Enduro bikes have a reputation for carrying a hefty price tag, particularly in comparison to bikes for other off-road riding disciplines such as motocross or trials. The starting price for enduro bikes can be as much as double that of other dirt bikes. But what in the design and manufacture or specs of these bikes justifies the high additional cost?
Enduro bikes are expensive because they are built for the long haul and, as such, need more power and speed, which requires larger engines than dirt bikes. They also need different suspensions, bigger fuel tanks, better brakes, and more robust components for the type of riding they are designed for!
So why are enduro bikes built so differently compared to other dirt bikes, and what kind of off-road events are they designed for?
What Are Enduro Bikes Built For?
Enduro bikes are built for a specific type of off-road racing, which has lent its name to this style of bike. The word “enduro” is a shortened version of the word endurance, which is the type of racing this particular type of off-road bike is designed to handle!
Endurance racing is a long cross-country event that tests the endurance and capabilities of both man and machine. The races cover many different types of terrain, from hardpan old lake beds to deserts, muddy ground, hills and gullies, rocky slopes, river crossings, and forested regions.
These long haul racing events are often undertaken over several days and test rider and bike to the limits of their endurance. The race winner is not usually determined by who crosses the line first, but who has the fastest time overall, throughout the event. This means that the bikes need to have the speed to cover as much ground as possible when the terrain allows.
The unique conditions of these races require the bikes to have significantly different specifications to those of other dirt bike types. These additional specifications require different technology and materials which significantly push up the price of these machines.
Enduro racecourses are usually laid out over natural terrain and not on man-made circuits that are the norm for motocross-style races.
Enduro races can range from shorter races over four or five miles of countryside to 4-hour mass rider scamble such as the Erzberg Rodeo over 23km (just over 14 miles) with over 20 checkpoints that riders need to pass.
Another famous endurance race where cars also compete in is the Dakar rally, which runs over about two weeks and covers several thousand miles!
In the USA, the Grand National Cross Country series is a race in West Virginia that covers a distance on 100 miles!
What’s Different About Enduro Bikes?
The specific demands that are placed on a bike during an enduro event have resulted in a particular dirt breed bike being developed to match the needs. While some endure bikes still look relatively similar to other dirt bikes, when you take a closer look, there are some significant differences.
- The suspension. Enduro bikes are not designed to encounter jumps and ramps and therefore do not require a hard suspension. Motocross bikes are also designed around a short race of under an hour, and therefore comfort is not usually a major factor. The hours that a rider will spend on an enduro bike make comfort a vital design consideration for the suspension. Enduro bikes, on specific terrain, operate at higher speeds than motocross bikes, and the suspension needs to be able to handle the speed over rough terrain safely. This requires enduro bikes to have a softer, yet more complex suspension than other dirt bikes, which contributes to their overall cost.
- Greater Range. Enduro bikes need bigger fuel tanks due to the larger distances they are required to travel in an endurance event. They also usually have more complex fuel delivery systems, such as fuel injection.
- Lights and electronics. Many endurance races include racing into the night or the early morning dark hours. This requires the enduro bike to have headlights and a full set of electronics, whereas this type of equipment is usually non-standard on other dirt bikes.
- Speed and power. The additional speed and power requirements of endurance racing have promoted the use of larger, more powerful engines in enduro style bikes. Not only are the engines larger and more powerful, but they are usually more complex and include more electronic monitoring and management systems. This type of technology is unusual in other off-roading bikes. This additional power makes the acceleration of enduro bikes much faster than that of motocross-style bikes.
- Braking system. The braking system on enduro bikes needs to be of higher quality and standards. This is to enable the brakes to cope with the additional speed and weight of enduro bikes so that they will work efficiently with these additional demands.
- Versatile tires. Enduro races cover many terrain types in a single event. This requires the tires to be versatile enough to handle whatever terrain is encountered. The research, development, and manufacture of these tires make them substantially more expensive than tires for other dirt bikes.
These characteristics of enduro bikes contribute to the higher sale price that you the rider and consumer will pay to own one of these bikes.
There are several other differences between enduro bikes and other dirt bikes that don’t necessarily affect the purchase price, but we will include them for the sake of completeness.
- Heavier weight. Due to the size of the engine and the additional components installed in enduro bikes, they are significantly heavier than other dirt bikes. The extra weight may make them unsuitable for smaller or younger riders. The additional weight also makes them less maneuverable than the lighter motocross bikes.
- Physical size. Not only are enduro bikes heavier, but their physical size is larger. This has implications in transport logistics to get your bike to and from the event. A motocross dirt bike will easily fit on the back of most pickup trucks, and in some cases, you can fit up to 3 of these bikes on the back. This is definitely not the case with enduro bikes that will probably require a trailer for transport.
- Maintenance. The additional complexity that has gone into enduro bikes has a knock-on effect on the complexity and expertise required to maintain the bikes. Servicing these bikes will require not only specialist knowledge but also more sophisticated tools and equipment. This translates to an increase in the cost to maintain enduro bikes compared to the simpler motocross machines.
An advantage that enduro bikes have due to all their additional tech and versatility requirements is that they are generally street legal. If they are not street legal, they can be made street legal more easily than your standard motocross bike. It is possible, therefore, to use your enduro bike as a normal street bike and negates the need to have a second bike for this purpose.
Although this is a potential cost-saving, it does not necessarily compensate for the higher purchase price, depending on your circumstances, but it may help you justify the cost to yourself when you go out to purchase one!
Although enduro bikes are more expensive, it is not logical to compare their higher price to that of other bikes that are designed and built for a different purpose. The bike and it’s cost needs to be looked at from the point of view of the need or demand that it fulfills.
It would be similar to comparing the purchase price of a rally car to that of a formula 1 racing car. The prices are not comparable because they are machines designed for entirely different purposes. In the same vein, a formula 1 racing car can never compete in the same environment as a rally car.
The cost of the enduro bike needs to be justified by how well it performs in the environment it was designed for and how well it meets the challenges. So if your enduro bike does what it is supposed to and meets your needs, then the price is worth it!
Feel free to check out our article on “Why Are Enduro Bikes So Tall?.”