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  1. #1
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    FS or hard tail for 1st 29er?

    I'm returing to mtn biking after a 3 year hiatus. Last ride was a hardtail. No major complaints. I ride trails in New York that are moderately rooty, few rocks here and there, flat to moderate hills. I'm not interested in flying through the air and I doubt I'll be traveling to Moab with the bike! 6 foot 2 and 205 lbs.

    29ers are growing in popularity in my area and the Fisher Hi-Fi looks nice on paper (waiting to test one in the flesh) but I keep wondering if FS is necessary on mild to moderate terrain with the bigger wheels. Will the step up in wheel size, by itself, make the ride sweeter so that FS not needed?

    Alternatively, what 29ers are on the market with short travel suspension like the YBB on the Moots...not that I'll be spending that kind of cash?

    Yes, I'll test plenty of bikes. Just wondering what your experience has been.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I ride similar terrain and have found the 29er wheels with the pressures lowered and the steel frame / fork really soak up way more than you would expect. I now ride 29er with a rigid fork and find it smoother than my HT aluminium 26er with cheap suspension. So I can't comment on FS so much but I can say 29ers are amazingly smooth on root, rock, gravel XC terrain.

  3. #3
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    All rigid here in Northern California. Agreed with chumbox that hi-volume / low PSI tires on the 29er are the bee's knees. I have a 29er suspension fork that sits in the storage area -- so far, I just haven't felt the need install it.

    Go get a cheap one that fits and enjoy it until you figure out where to go next.

    Good luck.
    Eat, ride, eat, rest, repeat.

  4. #4
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    Nothing new to add... Big tires, bigger wheels, steel frame all take the edge out beautifully. If you came from a 26" hardtail a 29" hardtail will have you thinking you've got an inch or two of travel back there. Save some dough, try full rigid and add a Reba if needed.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobonli
    I'm returing to mtn biking after a 3 year hiatus. Last ride was a hardtail. No major complaints. I ride trails in New York that are moderately rooty, few rocks here and there, flat to moderate hills. I'm not interested in flying through the air and I doubt I'll be traveling to Moab with the bike! 6 foot 2 and 205 lbs.

    29ers are growing in popularity in my area and the Fisher Hi-Fi looks nice on paper (waiting to test one in the flesh) but I keep wondering if FS is necessary on mild to moderate terrain with the bigger wheels. Will the step up in wheel size, by itself, make the ride sweeter so that FS not needed?
    For us big Wookies, it certainly is nice to have a FS with the big wheels. I've got a Fisher Sugar 293 that is a nice ride on roots so I can imagine the HiFi would provide similar cush at a nice price point. Both are shorter travel FS bikes and are nice general XC trail as well as race bikes. I also have a steel rigid HT and a softtail Dos Niner - so I have a little of everything to compare. Gotta say, if push comes to shove I really like having the cushion for general trail riding and hitting all the roots. Then again, I'm 46 and dealing with the typical lower back of a tall lanky guy. The FS bike keeps my back fresh and shortens recovery time between rides. I can attest to the recovery time needed after riding my rigid fork, steel frame Karate Monkey. I love the bike and the ride it provides. However, it really shakes up my kidneys and requires some extra healing and recovery days compared to my other two bikes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobonli
    Alternatively, what 29ers are on the market with short travel suspension like the YBB on the Moots...not that I'll be spending that kind of cash?
    Dos Niner made by Salsa is a nice bike with a Relish Shock with 1" of travel in the rear. That combined with some nice fat tires at lower air pressure provides plenty of cushion to handle the roots and not zap your back with a jolt of lightening.

    You could also get a 1.5" travel Cane Creek Thudbuster ST for some cushion in any ride (or the LT for more travel) and pop it on a HT that has a front suspension fork. It might be a nice "tweener" bike. Dig through the photo threads and see all the models available.

    Best of luck in trying some bikes out and narrowing down your choices. It should be fun for you to get back into the sport.

    BB

  6. #6
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    As said above with lower psi in your tires and larger wheels on the 29er you really don't require a fork, but I'd say get a hard tail 29er instead of a FS.

    You will notice a world of difference on rocks and roots with a 29er. I can't wait to get one (my next mt bike purchase!)

    You might take a peek at the Gary Fisher cobia (I test road one the other day and it was a blast)
    http://www.fisherbikes.com/bike/model/cobia

    or you can go with specialized (I have road this exact bike and loved it!)

    http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=34097


    or go with a redline 29er or a motobecane 29er. My friend has this motobecane 29er and he loves it

    http://www.motobecane.com/MBUSAo29.html

    You can get this bike for $400 online

    Try out a few rides and see what you like the best. I am not sure how much you want to spend, but a 29er is a nice bike for rooty trails!

  7. #7
    Not really that big!
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    I ride some similar trails as Bruce Brown. I would also recommend the Dos Niner if you are on the fence as to get a hard tail or an FS. The Dos is a great bike and loves the twisty stuff I have heard you guys on the east coast have available. I also have a Sultan, which is as smooth as anything out there with 29 inch wheels for cross country riding. The hard tail will be a little smoother with the big wheels but the Dos Niner is a great compromise in my opinion. The good news for you is there are more options available today than there have ever been. Best of luck with your decision.
    Just Ridin' Along

  8. #8
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    I went to the Fisher demo days a couple of weeks ago and spent some time on the trails on both the HIFI29 pro DS and the Paragon hardtail. I liked the ride of the Paragon better, although I liked both. To me, over roots and rocks, the Paragon was smooth enough and felt great overall, and it accellerated better. The HIFI was nice, but for me I loved the ride of the hardtail with the big wheels, and that is the way I am going after riding both. Setting it up tubeless and lowering the psi will help more, but man that bike rode nice and completely different than my aluminum 26" bike.

  9. #9
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    Yeah I have tested both a paragon and the rig. I gotta say the rig felt awesome if you are interested in going the single speed route. I never thought I'd like the single speed route, but it's actually a lot of fun, but I think I would miss that good ole chain slap sound when I get some air.

  10. #10
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    You certainly don't need a FS for the trails you'll be riding, but it will definitely be a nicer ride and you may find yourself able to ride longer with less fatigue. On the other hand, FS incurs more maintenance and marginally more weight, is marginally less efficient climbing, and costs considerably more for the a bike with the same level of componentry. Them's the tradeoffs. Personally, I have both an FS and a hardtail and they each have their strengths. The best choice often depends on the trail.

    That said, I'd agree that if you're on the fence you should take a hard look at the Dos Niner. It will take the edge off, and nearly every Dos owner raves about it.
    "People like GloyBoy are deaf. They are partisan, intellectually lazy & usually very angry." -Jaybo

  11. #11
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    Definitely try both

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobonli
    I'm returing to mtn biking after a 3 year hiatus. Last ride was a hardtail. No major complaints. I ride trails in New York that are moderately rooty, few rocks here and there, flat to moderate hills. I'm not interested in flying through the air and I doubt I'll be traveling to Moab with the bike! 6 foot 2 and 205 lbs.

    [snip]

    Yes, I'll test plenty of bikes. Just wondering what your experience has been.
    I used to ride in Westchester/Putnam County and am moving up to a 29er. I used to have similar questions to you: Given the amount I ride is an FS worth it or will a hardtail be fine? A hardtail will be much cheaper than an equivalent FS or lesser speced for the same price. How much extra cush does a 29er hardtail give over a 26" FS? Etc, etc

    However I was able to attend a demo day where I tried out a Fisher HiFi Pro, Fisher Paragon, Niner RIP9, Haro Mary XC and a couple of 26" FS bikes all back to back (not necessarily in that order).
    I quickly came to the conclusion that I'm most definitely a full sus guy.

    Specifically I liked the improved traction and cornering of the FS bike plus the removal of sting from the rear. A bit of bounce if rear makes the bikes seem more swoopy and carvey to me. Other folks like hardtails because to them the ride gives more feedback from the trail. I can say that the HiFi has quite a firm rear which gives you the benefits of 4" suspension but doesn't feel at all vague or wallowey. The RIP9 by comparison has a plusher rear end.

    There used to be a weight penalty between hardtails and FS bikes but that gap has shrunk (as both types have lost weight) such that when compared to the rider the difference became rather moot to me.

    Also your choice might depend of the length of ride that you do. If a typical ride is a 90 minute blat round a loop then a hardtail could be all you need. But the longer the ride gets the more that the benefit of FS bikes grows as the less beat up you get. By the time you get to eight hour enduro type events/rides the difference is considerable.

    So as you already know - test both.

    Hope those points help.

  12. #12
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    IMHO a hardtail will do just fine eccept.......... if you are doing solo endurance races.(notSS) The full squish would be a great benefit in that area. If you have the extra cash to spend or like more maintenance then a F/S will do the job. I had a Klein Palomino and it was a nightmares of maintenance. When through bushings like Godzilla through Tokyo.
    Comas aren't as fun as riding your bike, so wear a Helmet.

  13. #13
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    The Salsa Dos Niner design looks appealing but every review I read mentions the paint being easily chipped/rubbed off the frame. Doesn't seem like there's a remedy since it's due to the fram material. That would make me nuts!

    Can anyone suggest a good quality softail, similar to the Salsa but without the self destructing paint?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 105millimetersofpleasure
    All rigid here in Northern California. Agreed with chumbox that hi-volume / low PSI tires on the 29er are the bee's knees. I have a 29er suspension fork that sits in the storage area -- so far, I just haven't felt the need install it.

    Go get a cheap one that fits and enjoy it until you figure out where to go next.

    Good luck.
    What he said, 100%. I went from a titanium 26er hardtail to a fully rigid steel 29er and I really like it. Given that you say you ride "trails in New York that are moderately rooty, few rocks here and there, flat to moderate hills" it really seems to me like full suspension would be serious overkill. Unless you just want to add extra complexity, maintenance, weight, and cost! I wish I'd had a 29er back a few years ago when I lived in Austin. Rooty, rocky, moderate hills- 29ers eat that stuff up!

  15. #15
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    Doesn't look like there's much out there in softail design other than Dos Niner....unless I'm not searching in the correct place.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobonli
    Doesn't look like there's much out there in softail design other than Dos Niner....unless I'm not searching in the correct place.
    have u tried looking at the blacksheep stHighlight? even though i dont own 1, but i kept looking at it almost every otherday at its website...

  17. #17
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    Fisher HiFi Plus 29er is a great place to start - and stay

    I have a 2006 Fisher Marlin - it's OK, but I didn't get out much. I got a 19.5 HiFi Plus 29er for less than 2K - now I ride every day. Handles well, ignores the rough stuff. I ride my hybrid and hard tail on days I can't get to a trail just to get better for the 29er.

    I'm just getting back to biking after years away - the Fisher definitely has gotten me back.

  18. #18
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    Get a steel hardtail with a suspension fork. Get a Tora or higher level fork, not a Dart.
    If you go straight to a FS bike you would be missing out on something really special.

  19. #19
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    If you've been happy on a 26er HT before, you'll be happier on a 29er HT. Save some bucks and go with a steel HT. I loved my Inbred when it was set up as a MTB (currently a commuter)

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobonli
    The Salsa Dos Niner design looks appealing but every review I read mentions the paint being easily chipped/rubbed off the frame. Doesn't seem like there's a remedy since it's due to the fram material. That would make me nuts!

    Can anyone suggest a good quality softail, similar to the Salsa but without the self destructing paint?
    If the Dos Niner is what you want, then go for it - don't worry about the paint, you can always overhaul the bike and have it powdercoated during an off-season maintenance period.
    Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. Benjamin Franklin

  21. #21
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    Thanks everyone. Leaning toward HT or ST as I've been realtively happy on 26 HT and would rather defer the maintenance that comes with FS.

    Powdercoating a scandium frame is not reccommended, as far as I can tell from reading the boards here. Temperatures can affect frame stability. I also think it's preposterous to need to repaint a $2k bike because the paint is weak.

  22. #22
    Always Learning
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobonli
    The Salsa Dos Niner design looks appealing but every review I read mentions the paint being easily chipped/rubbed off the frame. Doesn't seem like there's a remedy since it's due to the fram material. That would make me nuts!

    Can anyone suggest a good quality softail, similar to the Salsa but without the self destructing paint?
    As much as I beach and moan about the paint on my Dos - I've got just as much paint loss, scratches, etc... on my Karate Monkey and Sugar 293. Touch up paint or your favorite color nail polish takes care of any chips, nicks, scratches.

    The Dos Niner paint should not be a deal killer. Mud usually covers up any flaws:

    24 Hour Race Mud from Dew

    BB

  23. #23
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    You live in NY,any where near albany? I just ordered a paragon Friday. Your welcome to try out when i get it.I 've tried fs can't get use to it.

  24. #24
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    Thank you for the offer, Old Goat, but I'm down on LI.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobonli
    Powdercoating a scandium frame is not reccommended, as far as I can tell from reading the boards here. Temperatures can affect frame stability. I also think it's preposterous to need to repaint a $2k bike because the paint is weak.
    If that is the conclusion you've reached - ok. I went through this process about 2 yrs ago when researching powdercoat for some automotive wheels and my research led me to the belief that aluminum is ok (I know, the Dos is scandium).

    Here's an interesting read: And so it begins...
    Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. Benjamin Franklin

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