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.
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  1. #26
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    If HT's will inherently make you a better rider, and beginners should ride them, then can't the same be said for rigid bikes? Nothing there to help you get over obstacles, so then you choose the best lines, and have the best skills developed? And even less investment then a HT.

    To me it seems to be largely based on money, and the trails you are riding. If you can get on a bike on the trails then do it and you will be able to decide which you would prefer.

  2. #27
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    I've got an FS 26er and a 29er SS rigid.......my next new bike will be a HT 29er - the bigger wheels with lower tire pressure allow for a comfortable ride but the gears will allow me to ride some of the bigger mountains in my area.......
    Trifecta is Perfecta: 26" FSR Geared / 29er SS Rigid / 29er Ti Hardtail Geared

  3. #28
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    Where's the OP? Half of us have mentioned a HT but it's up to the OP for some input. In the end it's what suits you best.
    Yip yip yip nope nope nope

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by pecsokak View Post
    If HT's will inherently make you a better rider, and beginners should ride them, then can't the same be said for rigid bikes? Nothing there to help you get over obstacles, so then you choose the best lines, and have the best skills developed? And even less investment then a HT.

    To me it seems to be largely based on money, and the trails you are riding. If you can get on a bike on the trails then do it and you will be able to decide which you would prefer.
    I think a hard-tail with a suspension fork is really middle ground between an FS bike and fully rigid. Truthfully I can ride my hard-tail everywhere I ride my FS bike, it's just more fun and faster on my FS bike. People can claim they are too hard core for a hard-tail but really, a skilled rider on a hard-tail can ride everything including DH. I raced a local dh on my AM hard-tail and my time beat a lot of people on full DH rigs. Too many people get wrapped up in what they are riding, it's really about rider skill and I personally believe I learned more riding my hard-tail with a suspension fork over an FS bike. I bought my wife a hard-tail this summer (Transition Trans Am) just to help her with her bike handling skills. She has an Intense 5.5 and she was struggling learning a few moves. A month on the hard-tail and the next time on her 5.5 and she was flying.

    That's my personal experience, others may disagree.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cormac View Post
    didn't climb for s*** granted it was a downhill bike, so that may have had something to do with that.
    Ya think?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cormac View Post
    I just stand for the downhill parts, which coincidentally aids in maneuverability of the bike.
    Good you learned that lesson but that's what you should do on any bike, FS, hard tail or rigid.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cormac View Post
    I might pick up a roadie at some point.
    FYI, a "roadie" is a cyclist that rides a road bike so if you pick one up make sure she's a cute one.

    Not bagging Cormac, just trying to add some constructive criticism. I started on a rigid bike because in 1988 that was all that was available. Bought the first suspension fork when it became available (RS1) and was an early adopter of the FS phenomenon (and those early FS bikes did bob and squeak and need lots of maintenance...). Since the OP didn't specify his skill/experience level or price range, there's been loads of e-speculation on what his needs/wants are. Sure a HT teaches you good basic handling skills, but there are lots of good suspension designs out there that 1. aren't that much heavier and 2. don't dumb down the trail to the point of slowing the learning curve that much. Maybe it's my 51 y.o. bones talking (along with the rocky, rooty, technical trails I ride), but if you can afford it I'd go with a FS.

  6. #31
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    I do agree with many posters here on either side of the issue. It comes down to the learning process. If you want to be a better rider then Hardtail is the way to go but it takes time and for some more commitment, but if you want to ride better now go with Full Suspension it help err out your mistake and give you more control.

    If the question simply is which one is better for a NuB then I'd say FS because they are more comfortable and offer more control new riders on an FS tend to stick with the sport. Not all NuBs would pay the dues and take the time to learn things and MTB is different than riding on paved road. Want to be a better rider? check your local club for skill clinic they are usually free, or you can attend one of many skill clinic it would improve your skills much faster than learning on your own because not all of us have the gift of coordination, balance and fearless attitude



    It's pretty simple really, OP asked Hardtail or Full Suspension for new rider. The answer is Full Suspension. If there's more part to the question the answer may be different.

    How about this If you have 10k and can only have one bike would you choose HT or FS

  7. #32
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    HT would be better for a new rider so that they can feel out the trails better and develop skill based on that.

    I have both FS and HT and I still really enjoy my HT out there!

  8. #33
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    As there is no answer but only our opinions...

    my two cents say that a hardtail with a better fork and drivetrain would be a much smarter option for a new rider if their budget is around 1500.. Over 1500 and only if you're patient and know what you're looking for you can find good deals on full sus every so often.

    Beginning riding on a HT is a much better learning experience as riders learn to pick good lines and handle rougher terrain easier. A good hardtail can do pretty much anything a full suspension can - it just is a different kind of riding that if you're new to the sport would greatly improve your skills. I started riding rigid and love to ride a rigid 26er every so often still just because of the challenge...

  9. #34
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    NOT AGAIN!

    I don't want to go back to my lab report quite yet, though.

    I think it's a wash. On the one hand, I think riding a hardtail helps a rider learn good handling skills. On the other hand, there's already a lot to learn, and FS bikes seem to help new riders keep up with more experienced riders sooner. I wonder if people were talking about rigid vs. suspension bikes before front suspension became the rule?

    A lot of mountain bikers will buy multiple bikes. There's no rule that says someone who started on an FS can't buy a hardtail and work on some handling skills later.

    A lot of mountain bikers buy once, and ride the same bike for many years. Maybe not most of the ones on this forum, but they do exist. Why should of one them saddle himself with a bike he won't enjoy as much later, for some supposed learning benefits?

    I haven't ridden a FS bike I've liked very much. Maybe it's riding for a long time in college on a hardtail, maybe it's spending a lot of time on the road between then and when I picked it up again, maybe it's something about my build, maybe it's a style thing. I dunno. But, some people swear by them. I'm not going to say they're wrong.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post
    Well, that's what most people believe unfortunately it's just not true. NuB at the same skill level and fitness, one on HT and another on FS the FS would have more line choices even when he/she is on a HT.

    Most skill you learn on FS can be transfer to HT but not exactly the other way around. My SS is a softtail I ride them on the same trail and the same line as my FS and about the same speed. My friends who's been riding HT for a decade when switch to FS still prefer to ride the same line as his HT he claimed that it's faster to go around the obstacle than over them

    I enjoy them all, I'd ride different bikes on the same trail and would get a refreshing expereince. My next bike project would be a fattire full rigid 29er
    Mountain Biking Blasphemy

    I think it boils down to your riding style. I keep reading a HT teaches you how to pick the better lines. Better for who? Maybe you.

    Personally, If I went out on a trail looking for the smoothest lines etc.. it's be boring, might as well road bike. I look for things to hit, everything it possibly a jump or something to try and ride over.

    So better line to some of you is the boring worse line to others.
    Last edited by TwoTone; 11-07-2011 at 05:20 AM.
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  11. #36
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    I am looking for a new bike and am making the same decision -- well, MADE the decision actually.

    I got to ride both at a Trek demo. The FS is definitly better on rocky trails and high-speed downhill runs. It's not as good going uphill, and I didn't like it as much on relatively smooth twisty singletrack -- not a huge difference -- maybe just because I am used to hardtail.

    The decision really hinges on what type of trail you ride and what you like. Get the bike optimized towards how you do most of your riding. I figure for where I ride, a FS would be ideal for about 25% of the trail and the HT for the rest. Add to that the fact that while you obviously climb and descend the same number of feet in the course of a ride, you spend way more TIME climbing.

    The FS bike I rode was a Trek Superfly 100 AL Elite. It has a rather stiff sporty suspension. I was surprised that, even on the softest setting, it didn't make all that much difference in ride comfort. It rides a little softer, but it is still a rough ride -- you will still want to stand up when going over big roots and bumps just as with an HT. I was told that the Rumblefish would have a softer ride.

    Regardless, even with my limited experience and knowledge, I think it is safe to say that rear suspension isn't going to matter nearly as much as front. I guess that's why you never see a bike with rear suspension and a solid fork

  12. #37
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    HT vs FS

    Well, here is my two cents on this topic.
    My first bike was a Bridgestone MB-4 HT. My first mistake was I bought a bike that was too big for me. So, make sure you are sized correctly. Secondly, I had a fork installed by a shop who didn't know how to install a Girvin Vector (linkage style fork). I ended up "endoing" because the stack height was not correct and the bottom of the head tube "bottomed out" on the tire causing it to stop and my flipping.

    Needless to say that was the last time I rode that bike!

    I started looking for a new bike, not necessarily an FS, but I wasn't ruling that out. Luckily, I found a 97' Schwinn Homegrown LXT for a very good price and even better I could put it in lay away. When I got it out, I hit the trails and couldn't believe how much more control I had. Handling in the turns was a breeze. The only real issue I ever had was the fact that it had a URT (unified rear triangle) design. When I climbed seated, the bike would pogo resulting in my knees being higher and my working harder to pedal. Yes, I could have adjusted the shock to be stiffer, but then that defeats the reason for having FS. So, I bought a Cane Creek Cloud Nine with compression and rebound dampening. That took care of all of my problems. The bike handles beautifully. I do sometimes think about getting another FS, but it works very well for me so why bother?
    My experience with the first bike doesn't have to be yours. Don't let someone sell you something for the sake of having a bike, just because you don't like anything else.
    Make sure it's a good fit. You will find that the bikes today in the "mid priced range" have very comparable setups (gearing ratios etc.) to that of their higher end counter parts. You may need to swap out a derailleur eventually, but all parts wear out.

    I hope this helps.

  13. #38
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    I started with a full suspension - my thoughts on it were this. Lines? I want to pick the spot in the trail which looks most fun and rock the hell out of it.

    That and I also don't have the greatest lower back and the full suspension is a lot easier on that

    I am curious though - what kind of HT is everyone recommending at the $1k price range? When I was initially looking (mostly new mind you) I had trouble finding one for $1k that had solid components

  14. #39
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    Components today are really much better than when I bought my FS. My bike has XT & LX components mostly, which are all good yes. However, the old Alivio, Acera X etc. really weren't very robust. There are some higher priced bikes like Cannondale who use the lowest components and sell for about $1000. I like Cannondale, but that's one reason I wouldn't buy one. You have to plan on upgrades right away.

    If I were looking for myself, I'd look at the "Gary Fisher" line and see what he has in that price range. That or Specialized.

  15. #40
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    I started with a HT (two, actually) before I ended up getting a FS.

    My wife has taken the same route.

    The logic for us doing it that way was that we weren't sure we'd really like it, and understanding that most bikes people buy as newbies wind up collecting dust in the garage, we didn't want to have really expensive dust bunnies.

    I didn't buy my first bike to ride the trails, to be honest. I just bought a rigid steel mtb for a campus bike. I discovered trails on that bike, and quickly needed to upgrade for a number of reasons - one of which was that I was also a newbie to bike maintenance and I destroyed ALL of the bearings by using a high pressure hose in the greenhouse to wash it before storing it in my dorm room.

    I did a slight upgrade to a more trail-worthy hardtail and I developed my skills on that bike. I learned to bunny hop, wheelie, ride clipless pedals, track stand, etc. But that bike beat the snot out of me on the trails I rode. The constant shaking made me more sore than the pedaling. I upgraded to a FS that I still ride today. It's just a 4" FS, and I don't see much need for more considering the riding I do. Just enough suspension to keep my wheels on the ground, but not so much that I don't feel the trail anymore. I ride fairly technical stuff with it, and I'll get a little bit of air, too.

    I do recommend budgeting enough to get a bike that has as much Deore or better components as possible. The increased durability over Alivio and Acera is worth it, IMO. Most of the Deore components on my second bike are still in service after 11 yrs. The shifters did eventually wear out after about 8yrs, but that's not bad. LX is probably the best combination of price/performance in Shimano's line.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by dodgeball2d View Post
    I started with a full suspension - my thoughts on it were this. Lines? I want to pick the spot in the trail which looks most fun and rock the hell out of it.

    That and I also don't have the greatest lower back and the full suspension is a lot easier on that

    I am curious though - what kind of HT is everyone recommending at the $1k price range? When I was initially looking (mostly new mind you) I had trouble finding one for $1k that had solid components
    That's been my point this entire time. All this talk about learning lines, sounds too much like racer talk to me.

    I know, it's all what floats your boat, but I've never understood watching guys on bikes that costs 3x times mine, riding around everything in the trail. Never made no sense to me.
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    That's been my point this entire time. All this talk about learning lines, sounds too much like racer talk to me.

    I know, it's all what floats your boat, but I've never understood watching guys on bikes that costs 3x times mine, riding around everything in the trail. Never made no sense to me.
    It's just a mindset....towards a specific goal. Do you get up to go the bathroom and climb over furniture, take the long way, perhaps even visit a few other rooms before hitting the can?

    Doubt it. Sometimes you take the most efficient way there because it meets your goal at the time.

    Sometimes a trail ride is about endurance, or a relaxing day on the bike where an easier line means longer distances....not balls-out obstacles until you're gassed. Other times, it's fun to challenge yourself.

    You also have to look at it from a noob's perspective - being ABLE to find the best line and CHOOSING NOT TO hit the best line are two very different things. Learning to avoid target fixation, looking up the trail, line selection that makes a section doable verses landing on your ass is a skill we all need to master, and it's many people's contention that a hard tail aids in that skill building.
    "Wait, this thing doesn't have a motor?" - Socrates

  18. #43
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    I think when people mention picking lines in this thread they're mostly referring to avoiding plowing into 3" to 4" tall roots or rocks while ascending or avoiding awkward v-ditches or roots that can catch you while descending. While you certainly can not care about your line because you have enough suspension it just puts unnecessary strain on your bike... When you do have the urge to plow into rocks and roots you usually run through rock gardens a couple times to improve your technical skills, purposefully hitting stuff differently to see how you and your bike react.

    I'm not saying these are boring lines, but more the lines that allow me to keep my speed and momentum so I can pop off the jumps a little higher and a little faster to have a more flowing and overall fun ride. That and you learn to scan the trail better, anticipate obstacles and your body position, etc what swingset said above. Though maybe that is a bit of a racer mindset...

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    That's been my point this entire time. All this talk about learning lines, sounds too much like racer talk to me.
    But did you start out hitting every jump and kicker your first time on the trails?

    I think most guys here are going with beginner=never ridden before. Not a lot of people are going to jump on a bike for the first time and "rock it" They need to build up confidence first.

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by swingset View Post
    You also have to look at it from a noob's perspective - being ABLE to find the best line and CHOOSING NOT TO hit the best line are two very different things. Learning to avoid target fixation, looking up the trail, line selection that makes a section doable verses landing on your ass is a skill we all need to master, and it's many people's contention that a hard tail aids in that skill building.



    Perfectly said IMHO.

  21. #46
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    Awesome responses. I just recently purchased a Superfly AL hardtail and was kinda having second thoughts on getting a FS instead as my first MTB. But after reading all responses I feel like I made a good decision. I need to gain the basic skills and confidence to build up to a FS bike. I never got a chance to test ride a FS since it seems a bit over my budget.

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_cowboy View Post
    But did you start out hitting every jump and kicker your first time on the trails?

    I think most guys here are going with beginner=never ridden before. Not a lot of people are going to jump on a bike for the first time and "rock it" They need to build up confidence first.
    True, but I think if you have the money, get a good FS vs. a hard.

    As I admit, my experience if very different. I was a BMXer in the past, so my low end HT was a waste of money for me, first time out on the trails and I knew I needed a better bike.
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  23. #48
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    I think picking lines on the trail is part of the fun!! It's like you can control exactly how you want it, rough and fun or quick and smooth or maybe a nice fat jump. The other fun part is figuring out what your favorite line is on certain parts and how you can improve.

    I've recently figured out how to ride my HT through rough sections better. I'm actually flying through the areas at the same speed as my FS (my FS is actually slower because of the tires on it). It's like this perfect stance on it where the bike can easily rock back and forth as you plow over stuff, good times!

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by joelzilla View Post
    Awesome responses. I just recently purchased a Superfly AL hardtail and was kinda having second thoughts on getting a FS instead as my first MTB. But after reading all responses I feel like I made a good decision. I need to gain the basic skills and confidence to build up to a FS bike. I never got a chance to test ride a FS since it seems a bit over my budget.
    That's quite the bike for a beginner. Good for you. Hell, I still won't pay $1900 for a bike and I've been riding almost 15 years. That's mostly due to the fact that I buy most of my bikes used .

    Buying a 29er almost bridges the real of HT vs. FS. You're gonna love your bike. If you want to get more aggressive in the future, you can always pick up another trail bike to add to the stable.

  25. #50
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    People who think "line selection" means riding around all the obstacles don't understand line selection.

    Picking lines is about whatever you want it to be. Hitting all the kickers is a line that some riders select. Actually, a good one for a hardtail - the rigid rear triangle really lets you boost.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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