As enduro has grown over the last decade and bike companies continue to pour money into that corner of the market, downhill seems to be taking the backseat, especially at the grassroots level. These are changes most of us can point to anecdotally, but I wanted to find some numbers to see exactly what is happening.
In terms of racing, it’s not hard to see why enduro is so popular. It’s a participation sport, whereas downhill is more of a spectator sport. Enduro is approachable in that anyone who has a trail bike can sign up, while downhill races can be pretty intimidating for those who don’t have a dedicated downhill bike. And then there’s the time element: You put in all the prep work, travel to a downhill race, practice the course, get all the lines dialed, fly out of the start gate… and then it’s over in 3 minutes. I completely understand how for a typical rider, it's probably appealing that enduro offers more racing for the entry fee and effort.
I don’t have a problem with downhill racing. Far from it. I think downhill racing is crazy fun, and in order to keep the World Cup level robust, we need to support grassroots and feeder downhill series' so up-and-coming racers can work up to the big leagues, and so there's even such thing as up-and-coming downhill racers.
Still, there's an undeniable shift. Back in 2014, in the early days of the EWS, downhill racers outnumbered enduro racers in a Pinkbike poll
. That changed dramatically by 2020
, when apparently every Pinkbike commenter, their neighbor, and their dog self-identified as an enduro racer.
But these are all just my opinions, so let's hear from you. Do you race enduro? Downhill? Both? Why?
I'm more of an enduro person, myself. Did the floral Crocs and I-don't-know-how-to-be-in-public expression give it away?