Which is the fastest enduro bike of 2018? To answer this question, we held our own race with the 10 most exciting enduro bikes in Finale Ligure. To find out which bike won, get free access to the latest ENDURO issue #030!

All the enduro bikes of this match gathered in Finale Ligure – which is the fastest?

The 2017 Enduro World Series was more exciting than ever! The level continues to rise, as the times between the riders continue to fall. After more than 46 min. of full-on racing at the 6th stop of the EWS in the US, Sam Hill and Martin Maes were separated by a mere 4 seconds. The right equipment can certainly make all the difference here! That’s why we wanted to know what the fastest enduro bike of 2018 is. To find out, we flew to Finale Ligure with 10 bikes in our baggage and spent three days competing against each other on an EWS race stage to see which could set the fastest time. In the end, of all bikes, three proved to be consistently the fastest.

The test track

For the test track, we chose the Pino Morto trail (as we did for our 2014 EWS enduro bike group test). It includes everything that makes for a challenging race day: rock gardens, turns, flat sections, compressions, small jumps – all packed into a trail dropping 170 meters over one kilometre. A harder and longer test track might at first seem better to test the speed of a bike, but then the risk of rider errors would increase, and the rider’s fatigue would affect the results too much.

We completed over 70 runs on the Pino Morto Trail in Finale.
Full concentration! Some bikes felt very fast, and others actually were fast.
Each of our experienced testers had several practice runs to pick the lines they thought would be fastest …
… followed up by at least 2 timed runs per bike. In the case of punctures or riding errors, the runs were repeated.
Thanks to the shuttle, we quickly got back up to the starting line. Many thanks to the guys of the Evolve Bike Shop for the great support.
Time for a short breather in the shuttle.

The timing

For the timing, only the best would do. Instead of relying on the Strava times on our smartphones, we used a professional transponder timekeeping setup from Sport Ident. This is the same system they use in the EWS and almost all enduro races around the world. A sensor activates the transponder within a radius of 1.5 meters. At which point the clock starts ticking. So it’s a flying start with enough distance from the start gate where the sensor is placed. Just before the end of the stage, a second sensor stops the timer. The data was then evaluated on a computer.

For the timing, we trusted a highly accurate transponder system from Sport ident.
The transponders were read out on the spot, and we evaluated the times at the end of the test.
The transponders enable a flying start.

10 bikes, 4 riders, 3 days, 1 problem

Many will ask themselves: how is it possible to compare the bikes consistently? The answer is simple: it’s not 100% possible. Rider fatigue and learning the track, of course, plays a certain role. In order to determine the result as objectively and bias-free as possible, each of our experienced testers had several practice runs, picked the lines they thought would be fastest and decided where they would put in pedal strokes. Afterwards, each rider recorded two timed runs on each bike within their comfort zone, each in a different order. Thus, everyone had a different first and last bike.

The test team consisted of three experienced riders of varying speed, and the bikes were ridden in a completely different order.
All bikes were carefully adjusted to personal preferences.

The bikes

For this comparison, we chose only the most exciting bikes of the current and the upcoming season. The manufacturers were free to pimp the bikes however they wanted – an offer that brands like Canyon, SCOTT, and Specialized happily accepted, sending us heavily tuned bikes. Other manufacturers, such as Nukeproof, Pole, Lapierre, Rocky Mountain, Santa Cruz, and YT reckoned their stock bikes were good as is.

Stock bike or factory race-tuned? The manufacturers could choose what they’d send us for this comparison.
Bike Price (*  +Tuning) Weight Travel Wheel size
Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Team € 5,499* 14.30 kg 170/163 mm 27,5″
Giant Reign Advanced 0 € 6,999 13.56 kg 160/160 mm 27,5″
Lapierre Spicy Team Ultimate € 5,299 13.71 kg 170/170 mm 27,5″
Nukeproof Mega 275 RS € 4,200 14.04 kg 170/165 mm 27,5″
Pole EVOLINK 140 29 € 5,600 14.30 kg 150/140 mm 29″
Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 90 € 7,900 12.60 kg 160/150 mm 27,5″
Santa Cruz Hightower LT € 9,899 12.80 kg 150/150 mm 29″
SCOTT Genius 900 Tuned 2018 € 7,499* 12.76 kg 150/150 mm 27,5″
Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 € 8,699* 12.30 kg 160/160 mm 29″
YT JEFFSY 27 CF Pro Race € 4,499 12.20 kg 160/160 mm 27,5″
Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Team | 170/163 mm (f/r) | 14.30 kg | € 5,499
Giant Reign Advanced 0 | 160/160 mm (f/r) | 13.56 kg | € 6,999
Lapierre Spicy Team Ultimate | 170/170 mm (f/r) | 13.71 kg | € 5,299
Nukeproof Mega 275 RS | 170/165 mm (f/r) | 14.04 kg | € 4,200
Pole EVOLINK 140 29 | 150/140 mm (f/r) | 14.30 kg | € 5,600
Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 90 | 160/150 mm (f/r) | 12.60 kg | € 7,900
Santa Cruz Hightower LT | 150/150 mm (f/r) | 12.80 kg | € 9,899
SCOTT Genius 900 Tuned 2018 | 150/150 mm (v/h) | 12.76 kg | € 7,499
Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 | 160/160 mm (v/h) | 12.30 kg | € 8,699
YT JEFFSY 27 CF Pro Race | 160/160 mm (f/r) | 12.20 kg |
€ 4,499

The results and the winner

Of course, we weren’t only looking for the fastest bike in this comparison, but also wanted to find out more about the handling characteristics of the various bikes. For this reason, we rode the bikes on other trails in Finale and on tours in Germany.

Which bike ultimately turned out to be the fastest and which offered the best overall package, we reveal in the October issue of ENDURO Mountain Bike Magazine. If you haven’t already got the app, you can download it for free in the iOS AppStore or Google Play Store to get free access to the latest issue.

These three bikes definitely did not win, that much we can tell you.
The beautiful region around Finale Ligure is always worth the trip.

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer