Spend a sunny summer weekend in Whistler and you'll likely see so many enduro and trail bikes that you'll wonder if there's any truth to that rumour of lift-access riding nearby. I think there is a bit of that, of course, but the rise of enduro racing has spurred development to the point where many gravity riders can have more fun - and go more faster - aboard a sturdy mid-travel bike than on a downhill sled. That's a bit of a worn-out trope these days, I know, but only because it's so true. At the same time, modern trail bikes are great tools for not only doing huge, character-building rides but, thanks to smart geometry, they'll also do just fine on some pretty rowdy terrain.
So, if I had to guess, most of us are probably thinking about less suspension-travel on our next bike rather than more.
Relatively short-travel trail bikes like the Stumpjumper (left) can do all the things pretty damn well, but the feeling of invincibility that comes with a long-travel bike and slacker angles (right) is hard to beat.
Or maybe not. According to our opening day survey, downhill bikes still make up the majority of the equipment being used in the Whistler Bike Park, and that doesn't even take into account the hordes of GT Fury rental rigs that surely live the hardest of lives. Further evidence to prove me wrong: World Cup downhill coverage, and especially the results and tech articles, are consistently among the most-read content on the homepage. Given that there's a good argument for them being the most advanced, most capable, and most interesting type of bike, that probably shouldn't be a surprise, though.
And while modern enduro bikes are convincing riders that they don't need 200mm to get the job done, they're also impressing with their climbing abilities to the point where many are trading their under-gunned trail bike for something more capable on the descents and only marginally worse on the way back up, if at all.
So, with that in mind, maybe it makes more sense to consider a bike with more suspension rather than less?