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  1. #1
    b3n
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    Back to hardtail... how does it feel?

    I'm searching for stories of people that, after riding a full suspended bike, have switched back to hardtails.
    This because I feel I need simplicity, reliability, efficiency. But I also like rough technical sections, tight singletracks, small drops. Can an "aggressive" hardtail be the right solution?
    I was thinking to a steel frame with a 130mm travel fork. Great confort, great for climbing... but what about descending? When I switched from a VERY xc-oriented bike (I couldn't lower the seat, the head angle was something like 71 and the fork had 80mm of travel) to a full suspended trail bike I acquired a lot of confidence in downhills. I floated in sections where previously I was very slow and uncertain. Now I'm wandering if switching back to an hardtail (but a heavy duty hardtail) would allow me to do the same things I'm doing with my full suspended bike (even if, probably, with a bit more difficulty).
    To summarize: I know an hardtail can accomplish the job in almost every situation, but how do you feel switching from a full to an hardtail? Did someone have had this experience? None went back to an hardtail for very aggressive xc riding?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    1+1
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    I ride my Dekerf Implant (SS) for everything. I went fs for a while, and I still have my Slayer(which doesn't see much action these days). What you say you ride is pretty similar to what I ride, and yes, I've done that with a 130 Talas as well, but I'm on a 36 Talas now. I recommend a thru-axle for what you like riding, especially for small drops, the difference is night and day riding out of stuff with a QR fork or a thru-axle.
    Actually I think for xc, a light fs is better cause you're in your seat more, but for technical stuff, you're 99% out of the saddle, and on an SS even more so.
    Feel free to ask anything you want, I'm riding a mountain that's not recommended for a ht at all. BTW, what kind of ht are you thinking to get? I love my Implant but it's really expensive now($1750cdn). Is it worth the price? Definitely, you're not paying for disposable aluminum frame, and 10 years from you, you'll still enjoy riding that steel frame. It's family heirloom material.

  3. #3
    conjoinicorned
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    i've been putting more miles on my HT than my FS this season....and loving it!

    nothing i can't ride on the HT that i can on the FS (minus the big drops) but i certainly feel waaay more beat up after a day on the HT!
    what would rainbow unicorn do?

  4. #4
    b3n
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    Thank you guys for telling your stories.

    @1+1: I really like English bikes: Dialled Prince Albert (my first choice at the moment), Cotic Soul (a bit expensive), On One 456. I was thinking to mount a Pike with a quite rugged set of wheels. Actually I was thinking to start (if I'll ever start) this project this summer in order to have a complete bike for the next year. I think winter is the best season to appreciate the advantages of an hardtail (that means less mantainance after riding a muddy trail!).

  5. #5
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    I am running an Inbred as SS with a Revelation and love it... a 456 with a Pike should make a sweet ride

  6. #6
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    I took a slow trip back to hardtails and didn't realize what I was missing until i became social again and started riding with pals on 5-6" travel full sussers.............................i am going back to dual squishy as soon as I can!

  7. #7
    1+1
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    b3n, I checked out the 3 frames you mentioned. Personally, I like the Cotic, but I think the PA will actually take a bigger fork than what they say because of the gusset tube. They're all nice bikes, so it's a difficult choice, but the prices, wow, I mean, they're not that expensive at all.

  8. #8
    1+1
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferday
    i've been putting more miles on my HT than my FS this season....and loving it!

    nothing i can't ride on the HT that i can on the FS (minus the big drops) but i certainly feel waaay more beat up after a day on the HT!
    Uh huh, riding a ht, less maintenance for the bike and more for yourself. More beers!!!!!!

  9. #9
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    After riding on my 5.7 fully the past few years, I took the maiden voyage on my steel hardtail this weekend.

    Maybe it was the "first ride" stoke, but I was amazed at the instantaneous pedal response (which I expected) but also was struck at the difference in handling immediacy.

    Maybe it was the steeper headtube angle, shorter fork, or rigid frame (probably all three working in concert) but the feeling was a marked difference from my fully.

    There were only a few instances where I felt the hardtail's shortcomings: jumps, hard hits descending, and a few technical uphills.

  10. #10
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    I have a Cannondale Prophet, but last year I bought an Orange P7 Pro with all the optional extras for the winter to save the Cannondale a bit. I really like riding both bikes.

    There isn't much I can't ride the Orange over, you just have to be a bit more skillful when it gets rocky. It definitely tires you out quicker but in somes ways it is more satisfying.

    The orange has a Fox Float RLC fork with 140mm travel. I find that the front lifts when climbing. I think a fork with adjustable travel would be a good option so you could lower it for the climbs.
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  11. #11
    Ride on
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    I rode my HT around for a few weeks while my fully was out of commission. I could ride the same trails, but I felt more beat up. I was also slower on the descents because I couldn't hit the rough stuff as hard. I wouldn't choose to ride my usual trails on a HT; it isn't as much fun.

  12. #12
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    OK, I guess I am the only buzzkill in here but I am not a fan of hardtail riding after I rebuilt an old Cannondale CAAD2. I have a Stumpy FSR with TALAS fork, and even disregarding the fork (I still have a DD60 Headshok that's trashed) the hardtail is just, well, hard. I have always enjoyed riding over technical terrain and gone down hills with hardtails, but I love being able to climb rocky, sandy sections with my FSR. It just keeps digging in, and will kick a rock away but will go back to climbing, unlike a hardtail that can get deflected or bounce (as evidenced by the one hardtail rider in our group yesterday on some of the climbs). I would imagine, however, that the skill and confidence you developed on your fs bike will transfer to whatever else you ride and you'll probably be faster than you were in the past on a hardtail, once you get used to it.

    But hey, it's a bike so I still like it.

  13. #13
    Linoleum Knife
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    Quote Originally Posted by b3n
    how do you feel switching from a full to an hardtail?
    Thank you!
    Feels like prison sex.

  14. #14
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    I tried to switch back to a hardtail;...........i just couldnt do it.to much discomfort involved in it.i like to ride a bike and not ache as bad,i guess thats what happens when you approach 40yrs old.
    2009 Marin Mount Vision 5.7....a great everything bike...

  15. #15
    it's....
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    I am few years past 40, and now riding my SS hardtail a lot more.
    140mm forks and Thudbuster help, and not having mechanical problems is a bonus.
    For most of the local trails, 6" frame is overkill anyway.

  16. #16
    Xtreme Lounger
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    I made the switch from 5x4 full suspension to fully rigid and I love it. I actually prefer the accuracy of the steering, the ability to hammer out of the saddle, and the constant geometry which isn't changing all the time. The tires make all the difference in the world as far as comfort, handling, and cornering are concerned (which applies to any bike - fully, HT, rigid). Riding rigid isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I know I've found my piece of heaven. And yeah, I ride rocky, rooty, technical east coast stuff with drops and small stunts. I also ride 5-6 hour rides multiple days in a row with no problems. I like keeping it simple, but to each his own.

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  17. #17
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    I rode a XC FS bike for 4 years, then switched abruptly to a hardtail with similar angles and similar fork travel. I found that the HT handled much more precisely and was a hair lighter, but was initially very hard to ride. The biggest difference was the fact that I had to pick lines all of a sudden. I couldn't just roll through technical terrain, I had to actually pay attention to what was happening. After 3.5 years on a HT and some SS rigid riding, I'm selling my HT frame/fork and getting a 5" travel AM FS bike so I can keep up with my friends on the descents. I will be keeping the SS for easier trails, as a way to keep me "honest".

  18. #18
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    I actually ride my HT to give myself a challenge on the same trails. If I had to go with one, it would still by the FS, but it's nice to have the HT to "reset" myself and appreciate the rear shock. Of course the FS is overkill on many trails, but it isn't TOO heavy so it can get around just fine. Both are set up pretty similarly... so they can both take a good beating.


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  19. #19
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    Now I'm wandering if switching back to an hardtail (but a heavy duty hardtail) would allow me to do the same things I'm doing with my full suspended bike (even if, probably, with a bit more difficulty).
    To summarize: I know an hardtail can accomplish the job in almost every situation, but how do you feel switching from a full to an hardtail? Did someone have had this experience? None went back to an hardtail for very aggressive xc riding?
    B3n, I had a NRS before i switched to a Voodoo Bakka. Its like what you wanted a steel hardtail that fits a 130mm fork. The bike does it all from climbing to launching off ramps. Even comes with a single speed converter. Had no regrets at all. I'm sticking to hardcore hardtails.
    Put something exciting between your legs. Ride a mountain bike.

  20. #20
    b3n
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    Guys, first of all thank you for all your opinions. Actually you confirmed my greatest concern: I fear I'm going to lose part of the fun. I mean: I know hardtails are simpler, lighter, they're much responsive. But are these characteristics "good" for my style of riding? Or do I need confort and safety more? When I ride with my friends we like to pedal uphill slowly and then run fastly on the descents. I fear an hardtail wouldn't allow me the same fun in the "down" part of my trips.
    I'm not that sure an HT would be the right choice. I don't think I'm going to have two bikes either: probably I'll end up using just the FS. Now I'm wondering if the right choice could be a SS for lonely, "not-so-hard" rides... but they are the 5% of my biking activity... I'm a bit confused, isn't it? Better to stick with my FS until my ideas will be clearer!

    Thank you again!

  21. #21
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by b3n
    Now I'm wondering if the right choice could be a SS for lonely, "not-so-hard" rides... but they are the 5% of my biking activity...
    don't underestimate the SS.... I thought the same...and now my riding is usually 60/40 or even 50/50 on the FS/SS ratio...

  22. #22
    b3n
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    Quote Originally Posted by crisillo
    don't underestimate the SS.... I thought the same...and now my riding is usually 60/40 or even 50/50 on the FS/SS ratio...
    Please, don't encourage me... don't know if I can resist to this temptation

  23. #23
    Nightriding rules SuperModerator
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    .. yeah the Love/Hate is sweet.... check the Inbred too

  24. #24
    JJN
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    This because I feel I need simplicity, reliability, efficiency. But I also like rough technical sections, tight singletracks, small drops. Can an "aggressive" hardtail be the right solution?
    One more vote for SS (and possibly for 29" tires too... Especially if you're tall)

    I switched from tuned up RM Switch to pretty simple, even cheapish GF Rig. And lovin' it. People tought I was crazy but the point is that the riding itself is still always as much fun (if not even more!).

    29" tires feel like there's a 2-3" of rear suspension without the hassle of dialing in the springs, pressures etc.

    Rough sections can be very intimidating at first though. But soon you realize that FS makes you ride some sections very lazily, letting the suspension do all the work. I actually love the fact that now I have to stand up, move on the bike and be really careful and precise even on the easier sections. Singlespeed kind of makes your old trails feel totally new. 29" and SS also play well together - bigger wheels and one gear is all about the momentum. Loose the momentum and you'll crash / fail and have to dismount. I'm pretty sure this will pay out in the long run with better bike handling skills.

    Still, I'm considering a bit lighter 26" Am FS bike in addition to Rig (for just playing around, occasional bike park riding and possible future trips to the Alps etc.). But for our trails here (Southern Finland) I really don't need much gears and FS only really helps on the most technical sections. Our trails are pretty technical but generally flat and/or slightly rolling. You can clear even the most technical dh's with good line picking and good technique because they are so short. (if you want example check out/search for the last year ss world championships from Stockholm. Our trails are quite the same, rocks and pine roots everywhere. That competition was won by a rigid 29" bike by the way...)

    So, for the "real" mountain biking in the mountains (d'oh) I guess gears and FS is the way to. If you're pedaling slowly uphill for a longer time and then getting the "reward" of a nice and long, continuous downhill, bombing down without so carefully pickin up the lines is just part of the fun.

    Also, I don't want to sound like preaching the 29" gospel but I really believe it makes a difference on a hard tail/SS. I briefly had a 26" steal hard tail, and riding it made my back ache. Now, with the aluminium 29" HT no problems whatsoever! Those tires just roll over anything and smoothen out the ride.
    Last edited by JJN; 06-14-2007 at 05:21 AM.

  25. #25
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    I built up a full rigid this spring after riding only FS for about 4 or 5 years. I thought I'd try something new(or old depending on how you look at it) since I haven't ridden a full rigid MTB in probably 9 years. Jury is still out on it; I like the ability to hammer out of the saddle, the light weight, the feeling of instant power the ground especially when climbing. Downsides it's showing some of my technical bike handling weaknesses, but I knew that would happen and actually I'm glad; I plan on using this as a means to improve my skills. Also, I've found my hands and wrists are taking a beating that I'm definietly not used to, so eventually I think I will put a fork on the front end.

    The real comparison will occur once I get my new FS rig built up; currently waiting on parts.

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