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Best enduro mountain bikes 2019: carbon and aluminium options for all skill sets

Yeti SB150
Enduro’s most desirable bike in 2019 is the Yeti SB150
(Image credit: Yeti)

Combining elements of cross-country racing fitness and the technicality of downhill racing (minus those huge jumps), enduro has its origins in the French Alps. It was here that riders formulated a purer version of all-day racing, which prioritised descending, without the benefit of chairlifts. 

An enduro bike can’t feature the same sacrificial terrain-absorption ability of a downhill bike, because it must be pedalled uphill too. Some enduro events even have special stages which require a hundred yards or so of pedalling. An element of suspension efficiency is crucial. As such, mountain bike engineers and component designers have supplied an entirely new class of bikes and gear to cater for this discipline’s unique demands. 

When the Enduro World Series (EWS) started in 2013, racing was dominated by 27.5 wheeled bikes, with 150mm of travel. In 2019 there is a selection of 29er alternatives, designed around the same amount of travel, while the 27.5-inch bikes have become even more capable, averaging 160mm of rear-suspension. 

The fact that enduro events are raced blind mean these bikes have now matured into the most forgiving and capable single-crown descending frames available, effectively transforming modern mountain bike geometry. 

BEST ENDURO MOUNTAIN BIKES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

As the popularity and participation numbers in enduro have grown, the market has responded with a greater diversity of bikes – at all price levels. Below are a few attributes worth considering before making a purchase as well as our top three enduro bikes currently available.

1. Frame material

The greatest differentiating factor remains frame material: with carbon bikes easily outranking aluminium alternatives in price. We say that with one caveat, though, as the most boutique bike on our list is one of the most expensive and made from aluminium. 

2. Suspension

Rear suspension design and geometry are the most important features worth considering when evaluating an enduro bike. With special stages that can run for far longer than expected (up to 3-miles), the issue of shock fade, due to overheating, is a real concern for enduro riders. Therefore, a frame which offers sufficient shock clearance to run a high-volume air shock (with a piggyback reservoir) or coil shock, is vital. 

3. Geometry

The Enduro category, with its requirements for all-day riding endurance and extreme terrain taming ability on descents, has revolutionised mountain bike geometry. Longer bikes with slacker angles are the defining trend, optimising the theory that an elongated wheelbase is inherently more stable. Many bikes also feature flip-chips for their suspension rocker arms or mounting hardware, which allow for small geometry adjustments – and those might make all the difference for your riding. 

Our top picks

Enduro’s most desirable bike in 2019 is Yeti’s SB150, which combines vanguard geometry numbers (480mm reach and a 64.4 head angle, sized large) with advanced carbon-fibre construction and the brand’s proven switch-infinity suspension system. It is the closest of all enduro bikes to combining cross-country pedalling competence with near-downhill-grade descending stability. 

Second place in our selection goes to Pole’s Stamina 180. It features the cycling world’s most advanced aluminium construction and radical geometry numbers, with reach stretched way beyond 500mm. Unless you are willing to commit to experimental frame geometry, the Pole could perhaps be too much bike for most riders. Exceptionally tall mountain bikers could discover this huge Finnish enduro rig, to be the perfect bike for them. 

Those seeking vanguard geometry numbers at an affordable price, will be heartened by Bird’s Aeris AM9, which is smashing value. The British brand’s 150mm 29er enduro bike offers a slacked-out 65-degree head angle and 500mm reach (sized large). All at a third the price of either the Yeti or Pole. 

THE BEST ENDURO MOUNTAIN BIKES IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE

Yeti's SB150 is a beautifully packaged bike with the trail cred to match

(Image credit: Yeti)

1. Yeti SB150

Carbon art presented as an enduro bike

Frame type: Carbon | Travel: 150mm | Sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 13.5kg | Wheel options: 29in

Unrivalled image appeal
Matched by inarguable ability
You’ll rightfully baulk at the price
Mud clearance can be an issue for riders who frequent wet conditions

The Coloradoan brand dominated Enduro Word Series racing in 2015 and 2016, with Richie Rude and Jared Graves winning overall titles aboard its SB160. Replicating all the virtues of the that bike, with the benefit of 29er wheels, is Yeti’s SB150. 

Frame weight is impressively light, as you’d expect for a bike of this price, with an enduro build coming in at just 13.5kg. Geometry numbers are just shy of most dedicated downhill bikes in terms of head angle and wheelbase. The latest iteration of Yeti’s renowned switch infinity suspension system gifts the SB150 tremendous climbing efficiency without sacrificing descending ability. 

Debits? It is a very expensive bike and the rear tyre clearance, slightly limited, for those who like to ride larger casings than 2.4 – especially in muddy conditions. 

Yeti launches SB140 trail bike

Pole Stamina enduro bike

A boutique brand, Pole combines outrageous geometry with advanced alloy construction

(Image credit: Pole)

2. Pole Stamina

The downhill racer’s trail bike

Frame type: Aluminium | Travel: 180mm | Sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 14.2kg | Wheel options: 29in, 27.5in

The world’s most advanced aluminium mountain bike
Is also the world’s most daring geometry design 
Geometry could be too radical for some
Boutique brand means limited supply

A boutique Finnish frame that combines outrageous geometry with advanced alloy construction. The Stamina is effectively machined into two halves, with the frame glued together to form a single monocoque. 

It you are a tall rider or ardent believer in the new trend of extra-long bikes, the is the bike for you, boasting a reach of 510mm (size large) and slack 63.5-degree head angle. This is by far the most vanguard enduro bike you can buy and offers massive tyre clearance of up to ‘2.8 on 29er rubber. 

A very clever feature is the ability to remove a linkage bolt, which allows the Stamina to fold in two, making its wonderfully easy to transport in a car or store in an apartment. 

Bird Aeris AM9

The Bird Aeris AM9 is a long-travel travel 29er that offers unbeatable value

(Image credit: Bird Cycleworks)

3. Bird Aeris AM9

All the right numbers – including price

Frame type: Aluminium | Travel: 150mm | Sizes: M, L, XL | Weight: 14.3kg | Wheel options: 29in

Stellar value
Absolutely on-trend enduro geometry numbers 
Aeris AM9’s stability enhancing length might not suit all riding styles 
Not the prettiest design 

You don’t need to pay silly money to access the very latest trends in enduro bike geometry. From Swinley comes the Bird Aeris AM9, which is a long-travel travel 29er presenting uncanny value. Geometry numbers are very current, with 500mm of reach on a large frame. 

One wouldn’t expect a featherweight bike for the blend of features and price, yet the Aeris AM9 isn’t uninspiringly heavy. 

As a value offering, this bike is essentially unbeatable. It has sensible rear triangle mud-clearances too, which will allow you to run 2.5 width tyres on a wide rim. 

Santa Cruz Megatower

Santa Cruz Megatower continues to redefine the enduro bike cocnept

(Image credit: Santa Cruz)

4. Santa Cruz Megatower

Turns all the A-lines into easy lines

Frame type: Carbon | Travel: 160mm | Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL | Weight: 14kg | Wheel options: 29in

Effectively a single-crown downhill bike
Smooths out virtually any terrain
Huge suspension travel and ability can numb responsiveness in slower corners
Desirable built kits run at appropriately dear prices 

The Californian brand has an impeccable pedigree in gravity racing and popularised the long-travel 29er with its original Tallboy LTC back in 2012. A radical reconfiguration of Santa Cruz’s VPP suspension system increases rear-wheel travel to 160mm, by employing a lower-link driven shock, which runs through the frame. 

Santa Cruz has resisted extending its enduro bikes to extreme geometry, with the Megatower having a relatively average 470mm reach (in size large), although there is some geometry adjustment available. 

Light and outrageously capable, the Megatower is most appropriate for riders who prefer to hang-on and allow the bike to plough over terrain. 

Nukeproof Mega 290

Bombproof, big-hitting and competent, the Nukeproof Mega 290 is built for enduro racing

(Image credit: Nukeproof )

5. Nukeproof Mega 290

Compact and bombproof

Frame type: Alumnimium | Travel: 155mm | Sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 14.6kg | Wheel options: 29in

Proven race pedigree 
Long travel 29er rear suspension that doesn’t shy away from big hits
No adjustable geometry chips
Not light 

If a frame’s racing lineage is your unit of analysis, this is the world’s best enduro bike. Ridden by current Enduro world champion and former Downhill phenom, Australian Sam Hill, the Mega has seen minor frame alterations and to run 29er wheels for 2019. 

Geometry numbers might not be overly daring (470mm reach on a large frame), but the Mega 290 has 155mm of rear-triangle suspension travel and a reputation for bombproof reliability. 

The suspension design does prioritise big-hit absorption capability, at the cost of isolating pedal input – so it does bob a bit under power. 

GT Force 29

It might be a touch on the heavy side by the GT Force 29 is just as capable as any bike listed here when it comes to devouring the trail

(Image credit: GT)

6. GT Force 29

A classic mtb name returns to former glory

Frame type: Alumnimium | Travel: 150mm | Sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 15.8kg | Wheel options: 29in

Considered blend of sensible geometry numbers and ample rear-wheel travel 
Threaded bottom bracket eases maintenance and avoids annoying creaks
It’s a heavy bike
No carbon option for now

The evolved Force has been part of GT’s significant brand revival over the last year and a half, by regularly podiuming (and even winning) Enduro World Series events. Part of that success is due to GT abandoning the brand’s own pivot design and reverting to a horst-link suspension configuration.

GT has finally answered demand for a big-wheeler version of its proven enduro bike and the Force 29 blends the value of aluminium construction with entirely contemporary geometry. 

If you pine for the glory days of GT (circa 1990s), this is a greatly symbolic enduro bike which can trade on more than merely sentiment. 

Giant Reign 29

Giant's venerable Reign enduro mountain bike has finally opted to go the 29-inch route

(Image credit: Giant)

7. Giant Reign 29

An eagerly anticipated arrival

Frame type: Carbon | Travel: 146mm | Sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 13.1kg | Wheel options: 29in

Class-leading weight numbers
Big improvements in overall descending geometry
Even a full-carbon Giant is no longer a truly affordable bike
Shorter legged riders might struggle for an optimal dropper-post set-up

 The Taiwanese brand has produced a potentially giant-killing bike with its 29-wheeled Reign. An evolution of the existing Reign platform, this is 2019’s latest Enduro bike and combines a hugely competent 146mm of rear-suspension travel with an array of fork options ranging between 160- and 170mm. 

Other significant upgrades that the progression to bigger wheels have brought to Giant’s Reign include a trunnion mount rear shock and the choice between 42- or 44mm fork offsets, offering riders, with appropriate skills, a much quicker steering option. 

Geometry numbers feature a meaningfully longer frame than Giant’s 27.5-inch Reign, with the new 29er stretched to 494mm of reach on large frame. 

Read more about the all-new Giant Reign 29

Scott Ransom tuned 900

At 13.1kg, the Scott Ransom Tuned 900 is one of the lightest enduro rigs available

(Image credit: Scott)

8. Scott Ransom Tuned 900

A Swiss lightweight with substantial ability

Frame type: Carbon | Travel: 170mm | Sizes: S, M, L, XL | Weight: 13.1kg | Wheel options: 29in, 27.5in

Very light for a 170mm bike
Ability to run both wheel sizes 
Not cheap
Twin-loc system not to everyone’s liking 

Enduro might be about descending but a light bike is never a debit, especially if you are trying to lean it into and through high-speed corners for an entire afternoon. With build kits rolling onto the trail at only 13.1kg, this Scott certainly won’t hold your fitness to ransom…

Scott’s Ransom is one of the lightest long-travel enduro frames available and offers great adaptability by accepting both 29er and 27.5-inch wheels. 

The Ransom also features adjustable geometry, allowing you to tune its angles, and climbs with an efficiency that no 170mm bike should, thanks to Scott’s twin-loc system, although some might find an additional handlebar remote (for the twin-loc) annoying. 

Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his fascination with trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. Rides: Morewood Kwela Cotic Simple 26 Pyga 160mm aluminium prototype