6 of the best enduro mountain bikes you can buy
© Rob Parkin
Fancy getting between the tape and on to the stages for some enduro rain action this year? Here's the best machinery to do it on.
Fancy doing some racing this year? Even if your answer was a resounding no, you should probably consider it. Racing offers a fresh perspective on riding, and the beauty of entering an enduro race is that you won't need anything more than your regular mountain bike.
On the other hand, if you're serious about racing this summer, you could buy a new one. A racy one. A very racy one. Here are six of the fastest enduro MTBs that money can buy.
1. Orbea Rallon M-Ltd 19
If there was an award for the website where the most time has been wasted in the last six months, then Orbea would probably win it. Their My O bike configurator allows for an apparent million or so combinations of paint and spec on their acclaimed Rallon M-Ltd 19. Before you get into the myriad of colour choices available, though, at its heart is a platform that's already campaigned a full Enduro World Series season.
There's no doubting the appeal of the chunky carbon-fibre lines, and the technical intrigue of the single sided shock tower, before you get into the details. In M-Ltd 19 spec, the bike is bedecked in parts from Fox Racing Shox and ENVE Composites.
According to the blurb, the bike is also further enhanced with 'Enduralin' which, Orbea claim, ‘Is the extra bit of fun that turns a good ride into a great one – the shouting of the crowd, a flow state of euphoria, cowbells, chainsaws, accelerated reaction time, and enhanced perception'. We’re not 100 percent sure how that translates on the trail, but there's no doubting the Rallon's credentials as one of the privateer race machines to take into consideration.
Price: £7,999 / €9,240 / US$10,380 complete build
2. Nukeproof Mega 275C RS
For this bike, we could simply just write 'Sam Hill rides one', and that's probably all the recommendation it would need for a whole generation of mountain bikers. The Mega is indeed the machine of choice for arguably the most influential racer of all time, but for those looking for more quantitative analysis, it's won back-to-back EWS titles, as well as a junior crown thanks to Hill's team-mate Elliot Heap.
The Mega is available with 29in wheels, but it's the smaller 27.5in version that Hill prefers to do his winning aboard. The carbon-fibre front triangle was four years in development (the Mega range dates as far back as 2009), and the RS's spec apes that of Hill's Chain Reaction Cycles/Mavic team bike, with RockShox suspension and a SRAM parts package.
Price: £4,999 / €5,700 / US$6,490 complete build
3. Yeti SB150
When Yeti Cycles, one of the most iconic brands in mountain biking, announced that they were switching their attentions from UCI World Cup Downhill in 2014, there were many raised eyebrows. International race victories had not exactly flowed for Yeti, but they were well-regarded as being expert talent spotters and fostering American talent. They even gave a certain young Californian called Aaron Gwin a debut.
Fortunately for the boys in turquoise, the move to focus on enduro racing paid off, with EWS race wins and titles flowing in for Jared Graves, and then Richie Rude. Their Switch Technology rear suspension system is a bit of a Marmite USP, but with the bikes more popular than ever, many clearly swear by it.
Their latest race machine is the SB150, which offers some bang-up-to-date numbers, 29in wheels, Boost axle spacing, and an impressive range of sizes. All this adds up to a bike tailor-made for the stages. It won its first five competitive races in a row, including the final two EWS races of 2018, so it obviously works quite well.
Price: £2,900 / €3,380 / US$3,800 frame only
4. Santa Cruz Hightower LT
Most bike brands would give their right arms for the kind of following that Santa Cruz command. The Californian brand have for years backed up their 'party team' status with big results on the downhill scene, and when it comes to enduro they leave it to Mark Scott and Iago Garay to provide the goods.
The longer travel Hightower (that's where the LT bit comes from) may not be as slack as some of the other offerings in the EWS pits, but that only seems to make it an all the more attractive as a bike for every occasion, suited to just about any race track. The VPP suspension platform is a well-honed one and, as ever with the Santa Cruz brand, the fit and finish are second to none.
Price: £3,999 / €4,600 / US$5,200 complete build
5. Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo
We're not suggesting that you attempt to cheat at your local enduro by turning up on an eMTB, but one thing that we're definitely seeing more of is the inclusion of eMTB categories at races. So, if you really want an electrically-assisted machine, but still want to race it, then there's little argument that the S-Works Turbo Levo from Specialized is by far the best way to go.
Is the future of MTB racing electrically-assisted? The EWS attempted to find out at the end of last season.
The S-Works Turbo Levo is very expensive, but when you consider the amount of R&D that Specialized have thrown into this bike, then it probably starts to feel slightly more palatable. The 29in wheel-specific geometry is coupled to Specialized's new 2.1 RX Trail motor, which is up on power and down on weight from the old offering, and their new battery is claimed to provide up to 40 percent more range.
Price: £9,999 / €11,560 / US$12,990 complete build
6. Pole Machine
Are you a rider who prefers a slightly more eclectic choice of machine? Prefer fine engineering to mass production? Then Finland's Pole Machine may just be the bike for you. The all-alloy bike is CNC-machined in two halves before being bonded together with the use of 7075 aluminium alloy, providing a superb stiffness-to-weight ratio. The geometry is just about as aggressive as they come, with numbers bearing more similarities to those of a downhill bike than most mass produced enduro options.
The shock is asymmetrically mounted to the Machine in order to provide more space for the super-steep seat angle, and it's been designed to work either as a coil or air-sprung shock. Even the smaller sizes are pretty big, meaning that no matter how aggressive the stages are, the Pole should make light work of them.
Price: €3,500 / £3,000 / US$3,930 frame only