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  1. #1
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    All mountain vs. XC vs. Trail vs. Freeride

    Hey guys... I am a mtb noob. bought a hard tail XC mtb (29er 80mm travel) recently and really loving mtbing in general!

    Now that I started MTBing I've realised that I want to get a more intense mountain bike, defintely a full-suspension mtb but I can decide between a trail, all-moutain or freeride bike, but thats because I dont know what exactly characterizes each type of riding.

    I was wondering if you guys could give me a little description of what type of riding characterizes each type of bike...

    I want a bike that can go over roots, rocks, handle like 3-4 feet drops, etc. I am pretty sure that a freeride bike is intended for more intense terrain than I am looking to ride but I am not sure whether I am looking for a 'trail' bike or an 'all-mountain' bike.

    Basically, what i am asking is: could you guys describe what 'all-mountain' is exactly? like describe what type of terrain an 'all-mountain' bike can handle?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    All-Mountain is kind of a loose term for Agressive trails.
    I think for what you are doing a trail bike or a AM bike will work, hell, if you wanted too you could tough it out on your 29er.
    And I do everything on my AM bike, Light DH/FR, AM/Trail, XC and even training on the roads and fire-road climbing (Although I currently am in the market for a road bike)
    Oh, and I do not think you need a FR bike for what your doing (unless your doing really techy-shore trails), Even then a AM bike with more travel (Reign X/Scratch) would probibly suite you better.
    Good Luck

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW Freeride
    All-Mountain is kind of a loose term for Agressive trails.
    I think for what you are doing a trail bike or a AM bike will work, hell, if you wanted too you could tough it out on your 29er.
    And I do everything on my AM bike, Light DH/FR, AM/Trail, XC and even training on the roads and fire-road climbing (Although I currently am in the market for a road bike)
    Oh, and I do not think you need a FR bike for what your doing (unless your doing really techy-shore trails), Even then a AM bike with more travel (Reign X/Scratch) would probibly suite you better.
    Good Luck
    Thanks for the info! Yeah i know i could tough it out on my 29er but i've ridden some trails and realised that i do need a more intense bike for the type of riding I want to do!

    How is an all-mountain bike for climbing and XC type riding? i want a bike that can do everything... 'all' mountain sounds like what i am looking for i am just wondering how much of a trade off there is in terms of ability to ride XC type stuff when you add more suspension to the bike. Although a lot of newer frames/forks do have suspension lockout which would probably solve any climbing/XC weaknesses.

  4. #4
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    Yea,
    Climbing is not that bad, I do not have lock-out on my fork or rear shock. I really just tough it out.
    I own a Pitch which has less travel than many other AM bikes.
    It might be though transfering from a XC to AM bike on climbs but you will only get stronger and I think you will be able to ride those tougher trails faster/easyer.

  5. #5
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    AM bikes are generally heavier, so they feel slower going up.

    FWIW, I actually think that suspension is beneficial to climbing. The bike will crawl up steps instead of bouncing.
    I never use my lock-out
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  6. #6
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    it sounds like you are unsure of exactly what you want. if i were you id get a 5 inch trail bike, a giant trance for instance. it still pedals very very well but can take a beating. from there you can figure out if you need something with more guts or are good with what you have.

  7. #7
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    oh and i forgot to say, dont use lock out climbing! as highdell said you will bounce around all over the place plus you fix your fork so that it is extended as far as it can go putting you in less than ideal position. if you are that worried about it get a uturn or talas fork where you can wind down the travel putting you in a better stance but still able to soak up the bumps.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    it sounds like you are unsure of exactly what you want. if i were you id get a 5 inch trail bike, a giant trance for instance. it still pedals very very well but can take a beating. from there you can figure out if you need something with more guts or are good with what you have.
    Yeah I am unsure you have that right! yeah the giant trance is one of the bikes i am looking at! I want a bike that climbs and is fast but i definitely want something that can git up the more challenging trails!

    I am not racing or anything so the climbing/speed is sort of secondary but dont want to get a bike thats going to be a disaster in terms fo climbing. hopefully i can test drive some bikes before i decide what i want to buy. probably will never we able to test them on the trails though unfortunately

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bull_dozer
    Now that I started MTBing I've realised that I want to get a more intense mountain bike, defintely a full-suspension mtb but I can decide between a trail, all-moutain or freeride bike,
    How is a full-suspension "more intense"? I definitely feel more rush going down on my weenie hardtail then on a 160mm fully with a drop-post. Big plush bikes feel like cheating..

    Anyway, just like many others you are confusing a type of bike with the riding you do.

    Get something that you will not break too fast and have fun. 80mm XC rig sound a bit whimpy, but keep it. You can add a fairly cheap 26" dirt jumper - essentially a larger BMX - to trash it.

    By the time you trash both bikes you will figure out what you want. No reason to spend big from the start.

  10. #10
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    Yea, I rode a dirt jumper with only a rear brake, low BB and really short seat post for a half a year to make sure I really wanted to spend the money on a full blown Trail/AM bike. You don't need the right kind of bike to ride the trails, the right bike will just make it a little easyer

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW Freeride
    You don't need the right kind of bike to ride the trails, the right bike will just make it a little easyer
    I realise this! I plan to ride the exact same trails when I get my next bike i just wanna spend a little less time on the brakes and a little more time bombing down the trail!

  12. #12
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    Yea, Im just giving you a hard time.
    Look into any AM bike with less travel I think a Reign X would be too much to climb.
    I wouldn't leave trail bikes out of your list of options because then can be just as strong as any AM bike and climb better.

  13. #13
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    Go with a 6" bike. Sounds like you want to get after it. FYI, My main riding partner rides a Reign x and crushes guys on hardtails on climbs and it descends excellent.

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    Check out a Specialized Pitch Pro, since the Pro has PP on the rear-shock and the fork has a lockout and other cool adjustments. Sounds exactly what your looking for, plus it is quite affordable for what you are getting. I just ordered one and can't wait to take it out! You can also check out a Giant Reign 2, 1, or 0, depending on how much you want to spend.

  15. #15
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    this is how i think of it

    XC = rolling dirt paths
    AM = go almost anywhere and small jumps
    Trail = in between XC and AM but no jumps
    Freeride = jump almost anything but its heavier than AM so it will be a bit harder to climb
    DH = forget climbing anything, jump on it and ride down whatever

  16. #16
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    Try to rent some bikes to see how they really suit you.Don't forget your riding style and interests may change after riding agressive bikes for a while.

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    i would suggest riding your ht for a bit more, it'll help you improve and then you can also learn more of what you need and want, then slowly do your hw, and best if you could try as many bikes as possible, be it for rides around the carpark or a proper trail ride.
    check out great video coverage of anything mtb (well almost).

    http://www.mtbcut.tv

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by nauc
    this is how i think of it

    XC = rolling dirt paths
    AM = go almost anywhere and small jumps
    Trail = in between XC and AM but no jumps
    Freeride = jump almost anything but its heavier than AM so it will be a bit harder to climb
    DH = forget climbing anything, jump on it and ride down whatever
    I just ordered a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert 29'er. Do you really think I shouldn't jump it? It's only a trail bike according to them.

  19. #19
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    you can probably jump stumps just fine with that
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  20. #20
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    At one point in the dark distant past, all we had were XC bikes....and jump them we did. With thumb shifters too! lol

    Seriously, I think when ppl say "no jumps" in relation to XC bikes they mean regular, hard jumping. Hitting a small jump and catching a couple feet of air shouldnt hurt any bike unless it sucks, or you ride like a dinosaur. A "small jump" to me is NOT the same as a "small jump" to a kid who hucks 20 foot gaps.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalamath
    Seriously, I think when ppl say "no jumps" in relation to XC bikes they mean regular, hard jumping. Hitting a small jump and catching a couple feet of air shouldnt hurt any bike unless it sucks, or you ride like a dinosaur. A "small jump" to me is NOT the same as a "small jump" to a kid who hucks 20 foot gaps.
    Agreed

    Very well said.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bull_dozer
    Hey guys... I am a mtb noob. bought a hard tail XC mtb (29er 80mm travel) recently and really loving mtbing in general!

    Now that I started MTBing I've realised that I want to get a more intense mountain bike, defintely a full-suspension mtb but I can decide between a trail, all-moutain or freeride bike, but thats because I dont know what exactly characterizes each type of riding.

    I was wondering if you guys could give me a little description of what type of riding characterizes each type of bike...

    I want a bike that can go over roots, rocks, handle like 3-4 feet drops, etc. I am pretty sure that a freeride bike is intended for more intense terrain than I am looking to ride but I am not sure whether I am looking for a 'trail' bike or an 'all-mountain' bike.

    Basically, what i am asking is: could you guys describe what 'all-mountain' is exactly? like describe what type of terrain an 'all-mountain' bike can handle?

    Thanks!
    IMO, there is no "XC" or "AM" terrain. These terms just describe the type of equipment you use to ride them, and your general approach to the terrain. There is no set definition for xc, trail, or AM, but in general, xc bikes are lighter, shorter travel, more nimble, AM bikes heavier/stronger, more stable, more travel, and trail bikes are somewhere in the middle.

    If you are talking about an occasional 3-4 foot drop to flat, some of the "trail" bikes are probably fine, but if that is going to be a regular focus of the riding, I would look towards amore AM bike/build.

    Regarding the lockout: I would not worry too much at this point about whether the bike has one (I would not base a purchase decision on it), but I do not agree with the blanket statements that you should not use one when climbing. Sometimes they help, sometimes not, depends on the climb, as well as the setup of the bike.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  23. #23
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    XC - red frames, white components, including fork

    Race - oddball team colors, like teal or neon green, lots of garish graphics.
    .
    Trail - blue or grey frames, black components with color matched anodized bits, typically a black fork.

    AM - Black, blue or orange frame, rarely brown, mostly black components with some green and orange highlights

    Freeride - green and other oddball colors, garish anodized components.


    ..otherwise, what kapusta said.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curmy
    XC - red frames, white components, including fork

    Race - oddball team colors, like teal or neon green, lots of garish graphics.
    .
    Trail - blue or grey frames, black components with color matched anodized bits, typically a black fork.

    AM - Black, blue or orange frame, rarely brown, mostly black components with some green and orange highlights

    Freeride - green and other oddball colors, garish anodized components.


    ..otherwise, what kapusta said.
    I like the way you think curmudgeon
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  25. #25
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    i got my first "AM" bike and i swear it climbs better than my "XC" bike. And obviously feels so much less squirrely and much sturdier at the chair lift mountains. I had a Spesh XC Comp (still have actually) and I now ride a Spesh Enduro Comp. Six inches of travel, yet feels so light to me.

    So maybe check one of those out. I have the '09 which i think was built a touch lighter? (i may be totally wrong)

  26. #26
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    Thanks kapusta

    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    IMO, there is no "XC" or "AM" terrain. These terms just describe the type of equipment you use to ride them, and your general approach to the terrain. There is no set definition for xc, trail, or AM, but in general, xc bikes are lighter, shorter travel, more nimble, AM bikes heavier/stronger, more stable, more travel, and trail bikes are somewhere in the middle.

    If you are talking about an occasional 3-4 foot drop to flat, some of the "trail" bikes are probably fine, but if that is going to be a regular focus of the riding, I would look towards amore AM bike/build.
    .
    Thank you kapusta. I've been researching on this the past week and this is the best way I've seen it described. I purchased a SC Tallboy Carbon a month ago and love it. Its interesting that you say XC is more nimble. My 2nd choice was a Nomad because I thought smaller bikes would be more nimble and handle well. I live on an island on the pacific so I don't have the benefit of testing any bikes. What would the advantage of a nomad be over a tallboy?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dose View Post
    Go with a 6" bike. Sounds like you want to get after it. FYI, My main riding partner rides a Reign x and crushes guys on hardtails on climbs and it descends excellent.
    as for climbing 90% is legs and lungs. not the bike. i agree a suspension will help up technical climbs a little. But the same guy on a lighter hartail will climb drawn out stuff faster with more energy to spare at the top no doubt. i have two bikes and the all mountain climbs better in places but overall taxes you more.

    to the OP you cant lose going with a 5 or 6 in bike. they are very similar one will slightly do the opposites better hence up or down. if your trails are up down up down repeat all day long i would say 5in. of you ride for a few hours and want to bomb the downs and dont mind climbing a little slower i would say 6in.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by nauc View Post
    this is how i think of it

    XC = rolling dirt paths
    AM = go almost anywhere and small jumps
    Trail = in between XC and AM but no jumps
    Freeride = jump almost anything but its heavier than AM so it will be a bit harder to climb
    DH = forget climbing anything, jump on it and ride down whatever
    i think you nailed it. you can jump a trail bike or xc bike for that matter if the landings are transitioned. i just think the frame will not last with drop offs. .

  29. #29
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    [QUOTE=kapusta;6895308]If you are talking about an occasional 3-4 foot drop to flat, some of the "trail" bikes are probably fine, but if that is going to be a regular focus of the riding, I would look towards amore AM bike/build.

    QUOTE]

    i think this might be your deciding factor as he seems very logical here. if your focus is rough terrain 6. if it is fast and flowy with some ruggid i would say 5.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobvanjr View Post
    I just ordered a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert 29'er. Do you really think I shouldn't jump it? It's only a trail bike according to them.
    depends on how you jump. i have a bmx race backround and didnt jump much but when i did its not high but more lateral and i land smooth not stressing the suspnesion. if we were to put in terms of doing drop offs i would say 3 ft drop might be pushing it. 2 footer would not be a problem. again if your landing in a transition to take the brunt force away and smooth it out you could do some gaps.

  31. #31
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    [QUOTE=akiracornell;9141568]
    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    If you are talking about an occasional 3-4 foot drop to flat, some of the "trail" bikes are probably fine, but if that is going to be a regular focus of the riding, I would look towards amore AM bike/build.

    QUOTE]

    i think this might be your deciding factor as he seems very logical here. if your focus is rough terrain 6. if it is fast and flowy with some ruggid i would say 5.
    Yo, attention passengers, this thread is almost 2 years old

  32. #32
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    [QUOTE=fatcat;9141766]
    Quote Originally Posted by akiracornell View Post

    Yo, attention passengers, this thread is almost 2 years old
    Bringin' back the 'YO'. I LOVE IT!

  33. #33
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    Gotta boost post count somehow.

  34. #34
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    I do XC it's more of road biking off road, it's a bit more endurance based and less agressive then AM.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    IMO, there is no "XC" or "AM" terrain. These terms just describe the type of equipment you use to ride them, and your general approach to the terrain. There is no set definition for xc, trail, or AM, but in general, xc bikes are lighter, shorter travel, more nimble, AM bikes heavier/stronger, more stable, more travel, and trail bikes are somewhere in the middle.

    If you are talking about an occasional 3-4 foot drop to flat, some of the "trail" bikes are probably fine, but if that is going to be a regular focus of the riding, I would look towards amore AM bike/build.

    Regarding the lockout: I would not worry too much at this point about whether the bike has one (I would not base a purchase decision on it), but I do not agree with the blanket statements that you should not use one when climbing. Sometimes they help, sometimes not, depends on the climb, as well as the setup of the bike.
    What he said. It sounds to me that you'd like something in the 5-6" travel class. So trail/lighter AM type bikes. They've been mentioned but bikes like the Trance, Pitch, Stumpjumpers, etc. Just general purpose, ride the whole mountain up and down type bikes. There are obviously TONS of other choices those are just what came to mind.

    I have a slack beefy hardtail and before that an AM FS and I ride with good riders that also race XC so they're on light XC bikes with 80 mm of travel. They ride hard and FAST up and down all the same stuff. I've noticed that their "XC bikes" don't slow them down one bit on the steep technical downhills we ride, but my 30+ lb FS AM bike sure started to slow me down on the climbs after a few hours on the trail. That's why I ended up settling on an AM HT. Slightly lighter, efficient climber, and still good on the downhills. I probalby would have been just as happy going to more of a "trail" FS bike like listed above for the same reasons. At some point I'd like to have both so I can pick and choose based on the riding I feel like doing.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtskibum16 View Post
    What he said.
    What he said?

  37. #37
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    I think money wise the best thing to do is to go for a AM bike like a reign or Enduro because all bikes these days are expensive and maybe after a month or two of having a trail bike you want to go to a dh bike park or more technical trails a AM can handle it. AM bikes could also do it ALL as in it could climb descend and everything else. I hear people say they will hinder you on the climbs but its not the ride its the rider if anything pedaling a AM bike uphill will improve your riding ability and it will feel like normal after a few months of regular riding.

  38. #38
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    [QUOTE=fatcat;9141766]
    Quote Originally Posted by akiracornell View Post

    Yo, attention passengers, this thread is almost 2 years old
    oops!! its ct29 fault. he came out of left feild. probably ran into in a wordsearch on the net and jumped int without seeing the date. thanks CT29!!!!

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    What he said?
    She? I don't know, I agree with what kapusta said then the rest was for the OP. Just saw how old this was though so the OP probably won't see it or care, didn't catch that before.
    Last edited by mtskibum16; 03-27-2012 at 01:50 PM.

  40. #40
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    I think it comes down to people wanting to ride a certain way because they thought XC was at the time was too wimpy. Someone stated this awhile back and I agree with them.

    Akiracornell, it doesn't state anywhere in the mtbr book that an old thread cannot be resurrected. It's a lot better than having someone re-create a thread when there was a thread already presented.
    Ragley Blue Pig

  41. #41
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    Still a good thread even if it is 2 years old. A lot of good info here.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOSZ View Post
    Still a good thread even if it is 2 years old. A lot of good info here.
    Very true, helped me as I am currently trying to decide what I want/need
    There is no man living that can not do more than he thinks he can. Henry Ford

  43. #43
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    look at this video and it is a XC bike John Tomac MTB ride - YouTube
    edit: crap didnt see the date of the post but is a good vide

  44. #44
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    That vid makes me glad i switched to full suspension 15 years ago..No flow and ridiculous body position Doug

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by bull_dozer View Post
    Hey guys... I am a mtb noob. bought a hard tail XC mtb (29er 80mm travel) recently and really loving mtbing in general!

    Now that I started MTBing I've realised that I want to get a more intense mountain bike, defintely a full-suspension mtb but I can decide between a trail, all-moutain or freeride bike, but thats because I dont know what exactly characterizes each type of riding.

    I was wondering if you guys could give me a little description of what type of riding characterizes each type of bike...

    I want a bike that can go over roots, rocks, handle like 3-4 feet drops, etc. I am pretty sure that a freeride bike is intended for more intense terrain than I am looking to ride but I am not sure whether I am looking for a 'trail' bike or an 'all-mountain' bike.

    Basically, what i am asking is: could you guys describe what 'all-mountain' is exactly? like describe what type of terrain an 'all-mountain' bike can handle?

    Thanks!
    I know this is an old thread...but I'm in the exact same boat right now. Can't wait to hear what people have to say. Thank you for posting this so long ago so I'll have plenty of answers to sift through.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nauc View Post
    this is how i think of it

    XC = rolling dirt paths
    AM = go almost anywhere and small jumps
    Trail = in between XC and AM but no jumps
    Freeride = jump almost anything but its heavier than AM so it will be a bit harder to climb
    DH = forget climbing anything, jump on it and ride down whatever
    Just curious, what would you consider a "small" jump? I'm assuming anything less than 48" vertical...I had my GF film me going off a jump today. Let's just say it feels much bigger when you're in the air. I'd like to work on that and get up past the 48" mark. I'm on a 29er XC bike right now too though. Hmmm....

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtskibum16 View Post
    She? I don't know, I agree with what kapusta said then the rest was for the OP. Just saw how old this was though so the OP probably won't see it or care, didn't catch that before.
    I still care. This is my third post to this thread. Welcome to the future. It's July 2013 baby.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blksocks View Post
    I think it comes down to people wanting to ride a certain way because they thought XC was at the time was too wimpy. Someone stated this awhile back and I agree with them.

    Akiracornell, it doesn't state anywhere in the mtbr book that an old thread cannot be resurrected. It's a lot better than having someone re-create a thread when there was a thread already presented.
    ^^Yes yes yes. I was about to start a new thread about this cause I'm in the exact same boat as the OPer. Now I don't have to waste anybody's time.

  49. #49
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    I'm glad this thread exists and is still being bumped. I'm a roadie gone mountain and I have been reading a whole lot to try and figure out what all this stuff means but I have been too timid to post. This thread has helped me figure out where I started and where I am headed. The roadie in me needs to get out there for several hours at a time for endurance but still hit some rough techy descents and singletrack. So, what would you guys classify a Kona Unit?

  50. #50
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    I think a hardtail can be XC or trail depending on build. Hell, "freeriding" began in Vancouver's North Shore with guys on steel framed rocky mountain hardtails and 80mm forks. They did crazy drops and skinnies but were breaking parts all the time thus began a new breed of bike frames(RAD tubing) and parts (the end of square taper) such as Sun Rhyno rims. This was at a time when weight weenism was at its peak with everyone with a CNC machine making light weight parts and aluminum the it frame material.
    You can do freeriding on a hardtail even today with the right choice in frame and fork. Those old Rocky Mountain Hammers could take a serious beating and they weren't that heavy really.
    I get the impression that this style of riding is still somewhat popular in the UK because I read forums with guys talking about such hardtails with 5" forks and perhaps some guys up here in BC. I don't do it. It takes skill and brawn but some guys like the instant control of a fixed rear end.
    Oh, and this is JUST my opinion/observations as a guy from here in BC so I'm sure that style of riding(just like the beginning of mountain biking itself) was practiced elsewhere, it just got noticed here. I like my hardtails.

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