29er hardtail or full suspension for xc racing- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    29er hardtail or full suspension for xc racing

    Looking to get rid of my 26er carbon full suspension. Trying to decide between the Jet 9 and Air nine or going with a Superfly. I am 6'2" 175 lbs and do have a bad back. Hoping to get some insight on how a hard tail 29er handles compared to a 26er fs i.e. will my back still hurt on the 29er ht. I live in the Mid Atlanctic region and only a few races are really technical. Please help any insight is appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    You can't go wrong with the SF 100!

  3. #3
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    Your back will still hurt on the 29HT. You need 29FS.

  4. #4
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    Superfly hardtail.

  5. #5
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    Bad back = FS unless you're off the saddle all the time.
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  6. #6
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    Or Epic 29er.

  7. #7
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    depends on the course......

    alot of guys win alot of races on hardtails......but also alot of guys win alot of races on a full suspension.......

    ideally would be to have both, and pick and choose the ideal weapon for the given job at hand.....

    also depends on your personal preference, some prefer a stiff, superlight super responsive hardtail type riding experience.....some prefer a full suspension and really bomb like crazy on the downhills.....

    no full suspension allows you to stand and stomp like a hardtail.....i think spending time on a hardtail will make you faster on a full suspension.....lightest 29er hardtail i have seen is 19.5ish, lightest full suspension i have seen is 23.5.....

    will be interesting to see what other replies you get...if it gets alot of interest i am sure there will be some heated debates.....

  8. #8
    I don't huck.
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    I am not sure what bad back means in your case. If it is a disc issue or something that impacts might mess with then FS is a good thing. If it is more muscular in nature then bike fit and other things might be more of a cause and a hardtail could be the deal. Don't buy too far into the 29er hardtail feels like suspension stuff. That only lasts so long on the trail
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    Weight

    I love my RIP but their are simply some courses where the light bike wins. When the trail is rough, I can maintain more speed on the RIP. When smooth and hilly, the light ht flys. On the RIP, I notice a significant drop in speed when compared to a light ht when climbing. To get a 29er fs super light, you have to throw ridiculous amounts of cash at it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikenut316
    I love my RIP but their are simply some courses where the light bike wins. When the trail is rough, I can maintain more speed on the RIP. When smooth and hilly, the light ht flys. On the RIP, I notice a significant drop in speed when compared to a light ht when climbing. To get a 29er fs super light, you have to throw ridiculous amounts of cash at it.
    this my situation exactly, have a rip and agree totally with bikenut, but it def made me want a superlight hardtail......so i got the superlight hardtail and will wait for a lighter full suspension 29er frame, they will get better..............

  11. #11
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    you wont go wrong getting an FS
    it would help your back during your ride.
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  12. #12
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    My 43 yr old back does very well during races about 2 hrs on my 29r hardtail... (love the HT for climbing, where the race is won)... in Dec I raced in a 12hr, and was asking the good lord to turn my bike into a fully about hr 5... the good lord didn't, and I was pretty beat up at the finish. Only one bike.. the SF100, but your optimal situation would be to have BOTH if your going to race... then choose your weapon according to the course and duration and health

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    I ease my back by switching from an agressive Scott Scale 50 26incher to a Scott 29er with a origin * stem that is shorter and taller than stock stem, this puts me in a more upright riding position with just enough weight forward. The agressive bike is for short rides and the long Epic trail rides are on the 29er with relaxed riding position...this helps my back, try some different stems your back may appreciate it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by strat819
    My 43 yr old back does very well during races about 2 hrs on my 29r hardtail... (love the HT for climbing, where the race is won)... in Dec I raced in a 12hr, and was asking the good lord to turn my bike into a fully about hr 5... the good lord didn't, and I was pretty beat up at the finish. Only one bike.. the SF100, but your optimal situation would be to have BOTH if your going to race... then choose your weapon according to the course and duration and health
    That is a funny story strat...I think the good lord was teaching you a lesson - to think things through. Yea, i agree with you, one bike=SF100
    I have a Superfly HT with a CC Thudbuster and it is a really nice HT but I would be faster with a little suspension. Not because I have a lower back issue (which I do) but because I skip around on stuff enough that some suspension would even the terrain enough so as to not loose momentum. Funny thing is, I notice this more on the climbs than on the decents. The SF100 is still very light - only about 2 lbs heavier than the SF HT and when I rode it around behind my LBS, it accelerated plenty fast with Pro Pedal on...to me it accelerated as fast as my HT but then again it comes with "road" tires on it which at my weight would have to come off immediately.

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    Get the hardtail and spend the money you save on a good yoga class! Your back (and your results!) will benefit greatly!

    Joe

    Quote Originally Posted by teverett6
    Looking to get rid of my 26er carbon full suspension. Trying to decide between the Jet 9 and Air nine or going with a Superfly. I am 6'2" 175 lbs and do have a bad back. Hoping to get some insight on how a hard tail 29er handles compared to a 26er fs i.e. will my back still hurt on the 29er ht. I live in the Mid Atlanctic region and only a few races are really technical. Please help any insight is appreciated. Thanks.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe_Jitsu
    Get the hardtail and spend the money you save on a good yoga class! Your back (and your results!) will benefit greatly!

    Joe
    You were probably not entirely serious with that suggestion, but there are back problems that are not really due to muscular and/or flexibility issues. A FS bike is however a good choice for all(?) back problems. A 29er HT is still a HT, though it rides a little smoother than a 26er hardtail.
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  17. #17
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    Hard to beat the plush ride of a FS bike.

    As somebody else suggested, a Yoga class (or Pilates) may be a good thing to alleviate some of your back pain.

  18. #18
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    I've got to chime in and agree with the yogis. My back was so bad I use to go to the chiropractor twice a month. I tried hot yoga, and I haven't been to see my chyro in over a year! I feel great, lost weight (even during the off season). Plus the view is excellent (read flexible, sweaty, women in wet yoga clothes).
    Yoga, and a properly fit full suspension ride is my suggestion.

  19. #19
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    If you're in the mid Atlantic region and looking for the quickest race bike, I'd go with a hardtail. Spend the $$ you saved on the frame on a killer lightweight wheelset. I did a few local races when I lived in PA (Fair Hill, Marsh Creek, etc) and pretty much everybody who was competitive ran a 29er hardtail. I personally climb faster on a hardtail and the ultra groomed trails around your area (they blow the leaves off the trails in the fall, for cryin' out loud) aren't much of a penalty on the downhills . For general trail riding I'd take a FS bike any day...but would have a hardtail for a dedicated XC race bike.
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  20. #20
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    If set on the Jet 9, you are going to have to wait a few months. The new Jet 9 frames are scheduled for release late winter, early spring of this year.

  21. #21
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    Another vote for yoga. Amazing results for my sore back.

  22. #22
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    I have both FS and HT bikes. U need both.
    Last edited by DrDanBatchelor; 11-05-2010 at 06:30 AM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrDanBatchelor

    As a Doctor of Chiropractic
    Do the opposite of this person, chiropractics aren't doctors there voodoo and cause way more harm than good and most of the time only do what would be considered a sports massage but at 4x's the price.

    While 'adjusting' your back they claim to be able to fix everything else like all modern BS alternative crappola.

  24. #24
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    If you can only have 1 bike, then it has to be a FS, a FS will work well on smooth trails where as a HT won't work well on rough trails.

    A Epic is a very good solution to a 1 bike does all, failing that a RP23 shock and vary the setting depending to what your riding, my RM Element FS is very efficent with RP23 set to Low so find a similar linkage activated system and it'll be fine.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turveyd
    Do the opposite of this person, chiropractics aren't doctors there voodoo and cause way more harm than good and most of the time only do what would be considered a sports massage but at 4x's the price.

    While 'adjusting' your back they claim to be able to fix everything else like all modern BS alternative crappola.
    A friend of mine's mother had excruciating back pain. She went to doctor after doctor, seeking help, and all they would do is prescribe pain meds. Eventually she found her way to a chiropractor, who was the first to X-ray her to see if there was a real problem. Cancer of the spine was found, and she died shortly afterward.

    I guess the moral of the story is that there are quacks and goofballs in all walks of life, so you shouldn't paint reality using such a wide brush.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by teverett6
    Looking to get rid of my 26er carbon full suspension. Trying to decide between the Jet 9 and Air nine or going with a Superfly. I am 6'2" 175 lbs and do have a bad back. Hoping to get some insight on how a hard tail 29er handles compared to a 26er fs i.e. will my back still hurt on the 29er ht. I live in the Mid Atlanctic region and only a few races are really technical. Please help any insight is appreciated. Thanks.
    I have a Flash 29er 1 at 20.49lbs and a Jet 9 at 26.4lbs. The last 10 races i did this year, 8 were on the Jet and 2 on the Flash. All of the Jet races my worst place finish was 3rd, the 2 Flash races I got 4th both times and I have no doubt would have won each of those races if I was on the Jet. The Jet actually climbs better then the Flash even on smoother terrain. I cant make sense of it given the weight difference, it just is plain faster all around.

    Lets not forget, depending on your skills and weaknesses and the bikes geometry can make a huge difference.

    Was told by Niner that the Jets will be available to ship next week. Have a medium coming in for my wife, now she is on the kool-aid.

  27. #27
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    If I could only have one bike and I was racing, it would probably be a geared hardtail. Luckily, I am able to enjoy both a rigid SS 29er for the occasional race and a full sus geared 29er for my all day rides..

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turveyd
    If you can only have 1 bike, then it has to be a FS, a FS will work well on smooth trails where as a HT won't work well on rough trails.

    A Epic is a very good solution to a 1 bike does all, failing that a RP23 shock and vary the setting depending to what your riding, my RM Element FS is very efficent with RP23 set to Low so find a similar linkage activated system and it'll be fine.
    My one bike is a 29er HT and it works well on rough trails. Just as fast, but you have to get your butt out of the saddle.

  29. #29
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    Love my wife's hardtail 29er but it is not smoth sailing in the saddle. Up and out, up and out, repeat. Interestingly, I still have a 26 Stumpjuper hardtail that is 22.5 lbs. Got a Specialized Renegade S-Works 2.1 rear tire on that baby that I inflate at 26 lbs (I weigh 160) and it now rides as good as the 29er. This tire floats over stuff and I should have done this long ago actually.

    Love the quickness of the hardtail particularly the 26er. When I am riding alone I always choose the 26er hardtail and I know it has to do with the fact that I like it when I hit the gas and the damn thing instantly responds.

  30. #30
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    I was in this exact same situation and here is what I ended up doing. I bought a flash 26r hardtail during the winter and got it down to 22lbs and was having a blast... until I really started training and my lower back would get really tired and try and cramp... My coach suggested I try a FS for the simple reason I won't get as beat up and won't tire out as fast.

    So I got a hold of a GT Sensor 9r Pro and I immediately saw an improvement in not getting tired as fast, lower back pain went away etc.... Now.. I had to adjust to the 29r but I know love it and I am much faster than on my 26 HT.. For grins I road the HT the other day just for a sanity check and there is no way I could ride it again. Maybe a FS 26r but not a HT.

    One thing my FS gives me is line choice. I can bomb down hills in ways I never could on my HT. The other thing is with the i-drive from GT and I do not get much in the way of pedal bob. when I nail it, the bike responds. My .02...
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by txF5 View Post
    I was in this exact same situation and here is what I ended up doing. I bought a flash 26r hardtail during the winter and got it down to 22lbs and was having a blast... until I really started training and my lower back would get really tired and try and cramp... My coach suggested I try a FS for the simple reason I won't get as beat up and won't tire out as fast.

    So I got a hold of a GT Sensor 9r Pro and I immediately saw an improvement in not getting tired as fast, lower back pain went away etc.... Now.. I had to adjust to the 29r but I know love it and I am much faster than on my 26 HT.. For grins I road the HT the other day just for a sanity check and there is no way I could ride it again. Maybe a FS 26r but not a HT.

    One thing my FS gives me is line choice. I can bomb down hills in ways I never could on my HT. The other thing is with the i-drive from GT and I do not get much in the way of pedal bob. when I nail it, the bike responds. My .02...
    Try more core workouts, txF5.

  32. #32
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    i have a SF 100 and love it. go with the FS if you have back issues. you can always adjust the rear shock to give you a HT feel when needed. my bike right now stands and 26lbs.

  33. #33
    no excuses
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    I do core work as part of my regimen. It wasn't until I went FS that it completely went away.
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  34. #34
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    In my limited experience I would say buy a Carbon HT if you can swing it, if not a good quality/efficient (Brain, VPP) FS would serve you well. I am in the same boat HT/FS dilemma myself though not for injury reasons.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turveyd View Post
    Do the opposite of this person, chiropractics aren't doctors there voodoo and cause way more harm than good and most of the time only do what would be considered a sports massage but at 4x's the price.

    While 'adjusting' your back they claim to be able to fix everything else like all modern BS alternative crappola.
    There are some good ones out there. They recognize that if your spine is misaligned, there are usually soft tissue issues that need to be addressed. The best chiro I've been to told me not to come back and do yoga a couple times a week..

  36. #36
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    It was mentioned in this thread a few times that the ideal way is to own both type of 9ers. FS and HT. I have a 2 9er HTs (upgraded Fuji Tahoe Pro and GF Rig SS) and I just recently picked up a Spearfish (Which is a great bike btw). It is nice to have both. I been riding the spearfish and I been loving it. However, this morning I took my fuji out on a short 1hr fast ride. It was fun.. I found that I did miss it. It is a different ride. I can catch some good air, can blast through those rollers, and crank up those hills without having to shift all that much. Like I said it is a different ride and I am glad I have both bikes. I was going to move my parts over to my spearfish frame from my Fuji ht when I got it. I am glad I didn't.. Very glad. I like the FS 9er on those longer days. I also like it for those more rocky technical trails. I noticed I don't feel as tired either. If I had to do it over and start with one bike, I would probably still start with a HT, then look at saving up for a FS. IMO, there are bike skills that can be learned on a HT that cannot be learned on a FS. However, I don't suffer from any back problems, so this is easy for me to say. If I did have back problems, I can see why you would want to rule out the HT, period. But if you don't have back issues, get yourself a nice hardtail and a softail, hook them up with some nice components, especially for the HT, and you will be very happy...

  37. #37
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    If I had to choose one bike I would opt for the HT and also focus on core fitness. Just my two cents.

  38. #38
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    second that suggestion from cusco... core training helps with most, if not all activities.
    best also to demo the bikes you're considering, and perhaps just finding the right fit will work wonders.

  39. #39
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    if your back already hurts, it will still hurt on the HT 29er. out of the saddle it's not too bad, but sitting while rolling over roots may eventually get to you. HT 29er does NOT equal full suspension.

  40. #40
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    I'll take 29er HT any day of the week. Rides pretty good with low air tire pressure and a Thudbuster. I switched from a 26" FS and don't even miss it. But I typically ride for 1-2 hours, pack it up, and go home. If you ride all day, then a FS might be the way to go. I wouldn't know...my wife and 5 year old would frown on me if I rode all day. But it's nice not having to tend to shocks, bearings, etc.
    "Caught my first tube this morning....sir!"

  41. #41
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    If you can demo one try the Cane Creek Thudbuster LT. It gave my back the relief I was looking for (Central Florida riding-oak roots and polmetto bushes). No it doesn't make your bike fs, but you'll be surprised at the comfort. I use it for any thing over 2 hrs. It's a little heavy, but my carbon ht with the thudbuster sits around 21.8 lbs, it added 3/4 of a pound. Picked up mine for $114 on line. Just an option if you're leaning toward the ht.

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