You’ve probably seen mountain bikers race down a hill, dodging rocks and logs along the way. While all this points to what you may consider enduro racing, it is probably not enduro mountain biking. So, what is it?
Enduro mountain biking can be best described as a downhill racing sport. It blends the timed descent of downhill mountain biking with the technical difficulty and aggression of cross-country XC racing. You can race as an individual or as part of a team.
Enduro Mountain Bike Racing and Its Origin
Enduro mountain biking is a relatively new sport that combines downhill, cross-country and all-mountain biking. It’s designed to be a more relaxed and fun way to experience all the different aspects of mountain biking without having to specialize in any particular style.
It’s like downhill ski mountain racing, with riders making their way down a mountain course. There are sections more like cross-country racing, where riders must resort to the old-fashioned pedalling through forests and up hills.
Think of it as the perfect way to explore everything mountain biking offers. You’ll start with a long descent, followed by climbs and technical trails. The result is a fun and challenging experience that will bring you back for more.
The course for an enduro bike race is typically about 5-10 kilometers long and includes between 250 and 750 meters of climbing. Most of it is in the first half of the race. Enduro mountain bike racing began in Europe with influence from car rally racing and motorbike enduro racing.
The sport had a simple concept—bikers were to get to the top of a mountain and race to the bottom in a time trial style. The first enduro mountain bike race was held in Finale Ligure, Italy, in 2009. Since then, the sport has grown in popularity, with races being held worldwide.
The most famous and biggest enduro event is the Enduro World Series (EWS). This competition visits some of the world’s best riding spots for each round, with each having a live winner that can win prize money. All rounds also accumulate points for a separate series winner at the end of the year.
Smaller enduro bike racing events are also a lot of fun. They exist outside the big names in the sport, and some of these events qualify to enter an Enduro World Series (EWS) event. If you do well enough, you’ll be able to compete on an international stage.
If you’re someone who loves the excitement of Enduro racing but qualifies for a lower-level EWS event, don’t worry. Enduro World Series 80 and Enduro World Series 100 events give every rider a chance to experience this breathtaking sport’s thrills.
What Are Enduro Races?
Enduro mountain biking races are typically longer than cross-country races, with more rugged terrain. Riders carry their bikes over obstacles such as flying mud and navigate difficult trails. Modern enduro races usually involve anywhere between three and six stages.
During timed stages of the race, you’ll be mostly biking downhill. However, the nature of each stage can vary in steepness, length, and difficulty depending on where it is. In between timed stages are “transfer stages.” These are mostly long and technical uphill and may involve sections where you go the good old-fashioned pedalling.
Enduro differs from other races because each obstacle race tends to have its style, fitness and skill requirements. You will find that some races require you to finish by a certain time on the day of the event, while others require you to make it through each stage with a specific time limit.
The goal of an enduro race is to complete all the stages as quickly as possible. Riders are penalized for taking too long on a stage, so they must be efficient to win. Overall, it’s challenging but also a lot of fun.
What Is Enduro Riding?
Enduro mountain riding is a specific type focused on the downhill portions of a trail. The uphill sections are typically completed in a first-time trial style. Riders are timed from the start of the stage to the bottom.
Enduro bike riding is popular in areas with no lift-assisted trails or bike parks with downhill tracks. Thanks to new bikes that can do both uphill and downhill, enduro riding is flourishing and continues to grow in popularity.
The rider with the fastest time on each stage is said to have won. Ultimately, the rider with the most stage wins is declared the overall winner. Enduro riding is a relatively new discipline of mountain biking, and there are no defined rules or regulations.
However, most enduro events follow a similar format and often include 5 to 7 stages. Riders are typically given two runs on each stage, with their best run counting towards their final time. The first run is typically used as a practice run and for familiarity with the course.
How Is Enduro Mountain Biking Different from Cross Country Racing?
When you’re out on the trail, you might notice that some cyclists are kitted out differently than others. Those are enduro mountain bikers who only focus on downhill sections, with the uphill sections being used as transition stages.
Downhill racing is full of steep slopes and technical challenges, while cross-country racers must focus on becoming fit. You don’t need to be a professional mountain biker to enjoy enduro. All you need is a nuke-proof bike, some technical riding experience, and enough stamina to ride the local singletrack for a couple of hours.
While cross-country racing is about going fast and completing the course as quickly as possible, enduro mountain biking is more about completing the entire course without being timed. You can take your time on the downhill sections and enjoy the ride.
Remember that enduro mountain biking does require some physical fitness and skill to complete the course. However, it’s still one of the most approachable disciplines for an amateur rider looking to excel in mountain biking.
The best way to improve your skills in enduro is through practice under pressure. This prepares you for the actual race, where you can compete against other racers with similar experience levels like yourself and win.
Enduro bikes are similar to trail bikes in design, but they sacrifice some climbing agility for better downhill performance. The best enduro nuke-proof bikes have 150-170mm suspension at the front and rear.
Suspension is usually based on a single crown fork, and many use air or coil springs depending on the demands of the course. An ideal full-suspension bike for enduro racing also has heavier tires to improve reliability over multiple stages.
One of the key aspects of enduro racing is that riders need to be self-sufficient. Most mountain bike brands have started improving bike frames by integrating storage compartments for food and water. Riders can use them to store these items near the saddle, under the top tube, or inside the front triangle.
The Benefits of Enduro Mountain Biking
So now that you know what enduro mountain biking is, you might wonder what the benefits are. And there are quite a few!
First of all, enduro mountain biking is a great workout. You’re constantly pedaling and shifting your weight, so it’s a great way to get your cardiovascular fitness up and burn some calories.
Secondly, it’s a great way to explore the outdoors. There’s nothing quite like being out in nature, and with enduro mountain biking, you can go places you wouldn’t be able to access by foot or car.
And last but not least, enduro mountain biking is simply fun! It’s a great way to spend time with friends or family and a perfect way to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
The Best Gear for Enduro Mountain Biking
The most preferred enduro kit should have lighter materials and softer fabrics to achieve comfort while pedaling the technical uphill transfers. It’s also advisable to not only dress appropriately but carry some spare clothes in case of interchangeable weather conditions.
Similarly, depending on your riding, you may need a different type of helmet. Convertible full-face helmets are the best as they provide downhill-level safety certification on the descents with an open-face ventilation system for climbing.
Riders also need knee pads for knee protection. You can combine them with base layers or undershorts to offer extra protection without limiting trail maneuverability. It would also help if you had goggles for eye protection against dirt and debris and gloves to protect your hands.
Enduro mountain biking combines the technical challenges of downhill biking with the endurance required for cross-country racing. While there are many different types of enduro mountain biking, the most common format is to have a mass start, with riders starting at timed intervals. The rider with the fastest time on the descent wins the race.
Enduro mountain biking is a growing sport, with more races being held yearly. If you’re looking for a challenging and exhilarating mountain biking experience, enduro is a sport you can try with your new and old friends.