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  1. #1
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    Hardtail or full suspension? New rider

    Hi guys Superblackbird2000 here,

    I'm fairly new to riding. Picked up a Jamis Nova Race Cyclocross for the road, and a Jamis Exile Sport for the trails. The Exile has what appears to be a questionable front fork, and a hard tail. It was only $525 and I'm guessing you get what you pay for. I'm considering upgrading to a full suspension mountain bike. The local shop has a decent Scott for around $2,400 which gives you the ability to lock out various components on the fly. For $1,400 they have another one that let's you do it manually, not on the fly. Any advice for a new rider? I'm just doing trails on conservation area. The Exile is fine, however if I did pull the trigger, what might be a good way to go?

    Any and all help and or advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Hi,

    You're opening up a can of worms here! People have very different views on this topic.
    For what it's worth, here are my thoughts:

    1) Where do you ride (what's the terrain like)
    If you ride mostly smooth trails with no big rocks, roots etc - a hardtail with a decent fork is great. If your trails are rough or you plan to ride further afield where they are - full suspension is a good idea provided you can afford decent full suspension.

    2) What are your goals? If you want to build up to throwing yourself off jumps and drops or ride gnarly trails - you'll be faster sooner on a dual sus.

    3) If you want to learn good technique - get a hard tail.

    4) What will excite you - give you the ride that makes you smile? Get that

  3. #3
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    for FS bikes, the Heckler is the Honda Civic of bikes. its tried and true, simple and reliable, and a good bang for the buck. you cant go wrong

    Santa Cruz Bicycles Heckler
    2010 GT Avalanche Expert

  4. #4
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    Gravityfreaky is 100% Correct.

    It all depends on where and how you want to ride. In the past year I have gone from a 27 speed fully suspended bike to a Singlespeed hardtail 29er. The trails here in Indiana and my riding style are just suiting the hardtail better.

    Ride your Jamis a season, test ride as many bike of all kinds that you can, see what the locals ride, THEN make a decision.

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    Another in agreement with gravityfreaky. One other option to consider is putting a better fork on your HT. I started riding about 15 months ago on a 07 Rockhopper. After a lot of riding, reading and talking to friends I decided to stay with the HT to develop skills. That went well for most of that time, until I realized my front fork was holding me back - very little travel but with strong spring push back. I replaced it with an just above entry level air spring (RS xc32tk) which I picked up for less than $300. It totally transformed the bike, now I'm going up, over and off things I would crash on before. It's been an amazing boost to my confidence.

    Now we we're ready for the step to FS. Yesterday was my wife's first day on her SC Solo/5010, mine comes in another 1 1/2 week. We both feel the skills built to the HT will make us better riders.

    Another thing - take a lesson if possible. I mainly learn from well intended friends and videos. Took a half day class which revealed some major bad habits and got me moving to a more progressive, attacking riding style. Have fun!

  6. #6
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    Pricepoint and ebay have some Manitou Tower Pro forks that will give you a better ride. $250 or less.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by nauc View Post
    for FS bikes, the Heckler is the Honda Civic of bikes. its tried and true, simple and reliable, and a good bang for the buck. you cant go wrong

    Santa Cruz Bicycles Heckler
    I gotta agree with that. I really liked the comparison since I own both, a Honda Civic and a Heckler. Definitely a solid bike.

  8. #8
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    I started mountain biking again this year after a long lay off.

    I bought a HT but after a while changed it to a FS.

    Both were great on the mixed riding around here, my local route has a bit of everything. Personally I don't see any disadvantage in riding a FS, you can always lock out the shock if you want.
    I know there is supposed to be a difference to ride, I was told the HT would be more "fun" and "flickable" (the FS also weighs 4 pounds more) but I found the FS to pretty similar, even on the three mile road climb I often do.

  9. #9
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    IMO there is no place in casual, recreational [as opposed to racing] mountain biking for hard tails with the regard to the following 3 exceptions:
    1] You truly cant afford a decent dual suspension bike
    2] You plan on racing in the future where every watt of power input must be translated in to forward momentum at the cost of comfort and control
    3] You are a roadie first and foremost who simply cant get your head around the fact that a bike that weights 28lbs could actually be more fun and a better ride than a bike that weighs 20lbs

    Ok, this is written with tongue firmly in cheek but I believe it to be true as a general rule.
    Unless you are broke, an XC racer, a roadie or an MTB purist then I think 99% of mountain bikers would be much better off on a dual sus bike

  10. #10
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    I prefer hardtails, but if I came across a Full Suspension bike at a great price, I would buy it.
    It all depends on where you ride, and how good you are. If you are truly a beginner to off-road riding, then you will probably be riding on smooth trails, and you only need a Hardtail. When you start to break things, you are too good for the bike, and then buy a Full Suspension instead of upgrading.
    Big Wheels Keep On Rolling

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffgre_6163 View Post
    IMO there is no place in casual, recreational [as opposed to racing] mountain biking for hard tails with the regard to the following 3 exceptions:
    1] You truly cant afford a decent dual suspension bike
    2] You plan on racing in the future where every watt of power input must be translated in to forward momentum at the cost of comfort and control
    3] You are a roadie first and foremost who simply cant get your head around the fact that a bike that weights 28lbs could actually be more fun and a better ride than a bike that weighs 20lbs

    Ok, this is written with tongue firmly in cheek but I believe it to be true as a general rule.
    Unless you are broke, an XC racer, a roadie or an MTB purist then I think 99% of mountain bikers would be much better off on a dual sus bike
    lol. The All Mountain Hardtail Thread. Post up yours.
    nothing witty here...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffgre_6163 View Post
    IMO there is no place in casual, recreational [as opposed to racing] mountain biking for hard tails with the regard to the following 3 exceptions:
    1] You truly cant afford a decent dual suspension bike
    2] You plan on racing in the future where every watt of power input must be translated in to forward momentum at the cost of comfort and control
    3] You are a roadie first and foremost who simply cant get your head around the fact that a bike that weights 28lbs could actually be more fun and a better ride than a bike that weighs 20lbs

    Ok, this is written with tongue firmly in cheek but I believe it to be true as a general rule.
    Unless you are broke, an XC racer, a roadie or an MTB purist then I think 99% of mountain bikers would be much better off on a dual sus bike
    I have reduced my stable of mountain bikes to just a single long-travel HT. But I have to agree with your thoughts. If you can afford it, a good quality FS bike will be the bike of choice.

    Even in racing, I feel the % less effort it takes to cover the same trails on an FS bike will pay dividends toward the end of the ride compared to % watts more efficient pedaler an HT will be.

    If you are knew, the added technology will help you ride the trails. It'll let you have a fighting chance to keep up with your buddies. You concentrate more on fitness and pedaling vs the little techniques to master the terrain.

    Once you've established yourself as a competant rider, you will get bored and want to explore other types of bikes or advance your techniques. HT, single speed, rigid, differing wheels sizes...they'll be calling you.

    BTW, I find that for the average trail rider, the biggest advantage an FS provides is comfort for seated pedaling. Mostly on smoother terrain. If the terrain is truly riddled with rocks and roots, then both FS and HT will be out of the saddle. Better technique will help the HT rider of course. But when it's mostly imperfections on a dirt trail, or the occassional root or rock, an FS rider can just stay seated and grind out the pedaling. An HT rider still has to get out of the saddle for every prominant bump or undulations of the terrain. This is where the efficiency difference is most noticeable. In a XC race, my money is on the FS bike.
    Just get out and ride!

  13. #13
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    I love my All Mountain hard tail... I had 20 years away from riding and started again about 3 or 4 months ago.. Some of the rides have quite a lot of climbs and the same number of downhill sections which are tight and twisty as well as a good mix of rough and fast flowing drops. I really like the feeling of being connected to the bike and even though I am still not as fit as I should be yet it is the perfect bike for me.. I still pass other riders on both hard tails and full sus, I also get passed by riders on both too..lol.. But I dont feel riding a hard tail has slowed me down and I dont feel a full sus bike would make me faster... I just ride for me and for fun. I think for anyone on a budget you get more bike for your money with a hard tail. If you can spend what you want then you can just get any bike to the spec you want... I was on a budget and had an old injury to allow for. So the Orange Crush fit the bill for me perfectly. Fox fork and a good SRAM chainset. If I had a full sus bike for the same budget the forks and chainset would have been cheaper and more compromised and I would not have got a 140mm travel fork on my budget.
    Hardtail or full suspension? New rider-dsc_9863.jpg

  14. #14
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    I had the similar type of hardtail bike to yours. Well, maybe not quite as good, but it retailed at 850 ($1200+)

    Changing to a FS cost me an extra 800 ($1200) plus the sale of my existing bike, for something of similar quality.

    So it basically cost me $1200 for a rear shock.

    The FS has not made me faster, in fact l think l have slowed a fraction, as l began to value my life a bit more!
    The main thing with the FS is it just gives me an easier time, without being any less fun.

  15. #15
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    @superblackbird.

    There will always be somthing on a bike to upgrade. It sounds like theres nothing wrong with.the current bike so my advice.would be.to.keep it.

    But it.also sounds as.though you would.like to get a full susp..bike. if you want one and.can afford.one.get it youll still.have the hard tail.and.can upgrade.the.fork if.need.be at.a.later.date.

    I would advize against. Bikes.with.lock out remotes.they.are.not.very.usefull.for.the.majority .of riders.



    So keep what you got and buy 1400 bike assumimg its in good shape. At a leter.date.upgrade the fork on the hardtail to somthing with similer travel a through axel and an air spring. Then youll have a nice quiver getting started.

    As time goes on you could upgrade the.full sqush with burlyier parts and concentrate on making the hardtail a lighter.bike. then a.couple.years.from.now.you could buy your.next.bike as a.frame only.and.have a nice.assortment of.parts to customize it.just.right.


    If your.thinking.all that.is.a waste.of money or unaffordable then just keep what.you got and only buy parts when.they brake.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffgre_6163 View Post
    IMO there is no place in casual, recreational [as opposed to racing] mountain biking for hard tails with the regard to the following 3 exceptions:
    1] You truly cant afford a decent dual suspension bike
    2] You plan on racing in the future where every watt of power input must be translated in to forward momentum at the cost of comfort and control
    3] You are a roadie first and foremost who simply cant get your head around the fact that a bike that weights 28lbs could actually be more fun and a better ride than a bike that weighs 20lbs

    Ok, this is written with tongue firmly in cheek but I believe it to be true as a general rule.
    Unless you are broke, an XC racer, a roadie or an MTB purist then I think 99% of mountain bikers would be much better off on a dual sus bike
    Apparently you've never heard of maintenance. Hardtails are much simpler, and it's kind of difficult to singlespeed a full squish. Also not everyone's trails warrant a full squish bike.

    I believe the exact opposite as you, most riders will NOT benefit from buying a full squish bike compared to a good hardtail. The added money, maintenance and skill to ride such a bike will be more than most "casual" riders have.

    To the OP just upgrade your fork to a nicer, lighter air fork and keep riding. Then save your shekels for later when you've researched all the available bikes that are out there so you can make a more informed decision instead of relying on the skewed opinions of a few people on the internet. Also the more you ride your current bike the more in tuned with what you like and dislike about said bike. This information will make your next bike purchase much easier to figure out...

    Just my 2 cents...
    Buy a f-ing bike maybe you wouldn't be fat

  17. #17
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    There's no right or wrong on this one. A ht will teach you technique, picking correct lines etc, but a fs will give you more control, comfort and might help you push yourself more.

    But there are other important factors, such as geometry. An all mountain hardtail can be more capable in gnarly decends compared to an xc full susser.

    My only bike is a hartail and I love the simplicity and feel. Upgrading the fork and cockpit totally transformed the ride and level of control, so keep that in mind too.

  18. #18
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    Hardtail or full suspension? New rider

    Suspension just lets you crash at higher speeds.

    Only half joking.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    A ht will teach you technique, picking correct lines etc,
    What the hell is a "correct line"?

  20. #20
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    I am still quite new I guess with a long break away from riding but this is a typical ride on mine and it may suit a FS for some of the route but I get to the carpark with a big grin on my face and dont think I would enjoy it more on a FS or any less to be honest.. But the ride down from top cliff and Lower Cliff are still a laugh on mine and the guy I go out with has just replaced his FS Kona with an On One hard tail and is glad to be back on a hard tail again..

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  21. #21
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    HT and FS are simply different types of bikes and require slightly different inputs to ride well. Neither set of skills translates directly to the other without some revision. You learn "lines" on either platform keeping in mind that each will require a different path.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    What the hell is a "correct line"?
    Lines are the chosen path you choose take through a patch of terrain. An ideal line will get you through quickly, smoothly, and efficiently. The bike platform in combination with your ability to move the bike will determine what line you can take in order to achieve this. HT's require more skill through certain types of terrain to achieve this vs FS bikes which can roll over a lot of stuff without having to have learnt the skills required to do the same on the HT.

    That said....


    OP...if you want a FS just get one. If you want a HT, get one. It really doesn't matter what other people think. It's your money and your ride.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    What the hell is a "correct line"?

    To those of us with lesser skills, this is understandable concept!

  23. #23
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    I think starting out a FS will be better. It will allow you to ride difficult terrain easier and build confidence, and confidence is a huge component of riding. Once you're comfortable and want to explore other riding and improve technique, go for the HT. I recently got an AM HT which I use for xc, mild DH, and learning dirt jumping.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tavm View Post
    Lines are the chosen path you choose take through a patch of terrain. An ideal line will get you through quickly, smoothly, and efficiently.
    Nope. There is no such thing as a correct line. Some times the fastest most efficient way means going around a technical feature. Some times there is an "a" line and a "b" line.


    Also its a myth that riding a hardtail will make you a better rider. Full suspension bikes and hardtails need to be ridden differently. You should be choosing different lines depending on what you are riding.

  25. #25
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    Did you even read what you responded to? Because not only did I not use the word "correct", I also stated exactly what you responded with in the vary same thread post...one paragraph prior.

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