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  1. #1
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    full-sus and climbing

    I've been riding a ridged bike for awhile now and though my brain loves it my aging body is protesting some. It's been a long time since I've even had a hardtail but now I'm kicking around the idea of going straight to full suspension to try and squeeze a few more years of fun out of mountain biking before I give up and take up knitting.

    I like climbing, probably because I've never been a great descender and going up gives me a chance to even things out some. I alternate frequently between on and off the saddle on climbs depending on the grade and terrain. Will a full suspension bike kill my buzz in this regard? I realize I'll have to change my riding style somewhat. I'm looking at xc oriented bikes- spearfish, tallboy, etc.

    Any other climbers out there that have went full-squish?

  2. #2
    ups and downs
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    A few things to keep in mind moving from a rigid rear end to a FS bike. Moving from fully rigid to suspension at both ends will double these effects.

    A FS bike rear suspension should move while climbing on rough surfaces, that's where you gain traction, a well designed rear suspension will keep driving the rear wheel down into the dirt on a climb, and keep the wheel in contact with ground. So if you look down and see the shock linkage moving, don't immediately assume it is wasting your climbing energy. On smooth surfaces you can lock it out and it won't significantly affect climbing at all.

    Suspension movement while pedaling is typically generated by the bike trying to isolate your body weight from the trail surface. That isn't pedal bob. Pedal bob is the thing that wastes climbing energy, it happens when the pedal effort pulls on the chain, and the chain tension causes the suspension to compress. Very few modern FS bikes have big problems with that any more. So again, shock movement doesn't always mean wasted energy.

    A FS bike generally rewards seated climbing and spinning more than out of the saddle hammering. It is hard to get a FS bike to behave well under pedal mashing and out of the saddle climbing because your body weight has a big vertical component of motion while doing either of those things.

    An FS bike will change the way you corner as well, as the front and rear suspension will compress differently depending where your body weight is positioned in the corner. The suspension compressing changes the head angle so you will find that the steering can slack out at the highest peak vertical load in the corner. I notice this going from my FS bike back to a hardtail where I pre-correct for that head angle change that never comes and I turn into the apex of a corner early.

    And it will make a big difference in comfort, but even more in terms of how much speed you can carry into rough surface trails and still pedal, as the suspension will keep the tires in contact with the trail and still let you pedal.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  3. #3
    FKA Malibu412
    Reputation: Glide the Clyde's Avatar
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    All that to say, try a rental demo or borrow a bike to try it out. That will answer a lot of questions. Do the same trails you would do on the SS where you can hammer v. spin, longer ascents with more platform or lockout, and tech descents where you can pick up speed and carry it with the added FS benefit.
    "I love the bike. It's my meditation. I think I'm bike-sexual." -Robin Williams

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glide the Clyde View Post
    All that to say, try a rental demo or borrow a bike to try it out. That will answer a lot of questions.
    I agree that would make the most sense but it's difficult out here in the sticks, the one lbs has nothing. I'll be going to the big city in a few weeks and will ride a few there but no demos going on so it will be curb hopping only. Maybe I'll see what I can do for a rental.

  5. #5
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    The modern full-suspension bike now digs into the terrain more effectively, increasing your climbing confidence, without spinning out the rear tires. I'm a believer....
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  6. #6
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    Of course you can always get suspension with lockout. I'm not a racer, but I absolutely never feel the need to use lockout.

  7. #7
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    I have full-suspension on my race MTB, and I feel it doesn't hinder climbing, especially if you have technical climbs with rocks and roots. Both my shocks have 3 settings, lockout, trail, and descent, so I have options. Also, if you look at the top of XC Racing, the best MTB climber in the world is riding a full suspension bike, so really I don't think its a hindrance.

  8. #8
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    full-sus and climbing

    If you do a lot of climbing out of the saddle then for a full suspension bike something like the Rock Shox E.I system, Specialized Brain or Fox iCD system would be worth looking into. That way bob is essentially a non issue whilst climbing.

    Some background links about the Rock Shox E.I and Fox iCD electronic suspension.

    http://www.pinkbike.com/news/ei-and-...hock-2012.html

    http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Fox-iCD...n-Earnest.html

    User review of the Fox iCD system:

    FOX FLOAT iCD riders

    Rock Shox E.I. on a Lapierre XR29:

    Lapierre an their 29er FS

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    If you do a lot of climbing out of the saddle then for a full suspension bike something like the Rock Shox E.I system, Specialized Brain or Fox iCD system would be worth looking into. That way bob is essentially a non issue whilst climbing.
    Thanks, I'll look into those. For whatever reasons climbing out of the saddle has always worked for me and I was wondering how much I might have to modify my ways, so I guess that's what I was mostly curious about.

  10. #10
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    you will need afull lockout system of some type

  11. #11
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    FYI...just don't expect the Specialized Brain to be a full lock-out, it's far from it. Firms things up a bit is all, and at the expense of plushness when you want it. Love the Specialized, but not the brains disclaimer - the last brain fork/shock I rode was from 2012. Maybe they are better now

  12. #12
    Now broadcasting from CO
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    I was going to mention the same thing. The front/rear Brain on my Epic is the closest FS to my rigid bike I've ever ridden. Same disclaimer as well. Like the bike, don't like the brains of my 2011 Epic. Everything could be better now,
    Brought to you by rocks.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAmtbiker View Post
    I was going to mention the same thing. The front/rear Brain on my Epic is the closest FS to my rigid bike I've ever ridden. Same disclaimer as well. Like the bike, don't like the brains of my 2011 Epic. Everything could be better now,
    The 13 brain on my Epic was awesome can't wait for the 14.
    2014 S-Works Epic WC
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  14. #14
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm01 View Post
    FYI...just don't expect the Specialized Brain to be a full lock-out, it's far from it. Firms things up a bit is all, and at the expense of plushness when you want it. Love the Specialized, but not the brains disclaimer - the last brain fork/shock I rode was from 2012. Maybe they are better now
    ^^^Same experience here

  15. #15
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    My FS bike climbs really well. I will venture to say that it will decend about 1 million times better than your rigid bike also. Descending on a full suspension bike is so much fun I can't even express what it's like

  16. #16
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    Staying seated while climbing is more efficient( in most situations) than standing while climbing. I ride a SC Blur XCc with 27.5 wheels, the bike is an awesome climber, even while standing, which I do only to get over some obstacles or just for a quick burst of acceleration.

  17. #17
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    full-sus and climbing

    Quote Originally Posted by jcm01 View Post
    FYI...just don't expect the Specialized Brain to be a full lock-out, it's far from it. Firms things up a bit is all, and at the expense of plushness when you want it. Love the Specialized, but not the brains disclaimer - the last brain fork/shock I rode was from 2012. Maybe they are better now
    If you didn't like the 2012 Epic brain shock feel I doubt that you'd like the newer ones either. It's just small tweaks really year to year. The same criticisms are going to be there in a 2014 Epic brain shock too.

    I'm really interested to try the Rock Shox E.I. system. It sounds like it addresses the main issues that a brain rear shock has, without the compromises between lock out and plushness that you make when choosing brain shock settings.

    My favourite one was a few years ago. I'd been out on the road club run on my 2009 Specialized Epic marathon carbon and we'd just been up a climb. Everyone had stopped at the top to regroup. I'd been going ok and actually dropped a few people for once. Anyway, my friend who I'd dropped comes over and goes "it's because your mountain bike is faster than my road bike." (true story)

  18. #18
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    If you didn't like the 2012 Epic brain shock feel I doubt that you'd like the newer ones either. It's just small tweaks really year to year. The same criticisms are going to be there in a 2014 Epic brain shock too.

    I'm really interested to try the Rock Shox E.I. system. It sounds like it addresses the main issues that a brain rear shock has, without the compromises between lock out and plushness that you make when choosing brain shock settings.

    My favourite one was a few years ago. I'd been out on the road club run on my 2009 Specialized Epic marathon carbon and we'd just been up a climb. Everyone had stopped at the top to regroup. I'd been going ok and actually dropped a few people for once. Anyway, my friend who I'd dropped comes over and goes "it's because your mountain bike is faster than my road bike." (true story)
    So...wait? It's not about the engine!? ")

  19. #19
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    full-sus and climbing

    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    So...wait? It's not about the engine!? ")
    Considering my left leg barely works that would have had to be an engine concealed within the frame.
    Last edited by WR304; 11-05-2013 at 04:19 PM.

  20. #20
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
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    OP, I wasn't riding rigid, but I got my first FS a few months ago. I've set several Strava PRs on it and was a minute off my best-ever lap time when I raced it. Since it was a duathlong and I've done a ton of XC on that course... anyway, I don't think it's made me slower. I think it's made me faster.

    My bike is a Kona Hei Hei. I usually leave the shock open on singletrack, climbing included.

    I've demoed a couple other bikes that I liked on the way up: the Specialized Camber and Trek Fuel EX. The Camber did a pretty good job with the shock open. The Fuel seemed pretty dependent on having it in "trail" mode, which is a compression damper.

    I like to think I wasn't being ideological about it, but it took me a while to switch and I was frequently underwhelmed at demo days. But things have gotten a lot better, and a lot of FS XC bikes, and trail and AM actually, are good climbers now.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post
    If you didn't like the 2012 Epic brain shock feel I doubt that you'd like the newer ones either. It's just small tweaks really year to year. The same criticisms are going to be there in a 2014 Epic brain shock too.

    I'm really interested to try the Rock Shox E.I. system. It sounds like it addresses the main issues that a brain rear shock has, without the compromises between lock out and plushness that you make when choosing brain shock settings.:
    I'm interested to check out the new ones but you are probably right. On my 2012, I had the brain cartridge removed and installed a push-lock cartridge instead. So happy. Even the mechanic was surprised by how much smoother the fork was. And the push lock allowed me to completely lock it out when i wanted.

  22. #22
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    I had on '07 Epic a few years ago, I liked that bike, I was not racing or riding much at that time, but pretty experienced from years ago. I'm racing a hardtail now, fs bikes were super weird when I was racing in the early '90s and I was never seriously tempted to get a FS race bike.
    If I had the budget for it now I'd get a full suspension race bike, I think I'd feel less beatup after a long race, I'm 46 and not quite as durable as I used to be. Eventually I'll get a FS race bike. The racer guys at the lbs swear the Cannondale Scalpel is better than the Epic, they sell both, I have not ridden either.
    It probably wouldn't take you long to form a new habit of climbing while seated, you might adapt pretty quickly especially if the climbing was really smooth.

  23. #23
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    Something you should look at is a Scott with twinloc system. It's advantage is you have one lever on your bars with 3 positions - full suspension, traction mode and full lockout. I have a buddy with a Scott with twinloc and he loves it.

    Twinloc Lever System - SCOTT Sports

    If you have to reach down and lock out a shock (like I have to on my Top Fuel) you just don't do it. If you have 2 lockouts for fork and shock I think you wouldn't do that often either. But, if it's one lever that's easy to get to I think you'd use it often. Want to stand? One click then go. Easy, fast and no compromise.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimPacNW View Post
    I had on '07 Epic a few years ago, I liked that bike, I was not racing or riding much at that time, but pretty experienced from years ago. I'm racing a hardtail now, fs bikes were super weird when I was racing in the early '90s and I was never seriously tempted to get a FS race bike.
    If I had the budget for it now I'd get a full suspension race bike, I think I'd feel less beatup after a long race, I'm 46 and not quite as durable as I used to be. Eventually I'll get a FS race bike. The racer guys at the lbs swear the Cannondale Scalpel is better than the Epic, they sell both, I have not ridden either.
    It probably wouldn't take you long to form a new habit of climbing while seated, you might adapt pretty quickly especially if the climbing was really smooth.
    The new Epic is an ample climber. The adjustability of the Fox Shock is key. I like to jack up my psi to about 180 for a firm ride.
    Get me the knuckles of Frisco..

  25. #25
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    All the 2010-newer FS bikes have such excellent suspension tunes you will be able to climb happily on any bike you can afford.

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