The Difference Between a Downhill, Enduro, and Hardtail Mountain Bikes

Breckenridge Ski & Sport > Blog > General Information > The Difference Between a Downhill, Enduro, and Hardtail Mountain Bikes

When shopping for a new mountain bike it can be difficult figuring out what bike is the best fit for you as a rider. When initially shopping for a bike it can be fairly overwhelming and intimidating with all of the different types of bikes and upgrades you can add to your bike, but here is your guide to finding the perfect bike for you regardless of your experience level. Let’s start by breaking down the different types of bikes there are. There is Downhill, Cross Country, and Enduro just to name a few. With all of these bikes, you can customize the suspension on the bike, upgrade the tires or add sweet little modifiers to make your mountain bike one of a kind.

man riding mountain bike downhill during daytime

Downhill bikes get their name because they are meant to be ridden downhill. Having to climb up a hill with this monster of a mountain bike will be extremely difficult. Some unique features about this bike are that on average it has 200 Millimeters of travel in the front and the back. Also, the handlebars are set back further as to make the rider feel safe and more in control when conquering steep, rocky terrain. With the downhill bike, it is primarily meant to go fast and handle big and bumpy berms. The Downhill bike with its bigger suspension and tires smoothes out most trails allowing you to lap at the bike park multiple times. This bike is great if you are newer to the mountain biking world.

man in blue jacket riding orange bmx bike on a dirt trail

Now, Enduro Bikes are a whole different breed of bike than the downhill bike. This bike not only has the capability of being stable on rugged terrain it also allows the rider to be more comfortable on technical tracks. This bike is an all-terrain vehicle when it comes to mountain bikes. With its light frame and steep seat angle, this bike is great for climbing and enduring more extreme terrain. Now a lot of people looking to buy a mountain bike think they need all the suspension possible, but having too much suspension could be counteractive to your goals as a mountain biker. If you go to the park more than twice a month this is the ideal bike for you. It will sustain more abuse so that you as a rider and as an investor not only have your bike longer, but you won’t be sore as you would be if you were on a trail bike.

man in blue shirt standing beside black mountain bike near tree during daytime

Nowadays just about any bike can be customized and altered to your liking and one of the most transformative methods of changing your bike is turning your bike into a hardtail bike. Having a Hardtail bike means that you have taken off the rear suspension which is preferred by many riders. The benefit of the lack of rear suspension allows you to have a more efficient feeling pedaling platform so you feel the acceleration the moment you press the pedal. This style of bike is ideal for climbers since you can appreciate the extra responsiveness of the bike. This bike is cheaper to manufacture, so you can invest that money into a lighter carbon fiber frame or a different size tire which can elevate your bike game to a whole new level. However, lacking the rear suspension with a hardtail bike does have its disadvantages: you may lose traction most specifically when braking; you may also have a difficult time transitioning back onto a bike with both back and front suspensions. Regardless this is a great option if you are looking for a cheaper machine that can handle fast brutal terrain.

Buying a mountain bike is a huge investment in yourself and your relationship with nature. The key to deciding the perfect mountain bike for you is to know your surrounding terrain. If you are surrounded by rolling hills, an enduro bike might not be the best choice for you. As appealing as the most expensive and elaborate bikes may seem, it’s easy to over-bike yourself. You don’t need that bike, you need the bike that best suits your needs. Sometimes the only adjustment you need is to change the size of the tires on your bike.