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  1. #1
    fc
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    Too much bike VS Too little bike.

    Talking about bike rear travel, does one purchase (or use) a 0-100mm bike, a 130mm or 160+?

    I want to develop an article that is point/counterpoint on this subject maybe.

    It's classic personal preference but it's good to draw out the issues that affect this decision. It's a very cool story because there are merits to each side and it's good that the rider has a good options. It just takes some insight to bring out the motivation from each corner and how it can benefit the rider.

    Do you want a bike that will complement your strengths or one that will support you on your weaknesses?

    Are you advancing your skillset each time you ride or are you perfectly happy to pedal and just get out.

    Are you riding local, simple trails only or you seeking out the most challenging terrain in the area and going on road trips at every opportunity.

    Where do you stand in this spectrum and what choices have you made? Happy or looking to play in the other side?
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  2. #2
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    I chose a xc FS platform hopefully to enhance my performance. I'm trying to cut back on my limiters as much as possible!
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  3. #3
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    I advocate "just enough" travel. If I bottom out once or twice then it's just enough. No big hit stuff. But my main bike is rigid so there's that too.
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  4. #4
    fc
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    I chose a xc FS platform hopefully to enhance my performance. I'm trying to cut back on my limiters as much as possible!
    What's your 'limiters'? Uphill limiters? Statins or vices?
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  5. #5
    fc
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    Style and bike goals are key.

    Are you trying to get faster uphill or get better/safer/radder on downhills? Or are you aiming for both?
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  6. #6
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    I live in the mountains (AZ) and since returning to riding mtn bikes have only owned single speeds. I currently ride a steel hard tail, 140mm, single speed (+30lbs) and its my only bike. I ride all but the ďfree rideĒtype trails and love the tech of Sedona. That being said, I really want a second bike, waiting for demo days to come to town. I have had my eyes on a few geared and full suspension bikes. Ibis ripmo, and the Kona Process 153, since it would not be my primary bike may go the less expensive route. We will see after a few demoís. Want to have a bike with all the technologies to grow my descending and large drop/gaps skills.

  7. #7
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    I have 3 bikes because I like to ride different trails in different ways. Riding my heavier longer travel bike on smooth trails is boring as snot. Not enough tech to make the DH fun and too heavy to make the climbing fun. These trails are so much better on lighter faster bikes. Most of what I ride each week is not that techy and rewards climbing and cornering. As such my SS is great and my new XC 100/100 bike is great too. Only when I start to feel maxed out on sketchy terrain do I go for my "long travel' 130/125 FS bike. That is on far fewer rides than my other two bikes. If I am heading to unknown trails I will take my 100/100 XC bike since I can always walk a bit of trail, but dragging around a bike that 8lbs heavier just sucks the life out of me on long climbs.


    So generally I prefer less bike as it more fun more places given what I like to ride. I did once have a 7" travel 26er. I found that bike could handle down hill runs far beyond what I would even consider riding, but with that DH capability it was a dog everywhere else. On a lift assisted DH day I found I was faster on 27.5 130/125 bike in large part due the fact I could not use the extra travel of the 26er. So I got rid of it.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  8. #8
    SS Pusher Man
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    A good rider can do more with too little bike than a bad rider can with too much bike.

    Personally, I get a better sense of enjoyment cleaning trails on the SS that riders on 140-160mm bikes have trouble with.
    I resolve to constantly assert my honest opinion on anything and everything - whether it is requested or not.
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  9. #9
    Rod
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    FC,

    I think location plays a vital role in this discussion. Your local scene and trail builder determines all of those answers. I had a much longer response, but it all boils down to that. My local scene is all about miles and speed so I have bikes that support that. If I lived in Pisgah, AZ, Utah then I would have bikes for that terrain and scene.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  10. #10
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    I like being a bit underbiked. I'm an old school line picker, that's just part of the fun for me rather than just bombing down the trail letting the bike's suspension ride over everything. I'm also a light-weight climber and a finesse rider. My bike is currently 100/100 but I've bought a 120 fork; largely because it is a better fork. And I did add a dropper not too long ago which has lead me to be more bomby on descents than I was in the past.

    I'm always looking to improve but I'm mostly concerned about achieving that through better fitness. I mostly just ride local and enjoy the advanced trails but I occasionally get the opportunity to ride in other locations.
    There are two types of people in this world:
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  11. #11
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    MA rider here, 160 mm on the Spec. enduro ride, works well for rocks, roots, chunk and rocks. Travel? To VT once in a while. Most of my riding is local. Most of the local Boston, MA area and North of there, has some really tough tech in at least some of each riding area. Gravity is a harsh mistress, treat her with respect.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    I'm also a light-weight climber and a finesse rider.
    That's my goal, to ride smooth! I'm far from it, and I know I'm over-biked for my "local" trails, not so much if go out to other trails let's say in South OC, or travel out.

    When I ride my rigid bike (which is not as often) I feel way under-biked but still lots of fun. Hopefully converting my rigid to tubeless, I'll ride it more often, and maybe it will help me become a "smoother" rider.
    2016 SC Heckler R build
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  13. #13
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    The other night, I lead a group of 20 riders through some local rocky xc stuff. I am sure some of the riders could traverse the terrain much faster than me, but others were slow, so I kept a medium pace.

    When we stopped a regroup, several people gave me, the "leader" crazy looks when they saw I was riding a rigid singlespeed with flat pedals and a rigid post. It was as if they could not believe that I was keeping that pace on that bike. Several people told me so. "You need suspension! You should put gears on!"

    I don't think I'm a badass for it, I just don't want a complex bike so I keep mine simple. I've adapted my riding to it. I also happen to know the area very well.

    There are moments when "more bike" would be nice- plus tires, dropper, suspension, gears, etc. I have those things in my garage, I just chose to leave them at home most of the time. I have found that when I use more modern stuff on my bike, it only makes a marginal, and sometimes negative affect on my comfort, confidence, and speed. The bike rarely holds me back.
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  14. #14
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    Rigid guy here.

    I've ridden 130mm FS bikes, 120mm HTs, and fatbikes - NY, PA, MI, OH, AZ, W. Va., TN, GA, VT - I always gravitate back to rigid (29er). I think I get at least as much thrill as anyone - probably at lower speeds at that. I do shy away from man-made obstacles and gaps, though. I've done some steeps and drops that were probably over my head, but I still don't believe suspension would have made them any better/easier/faster/safer. And as far as just covering ground on a bicycle, if I'm in shape, riding rigid doesn't seem to be a handicap - and in some slow chunk, I think it's an advantage.

    To sum it up: I do not like to be insulated from the trail, and I like the instant feedback and response of a rigid bike (and I dislike suspension fiddling). If it's really rough, sometimes I have to go slower. So what.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  15. #15
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    As others have said. It will depend greatly on your terrain. Then it will depend on the level of gnar you like to ride.

    My daily ride is 165/180mm and I love it. Its 13kg and doesnt ride badly on the easier track. It rides uphill rediculously welll for ithe amount of travel it has. I'm not out there to spin miles on easy xc trails. I want the gnar. The stupider the better. Give me steep rooty, rocky gnarly terrain and I am in my element.

    Luckily for me there an abundance of gnarly tracks around my local. Hell I ride 2 mins from my front door and i'm droppinng in to steep rooty goodness.

    I'll admit that a shorter travel whipity bike would make easy tracks more fun. But then the gnar become white knuckle just trying to survive type of riding. I'd my prefer to trade off a bit of easy track performance than not be able to ride an awesome technical section.

    A longer travel bigger hitting bike has a wider usible range of tracks. It can ride the easy stuff and also smash the super tech. The smaller travel bike has a lower limit of what is possible to ride.

  16. #16
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    It depends on how much my back is hurting on a particular day and how long of a ride I'm doing.
    I can handle pretty much anything I'm likely to ride on a hardtail, the only question is how long I can do it for on a given day.

  17. #17
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    I have a mid-travel trail bike for mountainous backcountry adventures with long, steep, and rough grades. It also does extremely well in the rough lowland trails where the 135 mm of travel give a poppy and playful ride.

    I do travel, but generally to mountainous areas where the trails aren't too different from my Cascades.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  18. #18
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    I find steep rocky trails the most fun so I want a bike that makes trails like that as fun as possible. When I'm on a trail I try to find the most difficult stuff to go over.

    I find climbing boring and I get no joy from XC. I like putting in the work of pedalling to the top and improving fitness but it's certainly not the fun part of the ride. The trails I really don't like are the up and down XC trails with no real pay off, to me the ideal trail is 1000ft of smooth climbing with 1000ft of gnarly downhill.

    Since I will never enjoy climbing or XC I don't want a bike that is good at that stuff, a 22lb XC bike will get me to the top faster than a 29lb enduro bike but it still won't make a climb "fun." But once I get to the top that enduro bike is going to be a blast to go down while the XC bike will feel limited and I won't be able to choose the lines I want.

    So my next bike will be heavy on the enduro spectrum, like a Transition Patrol or Slash. I will be looking at bikes that have the funnest geometry at a weight I can manage.

  19. #19
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    I like having both personally... rigid single speed is where I put in most of my miles, but I also have a new Enduro for when I get the itch to hit big stuff or go out of town to places like Colorado.

  20. #20
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    I would lean more towards being "overbiked" as opposed to underbiked.

    I rode a 2011 Trek Rumblefish with 120/110mm travel for a few years and I started noticing that, for my riding style, the limitations of the bike were holding me back. I hopped onto the Stumpjumper 6Fattie scene in 2015 with 150/130mm of travel, even though everyone told me that it was "too much bike" and I would regret hauling that thing uphill (not to mention all the "plus bikes suck" nonsense).

    It's now 3 years later and, while I have been all over the country in all kinds of terrain on my Stumpy, my riding style is starting to outpace the capabilities of the bike again. I feel like a 160/160mm travel bike would be my next venture, but I wouldn't be opposed to even a 170mm or 180mm travel bike.

    Can I ride something with less travel? If I was just doing XC, I would probably say yes... but I would be miserable.
    We don't ride to add days to our life, we ride to add life to the days we have left here.

  21. #21
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    Itís fun to ride intentionally under-biked on home trails to keep things interesting but while traveling I like the most capable bike available.


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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghood View Post
    Itís fun to ride intentionally under-biked on home trails to keep things interesting but while traveling I like the most capable bike available.


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    I did a "Super D" on Sunday. Kind of like a mini-enduro. 2 runs down a 2.6 mile downhill trail. Not thing too crazy techy and some pedally bits. Overall winner was on a Kona Honzo SS. Yep 29 HT. Smoked the next closest rider by 40 seconds on his first run (8min vs 8:40). So for run #2 (best 1 counts not combined) he took the chain off. Still ran a 9:30. Faster than 90% of the other riders. Saw alot of "travel" on bikes from other riders. At least that day on that course skill trumps travel.

    BTW... The guy is a pro enduro rider and often takes rental bikes from the shop he rides with to lesser events to have more fun by beating guys with less equipment. Really goes to show how much skill makes a difference. Only when you get two riders of similar skill does equipment start to create separation.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Talking about bike rear travel, does one purchase (or use) a 0-100mm bike, a 130mm or 160+?

    I want to develop an article that is point/counterpoint on this subject maybe.

    It's classic personal preference but it's good to draw out the issues that affect this decision. It's a very cool story because there are merits to each side and it's good that the rider has a good options. It just takes some insight to bring out the motivation from each corner and how it can benefit the rider.

    Do you want a bike that will complement your strengths or one that will support you on your weaknesses?

    Are you advancing your skillset each time you ride or are you perfectly happy to pedal and just get out.

    Are you riding local, simple trails only or you seeking out the most challenging terrain in the area and going on road trips at every opportunity.

    Where do you stand in this spectrum and what choices have you made? Happy or looking to play in the other side?

    God this is hard to answer, because a lot of your questions may provide contradictory answers.

    I guess first off, if this article is about FS bikes, then quit reading this reply. I love hardtails and have 0mm travel in back, and probably will have 0mm forever. I could win the lottery and not buy an FS bike.

    For sure a bike that can support my weaknesses because I'm still learning. A dropper post would help a lot actually; for now I'm manually lowering the seat at the top of the hill. Biggest weakness is rocky/eroded/rutted switchbacks and a low seat helps a lot on those.

    2nd question: both. Trying to advance my skillset AND just get out and ride. However, there are a few trail systems fairly close to me that I've more or less given up on because they are too easy. So maybe trying to advance my skillset, but as long as something is rideable it's fun, so very hard to answer the question.

    3rd question, similar to 2nd answer. As long as the trail is actually rideable, as in I don't have to get off the bike several times, then the most challenging trail. But stuff with 2 foot + drops I'm not going to do with an 80/120mm fork. I'll get off the bike and not try to jump or drop that amount. Otherwise the most challenging trails I can find and still stay on the bike w/o crashing.

    Totally happy. Not looking to play on the FS side at all. Don't care about the back of the bike nearly as much as the front (maybe that's an incorrect way to think about it...so be it). Too little bike makes you earn every accomplishment. I'm choosing to go cheap on purpose to see if/when I can squeeze every ounce of performance out of sub $1000 bikes just for the principle of it. If I get bored, I'll go more expensive, but not until then. That could take years. It's amazing what you can do with a cheap bike after slapping on hydraulic brakes and good tires.
    ABSU: Arrogantly executing mythological occult metal since 1991.

  24. #24
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    The American way. There is only one.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by idividebyzero View Post
    I find steep rocky trails the most fun so I want a bike that makes trails like that as fun as possible. When I'm on a trail I try to find the most difficult stuff to go over.

    I find climbing boring and I get no joy from XC. I like putting in the work of pedalling to the top and improving fitness but it's certainly not the fun part of the ride. The trails I really don't like are the up and down XC trails with no real pay off, to me the ideal trail is 1000ft of smooth climbing with 1000ft of gnarly downhill.

    Since I will never enjoy climbing or XC I don't want a bike that is good at that stuff, a 22lb XC bike will get me to the top faster than a 29lb enduro bike but it still won't make a climb "fun." But once I get to the top that enduro bike is going to be a blast to go down while the XC bike will feel limited and I won't be able to choose the lines I want.

    So my next bike will be heavy on the enduro spectrum, like a Transition Patrol or Slash. I will be looking at bikes that have the funnest geometry at a weight I can manage.
    Strange. Every trail Iíve ridden in COS is firmly within the XC portion of the spectrum.

    There are very few times in COS when I want more than 120/100mm.


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  26. #26
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Strange. Every trail Iíve ridden in COS is firmly within the XC portion of the spectrum.

    There are very few times in COS when I want more than 120/100mm.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    There are some fun places there where itís fun to have more travel on the way down. At least I thought so.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  27. #27
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    I like a challenge, for me that's fun. As little bike as possible makes the challenge the biggest. I like that it builds skills, everywhere. I also happen to like hammering hills.

    Rigid SS 29er is my primary ride.
    Rigid SS 29er
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  28. #28
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    I'd rather be a bit overbiked rather than under. It just increases the margin for error. I started on a hardtail, still own two hardtails, counting my DJ, so I can practice the skills those teach. Outside of that I feel being overbiked helps skills progression when riding a trail as one can push harder with less fear of consequence. For dedicated skills practice a smaller travel bike might be better in some instances but can be a limiter in my experience to trying that new crazy line, huck, drop, etc.

    That said I have multiple bikes at the moment, a new Rallon, Hightower, Kona Big Kahuna, and a Deity Cryptkeeper. There is too much crossover with the Hightower and the Rallon so the Hightower will be swapped for an Intense Sniper at some point most likely. That bike will be a bit overkill for some trails in my area, right on for many, and under gunned for a few. That said the Rallon will still probably be my primary bike unless I'm doing a big day type ride as I feel it is safer, due to increased margin of error and therefore more fun to push myself on.

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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by idividebyzero View Post
    I find steep rocky trails the most fun so I want a bike that makes trails like that as fun as possible. When I'm on a trail I try to find the most difficult stuff to go over.

    I find climbing boring and I get no joy from XC. I like putting in the work of pedalling to the top and improving fitness but it's certainly not the fun part of the ride. The trails I really don't like are the up and down XC trails with no real pay off, to me the ideal trail is 1000ft of smooth climbing with 1000ft of gnarly downhill.

    Since I will never enjoy climbing or XC I don't want a bike that is good at that stuff, a 22lb XC bike will get me to the top faster than a 29lb enduro bike but it still won't make a climb "fun." But once I get to the top that enduro bike is going to be a blast to go down while the XC bike will feel limited and I won't be able to choose the lines I want.

    So my next bike will be heavy on the enduro spectrum, like a Transition Patrol or Slash. I will be looking at bikes that have the funnest geometry at a weight I can manage.
    x2.

    I ride a Norco Range. I tried a Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt for a week. Yup. Nope. Long-ish travel is where it's at for me. I am delighted to be able to have such clarity on this.

    My Range tips the scale at 27.7 lbs with pedals so I don't pay too much of a penalty on the ups (the geo is not bad at all for me for climbing).

    I often ride my Kona Paddy Wagon (in fixie mode) when I commute each day (when I am not on my C-Dale CX). I get all the rigid single speed action I need on the bike path. Lol.

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