flow through the shock. This, then, allows for better temperature management and more consistency on long descents (you’ll be surprised by how warm a shock can get in use).

How the bikes use that suspension travel will vary too. Some bikes have incredibly plush suspension that totally insulates you from the trail, leading to an incredibly planted feel that’s fast on steep and rough terrain.

But with all that smoothness comes more pedal-induced movement, so these bikes can often feel sluggish on climbs and flatter tracks – you’ll be reaching for a lockout lever much sooner.

However, some bikes will have a more pedal-friendly suspension, which will make the uphills much easier and the flatter tracks more fun. You may lose some of that buttery feeling when you’re going flat-out over rocks and roots, though.

Enduro bike geometry – what’s that about?

Long and slack geometry helps to boost confidence in tricky terrain.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

The latest enduro bikes have long, low and slack geometry. This means long front centres (and reach measurements), slack head angles and low bottom brackets. This makes them feel super-confident on steep hillsides because there’s less chance of you flipping over the handlebars, and it helps you better manage weight and grip between the tyres.


Longer geometry can make the bikes a little slower to react to inputs, and sometimes you may find you need to re-address your riding technique to get the most agility out of them, but these bikes have descending speed at the forefront of their design.