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  1. #1
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    hard tail vs full suspension Pros and cons?

    I've had a hardtail for a few years now, im looking into getting a fully, could you please tell me the pros and cons for the two. thanks, Patrick

  2. #2
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    Sure, it depends what type of riding you like. Each type of bike has its own characteristics, even different full suspensions.

    In very general terms (YMMV):
    - Hardtails are simpler machines, less maintenance
    - Full suspensions require you adjust both shocks correctly, not just the fork (if you're not riding rigid)
    - Full suspensions tend not to get bounced all over the place on rocky/tech terrain the way a hardtail would
    - Full suspensions tend to be better on the downhills, hardtails are easier on the ups
    - All full suspensions are not created equally. You'll need to test ride and tune the suspension to figure out what you like or don't like.

    Currently, I have three bikes: a DJ hardtail with 100mm suspension fork, a AM bike with 140mm travel, and a 8" travel DH bike. If my body could handle riding a hardtail all the time, I would go back to it instead of a 140mm travel fully. It just can't right now, maybe in the future with 30 lbs lighter

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stripes View Post
    Sure, it depends what type of riding you like. Each type of bike has its own characteristics, even different full suspensions.

    In very general terms (YMMV):
    - Hardtails are simpler machines, less maintenance
    - Full suspensions require you adjust both shocks correctly, not just the fork (if you're not riding rigid)
    - Full suspensions tend not to get bounced all over the place on rocky/tech terrain the way a hardtail would
    - Full suspensions tend to be better on the downhills, hardtails are easier on the ups
    - All full suspensions are not created equally. You'll need to test ride and tune the suspension to figure out what you like or don't like.

    Currently, I have three bikes: a DJ hardtail with 100mm suspension fork, a AM bike with 140mm travel, and a 8" travel DH bike. If my body could handle riding a hardtail all the time, I would go back to it instead of a 140mm travel fully. It just can't right now, maybe in the future with 30 lbs lighter
    thanks,
    that really helped,
    Patrick

  4. #4
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    i'm brand new to the full suspension game, and after only about 30 hours on it, the only thing i can say is that i really like not having the rear end bounce like crazy going over roots and rocks at speed like the hardtail does

    and the chainslap is much quieter...which didn't really bother me before, but is still nice hearing the difference

    need to get more hours on it before i really get it tho

  5. #5
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    hard tail vs full suspension Pros and cons?

    For me the biggest advantages of a hardtail are price, weight, and pedaling efficiency. I love a good hardtail if the trails are relatively smooth. On rough trails, it gets old pretty fast.

  6. #6
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    Flowy trails, or slower technical trails, a hardtail really shines. They can have more of a grin factor on fast rocky trails if you're good at dancing with the trail. Otherwise I think full squish provide a superior ride.

    The pedaling efficiency will not be noticeable if pedaling through rocky trails due to you getting bounced at speeds
    HT do climb more efficiently in general. That being said, I find technical climbs easier on a full squish since your rear wheel will get more traction with the suspension
    Jumps, I prefer a full squish cause I'm a hack and tend to huck to flat cause I'm scared of coming up short.

    All that being said, I probably ride my hardtail more, mostly because it's at least 10lbs lighter than my freeride full squish.
    Just another redneck with a bike

  7. #7
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    I ride both and to add to what's already been said:

    FS hasn't been any more maintenance (both are 2009's)

    Weight differential between the two is ~3 lbs and I do not notice it (probably because I am an over the hill 195 lb. rider and 1.5% less weight ain't much). If you weigh less, a couple of lbs. can be significant but a lot depends on how much is in your wallet and what you are trying to accomplish.

    Most modern full suspension bikes pedal efficiently (I like DW-link rears myself).

    I've raced both and prefer a full suspension bike for endurance events. Note: a fried of mine rode three different 29er bikes in an endurance event last year (aluminum full suspension, carbon weight-weenie'd to the maxx hard tail and a ridiculously light aluminum single speed with carbon fork. His lap times (on a ~9 mile loop) were almost identical. Note: he is over 200 lb. rider...

    I ride very technical trails with the FS so chain slap is not much different.

    I rode HT first then bought FS and thought about getting rid of the HT. I am glad that I kept it. I now have a rigid steel 29er too. It is a sickness, not a problem OKAY?

  8. #8
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    You need to hit a demo day...ride as many different styles of suspension as you can. Many have unique traits. Have an open mind and don't try to compare any to a hardtail. If no demo days near you, ride friends bikes, hit different shops etc. Me....my hardtail is now back up bike....I like the squish.
    2012 Trek Remedy 9.8...Yep, the one with the little wheels.

  9. #9
    Flying in High in the Sky
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    The pros of a FS out weighs a hardtail for almost any kind of riding but on pavement. Learn how to tune your shocks to meet your riding style and you won't ever turn back.

  10. #10
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    If you like to go down as fast as you can, FS will give you the most speed.

    I can go fast on a hard tail to, but it doesnt feel as controlled as an FS.

    I have a full rigid, ht, AM and dh bike.

  11. #11
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    Hardtails transfer energy very efficiently from the trail to the bike. That means little kickers and bumps give you POP! when you are prepped for it. There is so much air time to be had with ease on hardtails compared to squishy bikes.

    Picking lines is more important on hardtails - this makes you a better rider. Squishy bikes allow you to moto over rough sh*t without batting an eye. This gives less skillful riders the ability to ride more safely and faster. It also allows all riders to get longer rides in without their bodies wanting to die.

    I only have hardtails currently but am contemplating saving up my pennies and getting a squishy trail bike, probably in the 120-150mm of rear travel range.

  12. #12
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    For midly aggressive riding, comparing VERY similar setups (My previous hardtail, Transition TransAM vs. My current FS Transition Bandit)

    The hardtail is much more fun, because it is much more demanding. It taught me how to find the right line and stick to it. It makes you a better rider. Cheaper, Easier maintenance. Cons? Less forgiving when it comes to mistakes, less comfortable on the way down, takes a while for you to have confidence on the bike.

    The FS is still major fun, you can rip through sections and then pick a line where youd have to slow down pick a line and get back up to speed. More forgiving towards mistakes, more confidence inspiring. Cons? pedalling efficiency, although with the suspension systems you have these days they actually help instead of being counterproductive, weight (depends on the bike off course), require more maintenance, usually more expensive.

    All i can think of right now.

    If you pick wisely youll have fun on either really.

    Cheers

  13. #13
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    ^ you are neglecting pre-load for fs bikes regarding jumps....i have a dj, 150mm, and fr bike and there isn't much of a difference between my dj and my FR on dirt jumps or any jumps for that matter....I will say a little, and there is a reason my dj is a hardtail with a very stiff 100mm up front, but it's not as much as you would think.

    hardtails you do need to pick better lines, usually at the expense of speed (i'm sure hard core hardtailers will disagree, but once you reach a certain tech level in the trail it is true).

    go full squish, these days most of the rear shocks have "climbing" settings with the flip of a switch and they are near locked out anyway. With the exception of climbing i don't see any huge advantages, and most people that have HT also have FS for harder trails anyway....

  14. #14
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    all I heard was HT is more fun again and again, im glad i went HT My next bike will have no shocks

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    Another HT fan here, currently a 29er SS and really considering going with a rigid fork. Before this I've owned: ht, ht, fs, fs, ht, fs. I used to race xc a bunch. Suspension design, materials used, and shocks have come a long way in recent years. I think the bottom line is knowing what kind of a rider you are and go with a bike or bikes that suit(s) your needs. If you want to have an fs and a ht and can afford them, great!

    Personally, HT wins for the following:
    1. I tend to be anal-retentive about keeping parts serviced and clean. Having a fs took me too much time to overhaul and clean.
    2. I tend to stand when I climb. Sitting and grinding it out hurts my back and knees. I didn't like the bob that came with fs. Yeah, I had a rear with a lockout, but I found myself forgetting to switch it over 95% of the time.
    3. I like the challenge of it: picking the right lines, standing through rough sections, etc.

    One thing that I did like about full suspension was that it seemed to have more traction in the climbs when things got rocky. The suspension helps keep the wheel on the ground.

    My 29er HT has the feel of a softtail: 1. the bigger volume tires take up some of the bump, 2. the frame has been designed to be vertically compliant, but laterally stiff (and it works!), 3. i've got a flexy carbon seatpost that has about 1/2" of movement. The bike still skips a bit on the chatter but it's a happy compromise between an fs and ht.

    As has been mentioned numerous times here already: HT is fun for climbing and does well on fast and flowly singletrack. Lots of technical and bumpy and you'll run to the shop the next day to buy a full susser.

    by the way, i've got one for sale . . . Titus X-Carbon size L, Crossmax SLR in great shape - Buy and Sell and Review Mountain Bikes and Accessories

  16. #16
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    I can't stand how uncomfortable and bouncy hard tails are. I took a high end hard tail for a ride on a demo day and absolutely hated it, full suspension for me.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by wisbike View Post
    i have a dj, 150mm, and fr bike and there isn't much of a difference between my dj and my FR on dirt jumps or any jumps for that matter....I will say a little, and there is a reason my dj is a hardtail with a very stiff 100mm up front, but it's not as much as you would think.

    hardtails you do need to pick better lines, usually at the expense of speed (i'm sure hard core hardtailers will disagree, but once you reach a certain tech level in the trail it is true).

    go full squish, these days most of the rear shocks have "climbing" settings with the flip of a switch and they are near locked out anyway. With the exception of climbing i don't see any huge advantages, and most people that have HT also have FS for harder trails anyway....
    1) Saying that a freeride and a dirtjump bike handle the same on a situation for which the dirtjump bike was designed for is nonesense, more so if you say that the dirtjump bike is a hardtail with a stiff shock for a reason on the following sentence. Its absolutely contradicting.

    2) If you have more than one bike you wouldnt care about the pros and cons of one or the other would you? Youd have both. And because you have more than one bike it doesnt mean everybody does.

    3) It comes down to personal preference and the terrain you ride in, that simple. I learned that a FS bike is not generally superior and neither is the hardtail. Its the rider and his preferences and skill level that will make the difference.

    If you have a one bike quiver and ride in very variable conditions and trail difficulties then without a doubt the FS will be the usual first choice for a reason, but then again it all comes back down to point # 3.

  18. #18
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    It all depends on the terrain. Roots or rocks? You'll be wanting FS, smooth hard-pack, road or dry loose over? HT every time. There are some super rocky places near me that are nearly impossible with HT's. That being said 90% of FS riders don't really need the travel and leave nasty braking bumps on smooth trails best suited to HT's.

  19. #19
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    I love my FS for technical descents. I NEED my FS for technical climbs.

  20. #20
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    I just Need more skills to do a technical climb It will come,

  21. #21
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    HT:

    -Cheaper
    -Less shock maintenance required
    -Unique physical aspect to the feel of the ride

    FS:

    -More controlled descents
    -Better control and feel to chunk
    -Better high-speed impact dynamics
    -More expensive to maintain


    IMO, full-suspension is the way to go, especially if you like riding aggressively. Considering how bad crappy FS bikes can be, HT is more budget friendly. If you go FS, do yourself a favor and drop some decent money on it and save yourself from potential hassle or disappointment.

  22. #22
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    thanks for all the replies guys, I really appreciate it

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luigiugueto View Post
    1) Saying that a freeride and a dirtjump bike handle the same on a situation for which the dirtjump bike was designed for is nonesense, more so if you say that the dirtjump bike is a hardtail with a stiff shock for a reason on the following sentence. Its absolutely contradicting
    Apparently reading comprehension isn't your strong suit. My whole point is that even though my Dj is made for jumps, and it is better, my fr bike isn't far behind and its not as big of a difference as you would think.

  24. #24
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    wisbike,

    I'm sorry dude but I've spent mega amounts of time on a DJ bike and there is no comparison between a DJ and FR bike for ride characteristics and jump-ability. Can you have fun on both? Yes... Do they ride the same? No way!

  25. #25
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    I think of hard tails like single speeds. Apart from being cheaper and low maintinance the biggest plus is in the fun department. Its not for every one..... so hard tails are for either broke people or crazy people.

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