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Hard Tail vs. Full-Spension

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Moderators: Susan Westemeyer, Red Rick

29 Apr 2012 20:48

Bavarianrider wrote:Softtail only makes sense for downhillers imo.

I'm glad to be riding FS, honestly. It makes riding idiot-proof lol.

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User avatar joe_papp
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA, USA

04 May 2012 20:07

I've been riding hardtails continuously from when I started MTBing in 1989 to the present. I got a full suspension 26 also after doing a race of about 25 miles where I got beat up pretty badly towards the end by the rocky course. I started the race out physically stronger than a good portion of the pack, but was wasted near the end due to the constant hammering. I saw a good handful of riders on FS just cruise by me down the bumpy downhill near the end that I didn’t have the energy to ride effectively after the distance we had already gone. That was an enlightening moment and I decided to go FS. This was maybe 6 years ago? I still ride both bikes, depending on the terrain and both bikes have their place. To make a blanket statement about FS not being “needed” for XC does not acknowledge the very real difference in trail conditions. This is all with the caveat that you don’t have a 29er, which admittedly may accomplish the same thing as a FS 26er. I can agree with those who wish they had been able to wait a few years to decide between HT 29 and FS 26. It would be nice to give both bikes a try on very rough XC terrain to see what works better for them. Now, of course you have FS 29ers, which seem to be so much easier, that it tilts the odds in your favor significantly over HT 26.
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Re: Hard Tail vs. Full-Spension

25 Sep 2016 15:04

Well, I'm still glad I got the FS bike and not a hardtail, but I desperately wish I'd gone w/ a 29er and not stupid 26-inch wheels. Gah. I hate riding w/ guys on 29ers now lol - they eat logs for breakfast, lunch and dinner that I feel like I have to be an acrobat to get over.

oh well - all-carbon FS still beats steel hardtail from 1993 any day of week ;)
User avatar joe_papp
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13 Oct 2016 16:16

There are times on either I wish I was on the other.
User avatar Boeing
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14 Oct 2016 20:59

Boeing wrote:There are times on either I wish I was on the other.

Extremely accurate
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18 Oct 2016 09:22

My current 29er FS is lighter than my last titanium HT. I had a 26 FS in between. After 20 years of hard tails I won't be buying a Hard tail again. the 29 FS improved my riding a lot.
User avatar Master50
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Re: Hard Tail vs. Full-Spension

31 Oct 2016 18:29

I would love to have a hardtail as an extra bike, just 'cause. But I cannot fathom the circumstances under which I'd actually shell out money for one at this point. Suspensions are just too good. Too light, fun and so much grippier on climbs.

If you're racing a smooth, flowy and grippy XC course with no loose climbs or extended technical downhills I could see maybe using a hardtail. For the everyday rider, I cannot imagine why one would choose a hardtail other than for reasons of finances or simplicity of maintenance. There is no argument that they offer the better ride at this point in tech development. I'd put my Ripley up against any hardtail on a climb.
User avatar red_flanders
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01 Nov 2016 09:48

I love my hardtail, which is now a monstercross bike, but I'm under no illusions as to how lacking it really is compared to a full suss set up for the same trails. I like it because it can be a challenge to ride, whereas a lot of the time a full suss makes trails so easy you might as well be on the road (hyperbole but only just!).

What I will say for hardtails is that with an adjustable travel fork of 120/140mm or 140/160mm travel you have a bike which will suit a vast array of riding and allow you to get the most fun out of any trail you care to chuck it down. With full suss bikes they still seem to be very much geared towards a particular discipline, so I wouldn't want to take an enduro bike out on an XC run and I wouldn't want to take an XC bike out on a proper all mountain day in the saddle. However, when my hardtail had suspension I could swap between 130 or 160mm and feel fine blasting along flat XC days or sticking it down the EWS trails at Glentress/Innerleithen. So I think in terms of overall versatility, HTs still win out.
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User avatar King Boonen
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01 Nov 2016 18:20

Not buying it. :)

For me, I wouldn't want to take a hardtail out for an all-mountain day no matter what kind of front travel it had when I could do it on a short or medium travel 29er. I find I get radically better performance out of the latter. I would prefer my short travel 29er over a hardtail on an XC course–FS bikes (well at least the one I have) simply climb better with the additional traction, and the performance on the descents is not comparable. The weight of the rear shock and suspension doesn't make much difference in my riding versus the traction advantage, as I'm carrying enough water and gear to make either a fairly heavy ride. When I ride with guys with hard-tails now we just wait for them, up or down. It's not a problem to wait of course, you're always waiting or being waited on when you ride with a group, but I don't know any of the hard-tail guys who don't wish they had a FS rig in the group ride. My buddy went from a hard-tail to a Ripley and he's setting new Strava times on climbs everywhere he goes.

For my riding, I can push a FS to go much faster and get all the challenge I want out of it. It's just more fun and less painful. Longer rides are much more likely as I'm not getting pounded and rattled into fatigue. For me the FS rig just opens up more trails and more options.
User avatar red_flanders
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Re: Hard Tail vs. Full-Spension

07 Nov 2016 21:06

pre-beginner :lol:
I rode a colleague´s MTB (front) last winter, twice.
the bike was too big, and there was a bit too much mud.
I said "never again" and I hopped on the road bike as usual. I must admit I rode this mtb but I was biased. so wasnt willing to use it for a week after the first 2 bad days, I didnt try enough to get used.
now it happens I broke my femur on a rainy downhill over Nice in August. so during these 2 months I had time to think. and I guess I have to give it a second try with a mtb. and will do that for the whole winter, while asphalt roads are wet or covered in salt/sand. I have unpaved roads 100 meters from where I live.
I ride alone, average 4 rides per week. 1h30- 2h rides.

I found those 2



I ride a size S no brand road bike, I´m 174cm, shorts legs

any suggestions?

Senior Member
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29 Nov 2016 18:46

Here's a sale on a Kona Hardtail: http://www.jensonusa.com/Mountain-Bikes/Kona-Kula-Bike-2015?cs=Black

Looks like a pretty darn good bike for the price. Anyone have experience with Kona?
User avatar red_flanders
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06 Jan 2017 14:30

Since this thread started, there have been so many changes and updates in mountain bikes. Fat bikes, plus bikes, and so many geometric differences, such as Specialized's "EVO", which has been adopted by other brands, on top of wheel size, tire size, then tubless tires. Much of this makes the entire FS vs. Hardtail almost trivial. Just a few short years ago it was the question to ask, now, it's one of many.

Just as an example, if you were to ride a Scott Scale plus bike, with it's big tires on a HT, you'd find the traction on it on climbs is shockingly good, a big jump over what you'd see on their $10k, Scale 700 from just a few years ago. The speed lost on the flats, would possibly be made up on the up/down on the hills and bumps.

Your terrain is another factor. If you live somewhere that's extremely rocky and rooty, with sharp hills, you're going to want a different bike than riding on a lot of fairly flat, smooth, dirt. There is a world of difference between riding in New Hampshire and Nevada for example.

Here's another angle to that, in recent gravel rides and races that are on tough courses, you'll see guys showing up on a XC HT 29er mountain bike with high air pressure in tires, because they're light, and can easily handle 50+ miles of gravel with some dirt and grass here and there, with more comfort to the rider, if not quite the speed of a gravel grinder. Trying this on a FS bike would feel like a slog.

Skill is also another factor. I live in New England which is very rocky, some trails look like dried creek beds, plenty hilly, and tight turns through dense woods. You see a lot of fat bikes here, yet you still see riders performing very well on HT bikes, proving once again, you need to find the bike that works best for you.
User avatar Alpe d'Huez
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