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.
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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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    Why buy full suspenison?

    Im looking to upgrade from my entry level bike (a trek 4300 ht) and ive got about a $1200 budget. My riding has gotten much more aggressive. Started riding trails with 2-3 ft drops, more obstacles, just rougher in general. Does full suspension ever really become a necessity? I guess freeride and downhill it might be? Im a bigger guy 6'3 220lbs so my concern is buying a 1200 bike thats not going to be able handle my riding it. Im not interestd in racing, just recreation. Ive test rode quite a few bikes at my LBS and I really liked the 29ers I got to ride. Seemed to me that 1200 would only get my another entry level full suspension? Ive been reading alot of reviews on this site but I dont have much of a frame of reference so alot of it doesnt mean anything to me.

    I apologize if this has been answered a 100 times already. I couldnt find a thread that answered my questions..

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kendeathwalker
    Im looking to upgrade from my entry level bike (a trek 4300 ht) and ive got about a $1200 budget. My riding has gotten much more aggressive. Started riding trails with 2-3 ft drops, more obstacles, just rougher in general. Does full suspension ever really become a necessity? I guess freeride and downhill it might be? Im a bigger guy 6'3 220lbs so my concern is buying a 1200 bike thats not going to be able handle my riding it. Im not interestd in racing, just recreation. Ive test rode quite a few bikes at my LBS and I really liked the 29ers I got to ride. Seemed to me that 1200 would only get my another entry level full suspension? Ive been reading alot of reviews on this site but I dont have much of a frame of reference so alot of it doesnt mean anything to me.

    I apologize if this has been answered a 100 times already. I couldnt find a thread that answered my questions..
    Get to pick from a lot more lines.

  3. #3
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    That makes sense.. what about taking jumps/drops? its more about technique than the bike?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kendeathwalker
    That makes sense.. what about taking jumps/drops? its more about technique than the bike?
    "I dont have much of a frame of reference"--heh heh yeah my frame of reference is a 20# magnesium ht. No jumps in my past or future on it.

    You want a good used fs for $1200, nothing from your shop. It's doable. Go for the full bike, because you won't be able to move many parts over. (It'll be disc brake, so new wheels, etc.)

  5. #5
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    Keep in mind at your weight you will have a lot of peddle bob, which doesnt sound bad until you are hauling a 32+ pound bike uphill, UNLESS you get a bike that is dilaed in for your weight and riding style. I personally would buy a high quality hardtail, as I was in your same boat about a year ago, and bought a FS, Now I only ride it if I am downhilling, I ride my hardtail for everything else
    Buy My 2010 Mint COndition Transition Covert LARGE 150mm Full suspension. 2000 firm see classified add

  6. #6
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    you never NEED a full suspension bike. most people end up buying one because they're tired of getting beat up by a stiff rear, tired of spinning out over technical climbs, and want a bike thats faster down and up.

    220 isnt even pushing it, you'll be fine on a FS.. it sounds like you could use a 5 inch trail bike.

  7. #7
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    It depends

    I have both, a FS and a HT. I love the FS when I am feeling a bit lazier or feel like just cruising. The speed you can reach and the way you bounce smoothly down the trail on a FS is a lot of fun. If you are not racing the FS is nice. It is also much more comfortable. You don't feel as beat up after a long ride. Doing drops, only small ones here, are much more fun, you don't grit your teeth before your hit.

    PROS:
    Comfortable
    Faster downhill
    I have more fun coming downhill
    Don't feel as beat up after a long ride
    Your wheel sticks a lot better on technical up hills
    The chicks dig all the cool parts

    CONS:
    Lots of extra pieces, bushings, bearings
    Another shock to dial in
    The few I have had have always been noisy
    Heavier
    You usually get less bike for the $$
    You do have to deal with pedal bob, although a well built bike with good geometry and that fits you well shouldn't be too much of an issue

  8. #8
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    Thanks all of you for the feedback, I appreciate it.

    Tomsmoto, I dont know what you mean by 5 inch trail bike? are you referring to 5 inches of travel in the rear shock?

  9. #9
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    Dualies are fun, but so are hard tails. Best to have one of each if you can swing it. Ride each on the same trail and you'll have two different experiences. Heck, you could say the same about long travel FS vs. short travel FS, or hard tail vs. fully rigid, I suppose.

    Face it, if you choose the HT, you're going to wonder about the full suspension you didn't get, and the same will be true if the situation is reversed. So do your research, narrow your list down to a handful of bikes, and then pick based on your emotion. Riding is an emotional experience, and it's important to have a bike you "click" with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain biker 41
    Keep in mind at your weight you will have a lot of peddle bob
    WTF?

    Where'd that come from?
    speedub.nate
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  10. #10
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    I bought mine purely for comfort,I'm older and my back and bum just took a beating on my HT.You won't have to worry about peddle bob so much if you get an FS with a good quality rear shock.Mine has the Fox RP23 so it has Pro-Pedal damping and a lot of adjustments so you can set it to "on" and "3-high" and that should take out the peddle bob.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kendeathwalker
    Thanks all of you for the feedback, I appreciate it.

    Tomsmoto, I dont know what you mean by 5 inch trail bike? are you referring to 5 inches of travel in the rear shock?
    Yes,that means it has 5" of travel.

  12. #12
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    WTF?

    Where'd that come from?
    The majority of "first time FS riders" will test ride a FS and complain about the suspension being to soft or vise versa, if you read the rest of my post you will see I wrote UNLESS YOU GET IT DIALED IN. It is much easier to ride a hardtail with the front being to soft than a FS with the front and rear being too soft. It is just some advice to use when/if he goes to test ride a few bikes.

    Speednub nate is right, you will wonder about how the bike you didnt buy will feel,no matter what.

    The Op did mention that he has started doing more drops, so he needs to decide if he is going towards the route of bigger drops and a more freeride genre of riding, or if he is going to stick to 2-3 foot drops. If going towards freeride, a FS is probably more closer to the bike he is looking for. If not, hardtail. Thats just one thing to factor in
    Buy My 2010 Mint COndition Transition Covert LARGE 150mm Full suspension. 2000 firm see classified add

  13. #13
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    I'm 48 so my knees and such have been through alot of pounding over the years. Several years ago I bought an Ellsworth ISIS with a Cloud 9 shock. It was on special (frame only) for $699. I would never go back to a hardtail. My advice, look for a last years frame at a bargain. Get the toughest one you can with the least amount of pivot points (less to break). You will love what it will do for your riding. I do not fear bad lines on a downhill. Just hold on and the bike will hold the line. Thanks to Tony Ellsworth.

  14. #14
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    my knees were hurting too. fs GREATLY improved that.

    i think the picking lines thing is grossly blown out of proportion. check the online video sites, theres tons of videos of guys absolutely ripping downhill on hardtails. if you go from a hardtail to a 4 or 5 inch fs bike, you still have to pick lines, watch rocks, and maneuver through your trails. if you think you can hop on and bomb a dh course on a 4 inch fs bike, you'll be picking rocks out of your face at the hospital.. it'll do the same trails, it'll just do it more comfortably.

    after switching to fs, my riding style didnt change, im just a LOT less beat up at the end of a ride, and less fatigued.

  15. #15
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    Hey guys. Truly appreciate all the advice and feedback youve given me. Helped me make up my mind, that and I was offered a deal on a cannondale caffiene 29er which I had a blast riding around the parking lot, they actually had a pretty big grassy hill with some terraces so I got a feel for how it climbed and I dropped off a couple of the terraces. I did the same with a full suspension, the cannondale rize, and wasnt all that impressed. Defintely a more plush ride but didnt convice me it was worth the extra money. Im young, 23, and Im only a weekend warrior so hopefully when I get tired of beating myself up on hts ill have the dough to go pick up a full.

    Again, Thanks guys.

    On a slightly differnent note. I did at one point consider buying a frame and building it up. Saw a couple of deals on the classfieds and CL but Ive never done it before and I dont know all that much about components. Is there some place I can see like the heiarchy of parts? Meaning.. I know fox forks are at the top and Rock shox are towards the bottom, but in between I have no clue. Same for most other components.

  16. #16
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    i would go with a hard tail, you can suck up alot of bumps with your legs (more than i thought was possible untill i tried) downhill on a ht is really fun and more challenging, i would recommend more of a dirt jump/freeride orientated frame because they are going to be built stronger, they arent going to climb as well as a xc bike but they are burley and will hold up better and might allow for more travel, check out the jamis komodo theres the top model on sale at jensonusa

    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...0+Bike+06.aspx

    or if you are set on a fs, the new mongoose kyber might be the ticket it is 6.5'' travel and its alittle out of your price range, and it wont climb super well but its burley enough to take on true lift equipped downhill all the time

    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...e+Bike+08.aspx

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kendeathwalker
    I know fox forks are at the top and Rock shox are towards the bottom, but in between I have no clue. Same for most other components.
    id take a rock shox over basically anything. including fox. marzocchi is probably the bottom of the pole now rockshox has really turned itself around, they make a fantastic product.

  18. #18
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    If you ask me it all depends on how old/how in shape you are. I am 16 years old, so my joints and such are still fairly limber, and I enjoy how a HT makes you work. some however prefer the Fully where you can just kind of hammer through everything, where a HT IMO teaches you to pick lines and have better bike handling. just my $.02
    Save the Earth, Ride a Cyclist

  19. #19
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    You can bomb down hills on a hardtail if you have the skill. I lead the way on my 3 inches of travel hardtail xc race bike with a friend on a 5 inch travel bike behind me. A full suspension ride would definitely make this rough trail I'm describing easier on the back and a couple technical climbs less challenging, but if you have the speed you'll get up them. The efficiency of a hardtail is what keeps me on one, but someday I'll probably convert to a full suspension bike. Like someone else said propedal on the fox shocks is changing how people look at fs bikes.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  20. #20
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    Due to a dead and calcified disc in my lower back at L5-S1 the full suspension allows me to ride the trails day after day rather than taking a week off to rest and rehabilitate my back between rides. To me this makes the extra weight and cost totally worth it.

  21. #21
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    I'm basically in the same boat as the OP. I'm riding a used Trek 4300 ( with a few upgrades). I've been riding every Sunday for the last 3 months with a few mid week, after work rides tossed in.
    We ride pretty hilly ,rocky technical trails . I have no problem picking a line and being the leader on the steep downhills or the fast single track. I do have trouble with the hills. Some of it I believe is that my bike is not dialed in "for me" , second is that I just need to build up my climibing ability.
    I do love the drops, but nothing really more than what's on the trail ya knowin the 1-3ft range.
    I have become fascinated with the whole 29er thing.
    So I'm thinking about a 29er FS. I've been looking at the Fisher HiFi deluxe.
    I'm 6' and 215 lbs, and I'd like to keep the magic number under $2500 +/- a buck or two.

    I'm also looking at the Kona Dog Deluxe and Treks Top Fuel line if I decide not to go the 29er route.

    The problem is trying to honestly demo a bike, a LBS parking lot just doesn't cut it.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

  22. #22
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    hardtails rock if you have a good fork and some decent knees to asorb drops.

  23. #23
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    If your hardtail is still in good shape and could still be used on occasion as a second ride, then maybe you should go for a FS. I think one of the best buys right now might be the REI Novaro Method 1.0 for $1200 (normal $1700), I bet you would get a good warranty and service from them since it's their bike (our local REI has there own in house bike mechanics).

    Basically everyone I have talked to that has converted from hardtail to FS has been happy with the move. I am not done with hardtails just yet, but will eventually get a FS (but I will always keep my hardtail as a second ride, so I can mix it up).

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomsmoto
    id take a rock shox over basically anything. including fox. marzocchi is probably the bottom of the pole now rockshox has really turned itself around, they make a fantastic product.

    If Marz are at the bottom of that pole it's a very good pole.Admittedly they have had a few problems the last couple years as they are still adjusting from moving their manufacturing from Italy to Taiwan,but they're catching up now and the Marz Corsa WC forks I have are great forks and work fine.check out the user reviews and you will find that just like every other manufacturer they have their good products and also their bad ones.

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