1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    How do I know if I should buy a Full Suspension bike or not for wife and I?

    Hello everyone. Quick background for us. Wife and I are early 40s and we just bought our 10 year old son a trek mt240. We started trail riding in Iowa and maybe would consider doing some racing next season. If it matters we both used to ride sport ATVS (she had a modified Blaster and 300ex and I had a tricked out 400ex. I did motocross and BMX as a kid. Wife likes the Specialized Jet 29 since a friend recommended the brand and another recommended 29 wheels. She has a Giant LIV special edition road bike and we both have cheap F/S mountain bikes that are $100-200.Iam not opposed to spending $700-1500 for a bike each, but considering going higher because there is nothing worse than buying something and then wishing you would have spent extra to get what you want. I am not sure if going hardtail is the answer or not? It would cost less. Looking at Trek, Giant, Specialized as local options, but so many different choices and confused. I am 99% sure I want disc brakes. Quite honestly I can see buying some carbon parts on ebay when bored in the winter for all the bikes if I can make them weigh less just for fun.

  2. #2
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    Sorry for how that is written, for some reason it wouldn't let me create paragraphs.

    Now it is....figures.....

    Thanks! PS one of the shops carries Salsa. Never heard of them. Another shop has a sweet hardtail specialized stumpjumper that is used and in great condition for $1200.

  3. #3
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    Only thing I know about Iowa biking is RAGBRAI. But I think your answer should be based on terrain. Unless you have some pretty rough terrain, I don't know why you would want a FS.

    What do most mountain bikers in Iowa ride?

    John
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
    Only thing I know about Iowa biking is RAGBRAI. But I think your answer should be based on terrain. Unless you have some pretty rough terrain, I don't know why you would want a FS.

    What do most mountain bikers in Iowa ride?

    John
    Looks like typical trails and some small hills just like everywhere else other than people who have the luxury of mountain living.
    I have seen a few people riding and they have hardtail bikes. Seen several specialized ones. All have front shocks but no rear.

  5. #5
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    You are not going to get a new full suspension bike for 700$ that's worth riding ,1500$ used and you could get something nice. As always test ride borrow demo as many bikes as you can. Where do you see yourself riding ,how often how much do know about working on bikes? More parts= more work.If you where riding and racing MX ,you would most likely be happier on something in the over 1500$ price range .

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
    Only thing I know about Iowa biking is RAGBRAI. But I think your answer should be based on terrain. Unless you have some pretty rough terrain, I don't know why you would want a FS.

    What do most mountain bikers in Iowa ride?

    John
    I have really rough terrain and still pull the hard tail out more than the FS.

    Anyways, Iowa...you don't need a full suspension and realistically you probably don't want one.

    Aslo, Salsa makes great bikes and I would buy one before a Specialized any day.
    Not that Specialized makes bad stuff but their CEO sucks at life.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjlued View Post
    I have really rough terrain and still pull the hard tail out more than the FS.

    Anyways, Iowa...you don't need a full suspension and realistically you probably don't want one.
    Any particular reason why you pull out the hardtail more often? That is the answer to my question possibly.

  8. #8
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    I just built an fs this season and was instantly converted. I ride a pretty technical trail pretty much every day, and I was starting to feel it in my shoulders and back. I liked the ht because I could control it like a bmx, but after years of abuse my body just wasn't cooperating anymore. Switched to an fs setup and bam, I'm going faster and not feeling it the next day. You have to look at it this way... Fs isn't an upgrade from ht, they both have their advantages. Ht is great because it's sturdy, simple and light. Climbs are easier, but they don't track as well when you're moving fast over stuff. Fs really helped me out because I can take those 3-4' drops without putting so much stress on my body. The logs and roots and jumps are soaked up by the suspension. That leaves me less fatigued during the rides and less sore after them.

    Sent from my 831C using Tapatalk

  9. #9
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    If you want it and you can afford it, that's really all there is to it.

    Like some other posters have said, you don't get a worthwhile new FS for $1500, but used, sure, why not.

    If you're racing get the bike for the specific discipline. XC for XC, etc.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hakmazter View Post
    Sorry for how that is written, for some reason it wouldn't let me create paragraphs.

    Now it is....figures.....

    Thanks! PS one of the shops carries Salsa. Never heard of them. Another shop has a sweet hardtail specialized stumpjumper that is used and in great condition for $1200.
    $1200 is a good deal if the condition is good of course. Test ride it and if it fits go for it. Good luck!

  11. #11
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    I live on the Illinois Iowa border ride trails all around here (mostly Iowa side) and see no NEED for Fs. Trails for the most part dont warrant it and the races I've been too/helped with 75% of the bikes are ht, mostly 29er. I ride a trek 29er ht as well. But it comes to personal preference. For the budget for a decent Fs ur looking used, hardtail you can land some pretty decent bikes. Watch Craigslist too seen a few very nice hardtails for around 1k (couple I was wishing I had the cash for,lol)
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hakmazter View Post
    Any particular reason why you pull out the hardtail more often? That is the answer to my question possibly.
    It's just fun to ride.
    Also a lot cheaper to maintain.
    It usually gets pulled out at least 2 out of 3 rides.
    I will pull the full suspension out when I hit the super gnar but keep in mind I actually live in the mountains (western NC). If I didn't live here, I wouldn't even have a full suspension bike.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  13. #13
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    for some people it is mostly preference......a good FS bike is kinda spendy even for a used one in good shape.... they require more maintainence such as more to lube, bushings that wear out and have to be replaced.... and they are heavier than a comparable HT.......I will tell you from experience that lower priced FS bikes suck and some people have the idea that a FS is more comfortable to ride.... then curse how heavy they are when they go up hills or unloading them before the ride....I prefer hardtails and have a rigid for road riding....they are lighter and easier to manhandle when riding.... weight makes a big difference when hills come into play
    97 specialized rockhopper.....$5 garage sale find....rebuild and low buck single speed conversion

  14. #14
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    I have a Trek Superfly 9.8 carbon ht. It's been designed with good rear compliance with input from the road bike engineers.
    It works, is light, simple and the new geo is quick and stable. Test a 9.6. It's a good value. You don't need fs for comfort.
    Over the winter you can go carbon bars and wide carbon wheels.

  15. #15
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    I love FS bikes myself and have spent most of my riding time over the past 15 years on one or another, (though I'm riding a hardtail lately for the first time in a long time and having a lot of fun on it, it's a different game). I think coming from ATVing, and sounding like you might not mind tinkering with stuff some, you should definitely at least give some FS bikes a test ride. I've long been of the opinion that a lot of people what didn't get fired up about riding trails when they first tried getting into it might've had a better time with some cushion. "Need" is not the way to choose - nobody 'needs' more than one gear and some steel tubes to hold the wheels in place. Try to throw a leg over a few different bikes and see if you run into something that seems like it would be fun to ride. For me, I find the funnest bikes aren't necessarily the lightest or most 'efficient' ones.
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  16. #16
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    The original poster and I are in the same age range and we both enjoyed BMX in our youth.

    So O.P. I'm going to take a different tact here and vote for a full suspension bike for you at least. Your wife will probably be more than well served with a 29'er hardtail...or even a fatbike.

    The reason I say this is because if you like to get your tires well clear of the ground, like I do, you'll appreciate the suspension taking a lot of the abuse your body would have to. Two years ago my full suspension bike was laid up for a while when I was rear ended with my bike on the trunk mount rack. For the next 7 weeks, I was forced to go back to riding my late 90's era Diamondback hardtail with front suspension and full XT component group. Not a bad ride...BUT I REALLY MISSED MY FULL SUSPENSION AFTER EVERY RIDE.

    As far as finding a decent one in your price range. They're out there...but mostly in the used bike area. Lucky for guys like me, there are some wealthy mtn bikers out there who 'must' have the latest and greatest toys for themselves so they update every few years and sell their well maintained rides at severely depreciated cost. The other option I suggest you look into is one of the factory direct sellers like Save Up To 60% Off Road Bikes, Bicycles, Mountain Bikes and Bicycles with Bikesdirect.com, New with full warranties or Airborne Bicycles You can get a hell of a lot more bike for the money through them than anywhere else and if you are mechanically inclined and do your own work as I do; you won't have to feel as guilty about not giving all your business to the local bike shop.
    I just ordered my second bike from bikesdirect...a new fatbike priced for the blue collar crowd.

    BTW: Where in Iowa are you at? I have lots of relatives in north central (Kossuth county) Iowa...including an uncle with a bike shop in Algona.

  17. #17
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    I'm 40 so that puts me in the same age range.

    But if your comparing a 1997 Diamondback Response to a 2012 GIANT Yukon FX, I don't blame you for preferring the FS.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  18. #18
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    How do I know if I should buy a Full Suspension bike or not for wife and I?

    I live in Minnesota. There's nothing i can't ride here with my hardtail. Most trails in the Midwest are smooth dirt, unless you go north. Just buy a decent hardtail and ride.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by hakmazter View Post
    Thanks! PS one of the shops carries Salsa. Never heard of them. Another shop has a sweet hardtail specialized stumpjumper that is used and in great condition for $1200.
    I'm a big fan of Salsa and really like their bikes. Unfortunately, I don't think you can get one for $700 or even $1500 since they're all pretty expensive. Their hardtail is the El Mariachi and that runs for close to $4K so imagine how much their FS like the Spearfish would cost.

  20. #20
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    How do I know if I should buy a Full Suspension bike or not for wife and I?

    If you're asking ... You already know the answer
    I hope you have a big trunk... cause I'm gonna put my bike in it!

  21. #21
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    When i got into mtb i lived in flat central illinois, decades ago. Great local lbs always cautioned me before upgrades and steered me away from full suspension because it wasn't needed there. It was a great shop, great owner. When i bought my first full suspension bike after moving out west it was amazing. I needed it for those trails but I also wished I had bought one back in Illinois because it was so much better.

    But that's just my experience and there are plenty of riders that have more fun and prefer their hard tails. I doubt that you will miss full suspension where you ride but I also doubt that you will regret purchasing one.

  22. #22
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    I'm a 57yo mtb loving fool! I currently am riding a 2013 Cdale f29 AL1 lefty hardtail. I love the way it tracks and it is real fast! One of my buds has a fs because of his back and most of the time he loves it. He also has more problems with the bike than I do(more moving parts). He has a hardtail he uses at times but mostly his FS. With the trails here in Maryland for the most part all I need is the HT. I think it is a budget/feel thing. I know the HT climbs better for me than the FS and is lighter. I got all top of the line componets on mine as a left over in a HT for $1700 and really love it! You don't get a new FS worth much for $1700. Not a bunch of rock gardens then really don't need an FS. Ride em all and choose!
    Bill
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  23. #23
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    And just to complete the options, check out the discussion around fat bikes with the Bluto fork-- very fun setup.
    Is the fat bike replacing 29ers?

  24. #24
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    How do I know if I should buy a Full Suspension bike or not for wife and I?



    Wife and I were along the same scenario, got her a 15 Jet and she loves it. Mine is a crave comp and I'm really happy

    Took delivery Wednesday.
    Now if only the rain would stop.

    I'm not sure I would have taken full advantage of FS anyways at my experience level.

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    Hey, OP! I was in your boat up until a few weeks ago, wondering if I really 'needed' a full-sus bike. Basically I was trying to convince myself that I would be okay to 'settle' on a nice hardtail. After all, I've been having fun for years on it, right? Well...... then I found a killer deal on a used Camber Comp 29er and I was done wondering if I needed that much bike. Bought it in a heartbeat and absolutely love it! At least give it a shot if you can. If you don't, you'll be wanting to do it next year.

    Quote Originally Posted by SeaHag View Post
    BTW: Where in Iowa are you at? I have lots of relatives in north central (Kossuth county) Iowa...including an uncle with a bike shop in Algona.
    Hey, SeaHag, my wife is from Bancroft and has relatives in Algona! Next time we're up there, I'll stop in your uncles shop. What's it called?

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