Big Mtn Biker
Full Suspension Vs. Hardtail
Having always had a hardtail I have played with the idea of retiring my Cannondale CAAD 2 F400 Hardtail that I bought in 1998 (I think) for a full suspension ride. My concern is whether or not the full suspension handle my weight (6'4 285 lbs)? I have no experience with full suspension so I don't really know their capabilities but have heard nothing but good things about them. Is there one better than the others? or is just personal preference? Any and all advice welcomed and appreciated!!!
First off, yeah, no problem with your weight. Just make sure you're looking at a bike with a relatively low suspension ratio. A 5" travel with a 2" stroke shock is an example (Iron Horse MkIII comes to mind, only because that was the last buff dualie I owned, but there are tons of others with similar numbers). As long as it's not a light weight race frame, you ought to be ok. Low leverage ratio means you'll be running low air pressures (or spring rates) on your rear shock.
Originally Posted by bigmtnman
First piece of unsolicited advice: keep your hardtail. Always great to have a backup bike, and you're not going to get much for it.
Second piece of unsolicited advice: a guy your size, you're a prime candidate for 29" wheels. Ventana and Lenz have some beefy full suspension frames that would easily accomodate your height and weight. Visit the 29" forum, and repost this question there for some more suggestions.
∑ MTBR Hiatus UFN ∑
29" Wheels have less strength than 26" wheels. I'd advice a coil shock because air shocks are rated up to 300 PSI and I'm not sure what the rider rating for ~285 pounds is, but it'll be cutting it close. Plus, coil feels better.
There are simply SO many capable dual suspension bikes on the market these days that choosing a best is nearly impossible. I, like many fellow MTBR posters, have found some to be more efficient in certain areas than others but need a lot more information to make some specific recommendations.
I can tell you that since 1998, rear suspension designs (both the linkage/ frame design and platform valving within the shock itself) have improved exponentially. The few drawbacks to running a dual suspension design back then (pedal bob, loss of traction, added weight, etc.) have all been basically remedied.
There are certainly models designed for your stature, it is good advice to seek a coil-over shock that isnít so sensitive to rider weight.
Everytime I have a customer with the same question, this is what I tell him:
Think about Mission Peak (2 mille steeeeep climb fireroad entire time). Now imagine you're riding with your friend on a hardtail. Don't want bob? Ok, just lock it out. Or put it in pro pedal for a 'half open half closed' feel. So, you both take off. His bike is a couple pounds lighter than yours, so by the time you make it up, he's been there for maybe, what, a minute? Ok, now, the fun part. 2 miles of downhill, you flip a lever, and you've got 5 inches of plush travel. Your friend? Well, by the time he reaches you at the bottom, the car will be loaded up with your bike and you'll be ina lawn chair drinking a beer.
Sure, hardtails are nice for the climb, the fireroads. But when the trail gets tough, guess who profits from 5" of travel, 3", or what have you. You do. Plus pedaling the heavier bike gets you in better shape so it's really awesome kicking his butt up, too! I've never, EVER had a customer go from a fully to a hardtail. But, I see it vice versa every day...
How much can you spend?
The choice between HT and FS is very much a question of preferences.
I am sure I will always have a HT bike (simplicity, low maintenance, challenging in the rough spots)
A FS is good in a different way (easier to go fast through the rough spots, traction when climbing through the rocky and rooty sections, comfort).