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Can You Use an Enduro Bike for Downhill?

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Racing downhill on a mtb through water, mud, and jumps is some of the most adrenaline-pumping riding you can do on a bike.  An enduro bike is considered the best all-around mountain bike.  Is it possible to ride an enduro bike on downhill terrain instead of using a downhill bike?

As it turns out, an enduro bike is perfect for downhill riding.  These bikes have both a front and rear suspension and are heavy duty to hold up to the technical terrain in downhill courses.  While a downhill mountain bike is matched very well to the normal terrain, an enduro bike can handle this same terrain surprisingly well.

Why Ride an Enduro Bike on Downhill Trails?

So your first question might be why wouldn’t riders use downhill bikes on downhill trails and call it a day?

There are a couple of common reasons why you would choose to ride an enduro bike on downhill trails.

The most common reason this is done is that 95% of the time the rider is on general trails so an enduro bike makes the most sense.  The other 5% is downhill, but these bikes can handle it as long as you don’t do anything really extreme.

The other is actually even more simple.  The person has an enduro and wants to try downhill but not invest in buying a trail bike just for it.  Most riders have just one bike and this usually dictates how and what they ride.

Either way, the reason is that usually downhill riding isn’t the primary use of the bike so it makes sense to buy a bike that meets the needs of where you normally bike.  Just take it easy on a bike if it’s not in its element.

Will an Enduro Bike Break If You Use It For Downhill Bike Trails?

An enduro bike can withstand most normal downhill use.  Far more than most riders realize.  So an enduro bike will not break on downhill trails under most usage.

Enduro bikes are far more durable than cross country bikes on downhill, but they’re called all mountain bikes for a reason.  They are general purpose bikes.

Trail bikes are built with downhill entirely in mind.  It may even be surprising that enduro bikes are generally more heavy duty than trail bikes.

What does that mean?  It means that an enduro bike will likely handle anything the average rider will want to do.  I myself try to keep jumps and drops under 5 foot if I can.

A trail bike can take more abuse on the trail, but most enduro bikes can handle the same trails for a majority of riders.

Where is a Downhill Bike Better than Enduro On Downhills?

While enduro bikes can be used on downhills, trail bikes do still have some advantages.  Remember trail bikes are built just for downhills.

  • Downhill bikes have steeper gears so you can accelerate faster on trail bikes than Enduro bikes.
  • Downhill bikes have a shorter wheelbase so they can make sharper turns.  This wheelbase does make the Enduro bike more stable however.
  • Downhill bikes are actually generally lighter than enduro bikes so they can be quicker.
  • Downhill bikes have a slightly different geometry that allows the rider to be more upright and the wheelbase to be a little shorter for quicker turns.

So the real difference is that trail bikes can generally accelerate a little faster with steeper gears and being a little ligher.

It’ll take a little more work to get an enduro bike through the same downhill courses but it can most definitely handle it.

Can an Enduro Bike Handle the Jumps and Drops Going Downhill?

Absolutely.  Enduro bikes are hearty and can handle most gnarly trails.

For most people enduro bikes can easily handle the same trails in the same way as a trail bike.

Many people have no issue with a 10-foot drop,  but myself I like to keep it under 5-6 feet and I feel completely comfortable with doing it.

Remember that these are All Mountain bikes which means they are meant to be a good general-purpose bike.  They aren’t quite as heavy duty as trail bikes on the trails, and they aren’t quite as fast as xc bikes on singletracks.  But they can do it all.

Tips For Riding an Enduro Bike Downhill

To tell you the truth enduro bikes are really great at downhill fun.  There’s not a ton of tips I can give, but I still have a few tips just to remind you of how enduros act a little differently downhill.

  • Enduro bikes are heavier.  They will take more work to get going and get up to speed, but they will hold the speed and even naturally speed up more than trail bikes due to more weight.
  • Enduro bikes can’t quite turn as quickly as trail bikes so avoid super tight turns.
  • Enduro bikes have slightly wider handlebars so you may to give an extra couple inches of clearance compared to normal.
  • Put on a dropper post.  These are really handy as you can quickly drop down the seat so you can manuever quickly like downhill bikes do.

Really that’s about all the big tips I have.  Enduro bikes are brutes offroad and a favorite by many riders.

Will Riding an Enduro Bike Downhill Make You a Better Rider?

Riding an enduro bike downhill isn’t going to make you radically change your biking style, but it’ll still help you to hone your riding skills.

Like many times, you’ll want to look ahead for your path through the terrain and when you’ll want to pedal and when to brake.

You’ll also want to look at big jumps and drops coming up so you can plan your path and if you want to take the drop or not.

So it’s teaching you to look ahead and plan which is a good skill to hone no matter what bike you ride, whether its an enduro bike or a hardtail bike.

Can You Change an Enduro Bike to Handle Downhill Easier?

Enduro bikes already do pretty great on downhill terrain, but you might be wondering like I was what you could change, should you really want to.  I mean, downhill bikes are different for a reason so can an enduro be tweaked to incorporate some of these advantages that downhill mountain bikes have?

Enduro bikes already have a beefy set of brakes and the frame is really sturdy.  The extra weight and gearing are where the enduro bike doesn’t shine as much offroad however.

So the biggest way to setup an enduro bike a little better for downhill is to change out the rear cassette so the gears are a little steeper and the enduro bike can accelerate faster.  And of course one of the easiest changes is to install a dropper post so that you can flip a switch and drop the post down a few inches so that you can hover in the air and shift your weight better for manuevering when needed.


So in conclusion enduro bikes do great downhill.  They are an All Mountain bike and they are built to handle everything from downhill to cross country.  They are not the specialty bike for any of those but they do well at everything, and downhill terrain is no exception.

If you have to pick only one mountain bike and you love downhill, then by all means pick yourself up an enduro bike and enjoy the ride.

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed