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  1. #1
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    Hardtail or Full Suspension for New Rider

    What would you recommend and why?

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    I bought a hard tail and added a suspension seat post for now. The frame and component set I could afford was much nicer, and a FS bike in that price range ($1000-1500) would likely be a lot heavier. I may end up going FS at some point but enjoying this for now.

  3. #3
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    You usually get more bike (components) with a hard tail, for less, less weight, and less to mess with and maintain. For someone just starting, makes more sense to start simpler until you're a better rider and you're more confident that you intend on moving up.

    This, of course, assumes general mountain bike riding and not something specific...where a FS bike makes sense - but who starts in a narrow niche? I guess some people do, but none I've met.

    I could have afforded anything up front, really, but i went with a hard tail for the reasons I stated.
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    If you can afford the FS then go with FS, it would be more comfortable and offer more control. If you don't have the budget for FS then go with HT.

    There''s no rule that you have to start with HT but most riders go that route because it's much lower investment. Most who start with HT would not stick around though compare to FS.

    I started with both FS for me and HT for my wife(I know it's typical) I know if I started with HT I'd probably gave it up after a few rides it was not fun or comfortable. I couldn't tell the difference between a heavy bike and light(er) bike both bikes still kicked my A$$ on the climb but FS put bigger smile on my face on the way down.

    What's your budget?

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    For me, a hardtail was a certain. It allows you to become a much better rider at the beginning because it forces you to pick much better lines. A FS can cover up most of the trail and you end up actually going much slower on it.

    Plus, cost is a huge factor. You can get a very good HT bike for ~1k but for a FS you are looking around ~2k.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bballr4567 View Post
    Hardtail . It allows you to become a much better rider at the beginning because it forces you to pick much better lines.
    Plus, cost is a huge factor. You can get a very good HT bike for ~1k but for a FS you are looking around ~2k.
    ^^^^ This.
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  7. #7
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    i started out on a specialized hardrock disk because it was a decent bike at a fair price and it was also the bike most recommended. i rode it for about 6 months to make sure i liked mountainbiking which i did,i then upgraded the front shock and wheels/tires and rode it for another six months. i would still be ridding it but i was able to save up while riding it and got a specialized camber comp when they came out. now a year later im upgrading the camber and putting the old camber parts on my hardrock to make it a nine speed. i dont think you can go wrong either way but i love my the full suspension. if your just starting out i would recommend to see if you l.b.s might have a test bike program or rental so you could try both first. what kind of trails are you going to be ridding and what is your budget?
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  8. #8
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    I had the same questions a few months ago. The price/quality issue between hardtail and FS made it a pretty easy decision for me. I didn't want a tank in a FS, and I wasn't willing to spend $2k on my first bike, which I felt was necessary to get the components and parts I wanted. I took the time to ride a few hardtails, and I can say after the first few test rides, I knew I wanted a 29er, and would not have a 26 hardtail. A few months later, I'm convinced I made the right decision for me. The 29 takes some of the bumps out of the trail, so it's honestly like being halfway between a 26 hardtail and a 26 FS bike in ride comfort. Otherwise, it just rolls so much faster on the downhills and flat sections, and seems to climb a lot better to me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bballr4567 View Post
    For me, a hardtail was a certain. It allows you to become a much better rider at the beginning because it forces you to pick much better lines. A FS can cover up most of the trail and you end up actually going much slower on it.

    Plus, cost is a huge factor. You can get a very good HT bike for ~1k but for a FS you are looking around ~2k.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hutch3637 View Post
    ^^^^ This.
    Which part of the post are you agreeing with, the Cost is a huge factor? good HT for 1k FS for 2k, or HT make you a better rider?

    Unfortunately, beginners only have 2 main choices; cheap but not as good product or good product but not cheap. It's true in many sports but not all. Going with higher end models mean more forgiveness, larger sweetspot, less weight, better looking, stronger, faster, longer in no particular order. Better players may prefer less forgiveness or even more weight for addition control.

    Bike is similar to example. Choosing better models mean better performance, more forgiving, less weight, ya da blah etc. Going with HT would not make you a better rider than FS it simply limit your line choices for your current set of skills. Going with the logic that riding HT would make you a better rider than FS is just lazy thinking. My wife has much longer saddle time than me on a HT so that would make her a better rider than me who's started with FS?

    In fact the opporsiite happen when she got her first FS, it was 2 lbs+ heavier than her HT and yet she's faster on the climb and on the descend, especially on the descend. Not only faster, and more control but it was the first time I've seen a smile on her face while descending

    Faster riders is always be faster not because they are on HT or FS. If you don't want to spend too much then your only choice would be a Hardtail or may be a used FS. Cheap and good are mutually exclusive regardless of the marketing they try to spin

  10. #10
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    I was riding a friends FS bike for awhile, and was nice over bumps but didn't climb for s*** granted it was a downhill bike, so that may have had something to do with that. But I ended up buying a 29er HT. I just stand for the downhill parts, which coincidentally aids in maneuverability of the bike. Learned a skill on accident that way! ! I ride only singletrack anyway so while a FS would be nice, the lower price and easier maintenance of a HT is almost perfect for me. I LOVE this bike, and have no intentions of buying any more bikes for at least a few years yet. Except I might pick up a roadie at some point.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  11. #11
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    Although I'm newly back into riding ... there's one thing I learned a long time ago ... Ride what you are most comfortable on.

    So, test both. Figure out where you are going to ride. Ask the folks at your LBS ... chances are, they ride the same spots ... so they can really help guide you to what is best for the type of riding you are going to do.


    Personally I ride a HT ... the biggest reason I chose one was familiarity. Every bike I've owned has been a HT. My last MTB (which also was my first) was a HT. Plus with my years riding BMX and road bikes ... I wanted some thing familiar when I got back into MTB'ing.
    Another reason is ... I really like feeling what my back tire is doing. The ability to feel what my bike is doing beneath me has saved my sorry-skin a time or two.
    Lastly is maintenance and price of entry. They're more like a side benefit.


    Eventhough many of places I ride are very, very rooty ... and it would be advantageous to have a FS in my arsenal ... still prefer to be on a HT. So much so ... I just picked up another HT into a rigid; for those places that have a manageable, to light, amount of rooty areas. Perhaps one day I'll own a FS ... just not today.

  12. #12
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    mimi1885

    The quote was referring to what the op asked, the other member stated his thoughts. I agreed with two parts of his response. Those being that a HT would save him money and, with a HT he would learn more basic skills that would turn over down the path when and if he chose to ride FS. To me when starting out I would keep it simple, sure the OP or anyone could jump onto a FS to not "limit" them. To each is their own.
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  13. #13
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    Maybe I am old, but at 47 I still ride a hardtail. It all depends on if you want to plow or flow.
    I will always chose to flow. If bombing downhills is your thing then full suspension is great.
    If technical singletrack is on your mind and you are new to riding, cut your teeth on a HT.

  14. #14
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    Fair enough

    Quote Originally Posted by Hutch3637 View Post
    The quote was referring to what the op asked, the other member stated his thoughts. I agreed with two parts of his response. Those being that a HT would save him money and, with a HT he would learn more basic skills that would turn over down the path when and if he chose to ride FS. To me when starting out I would keep it simple, sure the OP or anyone could jump onto a FS to not "limit" them. To each is their own.
    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

  15. #15
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    To a newbie i dont think speed is a huge factor. I know for me if i was getting my first bike I wouldn't be considering weight savings or the type of talk of a ht or a fs making you a faster rider over all. All that matters when starting out is getting a bike that makes you want to get out there and ride it.

  16. #16
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    I think riders will eventually be better if they learn on a hardtail. They learn to use their 'human suspension' to it's fullest potential, and that will translate over to FS and they will ultimately be a better, smoother rider. They also learn to pick better lines which isn't always important . . . . until it is very important.

    I have seen first hand how riders that start and stick with a hardtail until their skills develop a fair amount will then shred, while many that start or go FS early on never really get that good as the FS made them lazy. It won't always be that way, but I have seen it enough to recommend that new riders learn for a while on a hardtail before going FS.

    It's somewhat natural to want to get what all the cool kids are riding and it would make things easier to navigate at first, but may stunt long-term skill development. I prefer to see new riders learn gradually so they don't get in over their heads and hurt themselves because they don't have the well-rounded skills to handle it when things get dicey and the sense to know when they are in over their head.

    Kind of like taking a newbie down to the motorcycle shop and recommending a sportbike because they are such a capable bike (in the hands of a skilled rider) or giving a Corvette to a new driver on their 16th birthday.

    Another reason for newer riders to go with a hardtail is the economical side of things. If money is an object, it's a good idea to start out with an entry level bike to see if you like the sport and are willing to continue. f it's not for you, then you can sell the bike and not lose much. If you like it, you can learn for a year or two before moving on. The common sense side of this is that a new rider will not really have that much of an idea of what type of bike suits the type of riding they enjoy most and has the components they prefer (not to mention sizing). Their chances of getting the right bike for them as a beginner are far slimmer and they have blown a significant amount when they could have been saving money toward their second bike that would be chosen after they know much more about who they are as a rider.

    If money is abundant, then the above paragraph isn't as important, but that is the exception rather than the norm.

    I have coached soccer for many years and when we are teaching young kids to perform skills, we start them out slowly with no pressure. Some coaches even like to make them learn to kick with bare feet so they get the correct technique for striking a ball down to where it is something they do automatically before increasing the speed, space and opposition. As the speed, space and opposition increase, technique will break down so they are increased gradually so the player doesn't develop poor technique or not be able to perform at all once the S,S&O ratchet up. I take the same tact with developing riders.

    Not necessarily 'right' or 'wrong', just my opinion based on my own anecdotal experience.

  17. #17
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    ^
    Start with a hardtail.

    Makes you learn how to ride better (read lines, use your legs, etc)

    Cheaper

  18. #18
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    Had a HT for 4 months before investing in a FS. If budget permits go for a FS, as it would minimized a double investment. Rode my HT and cover a distance of around 1200 miles over those period, must admit it is cheaper to invest in a HT, but the lessons I gotten from riding it, serves me well now on a FS, line selection and body position over rocky terrains and jumps to absorb impact.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bballr4567 View Post
    For me, a hardtail was a certain. It allows you to become a much better rider at the beginning because it forces you to pick much better lines. A FS can cover up most of the trail and you end up actually going much slower on it.

    Plus, cost is a huge factor. You can get a very good HT bike for ~1k but for a FS you are looking around ~2k.
    Depends on your point of view. I started on a Hardtail, when I went with FS it allowed me to pick what I considered the better lines, because they were more fun.

    It depends on what mountain biking is for you. Some people I know go to the trail and they find it fun to 'pick the best line' that gets them through most efficiently.

    However, my friends and I go and look for the lines that get me the most air or are more difficult and fun to us. We're the type that will stop at a fun jump and spend 30 minutes doing it over and over.

    For me, FS gave me a lot more options and I don't think riding a HT made me any better. It made me choose easier lines. Maybe that's what some people consider a better riding, picking the easiest way through.
    Last edited by TwoTone; 11-06-2011 at 08:59 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    Depends on your point of view. I started on a Hardtail, when I went with FS it allowed me to pick what I considered the better lines, because they were more fun.

    It depends on what mountain biking is for you. Some people I know go to the trail and they find it fun to 'pike the best line' that gets them through most efficiently.

    However, my friends and I go and look for the lines that get me the most air or are more difficult and fun to us. We're the type that will stop at a fun jump and spend 30 minutes doing it over and over.

    For me, FS gave me a lot more options and I don't think riding a HT made me any better. It made me choose easier lines. Maybe that's what some people consider a better riding, picking the easiest way through.
    For me the "better lines" isn't the heart of a hardtail. It will teach you real bike skills. There are times there is only one line and learning it on a hardtail will teach you how to ride. A full suspension bike can cover that up and give you a false sense of security that could bite you in the azz when you are taking your riding to the next level. To me you need to learn to walk before you run

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmac999 View Post
    For me the "better lines" isn't the heart of a hardtail. It will teach you real bike skills. There are times there is only one line and learning it on a hardtail will teach you how to ride. A full suspension bike can cover that up and give you a false sense of security that could bite you in the azz when you are taking your riding to the next level. To me you need to learn to walk before you run
    One of my friends bought a FS about a week before I got my HT. Im consistently faster than he is despite him having the better bike and being in better shape. He plows through the stuff while Ive learned to pick through and not smash into everything with my tiny 80mm fork.

    It does make a difference.

    Its different for different people though. For me, a HT was the only logical choice. It was what I could afford and I knew it would teach ME to be a better rider.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmac999 View Post
    For me the "better lines" isn't the heart of a hardtail. It will teach you real bike skills. There are times there is only one line and learning it on a hardtail will teach you how to ride. A full suspension bike can cover that up and give you a false sense of security that could bite you in the azz when you are taking your riding to the next level. To me you need to learn to walk before you run
    Quote Originally Posted by bballr4567 View Post
    One of my friends bought a FS about a week before I got my HT. Im consistently faster than he is despite him having the better bike and being in better shape. He plows through the stuff while Ive learned to pick through and not smash into everything with my tiny 80mm fork.

    It does make a difference.

    Its different for different people though. For me, a HT was the only logical choice. It was what I could afford and I knew it would teach ME to be a better rider.

    Point taken, I forget that I had years on a BMX bike, so my move to mountain bikes was different
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bballr4567 View Post
    One of my friends bought a FS about a week before I got my HT. Im consistently faster than he is despite him having the better bike and being in better shape. He plows through the stuff while Ive learned to pick through and not smash into everything with my tiny 80mm fork.

    It does make a difference.

    Its different for different people though. For me, a HT was the only logical choice. It was what I could afford and I knew it would teach ME to be a better rider.
    I'm in a similar situation. Bought myself a HT 29er. I wanted a 29er and a FS 29er was WAY out of my budget. My future brother in law who got me into this sport used to kick my ass when I was on his second bike. A FS also. He rides FS exclusively He's been doing this for several years. Though I'm not sure to the degree which he rides. I know he's in better shape and has a better bike than me. Yet on my HT I just walked away from him. On climbs, downhill and in the turns. I just kept putting more ground between us and I was holding back. Not sure why, but I think the HT may have had something to do with it? Or maybe it was the bigger tires, or maybe I've just vastly improved my skills since the previous times riding with him. But obviously the HT didn't hurt me any!
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  24. #24
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    I personally have always ridden hardtails as I have never ridden anything that made me say to myself.... "I NEED full suspension". You'd be surprised what a hardtail can do through fast bumpy downhills.

    I have ridden full suspension bikes with 5-6" travels and it does feel nice to be able to plow through rocks, steps, and ruts like it's nothing, but as many people said it teaches you nothing because it's compensating for lack of skill.

    I think the biggest issue with getting a FS as a first newbie bike is that you don't know for a fact you're going to keep riding. A lot of people get all gung ho and buy an expensive FS rig and after a ride on the trails they go, "F this, this is not for me". The bike either collects dust or they end up having to sell it for half the price they bought it for.

  25. #25
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    29er hard tail with tubeless, low pressure tires. Also, check out the books by Ned Overend and Brian Lopes. Your arms and legs provide far more suspension (travel) than any FS bike can. Good luck.

  26. #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.

  27. #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.......
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  28. #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.
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  29. #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.

  30. #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.

  31. #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

  32. #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!

  33. #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...

  34. #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.
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  35. #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 06:20 AM.
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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

  37. #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.

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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

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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.

  40. #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.

  41. #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.
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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

  43. #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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

  47. #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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  48. #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!

  49. #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.

  50. #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.
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  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    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.
    line selection simply mean choice of line. Picking smooth line "often" mean riding around obstacles. It depends on the mood, fitness level I may want over not around one day but opporsite the next

  52. #52
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    Well, there's also the smooth line and the fast line. And they're not always the same. Usually, but sometimes there's an 'A' line that's a lot rougher but gets it done.
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  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    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.
    ]

    I agree

    Yes, FS for NuB may be too much bike in the beginning but it would be better in the long(er) run.

    IMO the benefit of choosing the HT for beginner is mostly "on the bright side" reason not necessary the main reason.

    Cheaper
    More simple
    Good learning tool; make you a better rider in the long run
    Low investment to walk away from in case Mountain Biking ain't your thing
    Efficiency; though I disagree with HT being more efficient than FS but solid power transfer sure give you more motivation to surge forward.

    BTW, my goal on every ride is not to plow thru obstacles but to minimized both wheel to touch it, front is much easier than rear for sure but I keep trying.

    Like jt"the king"martino said you can score great used FS for relatively good price. I help many of my friends into their first full suspension bike under 1k, all of them still riding. My favorite search would be the Cannondale Rush or Prophet with lefty for $700-900.

    I'm not against Hardtail in anyways but I find the reason for recommendation weak considering this thread has no price attach to it.

  54. #54
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    I gotta say that after my latest bout of test riding, my money-no-object bike is actually a hardtail.

    The Santa Cruz Highball is a pretty sweet ride.

    If things haven't changed when I'm in position to change out my competition bikes, I'll have some ulterior motives not to go with that brand. Oh well.
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  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I gotta say that after my latest bout of test riding, my money-no-object bike is actually a hardtail.

    The Santa Cruz Highball is a pretty sweet ride.

    If things haven't changed when I'm in position to change out my competition bikes, I'll have some ulterior motives not to go with that brand. Oh well.
    My money-is-no-object dream bike is a hardtail as well, although I'd go custom Ti instead of carbon. Eriksen, Potts, Strong, etc.

  56. #56
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    If I was going to do metal, I might actually do steel.

    S3 Custom Bicycles from Rodriguez bicycles

    A mountain bike would benefit from slightly more conservative choices, but steel is awesome stuff, and those tubesets keep getting better. Crazy.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    If I was going to do metal, I might actually do steel.

    S3 Custom Bicycles from Rodriguez bicycles

    A mountain bike would benefit from slightly more conservative choices, but steel is awesome stuff, and those tubesets keep getting better. Crazy.
    Steel is real (long-time and current steel hardtail owner here) but Ti is blingy and baller. And it doesn't rust. And it's easy to repair. And it's easy to maintain the finish (with a scotch brite pad, no less.) And it's easy to modify (think adding disc brake tabs.) And it just looks so sexy.


    But damn, those new steel bikes are awesome. So are the stainless ones.

    But Potts and Eriksen don't make steel rides anymore, so that limits my "dream bike" choices.

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    LOL. Rodriguez is down the street from me. If I was going to do an artisan bike, I'd want one that was truly local.

    I'm curious to see what happens with composites, especially now that the automotive industry is starting to really use them. We're getting better and better at manipulating carbon on a molecular and atomic level, so the potential to create carbon fibers and whiskers with an even higher tensile strength is there. Maybe we'll figure out some better matrixes to go with it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino View Post
    My money-is-no-object dream bike is a hardtail as well, although I'd go custom Ti instead of carbon. Eriksen, Potts, Strong, etc.
    Don't forget Seven, I love Seven. I have a custom Steel Sola, Steel Axiom Road bike and a Duo ti they know what they are doing. I also have custom size Eriksen era Moots YBB. I've been thinking about Jeff Jones Spaceframe steel and Wolfhound 29er but spending that kind of cash on another bike instead of a new FS is tough because I'd never want to let it go

    I don't know if I'd go with the Stainless steel choice though, I rode the IndyFab road bike SS and Ti back to back the Ti feel noticeably more comfortable and cheaper than SS too. Though I'm sure that they can build it to how you like to ride but that's my limited experience with SS tube.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    If I was going to do metal, I might actually do steel.

    S3 Custom Bicycles from Rodriguez bicycles

    A mountain bike would benefit from slightly more conservative choices, but steel is awesome stuff, and those tubesets keep getting better. Crazy.
    Racer like you may also like Soulcraft option 3, my wife's has a woman's version called Title9. I have a few nice ti and steel in my collection I'd say you can't go wrong with either decision.

  60. #60
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    After reading all the posts im sure glad i went with a HT (Raleigh Talus 3.0 2011)

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    When I refer to line choice, I mainly am speaking of through rooty sections, or rock gardens. My 29er makes short work of roots and smaller rocks, but my choice of line is the one that lets me go the fastest. Not for racing purposes, but because it's just fun to go fast! Usually means I'm zig zaging through rooty/rocky sections. Which is also quite fun.

    I'd probably do the same on FS, but it's not as important.
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  62. #62
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    I am over 35, and having used both, I think the dual suspension bikes are much easier in your body, especially in long rides. So I would say if you have the money (or find a good used one) go for dual, your body will thank you!

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    buy whatever bike you like the look off, its down to rider ability more then what bike

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    I'm 43 and have never needed a full suspension bike. If you drive to your trails, get whatever bike looks prettiest to you. All my trails are local and I ride to them so a hardtail is pretty much a no-brainer.

  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    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?
    Excellent point

    Here's another one:

    When you are new, you probably don't know, yet, what your riding style is.

    So one approach is to keep the initial cost low(ish) and get a hardtail for finding out what you really like to do with your bike. A HT or rigid bike certainly lets you know what is on the ground, which may be an asset. I still do not think that a HT automatically makes a better FS rider.
    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post
    line selection simply mean choice of line. Picking smooth line "often" mean riding around obstacles.
    ... but not always (you did say "often"). Sometimes trying to ride around one thing leads to trouble at the next one. So you need to pick which obstacles to go over.

    "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"

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    I wish i would have bought a HT 29er , but i ended up with a FS26 bike. Soon i will sell off the FS26 , buy a HT 29er and a FS29er and finally an aggressive 26er. What a pain buying bikes for all the different types of riding i want to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by terrasmak View Post
    I wish i would have bought a HT 29er , but i ended up with a FS26 bike. Soon i will sell off the FS26 , buy a HT 29er and a FS29er and finally an aggressive 26er. What a pain buying bikes for all the different types of riding i want to do.
    Are you're riding styles so different they require 2 bikes? I've test ridden a 650B 130mm bike and I'm going to ride a 29er with a 130mm travel.

    I ride mostly crosscountry, but I'm the type that tries to make a jump out of everything. I go lift rides 2-3 time a summer.

    If the ride goes well I may actually end up on the 130mm 29er. I was jumping it out in the front yard and it handled in the air nicely for me. Now I have to see how it handles tight single track at speed.
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    Kind of parallel to riding style is what's your local terrain like? Smooth single track, rocky trails, etc. Love my HT and have no desire for a FS bike, but if I was out west with all of the rocks I may have gone FS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    ... but not always (you did say "often"). Sometimes trying to ride around one thing leads to trouble at the next one. So you need to pick which obstacles to go over.
    Excellent point, quite a few trails I ride this is a delima especially on the climb where smart line choices would allow you to clean the section. It makes mtb riding fun one day I pick one line and another day I can try the way around. Both can be fun, as long as it's not just one way to do it

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    I started with a FS back in '01 and after my bike was stolen I took about a 7 year break. When I got back into the sport I went with a HT.

    The biggest factor was price and my riding style.

    I used to FR and bomb down trials but now that I'm older I like to go the distance and take in the scenery. I also can't stand heavy bikes on the up hill climbs no matter how fun it is coming back down. I might go FS sometime down the road but right now, it's cost prohibitive and not a priority.

    Whether I do go FS or not, I'll always have a HT in my stable.

    One last caveat, start with what ever you'll ride the most. I don't buy into the HT will make you better, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH... if you're not going to ride because you don't like the bike then it really doesn't matter. Like many things, finances will dictate.

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_cowboy View Post
    ^
    Start with a hardtail.

    Makes you learn how to ride better (read lines, use your legs, etc)

    Cheaper
    Totally agree.

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    The bike industry has cooked up different specialist bikes for different riding styles. I think the specialist bikes are better at their particular styles, maybe, but it doesn't mean that generalist mountain bikes have stopped being able to do whatever. I'd like to have a screw around bike for one of the local skills parks, but that doesn't mean I don't go there with the 26" hardtail I have, high saddle and all. If I did lift-served, though, I'd probably rent something.

    "XC" doesn't have to mean "can't handle a mountain bike."
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    Even though my first proper mountain bike was full suspension I would definitely recommend a hardtail for two reasons:interest and cost.

    As a beginer you don't know if you'll be mountain biking in four to five months. If your interest level,especially your future interest level is uncertain, I would definitely recommend a hardtail because the cost of buying one and having it turn into a "hanger queen" is much lower than a the cost of having a full suspension "hanger queen."

    Case in point. About four years ago my friend and I both bought folding bikes. As a I started to do more riding eventually I bought $2,600 cross bike and then went on to buy several mountain bikes. My friend on the other hand just sold his folder because he didn't tide it very often. The loss wasn't that great because he was able to recoup part of the money in garage sale and only spent $570 on the bike and various accesories. However if had spent $2,000 on a new full suspension mountain bike I don't think things would have worked out so well for him.

  74. #74
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    for me the hardtail is the jack of all trades, and i get the moust usage out of it

  75. #75
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    very informative thread. have been wondering this same thing while looking at bikes for myself.

  76. #76
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    It's a myth that you learn faster on a hardtail. A busted myth at that, at least IMO.

    It's not really just about hardtail or FS, it's really about the sum of the bike's parts. With good tires and sturdy wheels and a stiff frame and fork, you can pick and ride almost any line you want on the trail, FS or HT. FS can offer more traction and control, and assist in absorbing big impacts, allowing you to go bigger, harder, and faster. For bigger obstacles and more technical sections, FS can be really forgiving if you don't have good technique and keep you in one piece.

    Over 80% of my learning happened on a FS bike, despite riding on a hardtail for many years before getting a FS bike. I just didn't have the guts or confidence to attempt stuff on the hardtail. Once I got a good FS bike, I challenged everything and anything I challenged and turned out easy, became pretty much mastered--mastered in a way I could go back to a hardtail or rigid and ride it without difficulty and make other HT and rigid riders jealous.

    The HT was cheaper, but I spent a bit to I upgrade it in a way that made it more DH bombing capable. Now that I've experienced a quality FS bike, I don't really see any reason to go back to a HT except if I wanted to place well in XC races. FS has come a very long way since the days 5-10 years ago, to the point that a "trail bike" is synonymous with a short-medium travel FS bike and HTs are more known for entry level and as serious XC race bikes.

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarolinaLL6 View Post
    Kind of parallel to riding style is what's your local terrain like? Smooth single track, rocky trails, etc. Love my HT and have no desire for a FS bike, but if I was out west with all of the rocks I may have gone FS.
    We tend to have mostly singletrack, but with a mixture of roots, rocks, sand, and now that fall is upon us many leaves, which when wet tend to add their own twist to the trail. The singletrack isn't always smooth perse. The one I ride is relatively smooth, with a lot of small climbs/'decents, and within those have some parts that are erroded and have many roots and rocks in them to add to the difficulty.
    My first mountain bike had both a rigid fork and hardtail. So, when I bought my FS it was both a boost in comfort and confidence. On my hardtail when the trail got really "bumpy" I could barely see where I was going it was so bad. I have to hand it to people who were riding full rigid bikes then and even now.
    I guess it all boils down to preference and what makes you comfortable.

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    It's a myth that you learn faster on a hardtail. A busted myth at that, at least IMO.

    It's not really just about hardtail or FS, it's really about the sum of the bike's parts. With good tires and sturdy wheels and a stiff frame and fork, you can pick and ride almost any line you want on the trail, FS or HT. FS can offer more traction and control, and assist in absorbing big impacts, allowing you to go bigger, harder, and faster. For bigger obstacles and more technical sections, FS can be really forgiving if you don't have good technique and keep you in one piece.

    Over 80% of my learning happened on a FS bike, despite riding on a hardtail for many years before getting a FS bike. I just didn't have the guts or confidence to attempt stuff on the hardtail. Once I got a good FS bike, I challenged everything and anything I challenged and turned out easy, became pretty much mastered--mastered in a way I could go back to a hardtail or rigid and ride it without difficulty and make other HT and rigid riders jealous.

    The HT was cheaper, but I spent a bit to I upgrade it in a way that made it more DH bombing capable. Now that I've experienced a quality FS bike, I don't really see any reason to go back to a HT except if I wanted to place well in XC races. FS has come a very long way since the days 5-10 years ago, to the point that a "trail bike" is synonymous with a short-medium travel FS bike and HTs are more known for entry level and as serious XC race bikes.
    I totally agree with you. I said in a post earlier that riding a full rigid bike, especially with a rigid fork really took a lot of fun out of the trail because it make the difficult parts that much more difficult. Some of the HT people thing because you have an FS, that you are losing power. Not so, with many of todays suspension components you can lock out or set the preload high enough so that you aren't mashing the shock on every hit. I don't think anyone makes them now, but I have a 97' Schwinn Homegrown Factory with the "SweetSpot Suspension" and if I stand it's like riding an HT anyway because the bottom bracket is in the rear swingarm. So, if I want the feel of a HT all I need to do is stand. I can't sprint just like on a HT. My bike is relatively light for an FS too, and climbs great!

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhosinski View Post
    I guess it all boils down to preference and what makes you comfortable.
    Quote Originally Posted by dhosinski View Post
    ... rigid fork really took a lot of fun out of the trail because it make the difficult parts that much more difficult.
    Preferences...

    some actually prefer being challenged to being comfortable Like: where's the fun if all that is left to the rider is pedaling and operating the brakes. (I know I'm exaggerating now )

    Depending on where you ride, you might even find spots where a rigid bike is easier to ride over the obstacles.

    "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"

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    Preferences...

    some actually prefer being challenged to being comfortable Like: where's the fun if all that is left to the rider is pedaling and operating the brakes. (I know I'm exaggerating now )

    Depending on where you ride, you might even find spots where a rigid bike is easier to ride over the obstacles.
    I like a challenge believe me. I'm not asking for a Cadillac on the trail, but the trails I had ridden with the full rigid bike weren't good for me then. Even the smallest suspension was better than none.
    I don't see how a full rigid can go over anything easier necessarily? I mean only two tires contact the surface at any one time right? The only surface a rigid can be better is on a hard flat surface that is given the FS isn't locked out.

  81. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhosinski View Post
    I don't see how a full rigid can go over anything easier necessarily?
    I do

    - things where you need very sudden acceleration to get up and over something. Like when the trail forces you to go slowly, whatever bike, and you need to go over a larger rock. A HT or rigid bike has a slight edge there.

    - when you are going down something pretty steep and it levels out suddenly at the bottom. Some seem to have problems with going OTB there because the suspension wants to tilt the bike forward. No such problems with a rigid bike. In some places like that I pick up the front wheel before the bottom, or make a small hop to land on both wheels, but in a couple of other spots I feel more secure with both tires on the ground.

    "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"

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    I do

    - things where you need very sudden acceleration to get up and over something. Like when the trail forces you to go slowly, whatever bike, and you need to go over a larger rock. A HT or rigid bike has a slight edge there.

    - when you are going down something pretty steep and it levels out suddenly at the bottom. Some seem to have problems with going OTB there because the suspension wants to tilt the bike forward. No such problems with a rigid bike. In some places like that I pick up the front wheel before the bottom, or make a small hop to land on both wheels, but in a couple of other spots I feel more secure with both tires on the ground.
    I see what you're saying now. Keep in mind that not all suspensions work the same. My suspension essentially locks out when I stand offering me the same advantage as a HT. The Gary Fisher Sugar series suspension operated so that it wouldn't be completely "full active" minimizing the opportunity for this. I think a downhill style suspension is very prone to this. So, I will agree there is an advantage there given that the HT is unforgiving in those situations.

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    Preferences...

    some actually prefer being challenged to being comfortable Like: where's the fun if all that is left to the rider is pedaling and operating the brakes. (I know I'm exaggerating now )

    Depending on where you ride, you might even find spots where a rigid bike is easier to ride over the obstacles.
    Yea. I know what you mean. I demo'd a big long travel bike on a trail and was all excited about it going, OMG this bike makes everything so much easier. Another guy commented, where's the fun in that? I was more or less excited about how much more potential I could get, challenging gnarlier things. It was still fun. It felt like my riding skill increased by so much. If there weren't more challenging things nearby, I wouldn't bother looking into getting a longer travel FS bike. If I rode a smooth XC trail all the time, maybe I would get a rigid bike just to make it feel like a challenge. That all said, I still find my short travel FS bike to be the best compromise for my kind of riding.

    The only things I can think of that I can imagine rigid bikes riding better on are pump tracks, paved bike paths, and BMX bike parks.

    The examples you gave where a rigid would have an advantage can be more related to what I said in my earlier post, about a bike being more about the sum of its parts than rigid/hardtail vs FS. You might have big beefy tires, stiff frame and fork, stiff wheels and are you comparing that to a XC FS bike more inclined to make climbing easier? Actually, in those example, I think it's more about technique. I bet the FS bike rider that couldn't ride that feature without going OTB wouldn't be able to do it any better on the rigid and the rigid rider wouldn't be any worse doing it on the FS bike.
    Last edited by Varaxis; 11-15-2011 at 01:51 PM.

  84. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    The only things I can think of that I can imagine rigid bikes riding better on are pump tracks, paved bike paths, and BMX bike parks.

    I bet the FS bike rider that couldn't ride that feature without going OTB wouldn't be able to do it any better on the rigid and the rigid rider wouldn't be any worse doing it on the FS bike.
    Very well put...

  85. #85
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    Well put Varaxis, +rep for you my man

    This all go back to the OP, FS is better for new riders, as you get more experience and skill you'd enjoy the challenge when riding Rigid bikes of tougher trail.

    I bought a DJ bike to practice front wheel loft move like Manual, and wheelie as it's design to be easier to pull off the moves and it works as advertise, I looped out the first few times I tried

  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    I do

    - things where you need very sudden acceleration to get up and over something. Like when the trail forces you to go slowly, whatever bike, and you need to go over a larger rock. A HT or rigid bike has a slight edge there.

    - when you are going down something pretty steep and it levels out suddenly at the bottom. Some seem to have problems with going OTB there because the suspension wants to tilt the bike forward. No such problems with a rigid bike. In some places like that I pick up the front wheel before the bottom, or make a small hop to land on both wheels, but in a couple of other spots I feel more secure with both tires on the ground.
    The first time I rode my bike after putting a Judy XC (from previously being full rigid) on my GT hardtail (back in the mid-90's) I went OTB twice on a ride I had done several dozen times before. I wasn't used to the suspension compressing as you describe above.

  87. #87
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    I like my HT and have no real desire to buy a FS. When the time comes in a few years to build a bike, I'll probably just pick up a HT frame and build that. Of course my trails have no real crazy downhill sections or big air jumps. Just small climbs and moderate yet fun and mostly smooth downhill. Some roots and rocks thrown in for good measure, but nothing to hairy. So a HT is just fine! Helps with my climbing too and eventually I plan to slowly work into racing.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  88. #88
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    Just my experience:

    I started mountain biking 1 yr ago on a new cannondale hardtail. I instantly fell in love. We ride mostly singletrack with rockgardens, roots, good dirt, rarely muddy. Lots of climbing and descending. I also ride platforms. Even tho I was always gettting bounced off the pedals in gnarly situations, I still thought the bike was great and it definately taught me better line selection and thought processes.

    Last month I bought a trek fuel ex8 full suspension. I was worried about the climbing, efficienc, etc. but really looking forward to the trails. Well all of the things I was woried about was for not. The bike climbs as well as my hardtail, maybe even better as a bunch of our climbs have bumps, rocks and roots, which the rear suspension soaks up. The trails are a no brainer. I am way faster and more efficient than I ever was on my hardtail. And I never get bounced off the pedals now.

    I let my bro ride my new bike this weekend, while I rode my hardtail, and I must say I really don't miss it (and I love that bike).

    My suggestion, get a good deal on a hardtail that will have some resale value, hone your skills for a few months or a year, and then sell it and get a good fs bike. Just my opinon and experience. No knock on hardtails or anything like that.
    2011 Trek Fuel EX 8
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  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by stangbang View Post
    Just my experience:

    I started mountain biking 1 yr ago on a new cannondale hardtail. I instantly fell in love. We ride mostly singletrack with rockgardens, roots, good dirt, rarely muddy. Lots of climbing and descending. I also ride platforms. Even tho I was always gettting bounced off the pedals in gnarly situations, I still thought the bike was great and it definately taught me better line selection and thought processes.

    Last month I bought a trek fuel ex8 full suspension. I was worried about the climbing, efficienc, etc. but really looking forward to the trails. Well all of the things I was woried about was for not. The bike climbs as well as my hardtail, maybe even better as a bunch of our climbs have bumps, rocks and roots, which the rear suspension soaks up. The trails are a no brainer. I am way faster and more efficient than I ever was on my hardtail. And I never get bounced off the pedals now.

    I let my bro ride my new bike this weekend, while I rode my hardtail, and I must say I really don't miss it (and I love that bike).

    My suggestion, get a good deal on a hardtail that will have some resale value, hone your skills for a few months or a year, and then sell it and get a good fs bike. Just my opinon and experience. No knock on hardtails or anything like that.
    Great story! I like to hear things like this because my thoughts about FS are the same. I can't say that it really makes a difference what you start out on with the exception that cheap parts can take the thrill out of anything. I can't tell you the heartburn we had with cheap shifters and the inability to shift on climbs etc. Other issues one might endur on and FS is if the suspension isn't set up for their weight. Too much sag, or if the bike dips too much on a climb you might find yourself working very hard on the trail.

    Great post!

  90. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by stangbang View Post
    Just my experience:

    I started mountain biking 1 yr ago on a new cannondale hardtail. I instantly fell in love. We ride mostly singletrack with rockgardens, roots, good dirt, rarely muddy. Lots of climbing and descending. I also ride platforms. Even tho I was always gettting bounced off the pedals in gnarly situations, I still thought the bike was great and it definately taught me better line selection and thought processes.

    Last month I bought a trek fuel ex8 full suspension. I was worried about the climbing, efficienc, etc. but really looking forward to the trails. Well all of the things I was woried about was for not. The bike climbs as well as my hardtail, maybe even better as a bunch of our climbs have bumps, rocks and roots, which the rear suspension soaks up. The trails are a no brainer. I am way faster and more efficient than I ever was on my hardtail. And I never get bounced off the pedals now.

    I let my bro ride my new bike this weekend, while I rode my hardtail, and I must say I really don't miss it (and I love that bike).

    My suggestion, get a good deal on a hardtail that will have some resale value, hone your skills for a few months or a year, and then sell it and get a good fs bike. Just my opinon and experience. No knock on hardtails or anything like that.
    Good stuff. Get a sturdy bike just to get you on the trail to see if this is something you'd like to pursue. Get some semblence of skill and fitness started. Then get an FS.

    Whatever the bike, you want something that is fun and that will encourage you to ride again. I started on a HT, then I picked up a Cannondale Rush (FS) and had a blast. I rode more. The more I rode, the stronger I got. The stronger I got, the more I rode. The more I rode, the sharper my skills.

    Then it got too easy. I was leaving my buddies behind. So I picked up a rigid single speed. Now that was a blast. Talk about learning new lines, pace, obstactle and hill clearance!! Wahooo!!. Then life caught up with me and riding an anti-social bike wasn't as much fun. I built my own long travel hardtail and sold my FS and rigid/SS bikes.

    I started with a BMX background so I had some juvenile skills to draw from. I always recommend to those that want to get into the sport to borrow a bike or buy something with decent resale value and save up for a FS bike. That will allow them the technology to make up for some of their lack of skill and fitness. But they can be out there riding with their friends.

    I think how, where and with whom you will be riding with will also impact your choice. You don't want to be on a HT if everyone else is riding a 4" marathon FS bikes. You will eventually wear out and fall behind. Conversely if everyone has HT, what's the point of showing up in a 6x6 susser...

    But it all boils down to whatever will allow you to ride and have fun. Even though I am perfectly content with my steel HT with 5.5" of travel, I still have an eye out for a Blur LT someday for those epics...
    Just get out and ride!

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    well, depends on the price range

  92. #92
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    skip all the nonsense and just get a FS if you dont like it you can always sell it and get a good amount for it, buy a hard tail and have some money left over, if your trying to sell it used a FS always sells faster and easier

  93. #93
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    ^^^ i tried that ^^^
    ended up wasting 500$ on a hard tail that i was miserable on and getting a full suspension less than a month later... never looked back.

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    Hehe yesterday I went out to a different trail system I had been to once before as I was getting tired of my local system.

    Wow I had forgotten that although it is single track, it is a lot bumpier than my local trail system. For whatever reason I really wasn't in the mood for all the bumps and having to get off my ass all the time. I think it was because I really didn't have any energy that day and felt lazy. I sure wish I had my FS with me though...even though it needs different tires and some other minor work.

    Either way I do believe in this statement:
    My suggestion, get a good deal on a hardtail that will have some resale value, hone your skills for a few months or a year, and then sell it and get a good fs bike. Just my opinon and experience. No knock on hardtails or anything like that.
    A hardtail will teach you better a better approach and develop skills regardless of what you end up riding down the line.

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    I just love to see all th different opinions ....

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk

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    Hardtail if your racing xc

    in my opinion, lighter and faster

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    Let me know how you like that Superfly AL i'm thinking about getting one in the next few months

  98. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by joelzilla View Post
    What would you recommend and why?
    If funds are tight (under $1,000) I would definitely go for a HT. If you can swing over $1,000 (especially over $1,500), both are fine options.

    I think you learn to ride whatever bike you are on. Riding an FS is different than riding a HT, not just easier. Yes, it is easier over the same rough terrain at the same speed and the same line, but as a result, you learn how to handle the bike at speed sooner.

    I would say try both if you can, and get whichever exited you to ride.

    I don't go with the notion that you should start on a HT any more than you should start with a rigid fork, or single speed, or circa 1995 1.95" tires.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Go with a hardtail, you will have to do the work and not the bike and you will learn much, much, more.

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    No good

    Quote Originally Posted by fredb View Post
    Go with a hardtail, you will have to do the work and not the bike and you will learn much, much, more.
    Okay, so I can just sit on an FS and it will do all of the riding for me???

    Really?

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