Designed to pedal competently to the top of the hill and then maximise fun on the way down, it’s no surprise that most manufacturer’s mountain bike line-ups are packed with such bikes.
Unless you’re entirely gravity fuelled, or love straining every sinew in your body on a cross-country bike, your riding time will probably be best spent on a trail or enduro bike. Here are five that have caught our eye.
Top 5 trail and enduro bikes for 2018
Here are five trail and enduro bikes to keep an eye on in 2019
Santa Cruz Bronson / Juliana Roubion
The Santa Cruz Bronson has an all-new layout for 2019
Love them or loathe them, Santa Cruz’s latest generation Bronson was always going to make this list.
Its 150mm travel frame has been updated to share the same Lower Link VPP as the hugely successful V10 DH bike and Nomad enduro bike.
Santa Cruz says this design is more descent-focused, and having ridden the bike, I can safely say the rear wheel is glued to the floor. Until, of course, you hop the bike over obstacles or send it off a lip.
The new Bronson climbs almost as well as it descends
When it comes to getting back to the top for another run, you’d be surprised at how well it copes uphill too.
Expect to see a lot of these on your local trails soon.
Specialized’s Stumpjumper Evo is in high demand in the BikeRadar office
What happens when you take a Specialized Stumpjumper, and then stretch it lengthways and squash it vertically? You get the stumpjumper evo — the longer, lower and slacker version of Specialized’s venerable trail bike.
While most bikes come in Small, Medium, Large and Extra \large, the Evo comes in S2 and S3 sizes — basically, long and longer.
And when they say long, they mean it — the S3 evo 27.5 has a whopping 490mm reach, 45mm longer than a regular ‘large’ stumpy 29.
The asymmetrical brace gives the Stumpy a noticeable aesthetic
While the geometry is radical, the frames are also striking, with an asymmetrical support strut between top and down tubes for that on-trend look.
Despite drawing a lot of the hype, the Stumpy EVO isn’t cheap, but it’s also not that expensive by current standards, coming in at £3,250 or £3,600 for the one and only build, the Comp.
It only took one race before Commencal was top of the podium with the Meta AM 29, and that dominance has continued throughout the EWS series, with Cecile Ravenel winning (at time of writing) every single round.
The bike isn’t in particularly revolutionary or fancy. The frame is alloy — the geometry standard — but there’s something inherently fast about this bike, as I found when I rode it at the recent launch.
Commencal has tucked the shock into the top tube
This bike makes you wonder whether you really need high-tech materials and radical angles, and with Commencal’s impressive value for money, I reckon this could be 2019’s best privateer enduro race machine.
Tom has been mountain biking since the age of 13, with a love of fast and flowing trails, or steep, slow and tech. He spends most of his time riding trail and enduro bikes, but will happily dip his toes into the murky world of XC and gravel.