1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
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    First bike, HT or FS for trail riding

    I've been going back and forth trying to decide what bike to get. I was riding lots of mountain bike up until my mid teens, so not a complete beginner. It feels like I picked the worst time possible entering the world of mountain biking again, with all options like wheel size and suspension etc. On top of it all, almost everything is sold out!

    I don't see myself running XC races to begin with, and I doubt I will be running much gravel roads. I'm not riding for the sake of working out. What interests me is trail riding, around lakes and such, with the occasional roots, rocks, descends and climbs. I'd really like to go explore, so versatility is key.

    That being said, if I know myself correctly I will want to go at highest speed possible. I heard it would be advised to get a hardtail as first bike, since learning curve might be a little better due to lack of suspension forcing rider to pick lines better and using legs more. Is there any truth in this?

    I've been keeping my eyes open for either a HT or FS, but found nothing available to my liking so far. I'm really interested in the 27.5 inch wheels and there will be a suitable HT available in just a few weeks. But will I be happy with this? I'm judging from my trail riding ambitions a FS will suit me better.

    Ideally I'd like to own both a FS and a HT, and I probably will in the future if I keep riding, but I don't have finances to buy both at the same time, nor could I justify it if I had as components would be fairly equal.



    Text got pretty long. Just had to write things down. Really been trying to figure out what to get, but as my real life experience is limited, I have problems deciding. Worth noting is that I've never ridden a FS bike, ever. Any help is highly appreciated!

  2. #2
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    You could do all of the riding that you describe with a HT and it might be faster . FS bikes are heavier ,cost more and take more maintenace . How much is your budget? I don't agree that a HT teaches you to ride better,it might teach to ride a Ht better but if you are riding FS there are lines that you could take that are faster/better.Check out Jamis bikes they have doing 27.5 bikes awhile.

  3. #3
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    Okay, you're probably right I can do everything on a HT. Just hoping I wont get one of those "crap why didn't I go FS earlier!!!"-moments people are talking about.

    I'm from Europe, so there might be a little less options when it comes to bikes. I know Radon will release their HT's soon which I find interesting, and good bang for the buck. Canyon will release their's later this year, and from what I've seen (and if rumors are right) they will offer a 120 mm travel 27.5 FS bike. I think this would make an awesome bike. Both Canyon and Radon are German bikes.

    If I were to be living in the US, I'd probably be riding a Santa Cruz. They look sweet. The pricetag getting them over here can't be justified though :/.

    As for budget, I'm not sure what to say. I want to feel happy with my purchase, and I realise I have to pay more for an FS. I would probably never go above 3000 euro for a bike though. The HTs I'm looking at are around 1500 euros.

  4. #4
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    Given how pricing structures are here in the States, I imagine you can get a pretty nice FS for 3000 Euros. Your currency's kicking the crap out of ours right now.

    Don't worry too much about the wheel size. 29ers are cool, but it's not as big a difference as some people like to proclaim on the internet. "Highest speed possible" calls for different bikes on the way up and on the way down. Depending on where you ride, it may be FS for both. But the fastest-climbing bikes usually have shorter travel, and the pure descenders are real monsters, with as much as 200 mm. So figure out what that means to you - fastest up, down, around a circuit, on a Super-D course?

    I don't think there's anything wrong with starting on a FS. Maybe there are some things that you won't learn quite as soon, but you'll be able to ride more interesting trails, faster, sooner. Or, such appears to be the case with my friends. If you really feel like it's holding you back later, you can always pick up an old, rigid MTB for 100 Euro or so and address it then. Or if your credit card's recovered, get the hardtail you also want.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    I'm kinda experiencing one of those "crap why didn't I go FS earlier moments" right now myself. Of course, my budget was $1000, so a good FS wasn't really an option at the time (I bought new for various reasons I won't get into here). However, I am quickly realizing that perhaps it may have been better to just pick up something used for $200 and ride the sh*t out of it until I could afford something in the $3000-$3500 range. I can definitely see how starting on a HT can teach useful skills though--I'm much more conscious of what I'm doing and get tons of feedback from the trail. It may be slower and bumpier, but IMO that just leaves more room for improvement. My HT is a 29er too, and I couldn't imagine riding anything with smaller wheels and a lack of rear suspension. It's just too awesome for monster trucking.

    In the end though, I'd really just like to have a HT and 26er FS. I want to just keep the HT for trails and pick up a burly downhill bike for shuttling. From your OP it sounds like you'd always be second guessing yourself if you went with a HT, keeping those "did I really make the right choice?" thoughts in the back of your head.

  6. #6
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    HT for sure. It'll teach you how to pick better lines as well as better overall bike handling skills. Besides that, HT is always cheaper than FS and less to maintain. Buy an HT, ride it like you stole it and save for a good high quality FS if you still want to go that route!
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  7. #7
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    Thank you for all responses. It seems like people have different views on this. Radon will be releasing a 29er FS soon with 130 mm travel which I'm considering. Would that much travel be more on the AM-side? As I'm planning on doing trail, some rougher some lighter I'd like to get a bike optimized for this.

    It's too much money to spend not being sure what to get

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cormac View Post
    HT for sure. It'll teach you how to pick better lines as well as better overall bike handling skills. Besides that, HT is always cheaper than FS and less to maintain. Buy an HT, ride it like you stole it and save for a good high quality FS if you still want to go that route!
    This is what i did. I got a hard tail a year and a half ago and am seriously into it now. I have been saving and have just got a scott spark fs (this week). after cleaning up my ht to sell it looked so nice i decided to keep it, for now. Has quite a bit of sentimental value. We have bled together a lot.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brockwan View Post
    This is what i did. I got a hard tail a year and a half ago and am seriously into it now. I have been saving and have just got a scott spark fs (this week). after cleaning up my ht to sell it looked so nice i decided to keep it, for now. Has quite a bit of sentimental value. We have bled together a lot.
    Do you think the hardtail has made you a better rider than you would be if you started on FS?

  10. #10
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    HT and buy an awesome wheelset with the money you saved.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluntrager View Post
    Do you think the hardtail has made you a better rider than you would be if you started on FS?
    Without shadow of a doubt it has in the way the others have mentioned in the post. Definitely the way to go in my view

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cormac View Post
    HT for sure. It'll teach you how to pick better lines as well as better overall bike handling skills. Besides that, HT is always cheaper than FS and less to maintain. Buy an HT, ride it like you stole it and save for a good high quality FS if you still want to go that route!
    x2!!!
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubergn0men View Post
    Thank you for all responses. It seems like people have different views on this. Radon will be releasing a 29er FS soon with 130 mm travel which I'm considering. Would that much travel be more on the AM-side? As I'm planning on doing trail, some rougher some lighter I'd like to get a bike optimized for this.

    It's too much money to spend not being sure what to get
    Judging from what I've seen some of my buddies ride, that's pretty over kill for a little trail riding.. definitely more AM. A HT with good 100mm-120mm suspension can handle some things that you probably will never attempt
    Rockhopper 29er

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  14. #14
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    Hardtail... less crap to deal with. And as above, wheelset is the #1 upgrade!!
    - The only thing that keeps me on a bike is happiness.

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