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  1. #1
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    Is rigid best for rock crawling?

    On a recent ride, I remarked how impressed I was that some riders were riding difficult rocky obstacles (and rock gardens) on rigid bikes. Someone replied that a rigid bike is better for rock crawling because it responds quicker to body movements. Is this true?

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    Depends on what you mean by "better". I personally love, and am pretty decent at technical trails, and can do *very* basic trials type moves. On XC rides when I'm on my hardtail, I get a lot of people who are impressed when they see me doing trials moves to get through rock gardens and such... So, up until a few years ago I would have said yes. FS bikes now are so good that it really isn't necessarily true any more. A few years back I picked up an IH 7.7... It isn't nearly as good at the trialsy moves.... but between the suspension and the fat tires, I just hit a lot of those same rock gardens at speed and can roll through some fairly gnarly stuff. I understand 29'ers have a pretty steamroller kinda feel to them as well through those things. So, depends on what your trying to do, and exactly what type of rock garden you are riding...

  3. #3
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    Fat tires are everything for rock crawling.
    And skill. Don't forget skill trumps all other equipment.

  4. #4
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    Yeah, it's all skill. I would say that riding a rigid bike would not be easier to handle through rock gardens for any given skill level. The only exception would be if we were talking about trials-type riding, but even there a front suspension fork can be of benefit in many cases.

    I'm going to say that learning to ride rocks on a rigid may make you a better rider, but riding a suspended bike will be easier. Suspension will take the jarring away and allow you to concentrate more on your line and less on keeping hold of the bars.
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  5. #5
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    theres probably something to that since trials rider use rigid bikes. but i think for general riding zebrahum is right on.

  6. #6
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    At low speeds, a rigid bike probably has an edge in acceleration and presicion. At a little speed it gets challenging.

    It has been a while since I last posted this...

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by XJGPN
    Depends on what you mean by "better". I personally love, and am pretty decent at technical trails, and can do *very* basic trials type moves. On XC rides when I'm on my hardtail, I get a lot of people who are impressed when they see me doing trials moves to get through rock gardens and such... So, up until a few years ago I would have said yes. FS bikes now are so good that it really isn't necessarily true any more. A few years back I picked up an IH 7.7... It isn't nearly as good at the trialsy moves.... but between the suspension and the fat tires, I just hit a lot of those same rock gardens at speed and can roll through some fairly gnarly stuff. I understand 29'ers have a pretty steamroller kinda feel to them as well through those things. So, depends on what your trying to do, and exactly what type of rock garden you are riding...
    the thread is about rock crawling not rock flying-through-them-at-speed

  8. #8
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    for slow to low-speeds I prefer a rigid fork for rocks, be it navigating rock gardens or climbing or descending rock obstacles, steps, etc. I wouldn't say anything I do really qualifies as trials, but that's the general kind of thing I'm talking about right now.

    One of my reasons is I can put weight on the front end, such as dropping the front wheel down a step, without the fork compressing as I do so, which often puts my hands lower than I wanted them and causes an additional forward motion and shift in weight that I have to compensate for. Another reason is if my front wheel is against an obstacle and I pedal forwards my fork doesn't first absorb that energy by compressing and then start to move up the rock, it simply starts moving right away. Also, the front end is lighter and easier to pick up.

    Suspension can be nice for getting extra compression before hopping or jumping though. The real trials riders don't seem to need that to do huge hops, but they also don't need clipless pedals to bunnyhop

  9. #9
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    skill is most important certainly.
    BUT a rigid is better than a squishy

    a squishy fork compresses in the worst possible direction, against forward movement killing your momentum. A rigid fork is going to usually deflect upwards which is less of a momentum killer.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomn
    the thread is about rock crawling not rock flying-through-them-at-speed
    Ha! I actually was thinking it was a funny way of putting it... I've never really heard someone refer to riding rock gardens on a bike as "rock crawling".

    BTW - when re-reading my post quoted in yours I got to this point:
    Quote Originally Posted by XJGPN
    On XC rides when I'm on my hardtail, I get a lot of people who are impressed when they see me doing trials moves to get through rock gardens and such...
    and realized it probably didn't come out the way I meant.... I reads as though I am very impressed with myself... which was not at all what I meant. What I meant is that doing a rock garden on a rigid bike with more trials type moves "Looks" a lot more impressive than just hitting it at speed on a cushy bike... And for that style of riding through a rock garden, a hard-tail is preferred. I have a pair of EWR OWB's I particularly like for that type of riding.

    Quote Originally Posted by boomn
    for slow to low-speeds I prefer a rigid fork
    To OP - Were you talking about front or rear suspension? My bike that is really setup for technical trails still uses a suspension fork... granted it's a slammed PIKE which is pretty stiff and very precise, but you can usually work around any of the downsides of a fork. The only real thing I prefer about a rigid fork is that it is nice having a light front end to be able to lift... but once again, that is something that is easy to work around.

    Quote Originally Posted by boomn
    Suspension can be nice for getting extra compression before hopping or jumping though. The real trials riders don't seem to need that to do huge hops, but they also don't need clipless pedals to bunnyhop
    This depends a lot on the particular bike. with heavier dampening, the bikes tend to just soak up a lot of your inputs so you have to use a lot more body english to get the bike to hop. I guess it just comes down to how you ride. I use platform pedals on all my bikes. I never used clipless pedals or toe clips to pull up on the pedals while hopping... so maybe that affects our perception of how the suspension affects hopping?
    Last edited by XJGPN; 11-09-2010 at 03:44 PM.

  11. #11
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    riding a rigid bike may a little slow for race,but not so sure,it depends on the bike frame you build

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan55
    skill is most important certainly.
    BUT a rigid is better than a squishy

    a squishy fork compresses in the worst possible direction, against forward movement killing your momentum. A rigid fork is going to usually deflect upwards which is less of a momentum killer.
    Ditto on skill, and I think this carries over to being able to handle the compression or "squish" of suspension versus the lack of compression of a rigid fork. Being able to either pull up on a compressed fork to regain momentum, or being able to maneuver a rigid fork through rocks that might seize the fork and not let go requires simple plain skill, either way you prefer to do it. I ride the same highly technical rocky trails in Moab on both my rigid ss 29er and my 6.5" fs. Totally different riding styles, but once you figure them both out you'll be a better rider for it!

  13. #13
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    I've recently been playing with a rigid bike in the rock gardens down here in Austin and it is certainly a learning experience. For slow speed stuff, it's instant feed back. No energy is absorbed by the suspension for maneuvering the bike. However, like others have mentioned once the speed goes up I wish I had grabbed the bike with the suspension.

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