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  1. #1
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    When do you REALLY need a FS bike?

    Hey everyone. I'm new to the sport and I an trying to figure out at what point do you really need a full suspension bike. I know they look awesome and they are all you see in all the action shots in bikes mags but then I'll talk to riders at my local shops and they will tell me that they don't help for climbing and that it most helps for big downhills. I plan on doing mostly trail riding and decided on get a Motobecane 29er http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...om29pro_SL.htm because it provided the most bang for my buck for my first bike. So whats the no BS truth...do most people really need these FS bikes that I see advertised everywhere or is it alot of merely wanted the latest and greatest?

    Disclaimer - I'm not trying to be the new guy rubbing people the wrong way. I'm just trying to be better informed.

  2. #2
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    You will never need a FS bike.

    It is a luxury,

    Just in the way you will not 'need' 29er wheels, hydraulic brakes, a suspension fork or a saddle.

    They are all things that combine to make a ride more fun for you.

    I ride a Niner WFO.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaveGiant
    You will never need a FS bike.

    It is a luxury,

    Just in the way you will not 'need' 29er wheels, hydraulic brakes, a suspension fork or a saddle.

    They are all things that combine to make a ride more fun for you.

    I ride a Niner WFO.
    yeah, I agree. And you don't even NEED A MOUNTAIN BIKE EITHER. But we all own one anyway!
    Feel free to check out my personal website, Greg Heil.com

  4. #4
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    My back and my a$$ like the rear suspension though.

  5. #5
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    I ride both and I like both...an HT is fun to ride on pretty much all types of terrain, but if you're not used to technical trails, you're better off on a FS bike. You have to concentrate harder to keep your feet from bouncing off the pedals and also you'll find yourself off the saddle more than you would on a FS bike because even small rocks and roots can be uncomfortable.

    If I plan on going on a smooth trail or a short run on a techy, I take my HT. If I plan on a long ride on a techy, I take my FS.

  6. #6
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    It depends on the type of riding. Normal trail riding, even in fairly rocky conditions doesn't demand full suspension. Full suspension will give you more options in terms of where you can put your tires on the trail, but IMO it makes you lazy. I went from a hard tail to full suspension and back to a fully rigid bike. I never realized how much easier trail riding is with a full sus bike, and how much more fun it is on a hard tail or rigid.

    All personal preference of course, but that's my opinion on it.
    :wq

  7. #7
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    I needed a full suspension bike when I was following a fast group of riders and I was less fit. Not so much on the technical stuff as I was able to keep up just fine. But with smoother sections of undulation and small bumps. The FS guys sat and pedaled. I had to lift my butt off the seat and hover or bmx pedal the entire section. They got to rest while I kept the effort up. Wore me down a lot faster.

    I got an FS bike and really pedaled out the miles on the trails.

    Then I got bored.

    So I picked up a rigid, single speed.

    Then it got anti-social. I was killing everyone on the climbs and rougher areas.

    So now I have a hardtail with 9 gears. I can be social and have fun dancing with my bike on the trails. It lets me feel the terrain but not get pummelled by it.

    Ah....so much fun.
    Just get out and ride!

  8. #8
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    I thought I needed a full suspension when I got into to MTB at the beginning of the year. In fact, many of my friends told me I did. The problem was, I never could muster up a good FS budget, so I settled for a HT 29er for a little less than $1 k (including tax). Now, I love that bike and have started heading towards the more technical obstacles, just to do it. For instance, when I hit a rocky section on a downhill, instead of taking the smoothest line, I often head toward the area with a little more drops, gaps, etc. You can ride everything you want with a HT...I have no regrets at all.
    Since I don't like writing, I don't have a blog to pimp. This space for rent.

  9. #9
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    I'd argue that you need a full suspension bike if you want to be competitive in high levels of downhill racing.
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.

  10. #10
    MTB skillz = NADA
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkj__
    I'd argue that you need a full suspension bike if you want to be competitive in high levels of downhill racing.
    That's not mountain biking...that's downhill coasting for speed.
    Since I don't like writing, I don't have a blog to pimp. This space for rent.

  11. #11
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    let me put it this way there is only so much a HT can do, but FS can do all the things a HT plus more. A good FS MTB can also be a good HT
    2008 Novara System 2.0

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbGreg
    yeah, I agree. And you don't even NEED A MOUNTAIN BIKE EITHER. But we all own one anyway!
    Pshaw! Of course we NEED mountain bikes. Just take a look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

    Physiological: MTB improves our breathing, sleep, and sex (get fit you get more).
    Safety: MTB makes us healthier.
    Love/Belonging: Some MTB people (Yeti) even talk about belonging to a "tribe."
    Esteem: Self esteem and confidence get a big boost after finally getting that techy section down, no?
    Self-actualization: Spontaneity/creativity. Just look at some of the MTB FR videos out there to see what level of spontaneous creativity can be reached.

    So I guess we need FS, to answer the OP, when a HT just no longer provides those. Up until then it's all about comfort and fun.

    David B.

  13. #13
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    Then spend the extra $300:
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...elite_ds09.htm

    Or go with slightly lower end components at $1k.
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...mcomp_ds08.htm

  14. #14
    Misses elastomer shocks
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    we rode rigid or hardtail for a long time before these new-fangled full suspension bikes came around. we did just fine on all but the most gnarly trails (ie 8 foot drops).
    _________________
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  15. #15
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    Like this?

    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/VzZkKE9Z35g&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/VzZkKE9Z35g&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

  16. #16
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    On a FS bike, it is easier to go fast over rough ground.

    The more difficult question is: is that what you need/want?

    I usually seem to enjoy riding my HT more than my FS. Despite/Because it is more work over the bumps, rocks and roots.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainjoon
    Like this?

    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/VzZkKE9Z35g&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/VzZkKE9Z35g&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>
    I actually hate this video.....Seen it so many times before! OH THE PAIN!!!! That first dude that misses the turn and throws his bike! WHAT A DOUCHE!

    Seriously OP I ride the same single track trails with my 5"FS as my HT and I can honestly say the HT does the job but the FS does it way way better! The combined BB height and traction advantage as well as the added comfort Id say go with the FS as long as it's a good design it fits your riding style well!
    The most important thing is what God thinks about it. He will have the final say. Joshua Stinebrink

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  18. #18
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    Awesome insight guys thx. Like I said I'm new to the sport and am trying to get a grasp at it all. I'm glad I bought the HT so that I will be a better rider when that day comes that I feel the need to upgrade to a FS.

  19. #19
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    If you haven't bought yet, spend the extra $300 and get the full suspension Fantom Elite.

    It sounds like you have the budget, so why not? It's different when noobs pop up saying they want full suspension for $500 which will be a pile of garbage. If you do any real downhill (ie. you climb a mountain for 30-45+min to get to the top) you're going to be pissed that you didn't go full suspension.

  20. #20
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    When you want to go as fast as possible off road.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbeinct
    Pshaw! Of course we NEED mountain bikes. Just take a look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

    Physiological: MTB improves our breathing, sleep, and sex (get fit you get more).
    Safety: MTB makes us healthier.
    Love/Belonging: Some MTB people (Yeti) even talk about belonging to a "tribe."
    Esteem: Self esteem and confidence get a big boost after finally getting that techy section down, no?
    Self-actualization: Spontaneity/creativity. Just look at some of the MTB FR videos out there to see what level of spontaneous creativity can be reached.

    So I guess we need FS, to answer the OP, when a HT just no longer provides those. Up until then it's all about comfort and fun.

    David B.

    Haha nice, i like it
    Feel free to check out my personal website, Greg Heil.com

  22. #22
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    i still say go with the FS 300 more is not a lot to pay plus it seems to have better parts too. By the looks it seems your are already thinking n moving to a FS my .02
    2008 Novara System 2.0

  23. #23
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    The decision on a HT or FS depends on the rider's preference. There is nothing wrong with riding a HT or riding a FS. I ride FS but I am turning 40 and like the cushion and being able to ride over rough stuff and let the bike take most of the absorption.

    However, a HT has better pedaling efficiency because you don't lose a portion of the power to the rear suspension. A good FS will allow you to adjust the "squishiness" of the front and rear shocks to either loosen them up or tighten them to where it practically acts like a HT. Heck, my AS-X I can get it to act like a HT rigid almost (not exactly).
    I don't use Strava. Don't need an application to tell me I am slow because I already know.

  24. #24
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    They are all great, but you need different flavor sometimes

    They both serve different purpose to you. You can ride a rough terrain on the FS one day and another you can do it on the HT to hone your skills. FS, to me makes things on the trail easier, more comfortable, and eventually faster.

    Can you do it on a rigid HT sure you can, you just have to spend time developing the skills. One of my riding partner is riding Fullly rigid Fat Chance and he kick everyone's ass up and down the trail. It's not the bike I can tell you that.

    To OP, a good design FS is faster for most riders on the climb and on the descend. My wife has a custom HT 23lbs consistently do our normal ride in 1hr and 35 min. When she got her Racer X 25lbs the first ride she did it in 1 hr and 20 min a lot of that is the faster time on descend, and new bike syndrome. Now she's consistently do 1hr and 15 min. It's easier to ride FS than HT, now she own's 2 HT and 2 FS



  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MonkeyTrail
    i still say go with the FS 300 more is not a lot to pay plus it seems to have better parts too. By the looks it seems your are already thinking n moving to a FS my .02

    I second that. FS is awesome, and if that's all the more it is, it's a definite must!
    Feel free to check out my personal website, Greg Heil.com

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrayBeard Pirate
    That's not mountain biking...that's downhill coasting for speed.
    Ha, well let's not let that stereotype get popular with the new riders! DH riding can be a beast!

    You don't need a full suspension bike, but it can make your experience much better on very rough or long rides. It can lead to longer rides or rides through more technical terrain. I understand the claim that it's more "purist" is you're riding without full suspension, but as long as you have fun, who cares? I have hardtails and I have full suspension, and I'll be happy to say that both types are bikes and both are fun.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  27. #27
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    Give me your wife.

    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885
    They both serve different purpose to you. You can ride a rough terrain on the FS one day and another you can do it on the HT to hone your skills. FS, to me makes things on the trail easier, more comfortable, and eventually faster.

    Can you do it on a rigid HT sure you can, you just have to spend time developing the skills. One of my riding partner is riding Fullly rigid Fat Chance and he kick everyone's ass up and down the trail. It's not the bike I can tell you that.

    To OP, a good design FS is faster for most riders on the climb and on the descend. My wife has a custom HT 23lbs consistently do our normal ride in 1hr and 35 min. When she got her Racer X 25lbs the first ride she did it in 1 hr and 20 min a lot of that is the faster time on descend, and new bike syndrome. Now she's consistently do 1hr and 15 min. It's easier to ride FS than HT, now she own's 2 HT and 2 FS



  28. #28
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    2 awesome bikes, BTW.

    Huge fan of Titus.

  29. #29
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    Thanks, her other 2

    Klein Adroit taper head tube, I guess they're making a come back now.
    Intense 5.5, The other HT is the Soulcrafts Title Nine, one of the last ones made now they are all Option 3


  30. #30
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    Holy sh*t...

    Damn you and your awesome collection!
    Ibis Mojo, Maverick ML8 and your wife's collection ...damn!
    What is that...$20K worth collection there? Maybe more?

    Adopt me.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaveGiant
    saddle.
    i agree with everything you said but the saddle part. sure you could rock it trials style but have fun riding more than a mile without sitting.

  32. #32
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    My mistake was waiting too long to get into FS riding. I used to be of the "you don't NEED a FS" school of thought. But, I enjoy it so much more. I will also say that it has been much safer for me. My FS is much more stable over bumps in the trail.

    I say go FS early. Don't wait. When I started MTBiking there seemed to be the right of passage attitude, like "grasshoper, you're not ready for FS." Some guys were like, "I rode HT for five years before I first rode FS." It's like the surfing movie where you surf some 15 foot palm tree without a skeg carved into a board to learn the "purity" of the sport.

    Na man, go for the technology and crush the earth. You are man--tool user. Tame the wild earth by all means available. I seriously think my chest hair is thicker since I've been riding FS.

  33. #33
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    You do go a lot faster on techy downhill on FS because there is more confidence...but it is more exciting to go down a techy downhill on an HT because you feel like you're about to lose control of the bike (Which sometimes, you do). I have about 30 scars on my shins, knees and elbows as witnesses.

    It's like this.
    On the crazy downhills, you are in control of your FS bike, but your HT bike is in control of you.

    LOL...not exactly but you get my point.

    BTW, I ride both and I'm more biased towards FS bikes because I'm a wuss.

  34. #34
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    Well now that we get the ball rolling

    First thing first, Full Suspension Rocks . It's like cheating in the way. Like many who state earlier you can get down tech stuff with more confidence and control, if you do that on the hard tail you have to know where to put your weight/unweight, fore/aft on the bike in order to keep the bike in control. If you get mad skills like Brian Lopes you don't need a FS, though he's riding FS as well.

    Talking about new school and old school, my most important investment is the adjustable seat post. It allows you to drop your saddle up from 3-5" depending on brands and model. When I first started, people who show me the loop help me set up the bike and said the seat position is the most important thing to set up you set once and never touch it again. I learn that to be total BS a few years later.

    I found that if I drop the saddle height I have better control of the bike on the descend. The high post is only good for one thing, optimum position for climbing, on a rolling singletrack I found that dropping 1-1.5" is perfect 2-2.5" for technical climb and all the way down (5" for me) for the descend. I adjust me saddle height at least 30 times in one ride. Now I try to put them on all my bikes.

  35. #35
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    You guys are all starting to worry me now that I made the wrong choice. I guess I should have posted this thread before buying from bikes direct. Being new I was told that the 29er hardtail in a way bridges the gap between a 26HT and a 26FS. I wanted to get the most bike for my money which is why I went with the Fantom 29er. I'm sure the ride will still be awesome...I just hate to feel like I'm missing out on something.

  36. #36
    Disgruntled Peccary
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    i agree with everything you said but the saddle part. sure you could rock it trials style but have fun riding more than a mile without sitting.
    I broke a QR seat clamp at the bottom of about a 4mi hill a few weeks back. It's doable, pretty much exactly like riding a BMX bike... the bigger problem was actually not having the thing to leverage the rear end of the bike around than actually not being able to sit.
    mike

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ground Truth
    ... Being new I was told that the 29er hardtail in a way bridges the gap between a 26HT and a 26FS. I wanted to get the most bike for my money which is why I went with the Fantom 29er. I'm sure the ride will still be awesome...I just hate to feel like I'm missing out on something.
    Being new ... you don't quite know your preferences yet.

    A 29er HT should be smoother than a 26er, so it is a sensible solution in that way. After riding it for some time, you might realise that you want something different and contract the "N+1" syndrome: N is the number of bikes you have now and N+1 is the number you want to have

  38. #38
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    after having my HT for 4 years with low end components, finally i decided to spoil my back and get FS with the high end components.

    if you have limited budget, go to HT and develop your skill with it.
    in the matter of time, when you have the control of your bike in riding, go to FS.

    but, if you have more budget to be spent, just go to FS.


    ps: i just have my FS for less than a week, and i'm still get used to it. the new feeling of comfortable until now still makes me nervous with the bike. i guess... the bondage between me and the bike hasn't connected really good.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Being new ... you don't quite know your preferences yet.

    A 29er HT should be smoother than a 26er, so it is a sensible solution in that way. After riding it for some time, you might realise that you want something different and contract the "N+1" syndrome: N is the number of bikes you have now and N+1 is the number you want to have
    Thanks, that makes alot of sense. I am stoked about my 29er HT and I know it's going to be a blast because mountain biking as a whole is new to me. It's just a little buyer remorse after you make a big purchase. You alwys want to make sure you got the right thing. I'm going to work on my skills on my HT which will make getting a FS more rewarding IMHO when that time comes. Thanks to all who replied, it really did help me out.

  40. #40
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    Everyone should learn mtbing on a HT. If you really want to master bike handling skills, you should ride a fully rigid bike.... It's all gravy after that. Of course, that's just my opinion.

    Be aware, that your body is going to hurt for several rides, until it gets used to things. Your ass is gonna hurt like hell, where your sit bones come in contact with the seat. Your back, and neck will probably be sore, not to mention your legs. You would go through this, even if you had bought a FS bike. It's just the body's adjustment period to mtbing. You just have to work through it. So don't feel like you bought the wrong bike, after your first 10 mile ride.

    The problem with starting on a FS bike, IMO, is that because you can comfortably carry so much more speed over obstacles, newbies tend to get out of control, and quickly get out of their skill level into trouble....and crashes are much more spectacular at higher speeds.

    Once you master the basic bike handling skills, have done lots of riding, and really feel in control of your bike in all situations ..... then it's time to move on to the FS, for the comfort, and faster downhill speeds.

  41. #41
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    Great advice, thanks

  42. #42
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    Well, it takes sometimes

    Mountain bikes and components takes sometimes to learn. When you are new you don't know yet what to get everything seems new. Everyone advertise their stuff to be the best. The learning curve can be quite steep at the beginning but once things start to click you are in a good shape.

    There's a little dues to pay until you learn the different between Shimano, and Sram then the different model and what it does, what makes the top model different to the next one and so on. Then it's on to the bike the different between the 26, 650b, and 29er. Then move on to the bike category, Full suspension/ Hard tail/ soft tail and there sub category, XC/AM/DJ/4X/DH, not to mention the in between ones. Custom or production. What tires, brakes, saddle, glove , you get the point.

    It takes time to experience the pros/cons of MTB things, that's why riders who's been doing it for a while can spend the same $1500 and get more bike than someone who just started.

    Everyone try to be unique and offers different design and ride traits, I've tried a few designs myself and have a good idea of what I like and how I like my ride to be. It turns out what I want is pretty much the same as an average riders want and most companies are working on delivering one for us.

    You asked the right question and get pretty good answer across the board, all you have to do now is get out there and ride and support the Mountain bike community to help it grows. Keep suggestion as guideline but you are the one riding your bike don't be afraid to try both side of the argument and make your own decision.

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