The Best Enduro Mountain Bikes

After testing six of the latest designs we can attest that as a group enduro bikes are truly competent two-way machines. While not at all like a cross-country race rocket, we never felt like saggy slugs on the climbs either. They packed plenty of punchy power on technical terrain and efficient pedaling on the ride up. At the top we hit the ubiquitous dropper seat post into its low position and flew down. These bikes want to roll fast, but offer plenty of forgiveness with the ability to absorb big hits and slow down in a pinch.

With generous amounts of suspension both front and back, the ride is quite plush. All that travel instills plenty of confidence, as we found ourselves riding faster and taking bigger air than ever before. Plus, our test group included very high-end models, between $6,000 and $8,000, making them that much more enjoyable.

On the specs side these are dual-suspension models with anywhere from 150-170mm of travel, carbon fiber frames, 27.5- or 29-inch wheels, and between 65- and 67-degree head angles. The shocks were top-of-the-line factory issue from top brands, but mostly FOX. The drivetrains were also near top end, with a mix of Shimano XT and XTR, as well as SRAM Eagle XO. This category uses almost exclusively 1x setups and either 11 or 12 cogs in the back.

Because of the uphill performance demands, weight is a key focus. The bikes we tested ranged from 28-31 pounds: While not really light, they can hardly be called heavy, especially considering their capabilities. All were carbon-fiber frames and most had a full-carbon rear triangle, handlebars and other components. Wheel rims were a mix of carbon fiber and alloy.

For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our road cycling helmet testsmountain biking windbreakers test, and other related bike gear reviews.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Niner RIP 9 RDO 4-Star XT 29 ENVE
90
Best in Class
2017
Ride Quality 7
Power Transfer 9
Climbing 10
Handling 7
Components 7

Lightest bike in the test

Nimble despite big wheels

Climbs impressively well

Carbon rims

Lower-end components

No chain tensioner

Less stable on fast descents

Expensive

MSRP
$8,000.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Yeti SB5.5
88
Ride Quality 7
Power Transfer 7
Climbing 8
Handling 8
Components 8

Versatile performance up & down

Small bump shock absorption

Efficient pedaling

Nimble handling

Complicated rear suspension

Handlebars troublesome on tight trails

Less confidence-inspiring on technical descents

MSRP
$7,100.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Norco Range C7.1
86
Ride Quality 7
Power Transfer 6
Climbing 7
Handling 8
Components 8

Strong combo of climbing & descending

Medium fits huge range of testers

Slack head tube angle

Not available in small size frame

All components controlled on right side

A bit heavy

MSRP
$7,399.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Rocky Mountain Slayer 790 MSL
85
Ride Quality 7
Power Transfer 6
Climbing 7
Handling 9
Components 6

Big rotors = awesome braking power

More downhill oriented

Light for its level of durability

Less adept at climbing, especially steeps

Poor handling at slower speeds

Faulty dropper post (pending)

MSRP
$6,999.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Alchemy Arktos
83
Ride Quality 5
Power Transfer 8
Climbing 9
Handling 6
Components 5

Internal cable routing

Good value

Efficient on climbs & XC

Smooth rear travel

Versatile performer

Harder to find at retail

Not as stable descending

Rear-suspension pogo when pedaling

MSRP
$6,199.00
BEST DEAL
Specialized Enduro Pro Carbon 29/6Fattie
82
Ride Quality 6
Power Transfer 5
Climbing 5
Handling 10
Components 6

Full-carbon frame

Includes key tools in water-bottle holster/frame

Rolls over everything smoothly

Super stable descending

Slow steering on technical terrain

Sluggish climbing

Clunky dropper seatpost

MSRP
$6,500.00
BEST DEAL
Niner RIP 9 RDO 4-Star XT 29 ENVE

Here’s what we learned testing the Niner RIP 9 RDO 4-Star XT 29 ENVE, the top-ranked bike in the enduro category. You won’t ride down as well if you’re exhausted at the top from a heavy, slow-climbing bike. In other words, a bike doesn’t have to be the best at descending to win this category. With carbon rims and the lowest overall weight in the test, the RIP was the best climber in our fleet of test machines. On the flats and rolling terrain it was nimble, quick, and playful. That translated into less stability on descents (testers ranked it last in descending), but when it came to overall ride quality it beat out everything else. Just know you’re going to pay a lot for it. But we feel it impacted riding quality so much that it is worth considering if you like the up as much as the down and have the cash.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

Yeti SB5.5

A mythical beast at home in the steepest of terrain, the Yeti SB 5.5 lives up to its namesake. Without the almost-unfair advantage of the Niner’s carbon wheels, this would be the winner of the test. This bike performed better all around, hitting enough sweet spots to make it the bike of choice of most testers. It may not handle technical climbs as well as the smaller-wheeled brethren in the test but it was an able climber nonetheless. And while it may not have been as stable as the slacker bikes we rode, it still descended like a bomb.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

Norco Range C7.1

Like the geeky kid at the dance, the Norco Range C7.1 was no one’s first pick to be ridden. Their loss, as she should not be relegated to wallflower status. It went up efficiently, descended with confidence-inspiring stability, and is tricked out with the priciest and best performing selection of components in the group. This bike will inspire you to ride more and maybe even enter an enduro or single-crown downhill race.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

Rocky Mountain Slayer 790 MSL

The Rocky Mountain Slayer 790 MSL descends with the best of them, but also adds excellent all-mountain/trail capability to the mix. It could easily double as your go-to enduro race bike and all-mountain bike if you insist on a quiver of one.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

See All Enduro Mountain Bikes Reviews

What Is An Enduro Mountain Bike?

by: Last Updated:

Enduro is probably the busiest niche in mountain biking, with tons of interest and innovation and new designs to match the hype. It’s the product that best matches how mountain bikers are increasingly trending: pedal uphill and then play all the way back down. This style of riding spawned the style of racing of the same name.

Enduro races feature timed downhill sections with untimed transfer sections. The transfers are typically climbs, that may not be at a race pace, but are still taxing. Thus enduro demands a combination of almost-downhill mountain bike performance with near-cross country uphill capabilities. The bikes are rugged enough to ride bike parks and huck jump lines, while still pedaling efficiently uphill on road and single track. These are jacks of all trades, with a thirst for speed and adrenaline.

So, is an enduro bike right for you? If you’re considering racing enduro than the answer is definitely yes. These bikes are optimized for the racing style. For more recreational riders, the answer is more nuanced. We were impressed by how well these bikes rode on all sorts of trails. Designers are getting really smart with geometry, finding seemingly disparate performance between stability at high speed, climbing prowess, and slow motion handling. That said these bikes will not satisfy an aerobic-focused athlete or XC racer. Those that prefer to be strung out over an efficient machine will find the upright riding position too mellow. And if your local riding is vertically challenged you will feel over biked most of the time. On the flip side: if your rides tend to go up and then down – especially on rough terrain – or if you want a bike that can do everything from the DH line to the XC, then this is the perfect category for you.

The demands of high performance uphill and down is not cheap, but it produces fun bikes. And that’s really what this sport is about. We all love it because it’s damn fun, and this style of bike brings just about any trail into its playground.