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Enduro MTB: what it is and the most important races

Enduro MTB: what it is and the most important races

Enduro is a cycling - particularly MTB - discipline that combines elements of downhill and cross-country. The sport was inspired by motorcycle enduro events, in which riders have to face a variety of terrains, including timed downhill sections and transfers or slight jumps between special challenges.

Enduro tests riders' resistance, technique and ability to handle uneven terrain. The cyclists often have to carefully choose their own route among rocks, tree roots, tight bends and natural obstacles. 

The discipline has become extremely popular in the MTB world. Today many cyclists consider it one of the most challenging and thrilling off-road cycling events.

What does enduro MTB consist of?

In enduro MTB, cyclists tackle a course that includes timed downhill sections that are often technically challenging, in which speed and agility are essential. 

These sections are usually called special stages. But there are also less demanding intermediary sections in which the riders move between the special stages; these are not timed.

There are various enduro race formats, but they usually include several special stages during a day or a weekend of racing. The winner of an enduro MTB race is the cyclist with the fastest overall time in the special stages.

Characteristics of endurance bikes and enduro MTB clothing

To practise this discipline, cyclists use special bikes known as endurance bikes. What does that mean? It means they're designed to be more robust and high-performance, but also more comfortable.

Endurance bikes generally have broader tyres, a suspension frame, and handlebars that allow different positions for greater comfort.

When it comes to clothing for enduro MTB, there are also some special features to look out for:

  1. A helmet is essential protection for MTB, and enduro is no exception, especially as the terrain is uneven, with fast technical descents;
  2. Clothing (trousers, jersey, pockets) should be made in resistant yet breathable technical fabrics. It's a good idea to always carry a waterproof and wind-proof jacket;
  3. Gloves are important to protect the hands from scratches and injuries and to improve grip on the handlebars;
  4. Footwear should be MTB shoes; if you use automatic pedals, choose appropriate shoes;
  5. Protection: enduro MTB is a fairly aggressive sport, and many riders prefer to use extra protection such as knee and elbow pads;

Hydration backpack, a very useful way to drink without getting off the bike, and also for carrying small items like a phone or a repair kit.

The most important enduro MTB events

Enduro MTB races are extremely popular among off-road cycling enthusiasts, and are organised all over the world. 

Although there are a huge number of competitions, here's a list of some of the most important and prestigious enduro MTB events in the world:

  • Enduro World Series (EWS)  

The enduro world championship is definitely the most prestigious competition, and a dream for every enduro cyclist. The competition consists of a series of stages, held in various venues around the world.

  • In Europe

Europe's most important enduro MTB events include:

  1. Stone King Rally
    Formerly the Trans-Provence, this is a famous all-mountain race, long and challenging, which takes place in the southern French Alps. It stands out for its spectacular courses and tough technical challenges.

  2. TweedLove International
    This is a veritable festival of MTB held in Scotland. The climax is one of the United Kingdom's most important enduro races.
  • Nel Nord America

The USA and Canada host some of the world's leading endurance races.

  1. Epic Rides Off-Road Series
    This series of races in the US, which includes the Whiskey Off-Road and the Carson City Off-Road, offers high-quality enduro riding and attracts numerous participants of all levels;

  2. Big Mountain Enduro
    A competition in stages, held in the USA and known for its demanding courses and high level of competition.

  3. Crankworx Whistler
    Another mountain bike festival, this time in Canada. The festival includes an enduro MTB race, and attracts some of the world's best cyclists.
  • Other world-famous MTB events

It's worth mentioning two more enduro events that are famous worldwide:

  1. Andes Pacifico
    This race happens in Chile and it's loved by athletes and fans for its epic descents and challenging route through the Andes.

  2. Cape Epic
    Although it's mainly a mountain bike competition in stages, the Cape Epic in South Africa includes tricky technical enduro sections.

There are many more national and regional events open to professional riders and amateurs of all levels, who can challenge themselves in enduro competitions and continue to improve their performance.

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