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What are Enduro Dirt Bikes Exactly? A Simple Guide

When you’re getting started in the world of dirt bikes, you often get confused with some terminology such as ‘enduro’ and ‘enduro racing’.

It can certainly get a little confusing. What do they mean exactly?

Enduro in reference to dirt bikes refers to riding or racing these motorcycles over distances over 50 miles. Enduro is short for endurance and the riding terrain is more difficult, typically being sand and forest riding. This type of dirt bike riding is cross-country compared to motocross which is done on a closed-circuit and purpose-built track.

It’s slightly different than trail bike riding. These bikes are for casual riders who are just riding around flat terrain with little in the way of challenges.

Enduro Riding Defined

As Frontaer has stated, Enduro refers to taking a dirt bike on long rides in offroad conditions. These hallmarks describe this type of riding more accurately:

  1. Completely offroad and doesn’t involve the use of MX tracks
  2. Requires endurance and stamina from the rider over the day
  3. Typically is done with a 4-stroke big bore (450cc or greater)
  4. Average speeds exceed 70 miles per hour off road, with riders topping out at 100 miles.
  5. Is physically demanding. The rider is expected to push through gnarly terrain
  6. If competing in an enduro race, the rider may be riding constantly for 5+ hours.

The fatality rate is much higher here because of the intensely high speeds that riders sustain. One false move and everything comes undone.

Examples of Enduro Races

There are regular enduro races around the country and even around the world. These aren’t as popular as motocross and supercross with less media coverage. After all, the television crews need to spread right out and there isn’t enough man power. You’ll typically find helicopters following competitors in races.

Popular dirt bike enduro races include:

  1. The Dakar Rally. This is considered to be the toughest enduro rally on planet earth, and even the toughest race of anything anywhere.
  2. Baja1000. This is the most popular enduro race for North Americans and it’s held in Mexico each year.
  3. Red Bull Romaniacs Hard Enduro Rallye. While it isn’t as long in distance, this seriously hard and requires the dirt bike rider to get over tough rocks in multiple stages of the event.
  4. Australian Off-Road Championships. This is long distance and high speeds held in several locations during the Australian winter season.
  5. Hattah Desert Race. Another challenging race in Australia which runs several long laps with plenty of dust to be enjoyed by everyone apart from the race leader.

Getting into an enduro race is no easy feat either. It’s physically demanding on both the bikes and riders, with preparations starting several months prior to competing. Famous riders in the enduro racing circuits include Ricky Brabec and Toby Price.

Most Common Enduro Dirt Bike Hallmarks

Enduro dirt bikes are sometimes slightly modified to suit the needs of racing or simply exploring for long distance.

These include:

  • Larger fuel tanks to compensate for the longer distance covered by riders.
  • Skid plates to protect the engine and sump from larger rocks from kicking up.
  • Strong handguards to protect the rider’s hands during crashes, from tree branches and to also keep the hands warmer when riding in colder weather.
  • An adventure fairing. You’ll typically see these on Dakar Motorcycles where there is a ‘cockpit’ containing a GPS, map roll and other accessories to help the rider navigate for miles and miles.
  • Hydration pack. These are worn by the riders to keep them hydrated for hours on end. Some racing events require the rider to have 2 litres of water hard-bolted to the motorcycle in case the rider gets lost and can’t be found for several days. This happened to Mark Thatcher in 1982.

KTM’s dominate the landscape when it comes to enduro riding and racing. Their range in the 300cc to 450cc range is optimum for enduro, though the 690 is a popular model too.

In Summary

Enduro is very different to MX because these dirt bikes are designed to operate at higher speeds and require tougher suspension and reliability. Yet enduro isn’t much different to trail riding. You can certainly convert your trail bike into an enduro weapon and it’s already much like an enduro bike.

After all, in the right hands, any dirt bike becomes a seriously powerful beast.

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