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Hard Tail vs. Full-Spension

Whether it's cross country, marathon or gravity, post all your MTB chat here.

Moderator: Red Rick

01 Jan 2011 11:32

As with the bike choice itself, I think what to carry depends on where you are riding and with what intent. I tend towards carrying everything and the kitchen sink, mostly because I don't like to keep swapping things in and out of my camelback every ride. So whether I'm doing a quick 25km after work on trails on the local mountain, or doing a backcountry ride where not being able to fix something might mean a 25+km walk, I tend to have the following in my camelbak:

*2 spare tubes
*multitool with chain breaker (I have and carry the original topeak alien, but most everything could be done with just a few allen keys and a chainbreaker for significantly less weight)
*spare chain quick-links
*tire boot (a couple of 1 inch square bits of old sidewall)
*traditional patch kit (the kind with rubber cement, not glueless!)
*pump (topeak mountain morph)
*spare derailleur hanger
*couple of energy bars
*lightweight rain/wind jacket
*phone (friend of mine wasn't carrying one when his GF crashed and sustained a major head injury, had to leave her convulsing at the trailside and ride 15 minutes to the trailhead to seek help. Luckily she's OK now but she was in ICU in a coma for weeks and rehab for many months).
*water (I rarely carry less than 1L unless the ride is short and I'm well hydrated before I start)

Whether you need any tyre levers depends on your wheels/tyres. Some multitools (like mine) have tyre levers built into the body, but I rarely find them necessary other than with a brand new tubeless tyre, or really cold hands.

My riding is almost exclusively non-competitive social riding, and even carrying all this c**p I'm usually nearer the front than the back of the group when the gradient turns upwards, so I don't really care about the extra weight (luckily since I'm also mostly riding a 6" travel Giant Reign). Obviously for riding laps on an XC course it would be foolish to carry much at all, let alone if actually racing...

One of my friends is much more minimalist than I, carrying only a spare tube and CO2 inflator all taped to the seatpost for short rides of an hour or so. For slightly longer rides, a single bottle of water in a cage, and a tiny multitool and extra tube are jammed in a wide-mouth bottle in the second cage for rides up to a few hours. For all-day rides he usually carries a camelback with extra spares and water, but still stays relatively minimalist. He probably "borrows" my 'spare' food on 25% of rides!:rolleyes:

As for the bottle vs camelbak argument:
Camelbak
*won't fall off
*can drink from it on rough terrain
*can carry more water
*doesn't weigh your frame down (bike is easier to throw around)
*gives your back a little crash protection
*useful for carrying other stuff you probably need anyway
*can feel heavy on your back
*make you hot when working hard (less airflow on your back)
*can swing around and throw your balance off if you don't tighten the straps (e.g when jumping an obstacle)
Bottles
*don't make your back hot and sweaty
*lightweight and simple
*fall off your bike, spill all your water, and litter the trails
*can only be drunk from when you can ride one handed
*fast to swap empty for full at race transitions
*faster to fill

On balance I prefer the camelbak, but if you ride smooth XC trails with long enough straights to get a good drink, bottles are probably a good way to go.








joe_papp wrote:Yeah, seriously - can we not insult each other for our ride tech preferences? Nothing here worth fighting over - it's not The Clinic after all.

I'll make a new topic if you want, but unrelated to my original inquiry, now that I have a bike, what exactly should I carry in my tool-kit, and what kind of saddle bag should I use?

Tube
Tire levers
Allen Keys/multi-tool? (if yes to multi-tool, which model/brand?)
CO2 kit

Also, do you guys mount a water bottle cage or use something like a camelback? This bike is so nice that I don't want to even ride it, let alone break the clean lines of the choppy, geometric carbon downtube by bolting-on a water bottle cage. :p
dsut4392
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01 Jan 2011 15:33

dsut4392 wrote:As with the bike choice itself, I think what to carry depends on where you are riding and with what intent. I tend towards carrying everything and the kitchen sink, mostly because I don't like to keep swapping things in and out of my camelback every ride. So whether I'm doing a quick 25km after work on trails on the local mountain, or doing a backcountry ride where not being able to fix something might mean a 25+km walk, I tend to have the following in my camelbak:

*2 spare tubes
*multitool with chain breaker (I have and carry the original topeak alien, but most everything could be done with just a few allen keys and a chainbreaker for significantly less weight)
*spare chain quick-links
*tire boot (a couple of 1 inch square bits of old sidewall)
*traditional patch kit (the kind with rubber cement, not glueless!)
*pump (topeak mountain morph)
*spare derailleur hanger
*couple of energy bars
*lightweight rain/wind jacket
*phone (friend of mine wasn't carrying one when his GF crashed and sustained a major head injury, had to leave her convulsing at the trailside and ride 15 minutes to the trailhead to seek help. Luckily she's OK now but she was in ICU in a coma for weeks and rehab for many months).
*water (I rarely carry less than 1L unless the ride is short and I'm well hydrated before I start)

Whether you need any tyre levers depends on your wheels/tyres. Some multitools (like mine) have tyre levers built into the body, but I rarely find them necessary other than with a brand new tubeless tyre, or really cold hands.

My riding is almost exclusively non-competitive social riding, and even carrying all this c**p I'm usually nearer the front than the back of the group when the gradient turns upwards, so I don't really care about the extra weight (luckily since I'm also mostly riding a 6" travel Giant Reign). Obviously for riding laps on an XC course it would be foolish to carry much at all, let alone if actually racing...

One of my friends is much more minimalist than I, carrying only a spare tube and CO2 inflator all taped to the seatpost for short rides of an hour or so. For slightly longer rides, a single bottle of water in a cage, and a tiny multitool and extra tube are jammed in a wide-mouth bottle in the second cage for rides up to a few hours. For all-day rides he usually carries a camelback with extra spares and water, but still stays relatively minimalist. He probably "borrows" my 'spare' food on 25% of rides!:rolleyes:

As for the bottle vs camelbak argument:
Camelbak
*won't fall off
*can drink from it on rough terrain
*can carry more water
*doesn't weigh your frame down (bike is easier to throw around)
*gives your back a little crash protection
*useful for carrying other stuff you probably need anyway
*can feel heavy on your back
*make you hot when working hard (less airflow on your back)
*can swing around and throw your balance off if you don't tighten the straps (e.g when jumping an obstacle)
Bottles
*don't make your back hot and sweaty
*lightweight and simple
*fall off your bike, spill all your water, and litter the trails
*can only be drunk from when you can ride one handed
*fast to swap empty for full at race transitions
*faster to fill

On balance I prefer the camelbak, but if you ride smooth XC trails with long enough straights to get a good drink, bottles are probably a good way to go.


That's a pretty standard carry for most folks, but I'd really encourage all MTBers to carry at least some sort of 1st aid kit. Somthing to clean wounds, stop bleeding, and cover them up. I've been on a few rides over the years were having a kit was if not lifesaving, was at least very very helpful to have.
9000ft
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02 Jan 2011 01:05

My two cents on the Camel Back V water bottle:

- water bottles quicker to fill.
-water bottles easier to monitor consumption, as I race endurance events this is important. Very simple,finish one bottle every lap and your never going to get caught out.
-water bottles get gritty around the mouth piece but can fit into your back pocket. Funny how people will cram all sorts of strange items into the back of a jersey but always feel obliged to put a water bottle on the frame :confused: if nothing else it keeps the grit away safely stowed in your back pocket.

Having said that, for a simple fun day out the Camel Back gives you more range between fills and would be my choice.
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Thanks - now what about the handlebars

02 Jan 2011 01:59

Thanks again to everyone for their ongoing participation in this discussion. I have a feeling that the thread is going to merit a title change, perhaps to something like, "Tips for the beginning MTB'er"!

Good point about carrying first aid, but are the crashes any worse than those on-road? I guess it's not such a concern where I am, b/c there's no opportunity for real back-country riding where you're significantly removed from civilization. Maybe an emergency locator beacon or distress signal for those time's when you've fallen and can't get up...

Next question - the handlebars: my last bike was a Merlin Ti w/ Onza ti bar-ends, so these new fangled riser bars are strange and confusing. Am I obliged to keep the bar at its original (wide) width, or can I trim it down by a few cm's on each side? Or would that be a mistake? Also, what's a good tire (f/r) for sticky muddy multi-use trails pockmarked by horse hooves and covered in leaves?

Thanks!
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02 Jan 2011 02:13

Ran into (karma) an S Works 25 year stumpjumper FSR carbon. Ok I ride Spi Roubaix 2007 elite and a Time RXS Vibraser on the Road. My Mountain bike is a Cannondale F2 Caffeine. The Stumpy is so much better. I ride in the south of France and it more small stones than under woods single. The brain is brilliant It kicks in when you need it.
It’s the same really the flash Time should be better than the Spi, but I prefer the Spi.
The Caffeine should and is quicker than the Stumpjumper but I prefer the ride on the Sumpy. Ok the Stumpy was an exceptional bike in 2006 and for me still is.
You need the rear suspension
SpiTimeCannon
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02 Jan 2011 06:49

I can fit a hardtail 29er in my jersey pocket
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02 Jan 2011 10:13

I had a Cube Reaction untill it was stolen (****ing Bulgarians :mad:), it was a good bike, nothing bad to say about. I went looking for a second hand bike, the Cube was only a year old and didnt want to spend the same amount again .
And then i found a Trek Top Fuel. I wasnt really searching for a fully but it was a great price and the right size so i went for it, and damn ... i'm so pleased i (accidently) went to a fully.
This summer i bought a second hand frame (hardtail) because i still had some wheels, derailleurs, shifters, etc. The bike was a lot lighter then my fully, more agressive so i was really looking forward to it ... i drove that bike once and went back to my fully.

I never had problems with my back, never had problems with the fact my hardtail was too hard ... but the moment i stepped on a fully i was sold Image
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Quick update

20 Sep 2011 16:21

Just a quick update that after having had the chance to ride the bike during the spring and returning to it late-Summer and really getting out a lot on the mtb during the past month, I'm glad I opted for FS. The trails around here are definitely technical and demanding enough that my riding benefits from that rear shock...
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20 Sep 2011 17:34

RE: bar-ends vs riser bars

I may be a retro-grouch in this specific area, but I prefer the flat bar and bar ends. I have an old pair of Onza bar ends that I have had on three seperate MTBs through the years. I didn't like the feel of risers while climbing, but I started MTB-ing in 1989 on a fully ridgid 26er. Maybe I've developed habits that won't die?

other thoughts: I have a 26er hardtail with V-brakes and a long stem that puts me in a very agressive climbing position. This is great for going up steep stuff like slickrock (sandstone) slopes. However, this geometry makes me vulnerable in downhill situations as I am more likely to endo when going over a drop-off.

I also have a newer 26er FS that I got a few years ago. the full suspension allows me to go faster more comfortably on rough trails and climb rougher stuff. I also have flat bars and bar ends on this, but the bars are a bit wider. The disk brakes are a huge improvement over the v-brakes and this makes more difference in the overall ride that the suspension. This bike is more fun to ride on the rough stuff than the HT.

When going from my road bike to the full-suspension MTB, it feels very strange for a while, but I get used to it. When I think about body position for downhilling on a rough trail/road. it's so totaly different than body postion while descending on a road bike. The road bike is for peddling, the mountain bike is for riding.

I love all three bikes for what they are. I've ridden a few 29ers around parking lots and such before/after MTB rides with freinds. It does feel quite a bit different, but I'm not familiar with how it would feel on the trail. I'm sure there would be an adjustment period.

It sounds like you are already out there having fun on your Giant.
If you do make it out to the Colorado front range to ride the trails, there are probably many people here who would show you around... Many around here are now going to FS 29ers... They are MTB only types, not roadies.

FWIW, good luck with your legal issues.
Deagol
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20 Sep 2011 19:31

Deagol wrote:...It sounds like you are already out there having fun on your Giant.
If you do make it out to the Colorado front range to ride the trails, there are probably many people here who would show you around... Many around here are now going to FS 29ers... They are MTB only types, not roadies.

FWIW, good luck with your legal issues.


Thanks firstly for sharing your MTB/cycling experiences, and secondly of course for the encouragement! :o I am terrified of what's ahead and simply try not to think about it as there's just no way to cope with the waiting and the unknowns, especially as I'm virtually on my own here (speaking in terms of practical support...I've received tremendous encouragement/support from folks communicating via email/web/phone but that virtual contact doesn't translate so well to butts-in-seats or a hug or slap on the back...but anyway).

Yes the Giant has proven to be the best distraction I could imagine apart from http://twitpic.com/540u5g, but don't want to upset Susan W. by speaking of details or importing images ha!

I am disappointed with the performance and durability of the SRAM X9 components, although the X0 items have done better. I'm considering upgrading to X0 shifters for these last few weeks of freedom since there is supposed to be a significant improvement compared to the utterly crap X9's.

The full suspension is amazing, right? But what's utterly crazy is the performance of the disc brakes!! Not having had an MTB since 2000-ish, these are the first discs I've used on a bike and they are insane. Wow! Crazy.

I'd like to trick out the bike w/ a carbon bar/stem, the better drivetrain components, maybe lighter tires, etc. but even w/o that stuff it's been so fun so enjoyable so nice to get back into the woods on such a nice machine relative to what I had before (Merlin Ti w/ XT, I think). Not that Ti is bad but a hardtail merlin from 2000 vs. 2011 FS Giant ... no brainer for me.

How funny though is the fact that last night I decided to swap the Continental Mountain King tires I'd put on in the spring for better mud performance w/ the stock Maxxis Cross Mark's that came w/ the bike and which are still new (the rear Conti is really worn down from the 20min/ride I spend on the roads heading to and from the park) - the trails were like baked clay after a hot summer! At about 5pm last night I started to swap tires and by 5:10PM it was raining and only just stopped lol. Doh.

OK ... back to worrying about the future but feeling like there's not much that I can do about it. :(
joepa

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User avatar joe_papp
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20 Sep 2011 19:49

I can't comment too much on SRAM, but I did ride it for a little while before the bike I had was disposed of (long story). I remember the rear derailleur had an issue where it would lock-up due to the angle of pull being not offset enough to the parallel swing arms, or something to that effect. Also, I prefer the Shimano trigger shifter options to the SRAM shifting.

The FS MTB is full XTR and I have no complaints.

Yes, the hydraulic disks are a huge improvement. Another thing that makes your hands even happier is Ergon grips. Between those grips and the disk brakes, my hands do not suffer like they do on the hardtail. Obviously, the suspension also helps.

A few other things: as some have posted, Camlebacks are pretty popular. I don’t use them (for cycling) but I can see why so many do. I prefer waterbottles since I don’t like having anything flopping around on my back.

The stress of road riding with cars can be replaced by the stress of trail riding with: other bikers, angry hikers, equestrians, etc.. but it doesn’t have to be that way. From what I have seen, doing MTB riding in a group of over maybe 3 or so leads to a situation where it might annoy other trail users for obvious reasons.

I have been following your saga somewhat here and only know bits and pieces based on reading several posts. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to be involved in something like this. I can only guess that what you may be doing to “help the situation” may come into play when the decision makers make their decisions…
Deagol
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29 Sep 2011 20:54

Still on a loaner Joe or parted with $$?
Cant speak with up to date experience personnaly as am a lil chubby too be MTB'n round my way but....
know lots who do and most people riding mixed terrain ie in the "should I buy a short travel full bouncer" camp, are buying long travel hardtails instead and loving them.

O yes camelback essential
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29 Sep 2011 21:13

User Guide wrote:Still on a loaner Joe or parted with $$?
Cant speak with up to date experience personnaly as am a lil chubby too be MTB'n round my way but....
know lots who do and most people riding mixed terrain ie in the "should I buy a short travel full bouncer" camp, are buying long travel hardtails instead and loving them.

O yes camelback essential


I'm kinda mad at myself for under-appreciating the summer weather as it relates to mtb'ing... While I treated every ride as a unique and special opportunity that I might not get to experience again for 10-fcking-years, I wish I'd done more MTB'ing in June/July/August. When I finally went back to the woods in late-Aug., I was floored by how dry the trails were and how fast I could go on them, and yet how comfortable it all was on a FS bike. Now it's obviously getting cooler and there is more rain and less sun, which translates to more mud and less fun. Still better than sitting in an oversize-cage, but not as sweet as choking on dust from a dry trail.

Funny thing - I hopped on my road bike on Tuesday after at least 10 days exclusively mtb'ing and for a second thought I'd been speared by the saddle, it was so not plush. lol. Add being stretched out like a proper roadie and I feel suddenly quite old and worn-out. lol
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04 Oct 2011 13:37

Deagol wrote:I...as some have posted, Camlebacks are pretty popular. I don’t use them (for cycling) but I can see why so many do. I prefer waterbottles since I don’t like having anything flopping around on my back. …

If one is going to be doing any serious MTB riding then a camelbak is essential, IMO.

Not aware of what kind of trails you are riding, but there are very few opportunities to ride one handed long enough to drink from a bottle where I ride.
[SIZE="1"][SIZE="1"][font="Impact"]The devil may tip but my Jesus got an open bar[/font][/SIZE].[/SIZE]
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11 Oct 2011 18:43

Black-Balled wrote:If one is going to be doing any serious MTB riding then a camelbak is essential, IMO.

Not aware of what kind of trails you are riding, but there are very few opportunities to ride one handed long enough to drink from a bottle where I ride.


I ride all over Colorado and Utah when I get a chance. I never had a problem with waterbottles, it's just timing when you drink, especially during a race.

Not really a big thing.
To each their own...
Deagol
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12 Oct 2011 19:52

So I rode a 29er full suspension all summer. It's a great bike (Giant Anthem X 29er) and I really have no complaints. But the other day, I did take a friend's 26 in hardtail out for a spin...man that bike is fun. Same sensation as driving a Mini Cooper. Sigh...I don't need another bike. :confused:
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25 Nov 2011 02:46

Parera wrote:So I rode a 29er full suspension all summer. It's a great bike (Giant Anthem X 29er) and I really have no complaints. But the other day, I did take a friend's 26 in hardtail out for a spin...man that bike is fun. Same sensation as driving a Mini Cooper. Sigh...I don't need another bike. :confused:


No one ever needs another bike. But we can almost all enjoy the prospects of adding another machine to the stable. Good luck on making a decision (assuming $ isn't the issue?).

How tall are you? I steered well-clear of the 29ers b/c I look like I'm riding a clown bike (and I'm the midget clown) when I'm pedaling b/w a pair of 29's.
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25 Nov 2011 10:34

User Guide wrote:Still on a loaner Joe or parted with $$?
Cant speak with up to date experience personnaly as am a lil chubby too be MTB'n round my way but....
know lots who do and most people riding mixed terrain ie in the "should I buy a short travel full bouncer" camp, are buying long travel hardtails instead and loving them.

O yes camelback essential


Too chubby to ride up hills? Get on the vegan high carb, low fat programme and go ride up bergs and you will be shredded like you thought couldnt be.

You can buy up grades.
or you can ride up grades.
One is free. One works the best.
Over 300 000km cycled as a vegan.

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29 Apr 2012 13:36

Softtail only makes sense for downhillers imo.
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29 Apr 2012 15:25

Here on the wet coast the rides are technical steep and rocky. 29ers are leading the trail.
26 in FS or 29 hard tail are the more common but the really skilled riders are using rigid 29ers and to great effect.
The group I ride with ranges from Max Plaxton on rare occasion to a lot of guys that were cat 1 roadies. Trek, Specialized Rocky mountain, Santa Cruz and Niners dominate the frames of choice. Funny I said I ride with. Actually I show up for the MTB ride on my road bike just so I can ride with them to the trail head and off on my own. I am by far the weakest climber.
A lot of the guys on hard tails went from FS 26ers. My buddy who is now 60 and can still keep up with the fast guys, raves about his Carbon Niner hard tail as the best mtb he has owned and he has owned a lot.
I have an almost new condition 26" Fuji dual suspension that I bought from a pro that I wish I waited another 6 months and I am sure I would have gone 29er. The Fuji was a huge improvement over the Hei Hei but the niners roll so sweet and just carry their momentum well. If I could sell mine I'c change today.
I am sure that there are really great places to use a FS but around here it seems like a little more than the XC oriented guys prefer. By XC I still need to point out that some guys have trials skills but the regular thursday group meet in town and transit to the trails so road efficiency is important too. These guys can really explore the limits of 1.8 and 2.0 tires with most of the tread worn off. most use 2.2 but there are still a few guys that prefer narrow high pressure over wider and low pressure that the majority roll. I guess since they both regularly finish at the front that debate will rage for a while longer.
I have never ridden east coast but if I remember my geography lessons and from camping in eastern Canadian mountains that if they ride hard tail 29ers here then they are good for there. Adjust for your reality.
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