Rigid vs HT vs Full Sus

KneesUp

Guru
Just a retro thought.

It's quite common advice now that full sus is too heavy for most riders to get much benefit from, and anyway you need to spend a lot to get a full sus bike that's any good.

I presume that this was once the advice given to people considering a HT? If I'd asked in 1989 if it was a good idea to get a bike with suspension forks, what terrain would I have been told best suited a rigid bike?
 

Oldbloke

Guru
Location
Mayenne, France
I can't recall if front suspension was widely available in 1989; I do remember buying a Marin Palisades in 1990 though and suspension wasn't even talked about by the selling dealer. Followed this with another Marin, a Nail Trail around '93, again no mention.
 

Gravity Aided

Legendary Member
Location
Land of Lincoln
I remember front suspension started out by suspending the stem, not the fork. After a few grievous failures this was abandoned in favor of the fork being suspended. And who can forget the Allsop? credit forums mtbr.com for image.
IMGP2127.jpg


The first suspension forks I remember seeing were RockShox Judy, about mid 1990s'.
 

Cubist

Still wavin'
Location
Ovver 'thill
That oft quoted advice re the unnecessary weight of full suspension is still to be found on here. It's a bit anachronistic now, especially as the majority of the posters were advising people who wanted to buy a "do it all " bike rather than a bike for riding off road as a leisure pursuit. In those heady days you were able to buy a mid price hardtail for £500 or so, with decent components, and only had to spend s few hundred more to get XC race bikes with air forks and decent running kit.

Back in 2009 or so whe I first started reading this forum I found a lot of people wanting a MTB as a commuter, or to ride it on canal towpaths/easy wooded trails and so on. The advice to get a rigid or hybrid was valid then, and is still valid now. Very few people on here in particular thought it necessary to get a bike specifically designed to be ridden fast and hard on technical trails. I even remember people telling punters to spend no more than £300 and spend the rest of the budget on a rack.

MountainBiking has developed massively since then. There are far more readily accessible off road trails and loads of guide books pointing riders towards fun bridleways and other routes, and the UK scene is pretty much unique in many ways. One big change has come in the form of the bikes available. European riders, especially Ze Germans tend to love their trekking bikes, what we would consider to be XC style machines, and you'll see them refer to them as Marathon Bikes. Designed for long comfy days riding fire roads and easy trails, they produce, and pretty well flooded the market with that type of bike. The proliferation of 29ers are no surprise....they still fill that niche superbly, and continue to hog the lions share of the mass market for new bikes. There are a good number of full suss bikes there too, shortish travel faster XC oriented bikes with light alu or Carbon frames, but still,with faster, longer distance geometry.

The European full suss market in long-travel mode is a bit like the American market. Days spent on alpine uplift days, where the bikes' ability to climb is absolutely secondary to its downhill prowess means that Euro and US style long travel bikes have heavy duty long travel forks, bomproof wheelset and tyres, slack, long and low bikes that descend like sledges. An absolute hoot to pin down a ski run in the summer having been winched up by truck or ski lift, but a pig to live with on a day out in Derbyshire or the Lakes.

UK riders tend to follow a slightly different market pattern. UK riding tends to based on short ups followed by short downs, especially in the trail centre world. A fast climbing short travel bike is limited in its descending ability, so would limit a rider wanting fast downs after their fast ups. The long travel hardtail is pretty unique to the UK, but has a massive following amongst those who consider themselves to be the hardcore of riders. Forks offering 120,140,150,160 mm of travel mated with slack angled frames capable of taking moderate to massive abuse on heavy duty wheels and tyres, ideal for those trail centre reds and blacks. Wide bars, steel frames, double or single chainsets offering little by way of flat out speed, but capable of big drops and jumps.... simple stuff, but ideally suited to our riding conditions. More often than not these tend to be custom, boutique or niche brands, but not necessarily all that expensive.
 

Gravity Aided

Legendary Member
Location
Land of Lincoln
Continental European style riding tends to be in the American West, but in the East, bicycles are more in the UK style, as are the woods. Cannondale tends to be more Eastern US oriented historically. But more based around aluminum frames, ski lifts being few and far between.
 

Cubist

Still wavin'
Location
Ovver 'thill
Continued...


NO surprise then that the UK market then started looking at the "all mountain " or " trail bike." If the emphasis is on fun, we needed to see a bike capable of hammering red and black routes, with a moderate amount of travel. The Orange Five was possibly the original trail bike. 140 travel all round, borrowing a lot of criteria from US trail bikes, but coming up with its own flavour of style. Weighty, and not the best climber in its class, it was nevertheless bombproof, and great on technical stuff, with a huge following in the grim northern rocky steep stuff. With single pivot rear suspension it is easy to maintain, if a little crude compared with other evolved suspension designs.

The "all mountain" bike has undergone a further evolutionary step change, or at least a marketing ploy, thanks to the proliferation of "Enduro" bikes. Enduro is nothing new, except it formalised in a race format what most of us already knew.... and that is that going downhill,is where it's at, and climbing back up to the top,of the next descent is a necessary encumbrance. Bikes now have stiffer axles, stiffer forks, a bit more heft here and there, and are designed to be raced down timed sections, but pedalled sedately back up again.... Sounds familiar? No out and out DH sleds then, but bikes you could spend all day riding around. So, in real terms, those UK favourites, the compromise trail bike is the vogue market.

American bikes as Gravity Aided says, also play a big part in the development. Bronson, Santa Cruz, Yeti, Ibis, all favourite brands in the AM or Enduro field.
 

Cubist

Still wavin'
Location
Ovver 'thill
Rigid riders love the simplicity and purism required to ride a non-suspension design on trails, but they're welcome to it. The argument between hardtail and full suss rages on, but I think there's a place for both, especially in the UK. it is very much a case of "horses for courses". It's interesting to note that if we are talking about weight a quality rear shock and linkage only ads a kilo of so onto the weight of the bike, less on race bikes, and th advantages in terms of comfort and traction outweigh the penalty.

However, advice to a new rider will always ask the question about what sort of riding they intend to do. The generic entry level trekking bike is great on bridleways, fire roads and canal towpaths, but can be limited on anything technical. Personally I would always recommend a long travel hardtail for novices, especially if they want to ride trail centres, unles they can afford a decent full suss. But, the old quoted "no less than a grand on a full suss" is now about £500 too low.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
Interesting - and wise - mountain biking words from @Cubist as always.

I'm still just looking with my fingers at MTBs in bike shops, but even I've noticed the weight penalty for a full sus is barely there if you are prepared to spend a few quid.

Can't see me ever having a need for one, and all those pivots and the extra shock look to me like too much extra maintenance/scope for breakdown.
 

shadow master

Well-Known Member
Full suspension or hardtail it all comes down to budget,full susy just stretches Mr averages budget in too many directions so everything on the bike has to be of lower quality including the suspension,to the point where its not actually usable anyway!full sussys in the £500-£1000 price range are notacable by there absence... Thank god!
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
If you'd asked the question in 1989 I'd have wrestled you to the ground and called for a.Doctor. No one made a truly decent suspension fork for another decade.
 
OP
KneesUp

KneesUp

Guru
If you'd asked the question in 1989 I'd have wrestled you to the ground and called for a.Doctor. No one made a truly decent suspension fork for another decade.
Interesting answers - I picked 1989 because I've seen the brochure for the OHs 1989 MTB and they're all rigid so I guessed that at that point in time, suspension of any kind would be considered not necessary. A friend had a Pace RC200 with suspension in the very early 90s - 1992 perhaps - so I guessed it might have been emerging as an idea around 1989 - obviously that RC200 was more ground-breaking than I realised. It had hydraulic brakes and everything (and no, I never got to ride it!)
 

e-rider

crappy member
Location
South West
my advice:
Full Rigid for road and very light 'off road' e.g canal paths etc
HT for fast XC, woods...
Full sus for DH, trail centres and freeride...etc
 
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