Many people out there are dead set that if you are riding downhill specific trails then you should ride a downhill bike. Why though? We get the question all the time, “which bike will be better for me?” It’s a loaded question when we’re heading into the bike park on one of our tours.
I’m pro-Enduro bike, even in the bike park. Many of our guests have had some riding experience whether it’s on road bikes, cross-country bikes, or just their commuter bikes. Downhill bikes are a lot of fun, but they are a lot of bikes to handle and get used to in such a short amount of time. Over the last 10 plus years of coaching I have found that people feel more comfortable on Enduro bikes if they are a beginner through an Intermediate rider. There isn’t any real science to my finding but personally seeing our guests picking up the skills a bit faster and being more confident in that ability range.
For Strong Intermediate through Expert riders, this is the crowd the bikes are built for. If you are hard charging, riding nothing but the gnarliest terrain, then downhill bikes are amazing! They also have the benefit of having a bit more travel with 200 mm of travel for the front and rear suspension which can make the ride a bit more forgiving if you choose a not so great line or are hitting large jumps.
Over the last five years or so, we’ve seen trail bikes or Enduro bikes start to look more and more like downhill bikes. Look at bikes in the Enduro category, you are seeing bikes now spec’d with 160 mm – 180 mm forks and rear shocks. That’s not too far off from a downhill bike. These bikes are more than capable of descending the same gnarly trails as a downhill bike but require a bit more work when choosing your lines.
Downhill bikes are a lot of fun if you are fully pinned or sending very big jumps. If you’re not always riding the hardest trails in the bike park or charging down the steepest and roughest terrain, grab an Enduro bike. Personally, they are easier to maneuver and you don’t have to be fully pinned for the bike to feel alive!