The Trail Snob presents the periodic, ill-informed opinions, malformed thoughts, and inappropriate convictions of a certain Web Content Editor. Art’s Cyclery disavows all knowledge of, responsibility for, and concordance with anything that comes out of their keyboard.
Enduro, enduro, enduro. Enduro racing is, undoubtably, hip. There’s an eponymous magazine dedicated to it, pro teams are vacuuming up budgets from their brand’s former DH program, and all the fastest pros are into it. Some as a career, and some as a way to drink beer and ride bikes with the bros between their real races. Enduro is poised to be like surfing in the 1950’s, or snowboarding in the late 1980’s; cutting-edge, almost counter-culture cool. Like all cycling scenes, Europe has the Enduro thing dialed, with several big time race series and all the cool kids participating. There’s just one thing holding it back—a severe lack of style, which is either surprising or just what you’d expect, depending on your view of Europeans. Big Euro Enduro is creeping in to take over and kill all the fun.
I realize that cycling and style have never meshed well together, but the recent influx of motocross clothing companies looking to increase their bottom line, combined with the drab urban hipster color palette currently in vogue has created some normal-looking, unoffensive dirt kit. Trail riders these days could wear the same jersey on a ride, then to a bar afterward without looking like a student at the School for Neon Circus Clowns. What the heck then is the Big Enduro establishment doing with all of their style-killing products and rules?
Most big-time European races require participants to wear a full-face helmet while descending. Sounds reasonable, right? The rule, however, also stipulates that a helmet must be worn at all times, even during the untimed transfer portions of the race. It seems that most of the racers prefer not to wear a sweltering DH heat factory on their head while climbing, and so bring along an extra XC lid to wear while slogging to the next timed stage. Finding something dorkier than an XC helmet is tough, but these guys have nailed it—carrying two helmets is not cool, especially when one of them is swinging from your hydration pack, which brings me to another violation of fashion.
About the only thing more un-fashionable than a hydration pack by itself is a hydration pack with a helmet dangling off of it. Talk about a bulky profile! When did mountain bikers become backpackers anyway? We have always secretly felt inadequate compared to motocross riders—hence the MX-esque kit—but do we have to pretend we are hardcore adventure seekers, forced to carry our entire existence on our back when in fact all we need for 90 percent of our rides can be carried in a seat bag and a couple water bottles? OK, seat bags are pretty uncool too, but my point is made.
So now we have all these poor Enduro racers, ripping around with two helmets and a backpack to carry them with, looking decidedly not hip. How could it get any worse? I know, how about some shoes which look like a combination of Skecher Shape-Ups and ice climbing boots. If anyone asks just call them Enduro-specific mountain bike shoes! Look, if you want to wear bulky shoes, be my guest. I have a pair of Five Ten Impacts that are comfortable and look like they want to be skate shoes from the 90’s, but they’re flat pedal shoes, not intended to be optimized for weight and power transfer but for pedal feel and manipulation. If you want to wear clipless pedals while Enduro Racing, which I believe you should, because they are lightweight and efficient, then get a pair of lightweight and efficient shoes to go with them. What the heck is the point of a stiff-soled, clipless-pedal shoe you can walk in? Is it even possible for that to exist? Not while looking cool, apparently.
Enduro racing began as a populist response to the elitist XC race scene, and the poor value of DH races for the average rider. Help keep enduro real, and don’t believe the lie foisted upon us by Big Euro Enduro—that you have to look like a dork to be cool.