Is it time to get an enduro bike? Right now you have a full blown motocross bike and you’re not getting the track time you were hoping for. You realize that your buds out ripping trails are riding more often than you and having just as much, if not more fun than those pounding laps at the track all day.
By now, you’ve joined your friends in the woods and realized how exciting and rewarding it is but it’s taking a toll on your beloved bike. In a perfect world, you’d be able to get a second bike dedicated to trail riding but for a lot of us, we have to work with what we have or what we can can afford. Although your motocross bike will have no problem navigating most trail situations, there are a few things that can make life much easier for you.
Any motocross bike can compete with the “out of the box” enduro bikes. Some riders actually prefer using a motocross bike with some minor adjustments and re-enforcements for woods riding due to their lighter weights and more aggressive power delivery.
Below you will find a list of components that will keep you riding more and requiring fewer tows back to the truck. This is just the beginning, we will get more in depth with each modification further down the road.
Hand guards ($85-$285CAD) – Especially if you’re new to woods riding, you’ll really want to invest in a good set of these. The choice of hand guard is up to you but for most single track, I would recommend a set of full metal wrap around style guards (bark busters). These guards include an aluminum or steel bar that goes from the centre of your handlebar and “wrap around” to the end of the bar. This style will not only save your fingers from getting crushed by trees or levers, they’ll also keep your levers and throttle sleeve from getting damaged when you have to drop your bike.
Higher capacity fuel tank ($200-$300CAD) – Unless you want to detour your group back to the truck every hour or so, you’ll want to run a bigger tank. This will give you more laps between fill ups during XC racing and little to no stress on wondering if you’ll make it to the next fuel stop during enduro races. It’s worth it to go with the natural or clear style tanks, it’s useful to be able to look down and see your fuel level so you don’t have to guess.
Skid plate ($80-$250CAD) – Prevents the most expensive damage. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to encounter some decent sized rocks and logs out there. When you do, you’ll be glad you ran a skid plate. These protect your engine cases and side covers from impact damage. In some cases they will even help you glide over these obstacles with less snagging. Available in plastic, aluminum and even carbon fibre.
Suspension (Approx. $700+CAD) – This will make the most noticeable impact in your speed and skills when converting from MX to trails. Some may leave this for last as it may be the most expensive alteration. Your bike will likely need to be re-sprung and re-valved for enduro riding. It’s best to leave this to the professionals, they will make recommendations based on your size, terrain and skill level. If you are on a budget and need to start small, focus on the forks. These have the most impact on the handling of your bike in the woods.
Radiator Guards ($150-$300+CAD) – Nothing will ruin your day and bank account faster than a busted radiator. Your bike will fall on rocks eventually so make sure these are on your list. It’s wise to get rad guards that protect the front to your rads as well as the braces, branches will find their way into those rad fins like a lawn dart into fresh sod. Be proactive and put them on while your rads are straight because they are a nightmare to install on a rads that are already bent.
Flywheel weight ($185+CAD) – These are most effective on two strokes engines. A flywheel weight will help keep crank momentum up when letting off the gas thus keeping your engine from stalling and allowing you to lug the motor more like a four stroke. Power instantly becomes more manageable while increasing throttle control and traction. On a four stroke engine it will reduce engine breaking and make the power even more manageable.
Spark arrestor ($100-$250+CAD) – Essentially this is a screen that prevents any sparks or flames from leaving your silencer and possibly igniting nearby foliage. These can be installed as a tip that mounts on the end of your existing silencer or you can replace your silencer all together. Check your local trails for sound regulations as well, now would be a good time to get a noise level friendly exhaust.
18″ Rear wheel ($n/a) – You may not go this far but if you find yourself needing a new rear rim or spokes at any point, choose this time to get an 18″. No need to buy a complete wheel, you can lace up a new rim and spoke set to your original hub. Your main advantage here is getting an extra inch of tire to help protect your rim from damage and pinch flats. Another reason to switch from 19″ to 18″ is purely for tire selection. Some of the best enduro tires out there are only available in 18″ sizes.
With any of the above modifications you and your bike will be much happier about riding trails. You don’t have to do it all and it certainly doesn’t have to be done at once. Start with what will keep you safe, then what will protect your bike then finish with the performance enhancing pieces. Enjoy riding more by eliminating some worry. You will hit trees, you will crash and you will attempt hillclimbs you will not make it up. At least you’ll be confident in knowing your bike is no longer made of glass and can take some serious abuse, so abuse it!