FS or HT
I'm hoping to get out the pacific northwest this summer and ride
Bend, some trails around Seattle and Whistler.
I currently own an Air9 RDO set up as single speed and a Niner RIP 9 but am planning to sell the RIP9.
Is the terrain pretty rough out there to the point where most people ride FS? I don't do anything that crazy and typically prefer hardtails but also get annoyed ripping down hill on HTs if there's rough terrain.
I would probably gear up the AIR9 unless people are crazy enough to ride single speeds out there.
Anyway, just looking for suggestions. I'm leaning towards a geared HT right now
Bend: Smoother and less steep. Long rides, but you can cover ground quickly there.
Seattle: Varied, you'll find what you want but plenty of steeper and rougher.
Whistler: Super tech. Their xc is what most people consider freeride or DH (except lots of tough climbs to earn it). Amazing riding.
So it's less about hardtail vs fully, but you'll want slack geometry, aggressive tires, a stout fork and strong frame for Whistler. Single speed is absolutely a no-go for Whistler xc - at least for the good stuff.
I'd say most people in Seattle and Whistler prefer fully's. An aggressive hardtail is pretty darn fun, too. Our best Seattle (w/in a few hours) rides have a lot of rough, fast descending. Get up in the alpine 2 hours out of Seattle if you're here. Great high country riding.
Where do you usually ride and what kind of trails are you looking for while you're here? The PNW has everything from mellow to crazy, so your weapon of choice can vary.
Thanks for the recommendations. I used to ride more technical trails when I lived in California but it's mostly tight, twisty non-technical trails where I live now. I would prefer to ride flow over technical and something with great views or variation. I road in Oakridge, OR and loved Alpine and all of the trails there. However, if there are any signature trails in Seattle or Whistler I would want to ride those as long as a DH bike isn't required.
After reading your post, I think what I'll do is rent when I'm out there. Logistics will be simpler and I'll be able to match my bike to the trail.
Good call renting, at least for the Whistler segment. You can have fun riding on anything in Seattle, but Whistler steps it up a few notches. There are flow-ish trails in Whistler, the Lost Lake zone, but the really fun stuff off the Flank Trail is very tech. Get the mtb guidebook up there and you can find the trails you'll be in to.
Just as an add on to this. Until very recently I had:
XC hardtail 29er carbon superfly
FS park/AM 26er intense SS
XC/AM 29er Ti kona raijin
For what its worth I only own the raijin now. Hardtail is doable but a stiff carbon racey XC bike will beat you up on rooty, chattery descents like parts of tiger. But a slacker frame with more give does just fine. As was said above it's more about geo and how fast you want to go on most of the trails up here.
With that said, I'm currently thinking about picking up a FS for even more comfort on longer (3+ hour) rides. But I'm old and beat up, YRMV.