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 racing 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
- Trek Slash 8: £3,450 / $4,200 / AU$6,300 / €3,699
- Bird AM9 GX Custom: £3,340
- Cube Stereo 170 SL 29: £4,699 / €3,999
- Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro: £3,700 / $3,800 / AU$6,852 / €4,700
- Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon RS: £6,000 / $6,000 / AU$8,300 / €7,600
- Orbea Rallon M10 MYO: £5,027 (custom build price)
- Specialized Enduro Comp Carbon 29: £4,500 / $4,510 / AU$6,800 / €4,999
- Specialized Status 160: £2,600
- Vitus Sommet 29 CRX: £3,600 / $4,600 / AU$6,667 / €5,100
- Whyte G-180 RS 29 V1: £3,500
- Canyon Strive CF 9.0: £5,449 / $5,099/ AU$7,849 / €4,799
- Cotic RocketMAX Gen3 Silver SLX: £4,199
- Giant Reign 29 1: £4,499 / $5,000 / €4,199
- Yeti SB165: £3,799 / $4,000
- YT Capra Shred 27.5: £3,825
Trek Slash 8
- £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 feels the most level it has 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 upfront.
Bird Aeris AM9 GX Custom
- £3,340 as tested
- 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 the ability to alter the spec when purchasing means you can build a bike to suit both your component preferences and budget.
Cube Stereo 170 SL 29
- £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 Mega 290 Alloy Pro
- £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
- £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 that 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 Mega, with plenty of support too.
The shorter chainstays and longer front end of the new geometry, paired with the updated suspension, gives 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 off for a better ride. The saddle proved uncomfortable on longer climbs in testing and the tyres weren’t the fastest rolling.
Orbea Rallon M10 MYO
- £5,027 (custom build price) as tested
- 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 confidence 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.
Specialized Enduro Comp Carbon 29
- £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 re-design 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, but if out-and-out descending performance is what you’re after, the Enduro should be towards the top of your list.
Specialized Status 160
- £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 machine. 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.
Vitus Sommet 29 CRX
- £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 feels 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 29 V1
- £3,500 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 29 V1 has replaced the Whyte G-170, bringing with it more travel, an increased reach and an extended rear centre.
The rear suspension is damped by a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ shock and the front by a 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 is worth noting that due to the 29in wheels it is not available in a size small.
Canyon Strive CF 9.0
- £5,449 / $5,099/ AU$7,849 / €4,999 as tested
- 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 geometry might hold it back slightly compared to the competition, on the most flat-out of tracks the Strive’s lively, poppy and fun character still makes it a great bike to ride.
The ShapeShifter piston in the bike’s suspension linkage alters its geometry and suspension feel, from a low-slung enduro rig 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.
Cotic RocketMAX Gen3 Silver SLX
- £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 is 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 Reign 29 1
- £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
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.
- £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
- Exceeded 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 quickly absorbs bumps, 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 arguably 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
- £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 is 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 is 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 is a fairly average weight.
But a 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.
First ride recommendations
These enduro bikes have only been ridden by the BikeRadar team a handful of times so they haven’t been subjected to fully scored reviews, but they are still worth considering.
- Great value enduro bike
- Super-progressive geometry
- Upgrade available for top-end suspension
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.
Evil Wreckoning GX Eagle
- Enduro rig that holds its own on big mountains
- Mashes through everything at warp speed
- Engaging and reactive on jumps and berms
The Evil Wreckoning GX Eagle does everything an enduro bike will do but has a character and agility that makes it more like a mini downhill rig, ploughing through the rough stuff, and with a feel that’s close to a freeride or jump bike.
The new Wreckoning has a tank-like unidirectional carbon frame with an updated longer, slacker chassis. This is what helps give you the sensation of riding a downhill bike, which paired with the extra travel on the updated version, helps to eat up anything in its path.
The single-pivot linkage-driven-shock rear suspension gives the bike a fun, urgent feel, but it doesn’t track quite as well as some designs under braking. There isn’t a great deal of room for mud clearance either and the seat angle could be refined.
But with a bike that’s this fun to ride? Maybe these things can be forgiven.
Forbidden Dreadnought XT
- Stable platform that is particularly suited to taller riders
- Built around a downhill-style geometry
- Will get you to the top of the trail with less fuss than other big hitting bikes
The Forbidden Dreadnought XT is something of an anomaly in the enduro category thanks to its high-pivot design. But this makes a lot of sense when you know it’s been designed around a downhill geometry that helps take on big hits and provides a stable ride.
As could be expected from a bike with a more gravity-orientated geometry, the Dreadnought can take a lot of abuse on descents, but despite its high pivot is relatively lively, letting you manual, pump and jump without absorbing too much energy.
When it comes to climbing there is plenty of bike to get uphill, but the high-pivot drivetrain doesn’t create as much drag as you might expect and – as long as your technique is good – there is a lot of grip to be found.
The particularly long chainstay length gives the Dreadnought its stability and makes it ideal for taller riders. Forbidden has also made the bike with size-specific tubing profiles to ensure a consistent ride feel across sizes.
Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01 RSV
- Confident and solid feel
- Balances stability and playfulness
- Fast through the turns
Now in its fifth iteration, the Santa Cruz Nomad sticks to 650b wheels as Santa Cruz stands by the fact they deliver a more fun and agile ride.
This version of the Nomad tops the range with a Fox 38 Factory fork up front, Fox X2 Factory Float rear shock, and SRAM X01 Eagle gearing. The 200mm rotors and Code RSC brakes provide the stopping power.
The suspension still offers 170mm of travel at the back (which is matched by 170mm at the front), but Santa Cruz has updated the pivot design to make the bike better at handling particularly rough descents.
The Nomad wasn’t designed to be the fastest uphill, but it still holds its own and feels efficient.
On steep descents, the Nomad handles will with the suspension remaining sensitive and keeping the tyres glued to the trail. The carbon wheels aren’t the comfiest when heading downhill, but their stiffness gives them an accuracy and thrilling feel on linked up corners, helping the Nomad achieve its speed-machine, hooligan nature.
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 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?
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.