Difference Between Enduro And Downhill MTB: Ultimate Guide For 2023

Welcome to the most confusing discipline of all, mountain biking.

If you are looking for the difference between enduro and downhill MTB, you are not alone.

This topic leaves most beginners lost, as both the activities involve timed descends.

If you have read my previous article, you must be familiar with the differences between enduro and cross-country mountain bikes or mtbs.

And here we will de-mystify the differences between enduro mountain bikes and downhill mountain bikes- oh wait- are they different at all…

Let us find out all the questions that you may have regarding enduro vs. downhill mountain bikes.

Enduro Vs Downhill MTB: The Basics

Downhill mountain bikes is all about gravity-led biking, whereas Enduro biking is that and much more.

While downhill bikes are intended to go down the mountains at the fastest speed possible, enduro bikes are adept at tackling climbs, descends, and technical terrains.

In addition, Downhill races are essentially short, whereas Enduro races are long and require a lot of stamina.

Difference Between Enduro And Downhill MTB Suspension Travel

Difference Between Enduro and Downhill Suspension Travel

Suspension travel refers to the maximum extent to which the front or rear suspension of a mountain bike can compress prior to absorbing impact.

Suspension travel is one of the most significant components of a mountain bike.

It could differ from one bike to the other based on the intended application of the mountain bike.

Suspension travel is found mostly for bikes used to travel in the mountains as well as for the hybrid bikes.

Mountain bikes can have short suspension travel, long suspension travel, single or dual suspension travels.

The suspension travel of a mountain bike could range anywhere between 100 to 200 or even beyond that.

The performance and price of a mountain bike could largely depend on the type and amount of suspension travel offered by a bike along with other essential components, such as frame, wheels, gears etc.

It is not possible to say the exact travel required for each discipline of mountain biking.

However, a downhill bike would typically have the maximum suspension travel, i.e., around 170 mm to over 200 mm.

Suspension travel for an enduro bike would range below that of a downhill bike. Enduro bikes have a suspension travel in a range of about 140 to 180mm.

In a nutshell, the rider’s style of riding and the type of trail would determine the amount of suspension travel that they should need for their bike.

Difference In Suspension Fork Used

Difference Between Enduro and Downhill MTB Suspension

A mountain bike with higher suspension travel would have a longer fork, and one with lower suspension travel would have a shorter suspension fork.

The suspension fork of a mountain bike consists of three essential components: axle, crowns, and steerer.

Generally, the weight of the suspension forks is directly proportional to the amount of travel it offers, which adds to the total weight of the bike.

This is the reason why mountain bike forks that perform exceptionally well on the descent may not be able to perform well while climbing uphill.

And hence, several bike manufacturers now incorporate travel reduction settings on bikes with higher suspension travel to make their products more versatile and appealing.

Enduro Vs Downhill MTB Tires Used

Mountain bike tires differ with each discipline based on the mountain trails that the bike tires are intended for.

Moreover, the power and rolling resistance required for each discipline are two other factors that influence the selection of the tires used for mountain biking.

Enduro Bike Tires

Enduro bike tires are fundamentally designed to move down the trails with ease, while you can also climb up the hills without hassle.

The enduro bike tires can make more impact when compared to cross country bike tires.

Contrary to downhill bike tires, enduro bike tires must be suitable for seamless pedaling.

Riders usually go for blocky treads, with reasonable spacing between tread blocks.

This enables the tires to grip onto the ground.

Typically available in the harder rubber compound, enduro tires can take more punishment.

The width of enduro tires typically falls in the mid range, which is around 2.3″. This is aimed at offering a versatile experience to the rider by allowing them to tackle pressure better.

However, narrow tires are more adept at cutting more into the ground while riding on soft surfaces like sand.

On the other hand, wider tires may lose momentum and direction while riding on smooth surfaces.

Downhill Bike Tires

The most technical of all, downhill tracks call for the most competent tires.

The diverse terrains that you ride on would require the most skillful tread pattern, should be able to shed off mud amazingly and can sustain the grip.

Large blocky treads on downhill bike tires are very common.

The tire compound is somewhat more complex, and the cases are typically reinforced so as to prevent distortion that occurs as a result of rough use.

In order to tackle the bike into corners, irrespective of the weather conditions, tires with taller tread blocks are a blessing.

Rolling resistance is of utmost significance to downhill riding, and taller tires do the best resistance on the trails while pedaling even at higher speeds.

The earlier downhill tires (”90s) used to be so tractor-like, with around 3″ wide tires.

With the increasing need for better maneuverability on technical trails, the present-day downhill tires are around 2.5″ wide.

Riders who prefer faster rolling tires mostly stick to tires with smaller width- about 2.2″.

While this gives better acceleration and maneuverability, the tires may not do their downhill job well on all technical trails.

Difference In Rolling Resistance And Versitality

Both enduro and downhill bikes need rolling resistance. However, it required more so for the downhill bikes.

Rolling resistance makes sure that the bike has a better grip and would not land in a crash easily when you are on a descend or highly technical trail.

So, look out for bikes that offer better rolling resistance for your downhill bike.

Enduro bikes on the other hand are also known as all-mountain bikes for a reason.

They can be used on most kinds of trails, even though their performance is exceptional during timed descends.

And hence we can conclude that enduro bikes are typically more versatile than their downhill counterparts.

Usually, downhill bikes undergo heavy modification to tackle downhill in the lowest time, whereas the enduro bike, by design, is expected to go up and down the mountains.

Difference Between Enduro And Downhill Race Format

Enduro And Downhill Race Formats
Race Formats

One steep track in a downhill terrain, and the rider has to complete riding it in the lowest time- this is how the downhill race work.

Enduro race, on the other hand, involves several stages and transfer stages. The rider aims at accumulating the lowest time to win the race.

Typically, the bicycle can be lifted up the terrain in case of downhill riding.

Whereas the rider is expected to ride the bike up the mountain in case of enduro riding.

Hence, the enduro race format calls for more stamina than the downhill race format. The several stages involved also burns more of the rider’s strength in the enduro race format.

Even the riding time is an essential factor that determines the extent of stamina required by the rider.

While downhill lasts only a few minutes, enduro races are completed in one or two days or even more, in some cases.

Our Top Pick For Enduro And Trail Bike

While these bikes come under the broad trails category, I would like to put them under these specific categories for their features.

  • Made For: Youth/Adults
  • Material Used: Aluminum/Steel
  • Speed: 7-21 options
  • Wheels: 24-29 inches

This is one of the most sought-after bikes from Schwinn due to the several features it offers.

The enduro-oriented bike has a range of wheel sizes, starting from 24 inches to 29 inches.

Riders can choose the wheel sizes according to their riding style, weight, and height.

The wide range of speeds available also makes it a popular enduro bike, which can take a lot of punishment while also performing the best on descends.

Schwinn High Timber has a dual suspension system and disc brakes.

This bike offers a comfortable ride and maximum control to the mountain bike riders

Tackling technical trails and competing to win the timed descends are two things this bike is known to do well.

  • Made for: Youth/adult
  • Material: Aluminum/Carbon Fiber/ Carbon Steel/Steel
  • Speed: 21 speed
  • Wheels: 26 inches- Fat Tire

Available in multiple frame materials such as aluminum, carbon fiber, and carbon steel, this bike has fat tires and offers excellent body strength.

The body of the downhill mountain bike is streamlined, and the loading capacity is more vital, making it suitable and safe for downhill riding.

You can even resort to this bike for long-distance riding, as it is thought to provide a fatigue-less riding experience to the rider.

The magnesium-aluminum alloy used in constructing the frame, though lightweight, is stronger than the typical aluminum alloy.

The wind-breaking ability of this bike is also superior.

By reducing the speed and dampening the front fork of the mountain bike, you can quickly improve the impact resistance and reduce the bumps.

As a result, the makers ensure a safer, more pleasurable riding experience and boast of the highly durable quality of the bike.

Enduro Vs. Downhill: Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you ride a hardtail bike downhill?

The simple answer to this question would be “YES.” You can ride a hardtail bike downhill.

However, since hardtail bikes have suspension only on one of the sides, they may not offer you a super comfortable journey.

Riders may feel all the bumps and impacts while riding through technical terrains with a hardtail mountain bike.

There is one important reason why some riders prefer hardtails over their full-suspension counterparts: hardtail downhill mtbs give more room for mastering new techniques.

Thereby helping one become a better and competent downhill rider.

2. Do enduro bikes have a hardtail version available?

Similar to downhill bikes, enduro bikes are also available with hardtail suspension features.

Riders who prefer more adventure than comfort riding often opt for hardtail bikes over full suspension enduro bikes.

Just like other disciplines, hardtail enduro bikes help one become more competent in various mountain biking techniques.

3. Can you use different tires in the same bike for downhill?

While most mountain bikes originally come with a set of tires, some riders prefer to have different tires for front and back, based on specific requirements.

Having thorough knowledge in tire design can help take the quality of riding several notches higher.

P.S. You should also check out our resources on Trail Vs. Enduro Bike and XC Vs. Enduro Bike.

Similarly, we did a deep dive on enduro bike training and  elbow pads for enduro riding. Consider checking them out too.