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  1. #1
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    Making a hard tail a little "softer?"

    My son has a new to him Breezer Lightning. He doesn't really like it because he is getting pretty beat up on the rocks and roots of our local trails. What can I do to make it a little "softer" for him? He rode a friend's 26" Stumpjumper FSR last week and said it was better, but unfortunately a new, or used, FS isn't in the budget right now. Would new wheels and wider tires be a safe bet? Right now he has WTB i19 and 2.2" DHF front and a DT Swiss 442 wheel with a 2.2" Ardent on the back. He's about 5'7" and 140 lbs and I have his pressures at 25psi front and 27psi rear.
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  2. #2
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    Wider tires would help a little. But it sounds like he needs to learn to ride more in the attack position floating off the saddle rather than riding through rough areas with his butt planted. I'm in kind of the same position, my son needs a larger bike and I don't really want to invest a lot but he has been riding a full suspension. I always tell him to float off the saddle through the rough but I'm not too sure he's doing that much.
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  3. #3
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    I too have a Breezer Lightning. I run as large volume tires that I can that will still fit in the frame. Unfortunately a 2.3 is about all that will fit in the back and even then I still had to trim the outside lugs on my WTB Breakout so they wouldn't rub.
    That being said you are running too much air pressure now. I run 22-F and 24-R on my Forte Pisgah 2 29x2.35 front WTB Breakout 29x2.3 rear set up tubeless and I weigh about 250-260 with gear. My daughter is a couple of inches taller than your son but weighs about the same. On her Breezer Storm I have her running 17-F and 19-20 R.
    Also what sag are you running on the fork? We run ours at about 30%. We don't have a lot of rocks here but we do have a lot of large roots to make for a very rough ride if the bike isn't set up correctly. Using the above setups I have no complaints what so ever and in fact I can hardly feel the roots at all. All in all I have been very happy with my Lightning.

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  4. #4
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    Sounds like it's mostly a technique or fitness issue, but larger tires, lower pressure, flexy carbon seatpost, a saddle that's the proper width, good bibs, and esi grips will help.

  5. #5
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    Steel frame with enough tire clearance for 2.4's, wide rims, 2.35-2.4" tires.

    I agree lower pressures for someone that light, but those rims are super narrow by modern standards. My cross bike has 24mm IW rims, but I'm a lot heavier than your son. A wider rim with the same tires will greatly improve ride quality. Add tubeless and you'll end up with a much higher volume setup with lower pressures.

    Carbon seatpost will help a little but I also agree it's best to get your butt off the saddle.
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  6. #6
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    it's probably not in the budget, but a friend raves about his titanium seatpost in his hardtail. last time i rode with him, I could see that seatpost flexing around like a noodle. probably ads a ton of comfort.

    mostly though, it's a fitness issue and might be partially a bike fit issue.

    a lack of core strength and overall endurance are going to encourage him to sit a lot more than he should. when you get fatgiued, you tend to drop into a lower gear, plop your butt down, and spin. doing that over rough terrain beats you up. the stronger you are, the longer and more effectively you can stand and let your arms and legs soak up those bumps.

    from a bike fit perspective, i found that moving my handlebar lower and further away from me helped a lot with this as well. when the handlebar is too high, it almost forces me to sit down more and makes leveraging myself into a standing position more difficult. handlebars that are too far/ low would also cause problems, but the more your bike fits like a beach cruiser (seat low, handlebar tall and closse), the harder more it will fatigue you to get into an "attack position" and take the rough parts of the trail with conviction.
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  7. #7
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    A suspension seatpost if you can find one at a price point you find acceptable, or perhaps even saddle with a bit more padding. I run the WTB Pure-V on my bikes and it has a little thicker padding to take some of the sting out of little bumps while still being supportive. Technique too-he should be floating above the saddle (not fully standing but not sitting either) on the bumpy stuff.

  8. #8
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    I'd do three things:

    -relace his current hubs to wider rims.
    -get him bigger tires so that you can run lower pressures. at his weight middle teens might be safe.
    -get him a bodyfloat post, and dial it in.

  9. #9
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    A buddy of mine loves his thud buster seat post, although he does a lot of endurance riding on his hard tail and I think it's an expensive "fix"

    I think riding technique, and padded shorts (if not already using them) go a long ways. This is the main reason lots of people recommend going hard tail before full suspension. If you can learn to be smooth on a hard tail you'll be a lot faster on any bike.

  10. #10
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    For seated riding, a Thudbuster ST (short travel) is a phenomenal item.

    I got a hardtail a few years ago, just to have a hardtail.
    It certainly was more brutal than a full suspension. I got a ThudBuster for it, and all of the little rooty stuff and chattery trail junk almost went away completely. Mistakes and such we much less punishing.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    it's probably not in the budget, but a friend raves about his titanium seatpost in his hardtail. last time i rode with him, I could see that seatpost flexing around like a noodle. probably ads a ton of comfort.
    Erikson Sweet spot. Seriously some of the best money I have ever spent on a bike part.

    But lower PSIs is likely the best solution for the OP.

  12. #12
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    Perhaps a trade into a plus-bike? I found my '16 Specialized Fuse felt faster (although not as nimble) as my old FS Stumpjumper 26er. Landed softer, too. Plenty of bargains in the shops this weekend.

  13. #13
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    Biggest tires that fit at lower pressure is quick and easy. At his weight he can probably get away with pretty low pressure. I'd go tubeless since it sounds like he's a rock smasher

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I'll start with lower pressure this weekend and see if he does any better. Unfortunately a new bike isn't in the cards, I just bought him this one. I'll think about setting him up tubeless too. I need to buy the tape to do it, I already have the Stan's juice.
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  15. #15
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    i will say this again- there is no substitute for time in the saddle, strength, endurance, and technique. you could ride a full-suspension fatbike with a bouncy seatpost, an electric-assist motor, and a frame constructed from pool noodles, and if you spend your entire ride seated while bouncing over rough terrain, it's going to beat you up. if the saddle or handlbar position make the rider too stretched out or too bunched up on top of the bike, the rider is going to suffer.


    tire size and pressure, a bouncy seatpost, etc are only going to make marginal improvements. get the fit issue sorted, then work on longer riders on mellow terrain for endurance, strength training for the ability to stand and rangle the bike around better, and technique to pick the right lines and ride smoother.
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  16. #16
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    I use a Thudbuster LT on my hardtail. It's ugly, but it works great. It even allows me to stay seated through a lot of the chatter. It was money well spent.
    "Caught my first tube this morning....sir!"

  17. #17
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    I guess I'm from another planet. When the going gets rough, my butt is not on the saddle. So any kind of suspension seat post is not very useful. I suppose it takes a bit more physical fitness to ride that way, but that's how it goes.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by askibum02 View Post
    Right now he has WTB i19 and 2.2" DHF front and a DT Swiss 442 wheel with a 2.2" Ardent on the back. He's about 5'7" and 140 lbs and I have his pressures at 25psi front and 27psi rear.
    First off, in spite of current conventional wisdom, you CAN run a 2.3 or 2.4 tire on an 19mm internal rim. I've done it, and I didn't die. Was it as GOOD as on, say, a 25mm internal? Nope. But it was also a softer ride than a 2.2 because you can drop the pressure a little more. Speaking of which....

    I weigh 220 before I throw a gallon of water on my back, and all the crap that rattles around in my hydration pack to ensure I don't have to walk further than I want to. I run 28-30 PSI in the rear, and 25-28 up front, depending where I am, which tires (how big) etc. You can almost certainly get his pressures lower, and if you can't, then there's a technique issue he's just going to have to get some pedal time to figure out. The key is making it as fun and satisfying as possible for him to spend the time figuring it out, right? I know my kids have their favorite trails, and sometimes it's further than I really want to drive, but if it makes the difference in whether or not they get on the bike that day, we're going for a ride.

    Last thing...tires. That DHF is a massive heavy tire. It has very stout side walls. This is not going to contribute to a plush ride. The Ardent may not either. And he's probably not railing anything hard enough to warrant that much tire. I know it's in vogue to run the biggest baddest tires you can find a review on, so you have more traction to get braaapy with but I ride down hills behind guys with DHF and DHR tires on full suspension bikes, and me on a hard tail single speed with an Ikon up front and Crossmark in the rear, and I use my brakes a lot more than I would if they weren't in front of me, and they don't pull away in turns because they have more traction, or brake harder going into turns because they have more traction. The fact is, they aren't pushing hard enough to need that much tire, and as a result, the tire is simply slowing them down. It's heavier and more rolling resistance going up hills, and rolls slower going down hill. So find him something that will roll easier, and has a more supple sidewall and then the lower PSI will be even more plush.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    I guess I'm from another planet. When the going gets rough, my butt is not on the saddle. So any kind of suspension seat post is not very useful. I suppose it takes a bit more physical fitness to ride that way, but that's how it goes.
    ^^^ This.
    I took me a while to get this through my daughter's head that this is how to ride and now the rootiest trail around is one of her favorite trails to ride.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by go-pirates View Post
    I use a Thudbuster LT on my hardtail. It's ugly, but it works great. It even allows me to stay seated through a lot of the chatter. It was money well spent.
    I've used thudbuster ST's for years....they work great at making those gooch grinders more tolerable. I stopped using them on my new hardtail, and erry once in a while I get nailed and remember how good they are at taking hits.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    First off, in spite of current conventional wisdom, you CAN run a 2.3 or 2.4 tire on an 19mm internal rim.
    Yep, my wife is running a 2.3 on a 19mm rim now with zero issues. Also, OP can run lower pressures even with tubes.

    I agree with everyone about getting out of the saddle and using your legs as suspension. However there are some trails where it feels like there's more roots than dirt and you either stand 80% of the time or get a sore backside. A FS is great for soaking up the small chatter through none technical sections.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by coke View Post
    Sounds like it's mostly a technique or fitness issue, but larger tires, lower pressure, flexy carbon seatpost, a saddle that's the proper width, good bibs, and esi grips will help.
    This


    Don't put a thud buster under a 140 pound kid who needs to learn to use his body as suspension vs sitting in the saddle and taking hits through the seat.

    A skills clinic would go a long way with a very good coach. Perhaps any tutorials for free from leelikesbikes etc

    The 136 lbs pound rider I ride with, optimal tire pressure on 2.3s is 18/19 F/R with no burps. 17/18 PSI feels better, but have had big burps in races.

  23. #23
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    OP, from what you've said and described, here's my thoughts.

    1 - Lower those tyre pressures, they're higher than I run and I weigh about 185-190lbs geared to ride. I'd guess with the current setup he could easily run 22 rear, 18 front, that's actually just a tad lower than what I'm running now on my main FS 29er running a Minion SS EXO rear/DHF EXO front, both 2.3", although I am going to try those pressures this weekend. Oh and running an i25 rim rear, i29 front.

    2 - Explain to your kid that he needs to be standing on anything but smooth trail/gravel or take the beating, use his legs and arms as suspension. Explain that if he tenses up, he will be much sorer than if he rides with a light grip and lets the bike move around under him.

    3 - If all that fails, tell him to suck it up, there's no money for an FS and he's lucky to have such a nice bike in the first place at his age.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    This


    Don't put a thud buster under a 140 pound kid who needs to learn to use his body as suspension vs sitting in the saddle and taking hits through the seat.

    A skills clinic would go a long way with a very good coach. Perhaps any tutorials for free from leelikesbikes etc

    The 136 lbs pound rider I ride with, optimal tire pressure on 2.3s is 18/19 F/R with no burps. 17/18 PSI feels better, but have had big burps in races.
    You still have to use your body as suspension. The Thudbuster just softens things up when you can get away with sitting.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by go-pirates View Post
    You still have to use your body as suspension. The Thudbuster just softens things up when you can get away with sitting.
    How about we don't increase the weight of the bike being handled but a 140 pound child? Lets lighten the bike, make it more compliant and teach them to ride.

    A good carbon post and proper seat will do as much as a thud buster.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    How about we don't increase the weight of the bike being handled but a 140 pound child? Lets lighten the bike, make it more compliant and teach them to ride.

    A good carbon post and proper seat will do as much as a thud buster.
    I had a carbon post. It was not nearly as effective as a Thudbuster. The OP asked for suggestions to make a hardtail a little softer. I offered him one.
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  27. #27
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    Fair enough.


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  28. #28
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    A flexy carbon seat post like the Niner RDO post is AMAZING for a HT. Your pressures are very high for a 140lb rider (to me). Try some wider tires (2.35s?) and run them in the upper teens.
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  29. #29
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    You put a 2.3 or 4 tire on a 19mm rim and you try to lower the pressure. Get low enough and you become susceptible to foldover in cornering or ruts. When the tire folds over the skinny rim bead because of no sidewall support the tread loses contact and you get an instant slide. Usualy too fast to keep from crashing. Avoiding this is a big benefit from a 30mm inner rim for 2.3 tires with high volume and a well rounded profile. Bontys have those characteristics. Back in stock soon.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    I guess I'm from another planet. When the going gets rough, my butt is not on the saddle. So any kind of suspension seat post is not very useful. I suppose it takes a bit more physical fitness to ride that way, but that's how it goes.
    Yup. Get out of the saddle on a hardtail when the going gets chunky. It's fun and it'll make you way stronger overall. Great core strength training.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post

    3 - If all that fails, tell him to suck it up, there's no money for an FS and he's lucky to have such a nice bike in the first place at his age.
    3.1 - launch into "when I was your age..." old man rant. Decry hip-hop, smart phones, Pokemon, and Justin Bieber. Insist thatt you were "grateful for what you had."
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    i will say this again- there is no substitute for time in the saddle, strength, endurance, and technique. you could ride a full-suspension fatbike with a bouncy seatpost, an electric-assist motor, and a frame constructed from pool noodles, and if you spend your entire ride seated while bouncing over rough terrain, it's going to beat you up. if the saddle or handlbar position make the rider too stretched out or too bunched up on top of the bike, the rider is going to suffer.


    tire size and pressure, a bouncy seatpost, etc are only going to make marginal improvements. get the fit issue sorted, then work on longer riders on mellow terrain for endurance, strength training for the ability to stand and rangle the bike around better, and technique to pick the right lines and ride smoother.
    Captain buzzkill here is absolutely right by the way. Except the part where a pool noodle frame beats you up in rock gardens.

    mack_turtle I am kidding except for the part where you're right.

  33. #33
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    Seatpost diameter makes more of a difference than carbon vs aluminum post. My 27.2 diameter Alu post in my carbon HT rides WAY more comfy than any 30.9 or 31.6 etc carbon post that I've owned in the past.

  34. #34
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    The Breezer Lightning has a 27.2 seatpost.
    He needs to adjust his riding style by standing when going over the rough.
    Last edited by huckleberry hound; 12-08-2017 at 10:41 PM.
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  35. #35
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    tire pressure and tubeless

    cheap and effective
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by HacksawReynolds View Post
    Seatpost diameter makes more of a difference than carbon vs aluminum post. My 27.2 diameter Alu post in my carbon HT rides WAY more comfy than any 30.9 or 31.6 etc carbon post that I've owned in the past.
    Is it a Thompson?

    I'm not disagreeing with you, but how do you isolate that it is the seatpost and not the frame and flex in the stays.


    I run a 27.2 Thompson elite in my Carbon hardtail as well.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    Is it a Thompson?

    I'm not disagreeing with you, but how do you isolate that it is the seatpost and not the frame and flex in the stays.
    Stock Specialized post. I can visually see the post flexing when I put weight on it with my hand or elbow. Two other bikes I recently owned with wider posts didn't flex barely at all under the same weighting resulting in a much harsher ride. My Epic carbon Hardtail is the stiffest frame I've ever ridden yet the most comfortable by FAR based on the seatpost flex.

  38. #38
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    A 27.2 aluminum post hanging far out will flex like crazy but if you use a carbon Niner RDO in the same duty, it will flex even more!
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    A 27.2 aluminum post hanging far out will flex like crazy but if you use a carbon Niner RDO in the same duty, it will flex even more!
    Haha right? The reason I still have the stock Alu post in my 875 gram frame including hardware (lightest production frame road or MTB available) is because the flex of that post is totally sufficient. I haven't run an Alu post in decades lol. But it works and it's cheap! No sense in throwing money away for an expensive plastic post if not needed......

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