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. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhosinski View Post
    Okay, so I can just sit on an FS and it will do all of the riding for me???

    Really?
    Yes, on technical trails a fs will help you keep your balance. when with a ht its much harder.

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by homegrownbadassblue View Post
    in my opinion, lighter and faster
    No question HT are lighter. I do think the quality of the rider has more to do with how successful or how much faster they will ride when put on an FS vs HT though. Anyone just starting out can benefit from an FS, just as they would a HT if not more. I don't think they will really know until they are accomplished riders, and until they have ridden both frames to know which complements their riding style best.
    To tell someone what they should start out on is strictly personal opinion. The main factor to consider when purchasing your first bike is obviously cost. You get the most bang for your buck with a HT, unless you can find a closeout or something on an FS.

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredb View Post
    Yes, on technical trails a fs will help you keep your balance. when with a ht its much harder.
    I don't think it's balance, I think it has a lot more to do with control and confidence.

  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredb View Post
    Yes, on technical trails a fs will help you keep your balance. when with a ht its much harder.
    Let's not argue for the sake of arguing. Let's base our comments on fact and not just personal opinion, especially in a forum where people who are trying to break into the sport are asking for the best advice.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhosinski View Post
    Let's not argue for the sake of arguing. Let's base our comments on fact and not just personal opinion, especially in a forum where people who are trying to break into the sport are asking for the best advice.
    compleatly agree.

    I own a hardtail and i do everything with it, Eveything from Dj to DH, 2 weeks ago i went to do some Dh with a friend, i used his bike on a part of the trail and knoticed that i didnt have to use some of my HT habits ive developed ( which are good habits ).

    I didnt have to stand on the pedals... i could sit down on less techincal parts. and i had way more control over the whole bike.

    With my hardtail i have learnt how to ride well and not be a Noob.

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredb View Post
    compleatly agree.

    I own a hardtail and i do everything with it, Eveything from Dj to DH, 2 weeks ago i went to do some Dh with a friend, i used his bike on a part of the trail and knoticed that i didnt have to use some of my HT habits ive developed ( which are good habits ).

    I didnt have to stand on the pedals... i could sit down on less techincal parts. and i had way more control over the whole bike.

    With my hardtail i have learnt how to ride well and not be a Noob.
    Based on you're comments, I suspect you are a noob
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredb View Post
    compleatly agree.

    I own a hardtail and i do everything with it, Eveything from Dj to DH, 2 weeks ago i went to do some Dh with a friend, i used his bike on a part of the trail and knoticed that i didnt have to use some of my HT habits ive developed ( which are good habits ).

    I didnt have to stand on the pedals... i could sit down on less techincal parts. and i had way more control over the whole bike.

    With my hardtail i have learnt how to ride well and not be a Noob.
    NICE!!!!

  8. #108
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    To those suggesting that one should start with a HT because it teaches you better handling/line picking skills, I have a question: Why start with a HT instead of a fully rigid bike?

    The logic that is being used to recommend HT over FS would apply to recommending rigid over HT as well.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    To those suggesting that one should start with a HT because it teaches you better handling/line picking skills, I have a question: Why start with a HT instead of a fully rigid bike?

    The logic that is being used to recommend HT over FS would apply to recommending rigid over HT as well.
    Good point. I started out with a completely rigid bike and it took a lot of getting use to. My friends all had at the bare minimum Rock Shox forks with 25mm of travel, but they were praising them. The front fork alone does a great deal more for ones control. Adding the rear suspension definitely creates a more comfortable riding environment and boosts confidence.

  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    To those suggesting that one should start with a HT because it teaches you better handling/line picking skills, I have a question: Why start with a HT instead of a fully rigid bike?

    The logic that is being used to recommend HT over FS would apply to recommending rigid over HT as well.
    The best bike to start so you can "Maximized" the riding skills would be a Cross bike then move up to Rigid, then HT, from there you can go with SoftTail or an XC 4" FS before hitting the trail bike

    Most riders would give up within a few weeks because of the learning curve but hey they would be doing more work than the bike for sure

  11. #111
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    I would of got a rigid except I have a jacked up wrist from the Army.

    Im looking of going fat bike in a few years though.

  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmac999 View Post
    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.
    I think that for each his own. One thing that I'm very doubtfull would be the suspension posts, but you feel otherwise.

    What I doubt about that is that the suspension would only work when you're seated, and that means climbing, and that cushy won't do any benefit of what FS work for. Better traction and control, and a suspension post won't help for that, it will only work for your back. When you're descending, you should be standing, and that also, the suspension post won't help.

    Regarding HT vs FS, I don't think that it is a given thing that a HT will make you a better rider, it depends on one. I think that for some riders, having a FS will make it more confortable and they would ride more on a FS than a HT. It just depends on what a person wants to do on a bike, not everybody want to do long mileage or be able to pick lines and such, some just like traveling to different places and have fun. Maybe a HT is better for that scenario. I also started with a HT, but moved to a FS when I saw that I really was having fun and wanted to move on.

  13. #113
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    i think it depends heavily on your style of riding.

    if you are purely commuting on roads and pavement, hardtail definitely.

    beginner off-roader but not really into speed, just leisurely enjoying scenery, FS

    beginner off-roader but concerned with speed, hardtail first then decide from there.

    the ht might train your fundamentals better than a more forgiving FS initially, and starting out with a FS may cause you to be complacent. also, a ht will help you appreciate and pinpoint and perhaps even help you understand the mechanics of the bicycle better. if there is something running subpar on a FS, the cause is typically harder to pinpoint than on a FS.

    my personal opinion is 75% hardtail first, because i agree that the HT will make a more skill-ed biker initially, which might help you appreciate the comfort and fogivingness of a FS ride later on. besides, if you are just starting out and are not very clear on maintenenace, maybe a more minimalistic HT would be a better choice, as your experience and passion grows, you may upgrade to a FS for offroad duties, and "relegate" your older HT for flatter terrain duties.

    cheers

  14. #114
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    If you are purely commuting on roads and pavement you should DEFINITELY not get a mountain bike. You should get a bike that is at its best on pavement, instead.

    A rigid bike is great for a somewhat skilled rider who finds that the trails are too easy when riding a squishy bike.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  15. #115
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    I've read that full suspension is just added weight, and makes it harder to go uphill.

  16. #116
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    sorry i stand corrected - MOSTLY* (not purely) on pavements

    haha cheers

  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by notrandom View Post
    I've read that full suspension is just added weight, and makes it harder to go uphill.
    Don't believe everything you read.

    Well, actually... having more than one gear is also just added weight and makes you more slow on the uphills

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  18. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by notrandom View Post
    I've read that full suspension is just added weight, and makes it harder to go uphill.
    There are pros and cons to FS on climbing.
    One of the pros is that while you are pedaling if you have a "fully active suspension (works all of the time) then while the suspension is compressing the rear tire is being forced into the ground giving you better traction. Some suspension components offer the option to "lock out" and thereby give you the characteristics of a HT. On some front forks you can activate a mode where the front fork compresses on the hits and doesn't return angling the bike so it favors climbing but still offers a small amount of travel.

    The cons: Weight is obviously 1, 2nd I have a SweetSpot suspension and found with the coil over sprung shock that my bike would pogo while climbing causing my knees to be higher and requiring me to push much harder and make the climb more difficult. I don't believe anyone makes this design anymore? Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

    I have my fork and rear shock dialed up so that they aren't too mushy so that I lose power when climbing, but when I hit bumps they take up to hard hits and the high frequency bumps.

  19. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    To those suggesting that one should start with a HT because it teaches you better handling/line picking skills, I have a question: Why start with a HT instead of a fully rigid bike?

    The logic that is being used to recommend HT over FS would apply to recommending rigid over HT as well.
    Because I don't feel as if you needed rigid up front, however my FS is a little too cushy and doesn't tell me enough of what is going on for me to learn from. The HT still allows me to feel out the trail and learn how to deal with stuff better.

  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    Don't believe everything you read.

    Well, actually... having more than one gear is also just added weight and makes you more slow on the uphills
    For what it is worth, my 1999 Spec' FSR Comp weighs 30lbs, and my 2011 Hardrock Disc weighs 32lbs. As for climbing, I really haven't been able to tell which one is better, though I could say the FSR is better as it will roll over stuff smoother allowing me to apply power more consistently.

  21. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by zephxiii View Post
    Because I don't feel as if you needed rigid up front, however my FS is a little too cushy and doesn't tell me enough of what is going on for me to learn from. The HT still allows me to feel out the trail and learn how to deal with stuff better.
    I gather your FS is set up for long decents and big hits? I think the other post was suggesting that a majority of the people who have HT's also have front suspension. Given that, they don't truly have a rigid bike which would be an entirely different learning curve altogether.
    No one can argue that. I have a XC FS bike, with short travel 3.75". Normally I stand over rough terrain which on my bike locks out the suspension in the back providing the feel of a HT for all intensive purposes.
    There's no question you will take a different line with an FS once you see how well the FS handles the rough areas as compared to taking the same line with a HT. Again, it doesn't matter which bike you buy, you tailor your riding to what you can handle. Riding an FS allows you to be more agressive over rough terrain. If an FS is heavier and people see that as a negative, then so be it. Not everyone here intends to race or do time trials everytime they ride.
    Some buy FS bikes for medical reasons, some for comfort. A lot of riders buy HT's because they like the response the bike gives them. I think before someone dismisses the thought of having an FS when they haven't ridden one is cynical. I know you have one and like I said, maybe you should explain how your bike is set up. Do you do downhilling, mostly XC? Because the bike setup makes a difference too...

  22. #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by notrandom View Post
    I've read that full suspension is just added weight, and makes it harder to go uphill.
    It depends on the bike, terrain and user preference. On some climbs, a FS will outclimb a HT, and for some downhills, maybe a HT could be better than a FS. Suspension has improved a lot over the years, specially the rear suspension design and shocks. A good FS will make the rear tire follow the terrain better because it makes the rear tire stick to the ground and not bounce around, so if the climb is technical or has not that good traction (like having gravel, rocks) a FS might give you better traction than a HT. Over smooth hardpack, yes, the HT will probably be better.

    Another benefit of FS is that it won't tire your back up as much over long rides, so you have more energy to continue. It will very likely make your riding more smooth. I think that this is a good reason to get a beginner on a FS, so that they can ride longer.

    But, a good FS is not that cheap. So, most of us when we start(ed) don't want to invest much in a bike for several reasons. One is that we think bikes should be cheap, and when we see a bike that has all the bells and whistles (at least that we think has all the bells and whistles), and ask for the price, we are astounded. Another reason is that we don't know if we will like the sport or not, so why spent our money on a thing that probably we would dump it after the first ride. Another is that someone comes with the idea that a FS is just heavy and not useful.

    I don't think that a HT is bad to start, or that a FS is bad, it's just what one wants to do. Probably a HT will help improve one's skills IF they want to do that and actually try to learn new things. But, for some others, they just want to go out to nature and see scenery, and if they have a good budget, I would suggest a FS, it will make it easier.

    About learning, I really think it's more of what the rider is interested and that he/she tries to go to learning clinics and group rides and practice than the type of bike. A HT will not teach someone just because it's harder, it will just limit his lines, and if the user doesn't learn how to ride and read the terrain, it will just make him scarier.

  23. #123
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    My bike isn't for DH or anything like that (geometry), it is just older and there isn't a lot of travel but it may be a lil more cushy though (older spring/shock) I don't find the standup-hammer bob to be that bad and it still climbs awesome (sometimes feeling better than the HT). Actually i've always gotten some impression that the bike felt more efficient at power delivery...might be because of tires (both were supposed to be fast rolling)..or component level...and this includes hauling ass on paved bike paths too.

    The thing is when I was just starting out a couple of months ago, trail riding was a whole new thing to me and I felt pretty "unknowing" on how to hit the trails when I was going around them. Keep in mind that I started on a wallyworld Schwinn FS, took it back, got a Hardrock...then not long after got the 99 FSR Comp.

    I didn't really start hitting the trails until after I got the FSR (I was doing a lot of urban riding). Once I really got into the trails I would actually go back and forth between each bike.

    Riding FS was definitely a different beast. In the end though what I found was that I learned far far more on the HT due to the responsiveness and feedback the HT was able to provide me which ended up teaching me how to ride the trails better. The problem with the FSR is that the full suspension basically deadened that feeback. There was a time where I actually wanted to take the HT out more just because of this and wanted to take it out as it felt like I was gaining more from it.

    Now I am finding myself bombing through downhill rough rooty sections way faster on the HT before as I've found the perfect stance to let the bike just rock back and forth as it bombs through it.

    Yes a FS is a little nicer in this situation as it will soften it, keep my feet a lil more stable on the pedals...but it just seems fun on the HT! It also makes climbing a little better by smoothing out roots etc.

    The other thing I enjoy about FS is how i can sit on my ass more on annoyingly bumpy trails....I found that this also makes me lazier though.

    I really enjoy both worlds, it's just that I found a little more enlightenment and perspective on the HT.

    Ya must also realize that I am a very dynamic person. I am not someone that is going to be like "ohhh I never touch my HT (or 26er) after going FS (or 29er). I really enjoy the experience and difference of all the different setups (that are practical) and love swapping between them just to change it up (I don't have a 29er yet).
    Last edited by zephxiii; 11-23-2011 at 09:07 AM.

  24. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post
    The best bike to start so you can "Maximized" the riding skills would be a Cross bike then move up to Rigid, then HT, from there you can go with SoftTail or an XC 4" FS before hitting the trail bike

    Most riders would give up within a few weeks because of the learning curve but hey they would be doing more work than the bike for sure
    I'd been riding for a few years before I did my first 'cross conversion. It was still not easy to ride off-road. I'm slower on trails on my current, purpose-built 'cross bike than my hardtail, except for one very boring, fairly steep, sustained climb that I visit whenever I ride in one of my spots. And if there were things I needed to lift the front wheel over... well, I can do that, but it's a lot harder, and the obstacle had better be smaller. That's why I think people who haven't been riding off-road and think it's a one-bike solution should try it before they tell others the same.

    And, this is why I think people should just get whatever bike makes them the most happy. For some people, FS bikes are training tools before they go back to hardtails. For others, hardtails are training tools to make them smoother on FS bikes. Still others don't want to drag around some complicated equipment that's actually designed to absorb and dissipate energy, and any bike with suspension is just a training tool. Who's right?

    Ultimately, I think people are probably happiest getting the bike that fits the kind of riding they want to do. It's already a good training tool.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  25. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I'd been riding for a few years before I did my first 'cross conversion. It was still not easy to ride off-road. I'm slower on trails on my current, purpose-built 'cross bike than my hardtail, except for one very boring, fairly steep, sustained climb that I visit whenever I ride in one of my spots. And if there were things I needed to lift the front wheel over... well, I can do that, but it's a lot harder, and the obstacle had better be smaller. That's why I think people who haven't been riding off-road and think it's a one-bike solution should try it before they tell others the same.

    And, this is why I think people should just get whatever bike makes them the most happy. For some people, FS bikes are training tools before they go back to hardtails. For others, hardtails are training tools to make them smoother on FS bikes. Still others don't want to drag around some complicated equipment that's actually designed to absorb and dissipate energy, and any bike with suspension is just a training tool. Who's right?

    Ultimately, I think people are probably happiest getting the bike that fits the kind of riding they want to do. It's already a good training tool.
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