Full Sus vs Hard Tail

Discussion in 'Mountain Biking, Trials and BMX' started by Jockey, 15 May 2008.

  1. Jockey

    Jockey New Member

    Ok, the longest running debate ever I'm sure, but I'm looking for some advice.... I'm riding the Merida Penrith enduro in September and I'm looking at investing in a new bike for the event.. Well you have to have an excuse for new wheels don't you!! At present I ride an Alloy hardtail which I love but am finding it just a little hard on the body these days. I also ride a full sus, which is heavy as hell and not right for a full on XC race.. But... full sus's are getting lighter and lighter, yet Carbon hard tails taking the "hard" out of Hardtails. So my question is...

    Should I take a punt on a carbon hard tail, or should I go for a full sus as my next XC bike. Any personal experiences / recomendations would be appreciated - especially if you can recommend a decent bike.

  2. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    S of Kendal
    Forget about carbon hardtails having any give. Stand beside one and lean on the saddle and see how much give that back end has; NONE! The tyres will give a bit but the rear end of a hard tail is rigid, whatever it's made of.

    Carbon and steel can held reduce the 'buzz' that gets through to the saddle, pedals and grips, and this can help to reduce fatigue, but it does nothing for the rough stuff. Tyre pressure (and tyre quality to a degree) has a much bigger effect than anything else on a hardtail.

    When I went for a full susser, I too thought I would keep the hardtail (steel and said to be very compliant) for cross country enduros, but the ride on the full suspension was so much better that the longer the ride, the more inclined I was to ride the full suspension and the hardtail remained unused.

    In the end I swapped the Whyte PRST2 for a Santa Cruz Superlight and happily use it for everything. If I want to go 'hard core' for things such as the Hell of the North Cotswolds, I just use my cross bike.

    Mrs TB has got her race SantaCruz down to less than 25lbs all up, so full suspension doesn't have to be heavy. But you do have to pay lots to get less.
  3. RedBike

    RedBike New Member

    Beside the road
    Something in-between so to speak, a short travel full sus like the Giant Anthem or a long travel hardtail?

    Its will probably be worth hiring a few different bikes or finding a stop that will let you test ride a few off-road.

    I would say that in general full suspension bikes are getting heavier as more and more suspension travel seems to become the norm.
  4. barq

    barq Senior Member

    Birmingham, UK
    I sympathise with you about alu hardtails. I moved to steel which was a tad better, but the only bike that makes a significant difference is my full-susser.

    My limited experience of carbon is that it damps vibration which is great for road bikes, but doesn't 'give' the way you want for off-road cycling. Aside from making riding more comfortable good suspension should help plant your wheels firmly on the ground as you go over the rough stuff. So I'd be trying out a few different suspension designs from different manufacturers. I like Kona's Kikapu range (now superceded by the Four range), but a very popular choice would be some variety of Specialized Epic.
  5. mr Mag00

    mr Mag00 rising member

    Deepest Dorset
    hi, my few pennies worth. i went from a hardtail that was about 15 yrs old, twas v v good in its day actually ridden professionally too. but it became increasingly difficult to maintain and was becoming less cost effective and the stance was all wrong in the 'modern' era. so i blew a wad of cash on a full sus Trek fuel ex 9.5. i looked and rode and tried many a frame spec i was v v undecided as to what to get, but designs had changed and now there are far more genres of riding so i plumped for the enduro geometry which seemed i deal i wanted to attempt those races at some point, god im rambling here, its an excellent bike the ability to lock off the sus when needed is great but i find more and more i leave it on even for the 'flat' stuff and find i can ride it faster. it has taken me some time to get used to riding full sus, im not sure about riser bars and change the riding style has changed.
  6. User482

    User482 Guest

    I have 2 MTBs - a full rigid and a full sus. I think that full sussers are in danger of becoming a bit too much of a good thing - on anything but the gnarliest terrain, you simply don't have too much involvement. By contrast the full rigid requires lots of concentration at all times, and is more fun as a result. On the other hand, you get beaten up and tired much more quickly. So for an enduro, I would go for a light, short travel full suss - it's what I used for the Bristol Bikefest and it seemed to be the perfect choice of bike.
  7. Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    I have a very nice FS (Titus Motolite 2), on which you can lock out the rear suspension if you want - which means it is pretty much all purpose. I have found that despite what people say about FS getting better at lower prices it isn't really that simple - you do have to pay more to get something that is really good.

    In some ways you can't beat the feel offered by a hardtail added to the fact that it simply forces you to take a better line. Hardtails make you a better rider - simple as. And for XC there really isn't any need for FS. If I was buying now, I would buy a steel On-One HT.
  8. bonj2

    bonj2 Guest

    people'll be wheeling that tired old argument out for ever and a day...
  9. Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    Uh-huh - what is your argument against it? Seeing as all the genuinely experienced riders and racers I know are of this opinion...

    And remind us how long it is you've been riding seriously again as you do.
  10. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    S of Kendal
    You need to get out more. About everyone I know made the switch to FS about 4 years ago and all said they would keep the hardtail fo racing / enduros / skill training, etc.

    Only one has ever ridden a hard tail since, and he's got some 29'er which he claims..... yardy, yardy, yardy.....

    Everyone else can see no downside whatsoever with FS for cross country. But then we all live in the Lakes and not London. Perhaps our definition of cross country is different.
  11. Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    There's no need for the school yard taunts. I get out a fair amount, thanks.

    And you miss the point almost entirely. These are people who rode hardtails when learning, and switched - me too. I am not against FS - I have one, as I said.

    But are you seriously suggesting that you do not develop better technique, better judgement of line and better foresight if you never ride HT (or for that matter rigid)?
  12. For the record, I agree with FM here. As a general rule it's always better to start on a hardtail because they give you great handling skills. Move to FS later on. Having said that for general trail duties there's no hard and fast rule as to when you should ride a hardtail, or when you should ride FS. For example all of the guides at one of the alpine centres i know ride tight long travel hardtails on trails that you (TB) might consider to be only rideable on FS judging by what you've posted. There's more to handling than just having a bit of squish at both ends. And plenty of people still ride fully rigid in places like the peaks and lakes. It's more about what suits you personally.

    I've ridden stuff like the marin rough ride, many of the classic lakes and peaks routes on my santa cruz hardtail (the WSD one with the short wheelbase so it's really sh1t scary), and it's a lot of fun if you go fast enough. At the end of dusk til dawn, however, I was cursing the effing thing and wanting to sell it for a short travel FS :smile:

    Going back to the OP I would recommend a trek fuel EX9 or better. I rode one last year in the arizona desert (FM was there too), and they climb beautifully, handle really well, are nicely built and are nice and light. I would not recommend a carbon hardtail under any circs...
  13. Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    Totally agree - I was very surprised by how good the Fuel was - I had always had the rather snobbish view of Treks as being the Ford of the bicycle world, and this was actually very, very good indeed and helped a relative MTB idiot like me do some seriously gnarly rocky desert riding.
  14. Didn't stop you sitting on that cactus though did it? :smile:;)
  15. Flying_Monkey

    Flying_Monkey Toll Collector on the Road to Nowhere

    That was a tactical decision... :wacko:
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