Physiological characteristics and performance in elite enduro mountain biking.


  • Lewis Adam Kirkwood Edinburgh Napier University
  • Lesley A Ingram Edinburgh Napier University
  • Jamie Cunningham Edinburgh Napier University
  • Eva Malone Edinburgh Napier University
  • Geraint D Florida-James Edinburgh Napier University



Mountain biking, enduro, performance, physiology


Enduro mountain bike racing is composed of several timed predominantly downhill race stages linked by time restricted, non-competitive transition stages.  This study aimed to 1) detail and compare the laboratory assessed physiological characteristics of elite and non-elite enduro mountain bike riders, and 2) evaluate the use of 10Hz global positioning systems (GPS) unit including a 100Hz triaxial accelerometer to define the demands of enduro mountain bike racing and identify components of successful performance.  Eleven (n=11) male enduro mountain bike riders completed laboratory protocols for peak aerobic capacity (VO2peak), onset of blood lactate accumulation at 2 and 4 mmol/L (OBLA2 and OBLA4 respectively), intermittent sprint test (EST), and anthropometry measures.  Participants were divided into elite (n=5) and non-elite (n=6) groups for analysis.  Nine (n=9) elite enduro mountain bike athletes participated in field data collection at an international enduro mountain bike race. Two race stages were used for analysis of velocity, accumulated load, heart rate and time to complete specific sections of track calculated from GPS units placed on the bicycle seat mast and the rider’s torso. Elite athletes produced greater power during the EST and at VO2peak, OBLA2, OBLA4 when compared to non-elite riders (all p<0.05) with no significant differences in anthropometry (p>0.05).  Accumulated load was significantly greater on the bicycle than the rider on both stages (p<0.05) and accumulated load in both locations was significantly higher during stage two compared to stage 1 reflecting differences in terrain (p<0.05).  GPS analysis allowed detailed analysis of performance showing winning performances were characterised by reduced time to complete technical downhill and non-technical climbing sections during stage one and technical downhill sections only during stage two.  In conclusion, successful performance in enduro mountain bike racing requires adequate skill and technique to sustain high velocities over technical terrain coupled with large aerobic and anaerobic capacities.


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Author Biographies

Lewis Adam Kirkwood, Edinburgh Napier University

School of Applied Sciences

Lesley A Ingram, Edinburgh Napier University

School of Applied Sciences

Jamie Cunningham, Edinburgh Napier University

Eva Malone, Edinburgh Napier University

School of Applied Sciences

Geraint D Florida-James, Edinburgh Napier University

School of Applied Sciences



How to Cite

Kirkwood, L. A., Ingram, L. A., Cunningham, J., Malone, E., & Florida-James, G. D. (2017). Physiological characteristics and performance in elite enduro mountain biking. Journal of Science and Cycling, 6(2), 13-21.



Original articles