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  1. #1
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    Hardtail or Full Suspension for New Rider

    What would you recommend and why?

  2. #2
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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 07:59 AM.
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  20. #20
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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.......
    29er Ti SS Rigid / 29er SC Tallboy AL

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

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

    So better line to some of you is the boring worse line to others.
    Last edited by TwoTone; 11-07-2011 at 05:20 AM.
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    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

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

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

  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...

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

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

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



    Perfectly said IMHO.

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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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