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  1. #1
    Unicycles are for clowns
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    Suspension travel hype

    Has everyone noticed how much travel bikes have these days for an "All Mountain" bike? Yesterday I was riding a local trail system that is super smooth, on my cyclocross bike and I pass a guy that had an Ellsworth with a Totem?? Most of the trails where I live, a bike with 4 inches of travel is more then plenty, it's definitely not flat here, but any technical portion of a trail or drops can be tackled with 4 inches. On trips to Moab and Northstar this year I saw more and more riders on bigger travel bikes, but what strikes me is that they aren't being used even close to their full potential, just being pedaled around like an oversized XC bike.

    I think alot of people are caught up in the marketing hype of more travel=better bike. Don't get me wrong, I am no XC weenie,and I have seen others with the same or lesser bikes riding them hard, and I like drops and smaller jumps, (not much here, but on trips.)

    I am not posting this to start a flaming war and anybody that rides, gets the howdy from me. But really, what do you think? Anybody else notice this?

  2. #2
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    ya, its alot of hype. unless you are doing 50 foot gaps and insane dropoffs theres realy no need for more than 6 inches of travel. I ride National and Geronimo here at south mountain with 5 inches. Sure it makes it alot easer going down hill if your bike is as soft as a couch but what about pedaling back up.

  3. #3
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    Has it ever crossed your mind that they have long travel bikes because they like to ride elsewhere and they don't have the funds to have a stable of trail specific steeds? Just a thought.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareyH22A
    Has it ever crossed your mind that they have long travel bikes because they like to ride elsewhere and they don't have the funds to have a stable of trail specific steeds? Just a thought.
    While this may be true in general, something tells me that since the rider mentioned was on an Ellsworth, it's not the case in this particular scenario...

  5. #5
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    that may be true, but you can tell some of these guys just walked into a bike shop with too much money, and too little information, and got sold the wrong bike, show them videos of what their bikes are really capable of, and they'd crap their pants.

  6. #6
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Yeah, I think travel numbers get too much attention. 5" of well tuned travel can handle a lot more than people seem to realize. What is far more important is the geometry and build. However, those things are hard to quantify with a number, whereas travel is easy.

    What really cracks me up are these 28 lb 6.5" travel bikes. Sorry, but if you really need 6.5" travel, then your 28lb bike is in big trouble.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkley
    While this may be true in general, something tells me that since the rider mentioned was on an Ellsworth, it's not the case in this particular scenario...
    Or they wanted a nice rig suited for the place they usually ride and don't buy into the hype that says they need a different bike for every different situation...

  8. #8
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    Am just means that you have enough travel and the right geo to do all discipline of mtbing. If put to a number the max travel is 165mm. So the guy on the totem would die on the uphill... so it's not AM but if he had uturn or two step he could go up the hill without dying. On the other hand the real odd trend is the lighter the better for FR DH and AM. But I worry all the weight weenies over at hq are going to forget about the strenght of the frame or fork.
    If it ain't broken... why the hell you fixin it!

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by headstrong356
    Am just means that you have enough travel and the right geo to do all discipline of mtbing. If put to a number the max travel is 165mm. So the guy on the totem would die on the uphill... so it's not AM but if he had uturn or two step he could go up the hill without dying. On the other hand the real odd trend is the lighter the better for FR DH and AM. But I worry all the weight weenies over at hq are going to forget about the strenght of the frame or fork.

    U-turn doesnt make THAT big of a difference..... maybe you climbing uber gnarly hills but at least from my experience it doesnt make that big of a diff going uphill

    Boxxer Ride w/ Uturn if you are curious
    Lean back, Hit both brakes, And ask yourself, Do you feel lucky today?

  10. #10
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    I'll say that I don't own a full suspension bike, yet, but it does seem a little overwhelming to me the amount of suspension that folks "need." I haven't had much opportunity to ride a full susser, and no opportunity on an actual trail, but do you even need 5" of travel? How much difference does that extra inch to inch + 1/2 over an xc full susser make? I am taking some time to really learn about this before buying a bike since I plan to spend a fair amount and don't have funds for multiples.

  11. #11
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    you can get a new 6 inch bike that pedals better than older 4 inch bikes. you can muscle up a climb, but you cant really stretch out a short travel bike to go down.

    nothing wrong with it. who cares what other people want to ride.

  12. #12
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    Its all in the flow....

    Quote Originally Posted by ScareyH22A
    Has it ever crossed your mind that they have long travel bikes because they like to ride elsewhere and they don't have the funds to have a stable of trail specific steeds? Just a thought.
    Thats what I did... when all I owned was a Bulit with a Jr T up front I rocked that on all day rides, super gnarly rides with monster rocks and angry east coast roots, on supper buff loops that were super local (local being the key...). On the same local trails i have used a 24" bmx bike to rip with and a 100mm HT later on.

    Now I'm on a nomad with a van 36 up front. Now I will not need all of the travel at every point on my rides, but I will use at least 99% of it at some point in my "average" ride. I ride my uphills so I can rip the DHs. Thats how I get my flow, from the tech down hills. I could ride the tech down hills on my 100mm ht, but I have more fun on the longer legged bikes. And I'm not racing so who cares how long it takes me to ride to the top, as long as my legs can get me there.

    I select my bikes to suite my style of ridding... not how I'm judged when I'm met on the trail. So if you get off on your 5" dont worry if the guy in behind of you has 8" (unless you are in prison).

  13. #13
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    dude that was funny!-Who cares what anyone else is riding as long as they are not barreling over children, dogs, etc while screaming down the trails on their big bike. We are all out their enjoying the same sport stop say hello, bullsh*&t a little and ride on. I have to agree with other posts I ride mostly in an area that is suited to longer travel but I still enjoy riding in other sreas when I have time to carve out a saturday and drive somewhere. If the area is XC-ish I might look funny to some in my fullface helmet etc.. but it's what I got and I cant afford anything else.

  14. #14
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    different strokes from different folks. the important things is that they love riding their rigs so much that it motivates them to ride it wherever. you also have to consider the fact that there are riders, such as myself, who prefers the additional squish to compensate for the lack of skill.
    DH:Mountain Cycle Shockwave 9.5 w/ 888R
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  15. #15
    local trails rider
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    Everybody rides what they think is best. I just don't think that suspension travel is one of the most important things to make me like a bike.

    Frame geometry and durability make such a big difference: handling, riding position. Of course, my body geometry does not really get along with bikes that have tall forks. Give me a tough bike that does not have too much suspension travel.

  16. #16
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    I think its funny to think about riders talking about this subject not many years ago.

    "These kids today think they need 4" of suspension travel for downhill riding. Why would anyone need more that 3" of travel for any type of riding?"

    Now it has just moved from 4" to 6" and AM instead of downhill, but the convo is still the same.
    Last edited by Cypher32x; 10-25-2008 at 07:31 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuna
    I think alot of people are caught up in the marketing hype of more travel=better bike.
    I'd bet that the vast majority of mountain bikers are on hardtails or 4" to 5" travel bikes, regardless of the "hype" that we're bombarded with in magazines and on the internet.

    An "all-mountain" bike with more (6"+) travel usually also have some of these characteristics:
    • slacker geometry, especially the HTA. Some riders (like me) prefer a 67 or 68 degree headtube angle, many bikes with less travel have steeper angles.
    • comes with, or can handle, and big, thick-stanchioned fork like a Fox 36, Marzocchi 55 or 66 or RS Lyrik or Totem. A beefier fork with 20mm TA is stiffer than its smaller brethren, which is desirable for some riders regardless of the amount of travel they choose to use. Also, some of these forks have travel adjust so if 6" or 7" is too much for the terrain (or the geometry becomes too slack for climbing) then they can be dialed down to suit the rider's preference at the moment.
    • they smooth out the trail very well. Bikes with more travel almost eliminate trail chatter and plow through rougher sections with ease.
    • they can serve as the "one bike" - they pedal just fine for standard "trail riding", but can also handle aggressive terrain, lift assisted riding, etc. better than a lesser travel bike.

    These things don't mean that a long travel all mountain bike is better bike for every rider. It's up to each rider to decide whether they like these characteristics or not. And even for those that do, a long-travel AM bike is not really an ideal solution but more of a compromise...

    Compared to a 4" travel bike:
    • it's usually heavier
    • it doesn't pedal as efficiently
    • the geometry isn't as good for climbing (even with a travel adjust fork it's less than ideal)

    Compared to a dedicated freeride or DH bike:
    • it has less travel
    • its angles may be a bit steeper than desired for rough, steep terrain
    • the components may not perform as well in this environment or be as durable


    I've tried to do the ~6" travel bike as the one bike solution and it didn't work out for me. I still have one as my main trail bike, but also have a rigid for smooth trail riding and a 8" FR bike for lift-assisted riding. I do feel I'm fortunate to have three bikes to suit these different types of riding.

    I also think most people ultimately end up riding what works for them and are not totally driven by marketing. If someone does purchase a bike based on hype alone they usually quickly determine if it was a right move or not. If so, they keep the bike. If not, it goes on the auction block and the get something more suitable.

    I say "ride on" to the guy riding the Totem on smooth trails.

  18. #18
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    I own 3 bikes. A hardtail, 5 inch FS trail bike, and a 34lb 6.5 inch travel SC Bullit.
    Out of those bikes I like to ride the Bullit the most, even on 6 hour XC rides.
    Is it overkill for some of my rides? Probably but I like the fit and geometry better than my other bikes..
    To me that's all that counts...

  19. #19
    M_S
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    I ride my cyclocross bike on the same trails as my mountain bike(s) but I ride them in different ways, hitting different features, focusing more on the enjoyment of the climbs and picking a nervous, nimble line on the cross bike, doing jumps on another bike, etc.
    Last edited by M_S; 10-26-2008 at 07:24 PM.

  20. #20
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcrumble69
    ...Bullit ... I like the fit and geometry better than my other bikes..
    To me that's all that counts...
    So, if you had the same fit and geometry with less travel?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by M_S
    I ride my cyclocross bike on the same trails as my mountain bike(s) but I ride them in different ways, hittign different features, focusing more ont he enjoyment of the climbs and picking a nervous, nimble line on the cross bike, doing jumps on another bike, etc.
    I find this thread to be funny. Definitely a lot to be said for enjoying different bikes in different ways, even on the same trails!

    Right now, my "AM" bike isn't being ridden, the pivots are a bit funky but I'm too busy to sort it out... so as a result, I've been spending time the last few weeks doing short hour long rides in the local (easy/boring "xc" smooth trails) on my FR/DH bike, with my clips thrown on and with it's wonderful chopped seatpost. I have a great time ripping around on it, and it kicks my arse. Sure I'm slow on flats and climbs... but hey, I'm having a blast. Sure if I had a fully rigid bike or a cx bike I would probably be faster and all on these trails, but I don't have one, and riding my DH bike is so much fun anyways. Ride what you like and enjoy it!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuna
    Has everyone noticed how much travel bikes have these days for an "All Mountain" bike? Yesterday I was riding a local trail system that is super smooth, on my cyclocross bike and I pass a guy that had an Ellsworth with a Totem??
    Maybe he came down from the Ridge via Sweet Connie or 5 Mile/Orchard and just happened to be on the smooth part of the trail at the same time as you on his way home...

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    So, if you had the same fit and geometry with less travel?
    Add low cost and less weight to that list and I've been looking for that for quite a while now..

    I'd still keep the Bullit though..It's a fun bike that can take a beating and still do it all.
    Last edited by mcrumble69; 10-26-2008 at 07:54 AM.

  24. #24
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    +1 for this scenario. I had a HT which was fine for my local trails but going up to the in-laws there are rougher trails beating me up pretty good and I decided to get a FS that would be more suited to these trails, which I ride 20% of the season rather than my local XC oriented trails for the remainder. I ended up with a 6x6 and it actually rides better uphill in the xc twisties than my HT (although to be fair I was convinced by the shop that the HT frame was the right size when it is actually too big - not too happy with that shop). Anyways I got my FS for tougher trails elsewhere - rational, logical, smart or not that is why I am riding my 6x6 on the local xc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jekyll_Jockey
    Thats what I did... when all I owned was a Bulit with a Jr T up front I rocked that on all day rides, super gnarly rides with monster rocks and angry east coast roots, on supper buff loops that were super local (local being the key...). On the same local trails i have used a 24" bmx bike to rip with and a 100mm HT later on.

    Now I'm on a nomad with a van 36 up front. Now I will not need all of the travel at every point on my rides, but I will use at least 99% of it at some point in my "average" ride. I ride my uphills so I can rip the DHs. Thats how I get my flow, from the tech down hills. I could ride the tech down hills on my 100mm ht, but I have more fun on the longer legged bikes. And I'm not racing so who cares how long it takes me to ride to the top, as long as my legs can get me there.

    I select my bikes to suite my style of ridding... not how I'm judged when I'm met on the trail. So if you get off on your 5" dont worry if the guy in behind of you has 8" (unless you are in prison).

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kortface
    ya, its alot of hype. unless you are doing 50 foot gaps and insane dropoffs theres realy no need for more than 6 inches of travel. I ride National and Geronimo here at south mountain with 5 inches. Sure it makes it alot easer going down hill if your bike is as soft as a couch but what about pedaling back up.
    This post was a flashback to like 2000.

    Sorry, but lots of people are pedaling up on longer travel, heavier rigs. It's doable and a pleasure when one can simply use one bike for everything and do everything the trail can offer.

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