Are you in the market for a new enduro bike? You’re in the right place; here we list the best enduro bikes on the market in 2021, as tested by our experienced, independent test team from BikeRadar and MBUK magazine.
Enduro is currently at the forefront of mountain biking, with the demands of long 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 happy spinning up hills as well as throwing 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 epic days in the mountains, with pedalling characteristics to boot, while others are basically DH bikes in disguise – flat-out down the gnarliest of tracks, but possibly more of a slog back up the other side.
We’ve also 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 bikes in 2021, as rated by our expert testers
- Whyte G-170C RS 29er: £3,799
- Bird AM9 GX Custom: £3,340
- Cube Stereo 170 SL 29: £4,099 / €3,999
- Orbea Rallon M10 MYO: £5,027 (custom build price)
- Pole Machine TR: £5,100 / €5,900 (approx)
- Specialized Enduro Comp Carbon 29: £4,500 / $4,510 / €4,999
- Canyon Strive CF 9.0: £4,449 / $7,549 / €4,799
- Giant Reign 29 1: £3,999 / $5,000
- Nukeproof Mega 290 Elite Carbon: £3,700 / $3,700
- Calibre Sentry: £2,000
Whyte G-170C RS 29er
- Our 2020 Enduro Bike of the Year
- Great front-to-rear suspension balance
- Stable and confident, yet still plenty of fun
Despite facing stiff competition, the Whyte G-170C RS 29er was crowned our 2020 Enduro Bike of the Year, so we’ve no qualms recommending this bike to anyone looking for a new enduro bike.
With a well-considered parts package and perfectly tuned suspension, the G-170 impressed throughout months of testing.
We found the bike hellishly fast across a wide range of trail types, with a confident demeanour that still allowed us to have plenty of fun when the mood took us.
The shape is spot on for a modern enduro bike, and this RS model ticks all the component boxes necessary to allow you to take it straight from the shop to the gnarliest of trails.
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Bird Aeris AM9 GX Custom
- Excellent value for money
- Confident and controlled suspension
- Great geometry that lets you ride flat-out, everywhere
Bird is a UK brand with an excellent reputation for customer service, and, fortunately, bikes that deliver on the trail too. The AM9 was its first enduro bike, and this big-wheeler impressed us from the off.
The alloy chassis has a great shape with a long reach, slack head angle, low bottom bracket and a steep seat angle, so it’s ideally suited to both steep descents and steep returns back up the hill.
The suspension remains composed regardless of what you throw the bike down, but rides almost like a trail bike on mellow descents or back up the hill, making it a great all-rounder.
Bird’s focus on value means you get a lot of bike for your money, and with the ability to alter the spec when purchasing means you can build a bike to suit both your componentry preferences and budget.
Cube Stereo 170 SL 29
- 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 it’s fun-loving ride quality more than made up for that, and it’s still got plenty of composure when tracks get gnarly.
Cube has packed plenty of top-end kit on to 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.
Orbea Rallon M10 MYO
- Rapid and lively enough on mellow terrain, capable on big hits too
- Good value kit that’s customisable at the point of purchase
- MYO programme allows custom paint job at no extra cost
The Rallon is Orbea’s EWS level enduro bike, ready to take on some seriously chunky terrain. However, Orbea has also managed to make the bike peppy enough to be no slouch on more mellow trails, making it a real all-rounder.
The bike climbs well and retains plenty of swagger on descents, with well-balanced suspension that helps you maintain speed through fast chatter. The tallest riders might like slightly more front-end height and length, but the short seat-tube makes sizing up possible for most riders.
Some key components can be altered when you buy the bike direct from Orbea, and our test bike had upgraded suspension and brakes. You can also choose from a myriad of different paint schemes, with the only cost being a slightly longer lead time.
Pole Machine TR
- One of the most progressively shaped bikes on the market
- Lots of high-speed and steep terrain stability
- Requires careful set up, and rather heavy
It’s not just the Pole’s out-there geometry that sets it apart, but also the frame’s construction; seven sections of alloy billet are CNC’d and then bolted and bonded together. This, theoretically, gives it a high strength-to-weight ratio.
The super-long geometry gives buckets of stability on steep, rough, fast and loose terrain, making it an exceptionally fast bike to point down a hill. However, to get the best out of it on flatter turns, or to hoik the bike up into a manual or bunny hop needs exaggerated movements and a slight adaptation to technique to account for the bike’s shape.
The suspension is supple and settled, giving that all-important smooth ride at speed. Yet, the steep seat angle also means the bike climbs surprisingly well, despite a hefty weight.
Specialized Enduro Comp Carbon 29
- 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 past couple of decades. This year saw a complete re-design of this classic, 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, but if out and out descending performance is what you’re after, the Enduro should be towards the top of your list.
Canyon Strive CF 9.0
- Canyon’s ShapeShifter alters the bike’s shape on the go
- Great value, as expected, from the German direct-sale brand
- Easy to jump on and fun bike to ride
While its slightly conservative shape might hold it back slightly, compared to the competition, on the most flat-out of tracks the Strive’s lively, poppy and fun character makes it a great bike to ride on your favourite trails.
The ShapeShifter piston in the bike’s suspension linkage alters the bike’s geometry and suspension feel, from a low-slung enduro bike to a higher, more peppy trail-feeling ride, and makes a palpable difference out on the trail.
As you’d expect from Canyon, the parts package shows great value for money, with Ultimate level suspension from RockShox, carbon wheels from Reynolds and carbon cranks fitted to the carbon frame. Our only complaint is that the SRAM G2 brakes feel a little underpowered compared to a Code brake.
Giant Reign 29 1
- 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
We found 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.
Nukeproof Mega 290 Elite Carbon
- A good value bike that packs in plenty of decent kit
- Confident, capable and comfortable at high speeds
- Supple suspension isn’t the most efficient
The Mega, like the Specialized Enduro, almost defines the enduro genre of bikes, being named after the epic Megavalanche race, and with plenty of EWS podiums under Sam Hill. It’s a bike that’s capable of soaking up big hits, meaning it’ll hit warp speed down some seriously chunky terrain.
While it’s more than happy being hammered over rocks and roots, it’s also nimble enough to let you play around, squeeze through tight gaps and pop over trail obstacles with plenty of personality.
Given the feeling of being a maneuverable mini-DH bike, it’s not the most efficient when it comes to climbs or sprints, with a little less mid-stroke support than some bikes. However, descent-focused riders looking for a tidy parts package should consider the Mega.
The Calibre Sentry is, we reckon, one of the best value, budget enduro bikes out there, with a price tag of £2,000 (assuming you have the all important £5 Go Outdoors Discount card). And if you don’t have that, you’re missing a trick! Sadly, this bike is only available in the UK.
Not only does the Sentry have great kit for the cash – a Yari fork, Guide RE brakes and an NX Eagle drivetrain – but it also has super-progressive geometry, proving good design doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
If you’ve slightly deeper pockets, an extra £800 gets you a top-end Lyrik RC2 fork and super-deluxe coil shock with a remote lockout. Bang for buck, we don’t think there’s a better EWS-ready bike on the market right now.
What is an enduro bike?
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 are 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 a trail bike, 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?
While there’s no set definition of travel that defines an enduro bike, the majority have between 150 to 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, especially when you’re buying bikes from the mid-range and 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?
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 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.
How much should I spend on an enduro bike?
Enduro bikes do tend to be relatively pricey, unfortunately. That’s often because they require burlier components, which tend to be more expensive – think forks, wheels, tyres and brakes.
One of the cheapest we’ve seen is the Calibre Sentry at £2,000 (see above). It’s an absolute steal at that price, but, as a general rule, most enduro bike ranges start north of £3,000.