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  1. #1
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    Hardtail Front Suspension vs. Full-Suspension?

    I just got into mountain biking, and most of my riding takes place in southern Alabama where the trails are fairly flat. I am in the market for a quality bike, and I was told that for this type of riding all I need is a front suspension hardtail. However, I see people riding full-suspension bikes all the time on the same trails. Would it be unreasonable to buy a full suspension bike if I found a good deal on one? (Currently looking at a 2005 Giant Warp DS 3 in excellent shape for $300... good deal?)

  2. #2
    ride hard take risks
    Reputation: dogonfr's Avatar
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    The Warp is a capable bike in the right hands. Considering it sold for $600 new in '03 it's over priced. A real rider can do everything on a HT that a rider on a FS can do, that eliminates me. Learning on & riding a HT develops you into a better rider. Go HT
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  3. #3
    Live Free or Ride!
    Reputation: GiantMartin's Avatar
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    Start with a hardtail, then once you develop the skills get yourself a full susser and get outta bama
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  4. #4
    I Like Bicycles
    Reputation: Thimk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantMartin
    Start with a hardtail, then once you develop the skills get yourself a full susser and get outta bama
    I second that. Riding a HT will teach you proper posture and as well as how to pick better lines. A fully might get you lazy.

    This was my first season mountain biking and I think I might not even go with a fully. Gonna get myself a Santa Cruz Chameleon as my next frame.

  5. #5
    this account retired
    Reputation: Faux Part Deux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rharre2
    I just got into mountain biking, and most of my riding takes place in southern Alabama where the trails are fairly flat. I am in the market for a quality bike, and I was told that for this type of riding all I need is a front suspension hardtail. However, I see people riding full-suspension bikes all the time on the same trails. Would it be unreasonable to buy a full suspension bike if I found a good deal on one? (Currently looking at a 2005 Giant Warp DS 3 in excellent shape for $300... good deal?)
    This is my opinion so take it with a grain of salt (most people do anyway).

    First of all, my advice is to ignore cliches indicating that "a hardtail is a good way to increase your riding skills". That implies that it is a natural progression to go to FS and hardtails are somehow inferior.......this is a LAME generalization. Only you know the trails you ride on, the skill you have, how hard you want to push it, preferences in riding characteristics...etc

    Most people (people will disagree of course since they own a FS bike and fall into this category) dont "need" a FS and in some ways do themselves a disservice, IMHO. Sure if you go into a shop or read most bike mags you will have no choice to walk away with the impression that a FS is the only choice....I call BS.

    Most people want to buy (I am guessing, but probably not far off) a 5"-ish bike cuz thats where the marketing emphasis is. These people therefore feel the need to call themselves All Mountain (AM) riders cuz they need to justify the amount of travel when the truth (for most people) is that (1) amount of travel does not dicate abuse a bike can take anyway so their bike is truly far from a real AM bike, especially given all the ghey marketing pressures to produce stupid asss 6" travel lightweight bikes which is retarded, even though people buy into it, (2) they are far from an AM rider and are XC at most even though they swear that ruts in fireroads are aggro, (3) they avoid tecnical stuff where 5" would be a tangible advantage anyway, and/or (4) want to look cool at the trailhead (self included).

    Truth is that some of us will choose a hardtail for most riding since "overall", its the better choice for most riding most people do (not talking Red Bull stuff here guys). For all but real rocky/technical (by my lame standards anyway) I will always choose my hardtail. Granted it has reasonable geometry and build to perform very well in technical sections but still....point is that hardtails are NOT just some tool to get you to be a better rider to then progress to FS so you can be lazy and look like the other sheep at the local trailhead.

    my 2 cents...
    Last edited by Faux Part Deux; 09-29-2007 at 10:09 AM.

  6. #6
    Fat Biker
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    Just like you I got into mountain biking not too long ago and I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to spend the extra money on a FS. I decided on an FS (06 Haro Shift R3) and I'm glad I did! I like the fact that the rear shock dampens the bumps which allows me to ride harder and longer. Granted the first couple of months my butt still hurt but I can imaging how much more it would have hurt with a hardtail. I also like the fact that I don't have to think so much about which lines I'm going to take. I was never interested in being an expert rider; all I wanted to do was get out and ride. My FS gives me confidence to do things I would probably think twice about on a hardtail. If you can afford one don't hesitate to buy one. If you don't you'll always be wondering what your ride would be like if you were on a FS.

  7. #7
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    Reputation: Hiramson's Avatar
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    I second Faux Part Deux. Good point.

  8. #8
    Portland, OR
    Reputation: todd_freeride's Avatar
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    I would go with a hardtail. it makes you a lot stronger of a rider and you will have A LOT more control over your bike than someone on a FS. Me? I ride DH on a hardtail, it doesn't get more brutal than that. A hardtail is truly more versatile, I have a FS, while its great at resorts and when I want to hit DH sections as fast as I can, but thats only about 20% of my total riding. I dirt jump/ Ride AM on the same hardtail, I never choose the easiest lines either. I love a challenge. I've got a pretty beefy 33 pound hardtail though.

    With the area you live in being flat. a FS/Hardtail debate really is kind of pointless. FS bikes generally descend better, hardtails at times climb and descend better. Thing you have to consider, is yea...you can go faster on a FS and "go bigger" <-- BS. But is that what you really want? If I were you. I would compare the components on that giant with the components on a hardtail in your pricerange. the giant may have better parts, it may have worse parts. generally with a FS bike you get crappy suspension that bobs like crazy when pedaling.
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  9. #9
    local trails rider
    Reputation: perttime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rharre2
    southern Alabama where the trails are fairly flat.
    Does that mean that you do not have big hills or that your trails do not have a lot of rocks and roots?

    If the trails are smooth, rear suspension does not really have a purpose (or front suspension either, for that matter). If the trails are rough, rear suspension makes it easier to ride fast, whether on a big mountain or on level ground. Now, do you want it to be easy to ride fast over the rough stuff?

  10. #10
    Occasional treat
    Reputation: hollisimo's Avatar
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    I ridden hardtails all my life, fully rigid's actually until relatively recently. As a little side project I bought a 2nd hand FS frame a while back and built myself my first FS. I've ridden it all of.... 1 time! Although 20% of my rides are on rough-ass decents and 40% is out-of-the saddle XC, and though after three or four hours my body is begging for mercy the problem is the FS feels like, well like yukky poo underneath me. The feedback is non-existant. Long climbs become a bobbing struggle. Lifting the rear end for placement had me confused as to where the rear end actually was. Don't get me wrong, I was amazed by my new found speed in certain sections on the FS, but it was a too high a price to pay. I still think there's a future in FS for me- perhaps a more efficient FS design would help, but frames in the category seem to begin around $1500, which is currently out of my league.

    As people have said you'll get a better quality hardtail for the price of a crappy FS.

  11. #11
    lidless ascender
    Reputation: problematiks's Avatar
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    I actually find the hardtail more limiting on ups than downs.On rocky/rooty ascents that is.Not only does it wear you down more if you ride the rough stuff for extended periods, it's actually more difficult to find good traction because the rear wheel doesn't follow the terrain so well.Going down you can actually ride anything with a hardtail with a good longer travel fork and meatier tires, you'll just go slower.You'll need to pick your lines more carefully, too.Which is actually a good thing, because it doesn't make you lazy as a full suspension can.
    The opposite is true on smooth terrain, the hardtail wins there, you'll be able to pump the terrain better going down and also climb faster due to lighter weight and lack of give in the back.
    If I understand things right, the terrain in southern Alabama isn't that demanding.In this case go with a hardtail.Put a longer travel fork (with adjustable travel for those flat sections) and some meatier tires if needed and go enjoy the trails.

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  12. #12
    Big Gulps, Alright!
    Reputation: Berkley's Avatar
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    Quite simply, $300 will not get you a nice FS bike...

  13. #13
    ride hard take risks
    Reputation: dogonfr's Avatar
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    2 dayz & no OP response, guess he really wasn't interested.
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  14. #14
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    I just got my new bike, its a rock hopper from specialized. I have been hearing that starting off on a hardtail makes you a better rider, faster, than instantly getting into the FS bikes. Once you can do most things on that hardtail, upgrading to the FS will make you even that much better. I would recommend getting a hardtail. And I am not sure if a $300 nike is much of a good bike..not sure tho.

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