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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.

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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?

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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.

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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 .

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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.

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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.

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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.
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  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!
    Last edited by Max24; 03-07-2015 at 09:34 PM.

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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.

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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
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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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    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.

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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.

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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.

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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!
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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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    Quote Originally Posted by akaHector View Post


    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?
    Meyer's AMF sales & service. 2306 Hwy 169 north Algona. Don't know if he carries the same brands anymore; but he was a Diamondback/Centurion dealer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maccam26 View Post


    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.

    That's funny. We just bought her a Jett29 15 also. It was exactly what she wanted for colors. Her friends told her to get Specialized so that requirement was met. Pick it up next week. I figure I can lighten it up some if she wants. I liked that it had disc brakes and 29 wheels for her. It was the one that retails for $1100 so I think it had better gear components on it than the model below it. I am going to look at the Cannondale store after lunch. Not sure what other brand(s) they have.

    So now we have a Trek MT240 and a Specialized Jett. Now I need to find something. Will buy it probably in Sept/Oct.

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    Sounds like you are moving right along. I hesitated a while between Trek X-Cal and Specialized and Cannondale also, ultimately I felt the bikes were all similar and the local specialized dealer just seemed to have better situation for when service was required

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  29. #29
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    I am looking pretty hard at a Cannondale trail 29. It is a hard tail with disc brakes. Still questioning a full suspension setup though.

    Frustrated….

  30. #30
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    Full suspension is more of a want than a need. You can get more bang for buck with a hardtail such as better components, better gearing etc. Regardless you should drop by a local bike shop and take one for a ride and compare the two. Full-suspension bikes are awesome, but you do pay a pretty price for it.

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    I recently bought a really nice Airborne hardtail. Great bike and when I ride the road or a dirt road, or a fire road trail, the bike shines. It does quite well on single track until they get rooty or rocky, or basically rough in general. I found out I really like the challenge of the rough single track and have come to realize I would really prefer a FS bike. Everyone I ride with on the rough stuff has one and I can see how much better it is. I am in a learning phase, so my opinion must be put in that context. The problem with FS bikes, is to get a good one, you pay a real lot. If you have the budget or take the time to find a good use one, then you should get one, assuming you will also like the rough stuff. If you don't see yourself enjoying riding something you can't the first time you try, then you get some much more bike for less with the hardtail. A hardtail can ride the rough stuff, but it is a lot more work and beats you up a lot more. From my point of view, it comes down to how rough a trail you want to ride.

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    You don't buy an FS for comfort. You buy it to keep your rear wheel on the ground instead of bouncing up and down as you go over rocks. FS allows you to get better/more traction on rough trails. I am often surprised when people don't know that. Buy a FS that allows you to lock out the rear shock and you have the best of both worlds. For 95% of the riders out there, including me, the weight difference is not noticeable. Costs a little more but like you said- you can spend it now or wish you had later.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irideon View Post
    You don't buy an FS for comfort. You buy it to keep your rear wheel on the ground instead of bouncing up and down as you go over rocks.....
    Actually, there are plenty of times or reasons you will buy a FS for comfort. I bought an FS because I was an older out of shape noob with 4 back surgeries, and my entry level HT was brutal enough on my back it was not letting me enjoy the rewards of singletrack riding. You may also want to cut down the teeth chattering while going over wash board type bumps.

    So yes, FS was designed to keep the rear wheel down, but it also serves a role in comfort... Yiou will also hear that it allows people to extend the amount of time on trails and long rides because it doesn't beat them up. Comfort is a huge factor in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phinias View Post
    Actually, there are plenty of times or reasons you will buy a FS for comfort. I bought an FS because I was an older out of shape noob with 4 back surgeries, and my entry level HT was brutal enough on my back it was not letting me enjoy the rewards of singletrack riding. You may also want to cut down the teeth chattering while going over wash board type bumps.

    So yes, FS was designed to keep the rear wheel down, but it also serves a role in comfort... Yiou will also hear that it allows people to extend the amount of time on trails and long rides because it doesn't beat them up. Comfort is a huge factor in it.
    Yup...definitely agree. FS can up the comfort factor big time. Also nice on rough landings, and when I'm not in the mood to get out of the saddle a lot as with a HT.
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  35. #35
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    If you want more comfort than a hard-tail without the weight of a full-suspension consider a steel-framed hard-tail. The ride quality is just...nice and they are 'cooler' than aluminium bikes. People will assume you know what you are doing if you're riding steel ;0)

    It's the old greed thing, I reckon most people buy more suspension than they need. But, if you really don't need a full-suspension bike and you insist on buying one you will end up with less bike for your money and not more. It might look trickier but it will be heavier, have poorer quality parts, cost more to maintain and be harder work most of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    If you want more comfort than a hard-tail without the weight of a full-suspension consider a steel-framed hard-tail. The ride quality is just...nice and they are 'cooler' than aluminium bikes. People will assume you know what you are doing if you're riding steel ;0)
    I agree with the sentiment, but in practice, none of these are givens.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I agree with the sentiment, but in practice, none of these are givens.
    No, that's true. Except that steel bikes are cooler, they just are ;0) The truth is that there is no 'right' bike, just the right bike for you. And considering most serious cyclists tend to end up with more than one bike even that notion is tenuous.

    I just wanted to chuck in an idea a little out of the box and point out that a lot of people talk themselves into buying more bike than they need. Our towns and cities are saturated with hard-tails when few need any suspension at all.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    No, that's true. Except that steel bikes are cooler, they just are ;0).......... Our towns and cities are saturated with hard-tails when few need any suspension at all.
    Mr. Pig is speaking the truth on both counts. I'm much cooler on my Salsa Fargo than my Fisher Paragon. Also, I see loads of folks who lock out their front suspension all the time. If you're off road the front suspension will keep your wrists happy and your front wheel on the ground. If you're on a smooth trail or paved road, it's an extra couple pounds. I ride the Salsa more than twice as many miles as the Fisher every year.
    The most expensive bike in the world is still cheaper than the cheapest open heart surgery.

  39. #39
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    [QUOTE=Mr Pig;11497601...a lot of people talk themselves into buying more bike than they need. Our towns and cities are saturated with hard-tails when few need any suspension at all....[/QUOTE]

    Better to have more bike than you usually need, than to have less when you find yourself in a situation and need more. This is only likely to happen to us noobs by the way. Besides most FS that are used on trail and AM catagory are now less than 30lbs and none of us noobs will notice 3-5lbs difference, heck i can easily afford to lose many times that off myself before the bike will make a difference lol.

    Steel has the hipster cool factor going for it, but since the OP asked for help and other people's opinions he could not possible be a hipster thereby eliminating ancient technology as an obvious choice....lol

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phinias View Post
    Steel has the hipster cool factor going for it, but since the OP asked for help and other people's opinions he could not possible be a hipster thereby eliminating ancient technology as an obvious choice....lol
    There's nothing cool about hipsters.

    Steel bikes, on the other hand, I likey. Of course, you don't have to worry about carbon or aluminum ever being ancient ...they'll never last long that long w/o cracking.

    I'm only cooler on my latest steel trail bike as long as nobody can see me trying to rip on the damn thing at a similar pace as on my FS bikes. Then I'm more like a monkey ****ing a football. Which is cool in it's own way I guess.



    Oh...and aluminum can be cool too.

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  41. #41
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    See I was thinking Ti as a good option.....much cooler and shinnier than steal....

    The real deal is this, your bike is cool, what ever it is, as it lets go out and ride all these amazing trials. Plus think of all the Doctors, Nurses, and Orderlys that would be unemployed without all these cool bikes.

  42. #42
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    Nice T/A Slaphead! I love 'Birds, I have an '00 Formula.

    Anyway...

    I have both, and haven't touched the HT since I got the FS. Of course all my local trails are rocks upon rocks, and where there aren't rocks there are roots, so it's perfect terrain for FS. It's nice to keep the rear wheel on the ground finally. And it DOES up the comfort factor. I can sit end pedal over stuff that would have sent the ass end of my HT flying.

    This is my first FS rig, I always rode (26") HT's, but I was sick of getting beat up in the woods, and wanted to be able to at least have a chance of staying with the guys I ride with, all who have FS rigs.


    Between the suspension and 29" wheels, I'm still amazed at what this beast can motor over.

    However, if I lived in a flatter area with smooth trails, I'd be on a HT. Lighter, simpler. cheaper.

    I still kind of want to get rid of my 26'er HT and get a nice light 27.5" HT. There are a few smooth trails that I know of where this would be much snappier than my FS rig.
    '15 Charge Cooker Maxi 2
    '13 Salsa Horsethief 2
    '12 Trek 6000
    '11 Ridley X-Ride
    '11 Santa Cruz Driver 8

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by StuntmanMike View Post
    Nice T/A Slaphead! I love 'Birds, I have an '00 Formula.
    Thanks man - been a fan of the ol' Screaming Chicken since I had a 79 10th Anniversery back in the 80s. This one's an '00 too; just turned 40k on the clock this summer. Fun rig, and complements my mullet perfectly.

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  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Thanks man - been a fan of the ol' Screaming Chicken since I had a 79 10th Anniversery back in the 80s. This one's an '00 too; just turned 40k on the clock this summer. Fun rig, and complements my mullet perfectly.

    Nice! That's barely broken in. Mine is about to hit 132k. Still runs great though, she's the most reliable car I've ever had. I bought it at 65k in '07 and have only done routine maint. since. I haven't even had to change the front brakes yet. It was a 3 season daily driver for a few years, hence the mileage.

    I also had a white and blue '80 T/A (a near junker I never registered), a gunmetal grey '88GTA L98 (which I really, really miss), and a black '98 Formula M6 hardtop. The '00 is a A4 T-Top car, Navy Blue Metallic.

    I don't drive it much anymore, and once in a while think of selling it. But whenever I start it up just the sound of it is enough to change my mind.
    '15 Charge Cooker Maxi 2
    '13 Salsa Horsethief 2
    '12 Trek 6000
    '11 Ridley X-Ride
    '11 Santa Cruz Driver 8

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