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  1. #1
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    Please Explain the FS Thing To Me?

    I've been riding Steel HT's forever.
    My last one was a Bontrager Race which is now my SS.
    Currently, I ride a Sycip Reynolds 853 Steel HT.
    I absolutely love the quick handling, light feeling, immediate response of the bike.
    Anyway, my riding buddies have been telling me for years to "go over to the dark side" and buy a FS bike.
    So, I've been setting my sights on one of the Giant Anthem X bikes.
    I borrowed my buddy's Anthem X2 last night for a while.
    Man, the thing felt like a truck.
    I noticed the slow responses and extra weight immediately.
    Compared to my Sycip, it felt sluggish, too tall, and heavy.
    It did climb technical rocky ascents better than the Sycip though, and it was more comfy on the downhills.
    But I just couldn't get over the sluggish, heavy feeling.
    I guess FS just isn't for me.
    I'm sure you'll all chime in and say that over the course of a ride, I'll have more energy and won't feel as beat up as on my HT.
    Sure, I agree with that.
    But at what expense? Fun, responsiveness, airy flickability?
    No thanks.
    If I'm missing something on the FS boat, please enlighten me.
    Thanks all,
    Lenny

  2. #2
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    I look at it like this. To me, an FS is not a replacement for my hardtails, it's something I ride in addition to my hardtails. An FS will allow you to go faster through the rough stuff. It also allows you to be a little sloppy on the trails, you don't always have to pick the best line, and you don't always have to land smooth off of jumps or drops. They're also nice if you have a rough approach to a jump or drop. You can argue whether that's a good thing or not, but to me it just gives a different riding experience. At the other end of the spectrum, I still ride a rigid occasionally for similar reasons. I don't really compare my rigid to my hardtails to my FS in terms of what is better, but rather in terms of what do I want to ride today. You need to enjoy what the bike does well and not fixate on what it does poorly.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  3. #3
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    I have a FS bike sitting in the garage I havent ridden once this year. I do agree that they tend to be hard to pedal or at least mine is. However that being said at my last race a couple of days ago I passed five riders on FS bikes on a very long climb of about 6 miles. Every single one was on a FS bike. Guess what? On the long descent of about 4 miles over some rocky stuff every single one of them passed me I missed a podium spot by about 3 minutes over a 2 hour race. Not really scientific but I think the right FS bike can make you a little bit faster and of course it can be fun to really bomb down a hill on a decent FS bike.

  4. #4
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    How much does your hardtail weigh? Get a full suspension bike that's 1-2 pounds more than yours then compare. That's how much a full suspension bike with comparable quality (components included) should weigh. What I am saying is the difference between comparable quality hardtail and full suspension frame should be like 1-2 lbs only.

    Comparing a production Giant Anthem X2 to a made to order specialty frame like Sycip is not fair.

    I built an Ellsworth Truth to 23 lbs sometime ago. It was more of a geometry issue, more stretch out, higher bottom bracket (of course because of the travel) that made me sell it rather than flickablilty or the weight.

  5. #5
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    Great quick responses, all of you.
    Not fixating on what one bike does worse than another bike is something I didn't consider.
    Like I said, FS definitely climbs technical better, and descends better.
    And, comparing my 25 lb HT to a probably close to 30 lb FS isn't fair.
    Thanks all, and keep the comments coming.
    Lenny

  6. #6
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    Having recently moved from HT to FS, I felt like my first FS bike (my Prophet) was too tall, somewhat ungainly and too much bob it weighs in at 29.9lbs.

    I've since added a Pivot to my garage, has even more travel than the Prophet but feels entirely different, almost zero bob, I don't feel perched up and its very agile. My Pivot weighs in at 25.9lbs which probably helps alot but it cost dearly to build to a 5.5" travel bike at that weight. You really need to open up the wallet for lightweight FS bikes, I carefully chose every single component on this bike and had custom wheels built as well.

    I do still have my HT but it hasn't been used in awhile.
    '10 Pivot Cycles Mach 5! -- 07' C'dale Prophet 3 -- 08' C'dale Caffeine HT /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/ Pivot FTW

  7. #7
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    I went from a HT to a Giant Trance X (5" travel f/r).

    The hardtail was ~28lbs, and the stock X0 was 27 lbs. From there I WW'd it to 22.8 lbs.

    I can say that the descending is much easier on my TX, it's almost "point and shoot". While I had to pick my lines carefully with my HT, I would just crash through it with my FS.

    On the climbs, I feel (with propedal) that my back wheel doesn't hop around over roots/rocks as much with my fs. Can't say if it's faster or not though, but since I lightened it up it climbs very well.

    One other big thing I noticed though is how much better my back feels after 3-6 hr rides. On
    my HT my back would be pretty fatigued, but it has been considerably reduced on the fs.

    Now, I only use my HT on the road and for smooth XC. Call me lazy or old/tired, but the smoother ride is a nice benefit.

    Quote Originally Posted by sluflyer06
    You really need to open up the wallet for lightweight FS bikes, I carefully chose every single component on this bike and had custom wheels built as well.

    I do still have my HT but it hasn't been used in awhile.
    So true.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny
    Great quick responses, all of you.
    Not fixating on what one bike does worse than another bike is something I didn't consider.
    Like I said, FS definitely climbs technical better, and descends better.
    And, comparing my 25 lb HT to a probably close to 30 lb FS isn't fair.
    Thanks all, and keep the comments coming.
    Lenny
    If you get a chance to get a carbon Trek Top Fuel 9.9SSL out for a spin, I think you'd be impressed. It climbs like a goat and descends like a lion But again, a 21 - 22 pound full suspension doesn't come cheap.

  9. #9
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    Also, it sounds like you made the determination that FS was not for you based on one ride on a borrowed bike, and for how long ? In my opinion, you need to ride something a few times to really get a feel for it. You were fresh off your HT, probably in the middle of the trail, and switched up bikes. I bet your buddy had a host of complaints about your HT, like you id the Giant FS bike.

    Anyways, any 30LB bike will feel sluggish to most any 25lb bike. As for the ease in which the FS bike climbed and descended, have you tried a HT 29er? They climb really well even in HT form, because of the larger contact patch of the tire. Same goes for descending. Just my 2 cents.

  10. #10
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    I tore a hamstring hopping my rear wheel over rocks on my hardtail. Well, that and cranking through deep sand.

    Walt

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BP73
    As for the ease in which the FS bike climbed and descended, have you tried a HT 29er? They climb really well even in HT form, because of the larger contact patch of the tire. Same goes for descending. Just my 2 cents.
    As a matter of fact, yes, I rode the Giant XTC 1 29er and absolutely loved it
    Even though I was sitting up much taller than my 26 HT, the bike didn't feel tall, heavy and ponderous. And I was absolutely amazed at how well it climbed.

    I've been trying to decide between a 29er (probably the Giant) and a FS bike.
    Seems like I'm a HT guy at heart.
    The fact that I can get a nice 29er like the Giant for under $2K that performs right out of the box is a big plus to me.
    I feel that for a FS that I'd like, it would cost at least twice as much.
    Lenny

  12. #12
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    I like them both, hardtail and FS. You eventually get used to the extra weight, and like you said, if you spend enough $$ on it, a FS bike can be made pretty light. For me, the FS bikes are funner when I feel like just "playing around" and general trail riding. I have more fun on FS bikes when it comes to log hopping, rocks, and jumping. But when it comes time to put the hammer down, I favor my 29er HT. Plus, I can tackle typical XC technical terrain ( NOT free ride or AM stuff ) on a 29er HT just as easily on a 26FS bike.

    If your in the market for a 29er, KONA makes a scandium HT that is pretty nice, and of course I am partial to Niners where you can get an 853 steel HT, or a Scandium, or if your on a budget, a cheaper aluminum model. They all share about identical geometry so pick your favorite material !

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny
    I've been riding Steel HT's forever.
    My last one was a Bontrager Race which is now my SS.
    ....
    Dude if you've been riding this long, remember when front suspension forks first came out. Half the riders resists saying "it felt sluggish, too tall, and heavy" and the the other half said this is the future and all bikes will have them. FS is about the same, that is why most of us are on them. But stick to what you like to ride, no reason to switch if you don't need to.

  14. #14
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    Full suspension covers a really broad spectrum of riding experiences. Kind of like comparing your Sycip to an entry level big brand bike, you know?

    I held out for a long time, too, because every full suspension bike I tried rode like a couch and just neutered the trail. After finding a hard tail with a fit and geometry that I really, really liked a few years ago, I decided to see what I was missing by purchasing the FS version of that geometry from the same company.

    I kind of blundered into this, but the FS I chose rides kind of like and awesome hard tail. The design is one that most folks consider antiquated and inefficient, the upshot to that being that I can actually feel the trail surface under me. Conversely, it is more forgiving on the long haul. When I get to ride, I tend to gorge myself like a youth group at a family style buffet, so that works out well.

    My hard tail sits at about 25 lbs., the FS at about 27.

    Point is this: not all FS bike are created equal. You just have to know what it is you are looking for.
    "Bikes aren't fast--people are fast. Bikes are overpriced. It's an important distinction."---BikeSnob NYC

  15. #15
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    In this day and age a 25 pound bike is
    heavy. HT bikes are way under 20 pounds
    and FS XC bikes are way under 25 pounds.
    I just built a Yeti ASR-Carbon without trying
    hard to make it light, and it came in at 22.8
    pounds. I really don't see how a 25 pound
    HT can beat a modern FS bike.

    Best, John

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kuhl
    In this day and age a 25 pound bike is
    heavy. HT bikes are way under 20 pounds
    and FS XC bikes are way under 25 pounds.
    I just built a Yeti ASR-Carbon without trying
    hard to make it light, and it came in at 22.8
    pounds. I really don't see how a 25 pound
    HT can beat a modern FS bike.
    Best, John
    Alright John, this ain't the WW forum. For many of us a 25lb HT is light. It's not WW light, but it's light. And come on, you did so put some effort (and money) into getting a 22.8 FS. Can I ride it?
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville
    Alright John, this ain't the WW forum. For many of us a 25lb HT is light. It's not WW light, but it's light. And come on, you did so put some effort (and money) into getting a 22.8 FS. Can I ride it?
    Yeah, I'm going to have to agree with trail on this one. FS XC bikes can be under 25 lbs, but it's going to cost alot. To say they are WAY under is a stretch. Unless you are spending 3000$+ or on the WW forum.

    A XC bike like the giant anthem X1, which MSRP is ~3700 USD and that is just under 25 lbs w/o pedals. 3700$ isn't the typical amount of cash someone spends on a bike. The more common bike is the Anthem X2, which is 25.5 lbs for 2850$ USD To get way under 25, you are going to have to spend even more money.

    And way under 20 lbs for a HT? To get a HT under 20 lbs, 3x9 gearing will cost you quite abit.

    For most cyclists (people coming to this site), spending 1000 to 2000$ on a bike is probably typical, and to get under 25/20 lbs for a FS/HT (3x9, disc brakes, etc) is not going to happen at that price.

    I got my Giant Trance X0 to 22.8 lbs, but that cost me quite abit and is definitely not a typical build.

  18. #18
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    it depends on the trails you ride,if they're smooth and/or the rocks are easy to go around, then a hardtail might be just the thing.It's all relative i have a carbon 4 inch travel "race" bike and comparing it to my current 6/6 xc/fr rig ,it's the light and flickable bike, but on a lot of my trails i'm definitely faster on the bigger suspension,at least for a couple of hours ,after 2 hrs the climbs on the lighter bike are very noticably easier.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny
    I borrowed my buddy's Anthem X2 last night for a while.
    Man, the thing felt like a truck.

    Lenny
    I bet if that Anthem lived in your garage, you would be giving it another try in a week or 2. Then you would again notice the difference in climbing and the cushiness on the downhills.
    Soon you would be thinking about the upcoming rides, and imagining each of your bikes for that ride, and picking the Anthem sometimes.
    Eventually, you would ride it more and more. Then you start buying lighter parts for it.....
    then you are hooked.

  20. #20
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    I rode my 2008 Giant Trance 2 (not X2) in the Fat Tire 40 in Hayward WI this past weekend. Just under 1800 racers and it was a blast. My Trance 2 weighs in at about 29lbs, around 2 lbs heavier than my K2 hardtail I rode the previous 2 times. My Trance climbed great, the crazy fast bumpy/rutty descents were more in control and I didn't really notice the 2 lbs. Biggest difference was that I actually felt good at the end of the race and not beat up, my time was within a minute of my best time 7 years ago.

    On a side note, most of the bikes I saw were hardtails- a lot of them really looked set up for light weight. That said, both the mens and womens winners were on Trek FS bikes, Brian Matter, the men's winner broke the course record by over 5 minutes ( 2 hours 2 min.), and 49 year old Steve Tilford came in 3rd-less than a minute behind. Ridiculously fast pace given the number of climbs. I'd love to have a sub 25lb FS bike but I have a son in college and lots of bills so that won't ever happen.
    Last edited by robc in wi; 09-23-2009 at 06:56 PM.

  21. #21
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    my fs bike is more fun, more flickable, and better in the air than my hardtail.. and its more comfortable.

    if you dont like it dont buy one. not a big deal.

  22. #22
    ride more
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    I like having both, it makes your same old trails ride different depending on what bike your on.

  23. #23
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    ^^ and that's it for me. Why does it always have to be one or the other?

  24. #24
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    I'm completely with you. I'm still riding a 71-degree headtube bike from 1992. And I have a Bontrager Race as well .

    So, there are two things to keep in mind:

    1) They are basically different sports and you have to see it like that. Many of the skills I have - I can do down some pretty gnarly downhills on my hardtail - are useless with FS. Despite my feeling I can do very serious downhills on my hardtail (this is comparitively - I did see Red Bull Rampage and that resets everything for everyone ), anyway people with 5" suspension go right by me on their 5th day of biking while I'm using all of my 'techniques' and experience. So, if you like tight singletrack and know lots of places with flowy lines, keep doing it. Its a different sport. If you like rock gardens and bombing through downhill stuff, then get a 5" and do that. If you are getting older and want to ride for 6+ hours in a single day (I do a lot of that, i.e., Henry Coe) then get the 5". You will find that at a place like Whistler or Mammoth or wherever, which are quite popular these days, hardtails are pretty lame. Although both places have in the last few years tried to add a bunch of more cross country kind of stuff.

    You travel at a different average speeds and it takes a completely different set of skiills. The chance for injury is much higher with FS because you can go so fast downhill. Stuff I spent months learning to do on a hardtail on a 5" Maverick I just went by without even changing steering, body position, or anything. I could have been reading a book! Crazy!

    Okay, #2. I'm getting older. My hardtail is in a race position, seat about 2 or 3 inches above the handlebars, and my wrists just can't take it anymore. My back doesn't like that position, my whole body is just really getting tired of that bike. It was awesome 15 years ago, and I rode from SF to LA on it over 4 100-mile days, one day over 10,000 feet of climbing (Big Sur) and it was awesome. I loved it. And my back nor wrists hurt. They do now on a 1-day 3 hrs ride. The new FS bikes are a million times easier on the body. Its that simple.


    Okay, that said, I would consider not the Anthems or Yeti ASRs, etc. that you mention, try a 5" Trail bike. Those are all 'race' bikes, and Trail bikes have a bit more cush, and if well designed don't bob. They will be nice to your body. Say to yourself as you bike, "this is a different sport, this is a different sport" embrace it, and then see if you like it. If you don't like it, then keep doing what you are doing! (Rentals are great.)

    Going from a hardtail to FS, a process I'm also going through, I'd recommend one of the following bikes:

    Scott Genius
    Maverick Durance
    Pivot Mach 5
    Pivot Mach 429
    Ibis SL

    The Pivot's in particular will feel more like your hardtail but will have the suspension there. The Scott will allow you to ride with 0, 3.7 or 6 inches of suspension, so you can be undecided (and happy) for years . The Ibis is the lightest 5" no-bob bike if weight is your thing.

    The big thing that gives FS a bad name is all of the bobbing. The advanced designs don't bob much at all. Go with a no-bob FS only. Research the amount of bob for any bike you're interested in and only look into no-bob bikes.

    Several of the bikes above go under or at 25 lbs if XTR, and go Ibis SL 5" if you are crazy about weight, 22 lbs.

    Oh - and to your one comment above, yes you have to pay 2X or more for these bikes. The good no-bob FS bikes at 25 lbs are all around 4 - 7k. You can probably get in at around 5k if you want to.

    Just keep saying "this is a different sport, this is a different sport..." And if you don't like it forget it! Do you do 6 hr+ adventure biking, 50 mile out and back into deep deep forests? If not, give that kind of riding a try. Then see what it does to your body, and see how much easier it is on a 5".

  25. #25
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    "I've been trying to decide between a 29er (probably the Giant) and a FS bike."


    Mach 429!!!!

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