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  1. #1
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    Newbie question about full suspension bikes

    Hey guys, I'm brand new to the forum as well as the biking world. I've always liked biking, but I've never done it seriously. Now my wife and a couple friends of mine are trying to get me into it and I'm completely willing to do so, as it's fun and great exercise.

    Now, the problem is, one of my actual interests is building and modifying stuff. So I have a couple simple (and possibly stupid) questions.

    First, is the difference between a full suspension and hard tail bike as big as some people make it out to be? There seems to be a lot of expense involved in building either, but moreso with a full suspension.

    Second, what is the difference in other parts of bikes? In other words, if I have a decent hard tail mountain bike and then I buy a good used full suspension frame with the rear shock installed, is it as simple as pulling everything off the hard tail and installing it on the full suspension frame? I'm assuming not, but... you never know.

    Anyway, thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Go SOLAR...
    Reputation: larlev's Avatar
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    I rode/raced a HT for 15 years and always was a HT purist......I loved the HT's ability to climb, and the fact that it was 22lbs. Weight does make a huge difference, when people say it doesn't must not have a great deal of saddle time on one.

    As far as swapping parts...yes and no. For example I can swap my HT parts on my FS, because both bikes are the same manufacturer. Specilaized might have different tube diameters than Trek, Giant...etc. The only parts that this affects is seatpost, bars, front derailleur, and bottom bracket..... I don't think I missed anything. You get the idea

    If this is your first serious bike purchase and you like to work on things, check out Jensen USA's site on the BMC trailfox frame and then look at build kits from different retaillers.

    If you are going to buy and don't want to spend a 2k.....look at the Specilaized FSRxc.

  3. #3
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    That's a really interesting set of questions... I'm sure you'll get mixed responses. For my pennies worth. Yes suspension is very different to hardtail. Now I'm not going to give any judgemental comments about whether one design is 'better' or 'worse' than the other - they are just different. I ride both and pick depending on my mood. There are pros and cons to both designs and maybe it would help if these were listed? Let us know.

    As for lifting parts and dropping them from one bike to another.... In general, this can be done, but often doesn't work as well as you'd like. For example, seat posts might be a different diameter (although you could get a fairly standard 27.2mm seatpost and then 'shim' the post to fit either frame). Most modern front derailleurs nowadays come with a set of multi-fit brackets to fit different frame sizes (but if you've got a built bike, you may not have the multi-fit brackets to change from one frame to another). I found moving from hardtail to suspension, I used wider rims (so you might find wheels aren't perfect - but you could get by using the same wheels)... And the list goes on...

    Hope some of these thoughts help

  4. #4
    Bike to the Bone...
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerryjfunk
    Hey guys, I'm brand new to the forum as well as the biking world. I've always liked biking, but I've never done it seriously. Now my wife and a couple friends of mine are trying to get me into it and I'm completely willing to do so, as it's fun and great exercise.

    Now, the problem is, one of my actual interests is building and modifying stuff. So I have a couple simple (and possibly stupid) questions.

    First, is the difference between a full suspension and hard tail bike as big as some people make it out to be? There seems to be a lot of expense involved in building either, but moreso with a full suspension.

    Second, what is the difference in other parts of bikes? In other words, if I have a decent hard tail mountain bike and then I buy a good used full suspension frame with the rear shock installed, is it as simple as pulling everything off the hard tail and installing it on the full suspension frame? I'm assuming not, but... you never know.

    Anyway, thanks for any help!
    About your first question, I think that both bikes can be pretty good, but it's hard to measure how big a differece it will be. Probably some factors that might affect your best choice would be how rough the terrain you want to ride and your age. Oh... and budget

    Full suspension bikes are a lot more expensive than hardtails considering the same build (component choices), so take that into consideration.

    About transfering parts from one bike to another, there are some parts that you can transfer, and some that you cannot, depeding on the bikes involved. The fork might be one of the things that you would need to buy new, as well as seatpost and probably front deraileur and chain.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for all the responses!

    Larlev - what's generally the weight difference between a HT and a FS? Assuming both are built with aluminum frames, of course.

    Rzozaya1969 - right now I'm really considering this FS build, even though my budget would fit more with a HT. However, this is only if the additional parts I need to buy beyond an already-built HT are minimal. If I do, in fact, need a fork, then the idea is out. How many different sizes/styles of front fork/suspensions are there? I assume I would just need the diameter measurement to see if one off the HT would fit the FS frame... is that correct?

    Honestly, this idea is half because I'd like to ride a FS bike, and half because I want to build something cool. If any of it works out, we'll talk paint scheme later.

  6. #6
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    I think you could really help yourself& the people here if you could tell us something about what type of riding you plan do be doing leisurley x country, aggressive all mt., downhill. Maybe where are you planning to do most of your riding? I think your age may help also.

  7. #7
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    Jerry...usually a stock HT will run 23-25lbs, and a stock FS will weigh in at 28-32lbs.
    Riding a lighter bike is a thrill...you can throw it around which makes it just that much more fun.

    I am a firm believer in reducing rotational weight...IMO it is much more important than saving 200g's in a seatpost or seat for example. You would be amazed how much you will notice a lighter wheel or tire.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerryjfunk
    ......Rzozaya1969 - right now I'm really considering this FS build, even though my budget would fit more with a HT. However, this is only if the additional parts I need to buy beyond an already-built HT are minimal. If I do, in fact, need a fork, then the idea is out. How many different sizes/styles of front fork/suspensions are there? I assume I would just need the diameter measurement to see if one off the HT would fit the FS frame... is that correct?

    Honestly, this idea is half because I'd like to ride a FS bike, and half because I want to build something cool. If any of it works out, we'll talk paint scheme later.
    There are several factors in forks. One is travel length, which means how much the fork can compress. This afect the geometry of the bike, most frames are designed around a range of travel. Some fork are taller than others of the same travel, but usually they're fine if they are used for the intended travel. Most hardtails are designed around a 80 to 100mm travel fork. The deal with full suspension bikes, is that the use is more diverse. Probably a fork that would work pretty good for a hardtail would be short for a full suspension bikes. Again, some full suspension bikes use the same tavel as some hardtails.

  9. #9
    Ride Good or Eat Wood
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    HT's tend to be less forgiving than dualies. A friend of mine many years ago suggested I learn to ride MTB on a hard tail first. This has the advantage of developing your skill set, how to pick lines, read terrain, body position, moving the bike through and over terrain, balance etc. These are all skills that when you transfer them to a dual suspension will stand you in good stead and make you a better rider.
    "Though my life is changing fast,
    My roots are planted in the past,
    Who I am, is who I want to be
    "

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red PeeKay
    HT's tend to be less forgiving than dualies. A friend of mine many years ago suggested I learn to ride MTB on a hard tail first. This has the advantage of developing your skill set, how to pick lines, read terrain, body position, moving the bike through and over terrain, balance etc. These are all skills that when you transfer them to a dual suspension will stand you in good stead and make you a better rider.
    I agree 100%.

    And really, if you can afford a good hardtail, I would get that... because down the road you may want to build/buy a new bike that moreso fits your style, and you will not have blown it all on your first bike, if you get the same quality full susser.

    I hope you enjoy whatever path you choose!

  11. #11
    aka greyranger
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    wether you choose a HT or FS fit will be the most important factor. As for part spec ,being new you may break some parts, rear der, brake handle, tweak rims. Alot depnds on how and where you ride if FS is necessary. If you know how much you are going to spend go around to bike shops and see what you get for the money and see how the bikes fit and ride(FS vs HT), even if you want to build your own. When you ask about front forks, there are so many choices it will make your head spin. Good luck with your decisions.

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