Difference between Enduro and DH?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    LDC is ded,deth by trollz
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    Difference between Enduro and DH?

    Whats the difference? Is it fitness in any way? Or is it the course? I am an xc racer but I like to smash "Enduro" trails. I might be a good Enduro racer if fitness matters and the courses are your normal public non DH park type trails.
    Ill be out riding, youll still be trolling mtbr. Mtbr, where people who dont ride come to pretend they do.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    Whats the difference? Is it fitness in any way? Or is it the course? I am an xc racer but I like to smash "Enduro" trails. I might be a good Enduro racer if fitness matters and the courses are your normal public non DH park type trails.
    At the simplest, DH is a single timed segment and enduro is multiple timed segments separated by untimed transfer segments. Both are time trial format.

    Enduro races are longer, and its not uncommon for timed stages to be longer than a typical DH race, and more pedally.

    Finally, because of the transfer stages, you need to compete on a bike that climbs well (enough), rather than a DH bike which is optimized for descending.

    IMO, thereís no such thing as an enduro trail. Itís a race format that selects for a style of bike.

  3. #3
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    XC, AM, DH...

    XC - 100-130mm travel

    AM - 130-180mm travel

    DH - 180mm+ travel

    The terrain dictates how much travel you'll need i.e. steeper/gnarlier = more travel.

    flatter/flowy'er = less travel.

    Of course you can ride a 130mm travel bike on a DH trail...

    Conversely, there's nothing to stop you riding a 180mm+ travel rig on flat/flow trails.

    The right tool for the job & all that.

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  4. #4
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    I tend to agree with the above except that you can ridedh trails on a 130mm bike. Sure some dh trails could be ridden on a 130mm bike. But the gnar level of national and world cup dh courses is well beyond a 130mm bike.

    There's a top end to each type of bike type/rider combo.

  5. #5
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    RE: the OP's question about types of trails- it depends heavily on the location and venue of the event. There are a lot of enduro races that incorporate regular non-technical trails, because that's where they are held. The format originated in Europe and since it was intended to be a test of rider skill, courses were raced at least partially blind, and commonly included raw trail built solely for the event. That's hard to do in the US.

    With the Montana Enduro Series, some of our races are on everyday trails, such as our Helena race. There's very little technical about those trails. But at some of our bike park races, we've been able to tape off a hillside and let racers pick a line. Or resurrect old abandoned trails just for the race. The Lone Peak's Revenge race at Big Sky is coordinated by a couple who have raced a lot of big European events, and it shows. That race is nasty and bike handling skills are at a premium. If a park is building a new trail, we always try to incorporate it, and that means that trail will be soft, rooty, and generally difficult to ride for beginners. Last year we broke in Silver Mountain's Mom Jeans at last year's NAEC, and Careless Whisper at Whitefish.

  6. #6
    LDC is ded,deth by trollz
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    Thanks for the replies. My question was pretty basic and ill add some clarity.

    I am living in Brevard NC and saw this thread.....https://forums.mtbr.com/north-south-...l#post14025016

    I looked at some of the races and they are held on XC race courses. So i can get some competitive pre riding of some of the xc races i do with less effort on the climbs. Thats why i call them enduro trails.

    I can see at the highest level they are descending legit af DH courses so thats above my level. I just want to compete on the trails i normally ride not man made stuff.

    I was hoping fitness came into somehow but as long as you can make the stage start you can win on the DH. I was hopinh my climbing gave me a big enough advantage on the DH but thats just an XC race. Im doing a few XC races that have "enduro" segments so that may be my happy zone.

  7. #7
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    Every enduro course Iíve designed has significant cardio in it, either flat sprints or punchy short climbs.

  8. #8
    LDC is ded,deth by trollz
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Every enduro course Iíve designed has significant cardio in it, either flat sprints or punchy short climbs.
    That's basically what I'm looking for but not super gnar DH bike park course because I want to ride my 130 "big xc" bike.

  9. #9
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    Many xc guys are terrible on the down as they just don't focus on it. My call is to practice the down, look for lines to go faster, hold more corner speed. Look to build additional skills to help you with that speed. Jumping, manualling, pre jumping that sort of stuff. Cruise the up and really hammer the down. It's amazing how many seconds you can shave off by going faster around one corner or through one rough section faster.

    Find an good Enduro guy and follow him down the tracks. If you can keep up for a while watch his lines. See how he rides.

  10. #10
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    Enduro - Must be able to ride to the top of what you are racing down


    DH - Down only, shuttle up or lift to the top, you do not have to pedal to get there

    I have seen enduro courses that are just as gnarly as a DH course BUT no one is on a DH bike, makes things interesting. Most enduro courses are a XC venue with some of the DH's sections stringed together requiring XC fitness from one DH to another.

    Typically a 150mm-160mm bike is best but depending on the course 130mm could be better suited.
    :nono:

  11. #11
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    The current top enduro racers are also the top downhill racers. And they are very fit!

    Outside of the EWS, the fitness demands vary based on the terrain. In some parts of the world, enduro race tracks are "flatter", which tend to suit highly skilled XC racers versus highly fit DH racers.

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  12. #12
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    Enduro bikes don't exist, enduro trails don't exist. Some bikes are suited for enduro races, some trails are suited for enduro races. Enduro is a race format.

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    My perspective is amateur enduro racing in the US northeast - ESC, MASS, WVES. A subset of the ESC races (BOX Showdown races) have a DH and an Enduro on the same day at the same venue. They're great illustration of the differences between the two formats.

    At a bike park, the typical DH race will be on a double-black technical trail. Racers will extensively practice the same race run and work out every corner, rock garden, and pebble. Runs last from 2 to 5 minutes.

    The typical Enduro race at the same bike park will use a handful of blue and single-black bike park trails, plus other more pedally trails on the back side of the mountain or outskirts of the trail system. At venues with a lift, the perhaps two of five transfers are mechanized and racers do 500'-2500' of pedal-powered climbing (compared to 2000'-4000' for races at venues with no lift).

    It's usually 4-6 race runs are between 2 and 10 minutes each for a total time on clock of 20 to 40 mins. Racers will generally do each one run once on practice day, stopping to redo key features or perhaps do a stage a second time. There's too much terrain to study and memorize the race runs like in DH, and it's important to manage fatigue and recovery.

    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    I was hoping fitness came into somehow but as long as you can make the stage start you can win on the DH. I was hopinh my climbing gave me a big enough advantage on the DH but thats just an XC race. Im doing a few XC races that have "enduro" segments so that may be my happy zone.
    Conditioning is certainly important, since the descending isn't passive. Within the stage you're constantly sprinting and recovering, putting down power in 3-sec, 10-sec, 30-sec intervals after corners and when you can and working the terrain when you can't pedal. It's like a big unpredictable set of VO2Max repeats.

    The fastest riders out there are absolutely spending winters on their trainers and in the summer do training rides with >5000' of climbing. It would be a mistake to assume the fastest endurobros don't know their FTP, just like it's a mistake to assume top XC racers can't handle a bike.

    It's a funny correlation, within each category, it's usually the first set of racers who finish the course and turn in their chips who end up on the podium. Their transfers were never timed, but they still finish them faster. A racer who has great fitness and does the transfer in a comfy aerobic zone will be in much better shape than someone who was slogging along near threshold trying to get up the hill. You can recover at the top, but that fatigue accumulates.

    So yeah, enter some races and see how you stack up. If you're a skilled descender and your fitness includes good short-duration power, you'll be in great shape and hopefully have a lot of fun.

  14. #14
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    Like all formats, you can't judge a style or racing on the lower category of racers. A Cat 3 enduro rider might be decent on descending, but can't keep with a good XC rider downhill. And a Cat 3 XC racer won't be able to keep up with a fast enduro racer on a climb.

    Most of the people I race XC with do A LOT of enduro racing too. They smash the climbs, then destroy guys on full enduro bikes on their hardtail XC bike.

    To be fast at any format, you need to be fit. You also need to have a lot of skill. One or the other and you will just stay in the lower cats. Even Rachel Atherton, gods gift to downhill racing, rides a road bike for training.

  15. #15
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    Physically speaking, they are not *hugely* different. My guess is that since you are asking, you understated the different formats, so nothing really needs to be said.

    Nevertheless, while enduro is a longer day than a DH race, you still need to endurance to be able to perform at a high level in either. Bear in mind that any race or stage isn't just a one-off sprint from the line--you need to be able to pedal hard multiple times while holding on for dear life and continuing to make good/safe/fast choices!

    Another thing to consider is that you need to still do multiple runs at a DH race. And these need to be pretty fast to learn the track properly! And then you need to be fresh enough to do a race at the end of the weekend (before party laps).

    As with my athletes, we always say that it is easier to train for enduro and race DH than to train for DH and race enduro. Whatever that means.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_phd View Post
    The current top enduro racers are also the top downhill racers. And they are very fit!
    They are so fit!!

    I did an XC race this year "against" Jesse Melamed. I was packing some good fitness a the time, and he beat by 10 minutes. I went up the first climb, which was 10 minutes long at 5 watts/kg, and he on his Enduro bike with 2.4 tires put a minute into me. And let us not talk about how quicker he was on the downhills.

    This week I have also been watching another Enduro racer, McKay Venza, place in the top 10 overall at BC bike race. Pretty amazing for a 180lb guy on a 28lb "XC bike".

    Enduro is cool in that riders from each discipline seem to be able to have success. Last couple of years in was Sam Hill (former DH) and Cecil Ravel (former XC) dominating the series.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Every enduro course Iíve designed has significant cardio in it, either flat sprints or punchy short climbs.
    Every Enduro I have raced has minimal pedalling but I am still breathing out of eye balls by the bottom. Making a big bike work across rough terrain is hard. My first couple of Enduro racers were eye opening on how big of a component aerobic fitness is.

    I actually think I was unprepared for how harder you have to go in an Enduro run than an XC race, particularly a marathon XC race.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    They are so fit!!

    I did an XC race this year "against" Jesse Melamed. I was packing some good fitness a the time, and he beat by 10 minutes. I went up the first climb, which was 10 minutes long at 5 watts/kg, and he on his Enduro bike with 2.4 tires put a minute into me. And let us not talk about how quicker he was on the downhills.

    This week I have also been watching another Enduro racer, McKay Venza, place in the top 10 overall at BC bike race. Pretty amazing for a 180lb guy on a 28lb "XC bike".

    Enduro is cool in that riders from each discipline seem to be able to have success. Last couple of years in was Sam Hill (former DH) and Cecil Ravel (former XC) dominating the series.
    I raced this past BC Bike Race and Venza destroyed me. I was hanging with the slower group of fast dudes (top 15-25) the first couple days then I slowly started to fade. Even if I had the fitness to hang on the climbs (which I didn't after day 3), I would have been decimated on the tech sections and descents.....it was eye opening and I'm a good descender locally relative to most of the elite XC guys. Not to mention, the top dudes were on straight up XC tires. I was chatting with Felix and he was racing on Aspens (I think) @ 18 psi with inserts.

    I've also done the Trans Cascadia enduro, my first enduro ever, and was just out of the top 10 AM. I thought I'd do better since I was fitter than most, I was Z5 every descent, fitness was a big limiter as was technical ability, again, eye opening.

    There are so many fast XC dudes that have converted to Enduro, they are not elite level EWS guys, but are legit competitors at the domestic enduro events. Guys like Francois Bailly Maitre, Kabush, Spencer Paxon and Stephen Ettinger....legit world class XC guys. They arguable represent the "fitness" side of Enduro and unless you are way more skilled than those guys, like Sam Hill, Rude, Melamed, there is no way your are out-pedaling them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Every Enduro I have raced has minimal pedalling but I am still breathing out of eye balls by the bottom. Making a big bike work across rough terrain is hard. My first couple of Enduro racers were eye opening on how big of a component aerobic fitness is.

    I actually think I was unprepared for how harder you have to go in an Enduro run than an XC race, particularly a marathon XC race.
    I'm a huge proponent of Enduro racing as good training for XC. I'm much better off for it and a much better racer because of it.

    It makes for a great training ride as well, reasonable TSS, fun and a long day in the saddle and you can make the climbs as easy or as hard as you want. The last one I did in Idaho was 5500' climbing and 35k w/5 stages, which on a 30+ lb enduro bike is solid day on the bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    Whats the difference? Is it fitness in any way? Or is it the course? I am an xc racer but I like to smash "Enduro" trails. I might be a good Enduro racer if fitness matters and the courses are your normal public non DH park type trails.
    They are really fit. You could probably stay with some of them on a sustained climb, but the nature of enduro with its Z5 interval, keep the bike on track, recover and repeat is not something most XC guys are good at.

    I think at the amateur level it really comes down to the ability to maintain speed through corners and technical features. I thought I was good at that, I'm not, particularly when you have big berms with braking bumps, jumps and blind drops. Being comfortable and relaxed really opens up the ability to pedal since you can recover.

    I really struggle with it still. I have a good sprint and can really pedal myself into trouble to the point where I am way out of bounds technically. Faster in a lot of cases is going slower and easing up on the pedals and focusing on taking good lines and carrying speed.

    The top guys are super fit, super relaxed and know how to read trails.

    Absolutely enter some races, you'll be much better off for it. Just go in with an open mind and have fun.....

  21. #21
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    This sounds so fun!

    If my business sells (talking to a buyer now) I hope to be able to train and compete in a few of these for fun. I'm too old and untalented to do great, but the format and style sounds right up my alley!

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    Are the uphill sections timed in an enduro race, and can you walk steep sections? Also are you racing and trying to pass the competition or is each rider alone against the clock?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by nimblybimbly85 View Post
    Are the uphill sections timed in an enduro race, and can you walk steep sections? Also are you racing and trying to pass the competition or is each rider alone against the clock?
    In most enduro races, the only timed segments are the downhills. Many enduro races utilize ski lifts, such as those that are near/on ski areas.

    In the downhill sections, you are alone against the clock unless you catch a slower rider or are caught by a faster rider. It is not a mass start event.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    In most enduro races, the only timed segments are the downhills. Many enduro races utilize ski lifts, such as those that are near/on ski areas.

    In the downhill sections, you are alone against the clock unless you catch a slower rider or are caught by a faster rider. It is not a mass start event.
    Most, but not all. I think the % of events with untimed transfers has increased over the last 10 years. Ours went from a time allowance to untimed, for example. But the most elite events still generally give a time allowance for a transfer and penalties for exceeding it.

    As Le Duke mentions, enduro is a time trial format, not mass-start. But the gaps are short enough and the stages are long enough that passing isnít uncommon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    Whats the difference? Is it fitness in any way? Or is it the course? I am an xc racer but I like to smash "Enduro" trails. I might be a good Enduro racer if fitness matters and the courses are your normal public non DH park type trails.
    One difference that I have not scene mentioned is practice. In DH you will race one course and have numerous opportunities to practice that course. In Enduro you will get practice but typically maybe only once or twice on each stage. You could try to get more in but may where yourself out. In Enduro you won't get to know each stage and lines picked out as well as you can in DH. Mistakes will be made and you need to except that and remain calm despite mistakes. Like XC there will parts of stages that you may choose to rest. You could think about it as XC you go 50% at times, Enduro maybe 75% at times and DH 90% at times. With a strong fitness base any skill to be gained will come easier than if you are gassed. Pick an event, race and have fun. There will always be things you wish you knew before hand so learn and apply to next event.

  26. #26
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    I dream of riding an enduro on my own without an instructor. Who tried it? How was it?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_M View Post
    I dream of riding an enduro on my own without an instructor. Who tried it? How was it?
    Live your dream!! There's no need for an instructor to race an enduro event. Sign up, show up, follow the signs and instructions to get to the end. Take your time on the transfer (uphill sections) and go all out on the timed (downhill) sections. It's a fun format and when done well feels like a bike ride in the mountains with friends. Plenty of opportunity for socializing with fellow competitors, comparing experiences, asking for directions etc. during the transfers.

    In response to the OP's question: Depends on the enduro. Some are little more than DH races done on trail/enduro bikes. Sounds like you'll want to look for one that includes a lot of regular trails strung together to make an event. Most timed sections will have some flat or pedaly sprints or short steep climbs where your XC fitness will definitely help. And most aren't so technical that you'll suffer too much due to your lack of gnarly DH skill.
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