How much suspension travel do I need on my mountain bike?

We try to answer this burning question to help you choose the right bike for your needs

Composite image of a Devinci Django, Troy and Spartan to represent the question

It’s a frequently asked question: how much travel do I need? Or how much travel should the bike I buy have for a particular type of riding?


And it’s a difficult question to answer with any specific accuracy. But there are quite a few factors that will help you

Handily, bike manufacturers categorise bikes according to what terrain they think is most suitable for the bike they’ve designed. This roughly equates to the amount of suspension travel the bike has.

What are the different styles of riding?

Trail riding

Devinci Django trail bike
The Django is Devinci’s trail bike
Alex Evans

Normally trail bikes have up to 140mm of travel. They straddle the line between harder DH-orientated riding and cross-country style riding which means that they have more travel than a full-on XC bike, but less than more hardcore-specific rides.

Less travel means that the bike’s weight is reduced — shorter travel shocks with lighter chassis all keep the weight down. But as soon as you’re getting gnarly or rad the extra squish is essential to keep you in control and from crashing.


Devinci Troy all-mountain bike
The Troy is Devinci’s all-mountain bike
Alex Evans

Generally all-mountain bikes have between 130 and 160mm of travel. As to what sort of riding they’re suited to, the clue’s in the name.

All-mountain bikes are designed for riding every sort of terrain on the mountain — from DH runs to flowy and smooth singletrack and everything in between. All-mountain bikes have enough suspension to tackle hardcore riding, but are often light and without too much travel for all day epics and some longer pedalling missions.


Devinci Spartan enduro bike
The Devinci Spartan is the full-on enduro-ready rig
Alex Evans

Enduro bikes have between 150 and 170mm, or even 180mm, of travel in the most extreme cases. They are designed to tackle the toughest tracks and bike park laps while still being light enough to pedal to the top of the hills.

What are the differences between the types of bike?

Frame construction

Devinci Troy all-mountain bike
Even though the frame looks beefy, it’s made from carbon and is relatively light
Alex Evans

Even though the frame looks beefy, it’s made from carbon and is relatively lightBeyond just how much travel the rear end has there will be differences in frame construction, such as weight and geometry, which all change depending on the bike’s intended use.

The balance of those factors will dictate what discipline or riding style the bike is best suited.

Devinci Spartan enduro bike
The Spartan’s rear end is beefy which means it’ll weigh more than a bike with less travel
Alex Evans

Generally speaking, longer travel bikes will be heavier or more expensive and have a stronger construction to help deal with more extreme levels of terrain.The bikes need to be stiffer and less prone to breaking, and current trends are for these bikes to have longer wheelbases, slacker head angles and longer reach figures.

Cost differences

As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t expect to pay more money for longer travel bikes. A top-of-the-line 120mm travel trail bike should normally cost a similar amount as a 170mm travel enduro bike.

Fox 34 compression damper
The 34’s Damper isn’t as advanced as a more extreme-focussed fork’s cartridge
Alex Evans

The 34’s Damper isn’t as advanced as a more extreme-focussed fork’s cartridgeThe price isn’t focussed on the amount of travel but is more to do with the technology in the suspension — how sophisticated are the dampers and how much adjustment or how light are the forks will all dictate price.

Fork differences

The fork’s chassis is made up of the steerer, crowns, stanchions and lowers and axle. The more travel a fork has, the bigger, heavier and stiffer the fork will be, so the chassis will be designed to reflect these demands too.

RockShox Pike
The Pike is one of RockShox’s most popular forks
Alex Evans

The payoff for having a burlier fork chassis that’s more capable on the descents is that it will feel big and cumbersome on the climbs. Also, if there isn’t an on-the-fly travel reduction option, the fork will sit high in its travel.

A shorter travel fork will have a lighter chassis and smaller stanchion diameter, such as Fox’s 34mm diameter 34 fork compared to its 36. This means there’s more flex and therefore less steering accuracy than a bigger fork.

Fox 34 Elite forks
The Fox 34 forks are lighter and have less travel than their larger stanchioned brothers, the Fox 36
Alex Evans

If you take a bike with this smaller fork beyond its comfort zone while descending then you’ll notice the lack of travel as it struggles to absorb recurring bumps and bigger compressions — the suspension just isn’t designed to tackle gnarlier terrain.

RockShox Lyrik
The Lyrik is a tough fork
Alex Evans

Component differences

Generally speaking, the differences in components between a trail, all-mountain and enduro bike will be relatively subtle and there is a small amount of componentry overlap.Trail bikes will generally be specced with lighter components compared to all-mountain or enduro bikes.

For example, if all three types of bike had Maxxis Minion tyres fitted, the trail bike would most likely get the lightest casing tyre, the all-mountain bike would probably be specced with a mid-weight casing tyre while the enduro bike should have a heavy weight casing model of the same tyre.

Maxxis Minion 3C Maxx Terra EXO protection tyres
The Minion tyres come in plenty of different casing and compound types
Alex Evans

Similarly, you might see a RockShox Pike specced to both trail and all-mountain bikes, but with varying amounts of travel to reflect the bike’s indented purpose. The enduro bike will more likely be fitted with a heavier and longer travel Lyrik or Fox 36 fork though.

Fox 34 fork
The 34 is a capable fork
Alex Evans

The same rule applies to the wheels. All three bikes might be fitted with the same model of rim in varying widths, but the enduro bike will have the widest, strongest version of the rim and the trail bike the lightest, thinnest version.

Other weight savings can be made with the brakes and drivetrains. For example, light weight carbon cranks could be fitted to the trail bike, but enduro and all-mountain bikes would come with heavier versions.

SRAM Guide brake lever
The SRAM Guide brake is more powerful than the Level, but not as strong as the Code
Alex Evans

The SRAM Guide brake is more powerful than the Level, but not as strong as the CodeThe more focused the bike is on descending, the more stopping power you’re going to need. And this is another difference between the different types of bike.

Four piston brakes with large disc rotors — 180mm or 200mm — will be fitted. A trail bike might get smaller disc rotors with lighter brakes.

SRAM Level brakes
The Level brakes use smaller rotors on the Django which saves weight
Alex Evans

What bike do I need?

So, what bike do you need? Well, only you can answer that question, but hopefully this guide will help you to decide.

Devinci has provided us with examples of each discipline of bike to demonstrate, and al three have 29-inch wheels but their travel ranges from 120mm on the Django up to 170mm on the Spartan.


Devinci Django

Devinci Django trail bike
The Django trail bike
Alex Evans

The Django should be fantastically suited to rolling terrain when you’re constantly swapping between descending and climbing. Devinci claims the bike has a suspension kinematic that offers great pedalling efficiency for hammering the climbs but also plenty of bottom-out ramp for when you’re pushing to the limit.The Django, it claims, is the perfect trail bike that is at home on rolling terrain and is well suited to longer all day epic rides on flowing trails.


Devinci Troy

Devinci Troy all-mountain bike
The Troy name is synonymous with Devinci’s all-mountain range
Alex Evans

The Troy name is synonymous with Devinci’s all-mountain rangePositioned as Devinci’s most versatile bike, it claims it has confidence-inspiring geometry without being cumbersome on tight and technical trials. Devinci claims the Troy is a perfect companion for any riding trip or terrain type and is even capable enough to tackle some of the gnarlier enduro-style terrain out there.

The Troy is also claimed to be perfect for someone looking for a little more travel over the Django, with more aggressive geometry if you go to lots of different places on your bike that require a really versatile machine.


Devinci Spartan

Devinci Spartan enduro bike
The Spartan is one tough cookie
Alex Evans

Devinci claims that this bike is its ultimate enduro race machine that’s been proven on the Enduro World Series circuit. It says this bike is spot-on for anyone looking for a bike that can take on steep, technical and high-speed terrain thanks to its long travel and progressive geometry.


Even if you’re looking to tackle the bike park, Devinci says this bike is more than capable. You’re likely to choose this bike if your riding is technically focussed and you want to have a bike that you know can take on almost any terrain whether you’re against the clock or just trying your hardest ride fast at the bike park.