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  1. #1
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    Too Much Shock Travel?

    I'm "helping" several friends in their search for new bikes - I love spending other people's money!

    They're both riding aluminum, FS bikes from 3 to 5 years old. Both want to jump to carbon with nicer components and make this their final bike purchase. Hah, my wife has heard this several times already.

    We mostly ride an hour at a time at Blankets and Rope Mill north of Atlanta. Decent climbs, some technical stuff, but nothing like the actual NC mountains or stuff out West.

    Multiple LBS gurus have told us that bikes like the Ibis Ripmo and Santa Cruz Megatower are overkill for our type of riding and the local trail conditions. They're advising to stay with bikes in the 120 to 135mm travel vicinity like the Ripley or standard Hightower.

    I understand that generally speaking, more rear travel has you leaning towards more of a downhill oriented bike. It'll allow you to be more aggressive and lazier with line choice while smashing over roots and rocks on the downhills. However, newer bikes like the Ripmo are also getting rave reviews on their ability to climb.

    So...finally...to my question. What is the downside of going with a bike with more travel than you really need? Cost? Weight? If your suspension is set up properly and you simply don't use all available travel in your daily riding, what's the penalty?

  2. #2
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    This is a situation where your friends should go demo bikes.

    With well engineered geo and these new high tech shocks, the downsides of a longer travel bike are attenuated.

  3. #3
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    Where does your true joy lie? riding the gnar and tech? flowing easier track? pedalling up and down? Get the bike that make your particular joy the most fun.

    For me thats the tech and gnar. My daily ride is a 165/180mm Rocky mountain Slayer. (well i actually have 2 now)
    I ride everything from rides with the family on the road to xc races to park days to downhill tracks.


    I have one Slayer built up light. 13kg 28.9 pounds. It pedals real well. Similar to 130mm bikes. It weighs about the same as a 130mm bike. But when i turn down hill see ya later 130mm guy. I'm ripping the downs like i'm on a dh rig!

    So i love it and see no point in less travel for my style.
    But i regularly ride tech. Even on a pedal fest ride i will inject some interesting tech.


    Now if you have no tech in your trails or dont like going grade 5 Then the extra travel wont be utilized. I find on average trails the Slayer is not faster on the down than a 130mm bike. There are times where it could be slower because you dont have the same snap out of corners or accelleration you get on less travel.


    Some people argue that a bigger bike makes the trail too easy and boring so they select a worse descending bike to give them a more technical challenge. I say bollocks to this theory. Just go faster or ride different lines on the bigger bike.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    Some people argue that a bigger bike makes the trail too easy and boring so they select a worse descending bike to give them a more technical challenge. I say bollocks to this theory. Just go faster or ride different lines on the bigger bike.
    I'll play devil's advocate here.... I've owned many bikes from XC hardtails to full on DH race bikes. My current bike is a Canfield Balance 165/170mm r/f travel. It's an amazing bike but I was really thinking it would be my one bike does all because it does climb and pedal VERY well. The problem is the frame weight and longer travel DOES INDEED make standard trails boring. I FAR preferred the SC Bronson I sold to buy it for those types of trails because you could preload off of trail features easier (with less rear shock stroke) and really pop off things to make even the lamest trails a fun time! Don't get me wrong, I have no intentions of selling my Balance as I'll use if for FR/Park and bigger days but the majority of my riding is on "standard" type trails these days so I'm getting a Yeti SB130 or the new Ripley V4 being released Tuesday. These new gen geometry "Aggressive Trail" bikes give up very little descending compared to the longer travel bikes if you are a skilled DH'r and are WAY more fun for the trails in the OP's area IMHO. Transition Smuggler or Evil Offering would be great choices too.

    Have FUN!

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dolittle View Post
    I'm "helping" several friends in their search for new bikes - I love spending other people's money!

    They're both riding aluminum, FS bikes from 3 to 5 years old. Both want to jump to carbon with nicer components and make this their final bike purchase. Hah, my wife has heard this several times already.

    We mostly ride an hour at a time at Blankets and Rope Mill north of Atlanta. Decent climbs, some technical stuff, but nothing like the actual NC mountains or stuff out West.

    Multiple LBS gurus have told us that bikes like the Ibis Ripmo and Santa Cruz Megatower are overkill for our type of riding and the local trail conditions. They're advising to stay with bikes in the 120 to 135mm travel vicinity like the Ripley or standard Hightower.

    I understand that generally speaking, more rear travel has you leaning towards more of a downhill oriented bike. It'll allow you to be more aggressive and lazier with line choice while smashing over roots and rocks on the downhills. However, newer bikes like the Ripmo are also getting rave reviews on their ability to climb.

    So...finally...to my question. What is the downside of going with a bike with more travel than you really need? Cost? Weight? If your suspension is set up properly and you simply don't use all available travel in your daily riding, what's the penalty?
    It's all going to come down to what they like to ride, how they like to ride, and what their priorities are. Both overbiking and underbiking are a thing. And while bike quality is so much better now than it was in the past (which does minimize the disadvantages of either overbiking OR underbiking), there are still disadvantages to either and each person has to decide for themselves which side of the spectrum they fall on.

    For me, my decisions come down to the fact that I'm a finesse rider rather than a smasher. Not to mention, I have a very healthy sense of self-preservation. Much above 150mm of travel is lost on me, as stuff that REALLY warrants that much travel is usually where I get off and walk, or I simply prefer riding the section in such a way that doesn't warrant more travel. I don't really give a rat's a$$ if someone with more travel gets to the bottom faster. Have fun. I ride what I like, how I like.

    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    Some people argue that a bigger bike makes the trail too easy and boring so they select a worse descending bike to give them a more technical challenge. I say bollocks to this theory. Just go faster or ride different lines on the bigger bike.
    This comment demonstrates that you just don't understand the perspective. I absolutely have ridden bikes that have been boring on certain trails. Too much travel on a mellow xc trail is very smooth and comfortable, yes. But it also brings a feeling of disconnect from the trail. It's not about the technical challenge. For me, it's about feeling a connection with the trail. I'm sure this relates to the fact that I'm more of a finesse rider than a smasher. You don't always have the choice to "just go faster" or to "pick a different line" when the trail is what the trail is and your body lets you ride it at a certain speed.

    I used to live in places where it was difficult to justify more than 120mm of travel until recently (because of the improved efficiency of longer travel bikes). I now live in a place where the terrain is such that longer travel bikes do very well. The consequences for failure are also much higher. Oh, sure, a longer travel bike would let me blast down a chattery, sketchy downhill even faster, but I don't want anything to do with that additional speed and the consequences from eating it at a higher speed than I currently ride those trails.

  6. #6
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    I'm on a Ripmo and it's amazing. I like bigger drops and ride down very steep trails. It's the perfect sweet spot of travel for my style and trails.
    The new Ripley will be lighter, climb better and a great bike for trails all the way to advanced level. It will have more pop and feel nimble.
    I'm willing to trade some weight at this point in my riding for DH performance. Coming from an XC background I have always liked short travel rippers.
    Your style and trails will determine which bike will be more fun more of the time. Flatter, flowy trails are more fun on a shorter travel bike. Getting only as much travel as you need is the best method.

    I ride with a guy that has both a hightower and a nomad 4 that was supposed to replace it. The nomad was just too much travel and it lost the poppy feel he loves from the hightower.
    Making shit harder than it needs to be isn't awesome, it's just...harder.

  7. #7
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    The downside is less pedaling efficiency, slower acceleration, less nimble, tames the trail, might hinder skill development, heavier, etc. I have a Megatower, it's great, it climbs pretty well and I wouldn't have bought if all I did was ride regular singletrack. Outside of DH parks, I can ride nearly everything on my hardtail. I set it up with faster rolling tires with less traction. Sure I could pedal Minions front and rear around the woods but then it would be easy to keep the bike under control and that's no fun.

  8. #8
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    Yesterday I did a nearly 3hr ride with 4k feet of climbing, and 2 descents of ~1400ft, on a Ripmo I demo'd (in Santa Cruz, CA). Yes, it climbs well for an enduro bike. But it still doesn't climb anything like a 120-135mm bike, and the trail was pretty dull under it. I set a PR and flew down the mountain, but that's not the only reason to ride. You need to have fun flinging the bike around when you're not racing.

    Your LBS is right. Get something with less suspension and more playful. Riding will be more fun overall.

  9. #9
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    Excellent advice from everyone - thanks!

    Neither friend is the type to purchase something based on specs and reviews alone. They're both going to demo several bikes.

    The one closest to buying is going to demo the Ibis Ripley (V4 if rumors are true), Transition Smuggler, and Yeti SB130. He already rode a rental Santa Cruz Hightower at Alafia in Florida back in January. I just was wondering if he should include bigger travel bikes like the Ibis Ripmo or Santa Cruz Megatower in his list but for the type of riding we do and enjoy, this doesn't sound necessary.

    The other friend is a bit of a dilemma. He prefers fast, flowy trails without any rocks or roots. But he's also a Strava PR seeking kind of rider that might benefit from longer travel on downhill, technical segments. He'll just have to demo several bikes and see which one fits his overall style best.

  10. #10
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    I am 80% overbiked when I am on my FS

    170F 160R

    otherwise I ride my hardtail 120mm/null

    I am not a huckmeister and rarely use all the 170/160 but ride it everywhere

    the reason I do roll the AM bike is only because it happens to have extremely capable rear suspension on climbs. I am not losing anything on climbs. If I were, I'd stick to hardtails.

    so for me if the bike is not a turd climbing, then whatever suspension it has is fine. those times when it's really chunky and when I do take a big drop it'll be there.
    "Put your seatbelt back on or get out and sit in the middle of that circle of death." - Johnny Scoot

  11. #11
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    You mentioned that your friends are currently riding full suspension bikes.

    How much travel do they have right now? Do they want more?
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I now live in a place where the terrain is such that longer travel bikes do very well. The consequences for failure are also much higher. Oh, sure, a longer travel bike would let me blast down a chattery, sketchy downhill even faster, but I don't want anything to do with that additional speed and the consequences from eating it at a higher speed than I currently ride those trails.


    This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.


    This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

    A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.


    This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

    A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.
    you're the one obviously not understanding. I LIKE to feel the trail. If I overbike for what I ride, then I don't feel the trail as much and the trail gets boring. Feeling the trail is PART of the fun. The feedback I get from the trail through the bike tells me how close to my limits I am. The bikes I ride are very capable, and riding a longer travel bike isn't going to make me any safer.

    It's not about the likelihood of a crash. I don't crash much and when I do, it's on an easy section when I've let my guard down. Stupid mistakes that happen on any bike.

    It's about the consequences of a crash. I am acutely aware of my own mortality and fragility. And speed absolutely increases the consequences of crashes, regardless of where they happen or what causes them.

    I OBVIOUSLY ride for different reasons than you. That's fine. Different strokes. But telling me that I'm doing mountain biking wrong because of it? I'm not telling you that you're doing mountain biking wrong. Ride what you want how you want to ride it. OP asked a question that sought exactly BOTH of our opinions. Neither you nor I know what motivates OP's friends. Knowing what motivates a rider is key to helping them choose the bike that's right for them. What motivates me is different from what motivates you. A longer travel bike is right for you and your motivations. Great. A shorter travel bike is right for me and mine. You don't have to understand it to accept that I'm different. I'm not alone. Let it go.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.


    This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

    A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.
    You're making a connection between suspension travel and handling that doesn't exist. A trophy truck would get schooled at laguna seca.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.


    This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

    A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.
    I would rather crash at 5 mph than crash at 20 mph. My "big bike" is 130F /125 rear travel. I can ride anything I chose to ride on it and there is stuff I could ride on it that I am not brave enough to ride. 90% of where I ride it more than enough bike and for 70% of what I ride is too much bike. If I had a longer travel bike to have the same fun I would have to find even harder trails. Stuff where a minor crash means major pain. Riding the same trails I do now would mean either find them dull or riding so fast there are no more small crashes. I used to have 180/170 travel bike and I realized to really have it be "fun" I had push the bike hard. Very hard on nasty terrain where a small mistake means a big crash and big pain. I sold it when I realized my 130/125 bike was just as fast most places since I just did not want to that fast.

    Oh lets be honest. Better handling bike can mean a lot of different things. By best handling bike is my 100/100 XC bike. Responds and turns so well, but as you can imagine has limitations as chunk increases. If I am a steep narrow bench cut trail where going off trail by 6" means falling off the side of Mtn I wnant my nible xc bike.
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  16. #16
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    Big travel on easy trails is boring at best, cumbersome at worst.

    Most of the OP's trails are just regular old xc trails, just rolling terrain with constant pedaling. Sure there may be a couple of harder sections, but I wouldn't buy a bike just for that, ignoring the rest of 95% of the available trail.

    I can understand having a big bike as your daily driver, but only if you also have some worthy trails to use it on. In the OP's case, that will require traveling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post

    Some people argue that a bigger bike makes the trail too easy and boring so they select a worse descending bike to give them a more technical challenge. I say bollocks to this theory. Just go faster or ride different lines on the bigger bike.
    There has been a few threads like this lately and I when I was driving the other day, I thought of a good metaphor:

    Riding a big bike on a mellow trail is like having sex on a soft, memory foam mattress. Still fun and totally doable. If you keep a even cadence, you probably won't feel the difference. But, if you are really active, it absorbs the feedback a good bit and so makes for a less engaging/active ride (or requires much more work to reach that).

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.


    This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

    A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.
    Makes total sense to me. Speed is what determines how f'ed up you are going to get when you crash. And the faster you go on ANY bike, the more likely a crash is. Why else do you think there are more crashes in races than on leisurely rides?

    A big bike is not going to make you crash less. You are going crash just as much, only going faster.

    Yes, a bigger bike would mean you crash less IF you went the same speed as you would on a smaller bike... but let's be honest, that is not how most of us ride. If DH trail is at all rough, I am going to ride a lot faster on a 160mm enduro bike than on a 100mm XC bike. So would you. That is the whole point of longer travel slacker bikes.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  19. #19
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    I've been riding 140-160-ish bikes for 16 years. Currently 160/140 (F/R).

    During times when I've been riding a lot, I find even that much travel can get boring on some trails. That is what got me into rigid and 80mm hardtails as second bikes. On twisty, smooth new-school flow trails, I'll take an 80mm HT over a 160mm enduro bike any day. Way more fun and engaging, IMO. Big climbs and big descents with some gnarly stuff? Sure, give me the 160mm bike.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    Makes total sense to me. Speed is what determines how f'ed up you are going to get when you crash. And the faster you go on ANY bike, the more likely a crash is. Why else do you think there are more crashes in races than on leisurely rides?

    A big bike is not going to make you crash less. You are going crash just as much, only going faster.

    Yes, a bigger bike would mean you crash less IF you went the same speed as you would on a smaller bike... but let's be honest, that is not how most of us ride. If DH trail is at all rough, I am going to ride a lot faster on a 160mm enduro bike than on a 100mm XC bike. So would you. That is the whole point of longer travel slacker bikes.
    I believe you are wrong or miss understanding what i am trying to say.

    You can ride faster and be in more control on a longer, lower, slacker more travel better handling steed.

    My statement is the likely hood of crashing is related to how close to the edge of control you are. Not your speed. So..... if you have a bike with a limit way above what you are prepared to push then you will crash less on that bike compared to a bike with a lower limit that you push closer too.


    So in your example of the 100mm xc bike V the enduro bike down the same trail. You will be on the ragged edge of the xc bike very soon, yet you will be able to ride faster on the enduro bike, be well within yours and the bikes capability and be safer. The chance of injury is higher going slower on the xc bike than it is on the enduro going faster.


    The act of going faster is more fun. You dont need to be at the limit of control. So you can get the longer travel bike, have a real blast and crash very little and be ultimately safer than going slower at the bleeding limit of your lower travel bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    I believe you are wrong or miss understanding what i am trying to say.


    You can ride faster and be in more control on a longer, lower, slacker more travel better handling steed.


    My statement is the likely hood of crashing is related to how close to the edge of control you are. Not your speed. So..... if you have a bike with a limit way above what you are prepared to push then you will crash less on that bike compared to a bike with a lower limit that you push closer too.




    So in your example of the 100mm xc bike V the enduro bike down the same trail. You will be on the ragged edge of the xc bike very soon, yet you will be able to ride faster on the enduro bike, be well within yours and the bikes capability and be safer. The chance of injury is higher going slower on the xc bike than it is on the enduro going faster.




    The act of going faster is more fun. You dont need to be at the limit of control. So you can get the longer travel bike, have a real blast and crash very little and be ultimately safer than going slower at the bleeding limit of your lower travel bike.

    What kapusta is saying is that most of us don't ride thinking of a speed we want to go. We ride at a relatively percentage of our limit. So we're likely to crash the same amount on a short vs. long travel bike, but as the limit is higher on the long travel bike, when we do crash the consequences are higher.




    I mostly agree with that, though I do think that I did crash way less when making the big jump from a v-braked, XC hardtail (poorly tuned) to a much more modern full suspension. The subsequent move to a more capable and more modern full suspension hadn't affected my crash rate nearly as much.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusBrody View Post
    What kapusta is saying is that most of us don't ride thinking of a speed we want to go. We ride at a relatively percentage of our limit. So we're likely to crash the same amount on a short vs. long travel bike, but as the limit is higher on the long travel bike, when we do crash the consequences are higher.




    I mostly agree with that, though I do think that I did crash way less when making the big jump from a v-braked, XC hardtail (poorly tuned) to a much more modern full suspension. The subsequent move to a more capable and more modern full suspension hadn't affected my crash rate nearly as much.
    That's definitely part of it.

    But there is another part, or maybe just a different way of phrasing it.

    I am going to ride roughly the same speed regardless most of the time. Particularly downhill. I simply don't want to go faster. I enjoy the speed I go, but I would mostly like to ride more smoothly (which is usually faster, but not necessarily because you are riding faster). I absolutely could handle climbing faster most of the time, but that is more a matter of fitness than anything. I work towards both goals, and I do see modest improvements the more I ride and the better my skills get. the bike does play a bit of a role there, too. It's not a totally clean relationship, but there is one there.

    I also don't try to do everything with just one bike. I have a bike better suited to pavement and packed gravel. I have a hardtail. And I have a full suspension bike. They each overlap some with each other. Sometimes I pick one "just because" and sometimes I pick one because it's clearly better suited for my ride plans.

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  23. #23
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    Too Much Shock Travel?

    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    I believe you are wrong or miss understanding what i am trying to say.

    You can ride faster and be in more control on a longer, lower, slacker more travel better handling steed.

    My statement is the likely hood of crashing is related to how close to the edge of control you are. Not your speed. So..... if you have a bike with a limit way above what you are prepared to push then you will crash less on that bike compared to a bike with a lower limit that you push closer too.


    So in your example of the 100mm xc bike V the enduro bike down the same trail. You will be on the ragged edge of the xc bike very soon, yet you will be able to ride faster on the enduro bike, be well within yours and the bikes capability and be safer. The chance of injury is higher going slower on the xc bike than it is on the enduro going faster.


    The act of going faster is more fun. You dont need to be at the limit of control. So you can get the longer travel bike, have a real blast and crash very little and be ultimately safer than going slower at the bleeding limit of your lower travel bike.
    Different strokes, I guess.

    What you are describing to me is an interesting and rewarding ride on an XC bike vs a boring one on an enduro bike.

    Going faster alone is not what makes it fun and interesting for me. Pushing the limit - or at least riding at a level that requires all my skill and attention - is a critical part of it for me

    I would get more out of bringing my A game to an xc bike and go 15 MPH down a section of trail than taking it easy and going 18 on an Enduro bike. However, that is not how it works for me. In reality I am going to ride at the same level of risk and skill with both. I am not going to ease up just because I am on a bigger bike. Because that is what riding is all about to me.

    This is why some people (like me) think riding a big bike on flat trails without fast or challenging descents is boring. The speeds are not high enough to make it challenging on a big bike.

    Also, since this thread is asking about travel, Iíd point out that just because a bike has shorter travel does not mean it is sketchy. Even most 120mm FS bikes are pretty darn stable these days. Its not like shorter travel bikes are rocking 71 head angles and 135mm stems like in the 90s. I think the reality is that people donít crash due to lack of travel.

    In fact, I think one of the risks with a long travel bike is a false sense of security at high speeds. The trail feels smoother so it seems safer. But that is not entirely true. Getting the crap beat out of me from rocks and roots is seldom what causes me an accident. Most often it is things that more travel doesnít really help much with, like taking a loose corner too fast. Or my front wheel getting sucked into a rut. Or my pedal hitting something. Or clipping a tree.
    Last edited by kapusta; 3 Weeks Ago at 04:15 AM.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    This all depends on terrain. If you actually have the terrain to need longer travel then there's not much downside to having it, but if you don't have terrain that will use it then even a slight disadvantage is too much because there's nothing to be gained. Sounds like the guys at the shop were saying that you don't have the terrain.

    In my area you don't have to be a hucker to be on a big bike - our terrain is such that many slow and steady type guys ride big bikes just to mitigate the punishment their bodies take. If our trails were more buff I don't think those guys would or should be on big bikes though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dolittle View Post
    So...finally...to my question. What is the downside of going with a bike with more travel than you really need? Cost? Weight? If your suspension is set up properly and you simply don't use all available travel in your daily riding, what's the penalty?
    I suppose the idea is to optimize the bike for your trails and riding. It may be that for one of your friends, a short travel, 100mm FS bike would be perfect and for another, on the same set of trails, a Ripmo would be perfect. It seems a stretch that on the trails you describe that a coiled downhill bike would be optimum, but the range of bikes is probably fairly large, especially if they may travel much to different types of trails as they progress. If they're on buff trails, a guy on a Megatower isn't likely to love riding with 5 guys on SB100's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusBrody View Post
    What kapusta is saying is that most of us don't ride thinking of a speed we want to go. We ride at a relatively percentage of our limit. So we're likely to crash the same amount on a short vs. long travel bike, but as the limit is higher on the long travel bike, when we do crash the consequences are higher.
    Yes, that does sum up my point.

    I mostly agree with that, though I do think that I did crash way less when making the big jump from a v-braked, XC hardtail (poorly tuned) to a much more modern full suspension. The subsequent move to a more capable and more modern full suspension hadn't affected my crash rate nearly as much.
    I can relate to that caveat as well.... with a caveat.... I definitely crash less and believe I am safer on modern bikes. But I think that has a lot more to do with geometry and cockpit setup than the extra travel.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    But I think that has a lot more to do with geometry and cockpit setup than the extra travel.
    hands down this is true.

    I went from a 100mm FS from 2003 to a 100mm FS from 2014. ENORMOUS difference in capability between the two bikes, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the amount of suspension travel.

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    Offering up my opinions here: I feel that whatever tires the rider's gravitate towards should sort of dictate how much travel they run.

    For instance, a guy on DH casing Minions on an SB100 trail bike is a bit silly, he/ she should clearly be on more bike if they find that lighter/ faster tires aren't working for them. The inverse of this is the enduro bike that ends up with fast rolling light duty trail tires as the rider tries to chase lower rolling resistance. If those tires are working well for you, well that rider should just be on a lighter duty bike.

    Let me add too that you can have a great rear suspension design that's efficient, but when you have a lot of travel you really get a lot of weight transfer when pedaling, plus weight, plus the RR of the matching tires. It really adds up! a bike that is faster on the flats and climbs will ALWAYS be a faster overall bike just because most spend so much more time under those conditions with relatively a small amount of time actually descending, and frankly modern trail bikes with modern geo descend crazy well.

    Having never personally experienced the 'feeling the trail makes for more fun' thing but I buy in to the argument, I really do. Personally I just charge as hard as I can the entire time so have never had that experience but have recently desired a HT for riding with the wife and kid to experiment with this idea.

    My vote is for a modern geo 130/ 150ish type of 29er for the conditions described in the OP.

    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Suns_PSD View Post
    Offering up my opinions here: I feel that whatever tires the rider's gravitate towards should sort of dictate how much travel they run.

    For instance, a guy on DH casing Minions on an SB100 trail bike is a bit silly, he/ she should clearly be on more bike if they find that lighter/ faster tires aren't working for them. The inverse of this is the enduro bike that ends up with fast rolling light duty trail tires as the rider tries to chase lower rolling resistance. If those tires are working well for you, well that rider should just be on a lighter duty bike.
    Interesting take that I've not heard before but it falls apart pretty quick with any terrain not totally standard. For instance in my area Minions are probably the most common tire (though not DH casing) and can be found on XC rigs about as regularly as any other tire. It just suits the terrain, even if you're not riding terribly aggressively. Or another example would be DH park riders - they often run slicks because they're riding smooth sculpted dirt, but need the travel to soak up the big hits.

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    ^ I run DHFs on the front of my Rigid bike and hardtail. I had a 130 mm bike (also with a DHF up front) and sold it because it wasn't as much fun. I like to ride to the limit of traction at times on my local system, and that means DHFs give me the best performance, irrespective of suspension travel.

    I had my rigid bike in a 2 wheel slide around a corner on Monday- glad I had the DHF up front as it caught on the way out of the turn and kept me out of the trees. If I had XC slicks on there I'd have been in trouble.
    Stache 7 --- Rigid Surly 1x1 B+ --- Dirt Drop CrossCheck

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    In tight single track that is fairly xc-ish in tread, my 160mm 27.5 bike is frickin awesome. The slack head angle and short stem make it less stable at low speeds so turning is more flowy, and the wide grippy tires allow me to crank up the turning speed. I was quite pleasantly surprised, even with the concessions necessitated by wider bars among the trees.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post

    I can relate to that caveat as well.... with a caveat.... I definitely crash less and believe I am safer on modern bikes. But I think that has a lot more to do with geometry and cockpit setup than the extra travel.
    I agree. Geometry will make a big difference on any trail or even off the trail. Coming from BMX and getting my first mtb with a 110mm stem, I immediately knew it compromised handling.

    However, suspension travel isn't a benefit unless you use it.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frs1661 View Post
    ^ I run DHFs on the front of my Rigid bike and hardtail. I had a 130 mm bike (also with a DHF up front) and sold it because it wasn't as much fun. I like to ride to the limit of traction at times on my local system, and that means DHFs give me the best performance, irrespective of suspension travel.

    I had my rigid bike in a 2 wheel slide around a corner on Monday- glad I had the DHF up front as it caught on the way out of the turn and kept me out of the trees. If I had XC slicks on there I'd have been in trouble.
    Exactly! I think tire choice in some ways boils down to how hard you wanna corner. Folks who try to drag bar in every turn are gonna want DHFs regardless of the bike.

    I like the idea of choosing one piece of equipment based on your choice of another though. Maybe we should work out the ratio of unnecessary volume in your shorts (could get a little personal) vs. suspension travel. Lycra is rigid-100mm, JNCO jeans are 210mm.

  34. #34
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    I race XC pretty seriously, trail riding for me is for fun. Both my bikes (100 FS and 160mm FS) get used to the limits, all travel is used on every ride. The difference is, I am not hucking to flat on the XC bike the same way as I am on the Enduro. My Enduro gets the most use (I use it for XC training).

    Lets make things clear though, that at least in today's market, you can not equate travel with handling. My last two XC bikes handled AMAZING on hard descents. If the seat post wasn't in the XC position, I would out descend most trail riders on most trails. But I use caution picking my lines on that bike. On my long travel bike, I just smash stuff, because it is fun.

    The penalty of long travel is in my mind, in no order:
    A. price
    B. weight
    C. pedal ability

    My long travel bike weighs 35 pounds, it takes a lot more work to get around the active suspension and weight to do a 20 mile/3000' ride whereas on the XC bike, that's just a quicky ride.

    I would opt to get the bike, both in geo and travel, that suits the riders best. That way you maximize the amount of trails you get to ride, and minimize the discomfort.

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    I think the places I notice the extra travel is if I'm trying to do a bunny hop or launch off that 12" rock on the edge of the trail, which is mainly in just goofing off. The LSC control on the DPX2 in trail mode is pretty good, even on a bike with antisquat at 90% in the mid range pedaling gear. When I got 160mm I thought it might be too much but it turned out perfect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    Exactly! I think tire choice in some ways boils down to how hard you wanna corner. Folks who try to drag bar in every turn are gonna want DHFs regardless of the bike.

    I like the idea of choosing one piece of equipment based on your choice of another though. Maybe we should work out the ratio of unnecessary volume in your shorts (could get a little personal) vs. suspension travel. Lycra is rigid-100mm, JNCO jeans are 210mm.
    Haha, I do still ride in Lycra; how did you know?
    Stache 7 --- Rigid Surly 1x1 B+ --- Dirt Drop CrossCheck

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    Interesting take that I've not heard before but it falls apart pretty quick with any terrain not totally standard. For instance in my area Minions are probably the most common tire (though not DH casing) and can be found on XC rigs about as regularly as any other tire. It just suits the terrain, even if you're not riding terribly aggressively. Or another example would be DH park riders - they often run slicks because they're riding smooth sculpted dirt, but need the travel to soak up the big hits.
    As a rider of only 5 years, I've had less and different experiences.

    XC type trails, where a XC bike excels, in my admittedly limited experience, have smooth buff terrain, where a XC or trail tire actually hooks up as well and often better than an aggressive knobby tire. You said 'better suits the terrain, even if not riding aggressively' but I think that is just an example of choosing the wrong tire. If you aren't making your DHFs drift constantly, buy a faster tire!

    Tire rolling resistance is really the single biggest thing (once you already are on a modern MTB) that effects how fast you go. Not side knob traction, seat tube angle, or anything else when you are talking your speed over the length of the average trail. I purposely give up a very slight amount of overall traction in an attempt to maintain a higher average speed and it seems to work when I compare myself to many of my riding peers.

    Where I ride (Central TX), and where I have traveled to ride (Bentonville and Angel Fire) usually loose and unpredictable rocky terrain, is terrain with jumps/ drops/ and lots and lots of bumps as well. So I find that knobbier tires work well on this terrain, right along with the extra travel.

    No doubt that some great riders run HTs or low travel bikes in straight up Enduro type conditions and therefore utilize really aggressive tires. They intentionally choose the wrong bike for their application cause they usually are very talented and just like the extra skills required not to mention money saved and simplicity.

    Lastly I'll say that smooth sculpted bike parks is just sort of lame imo. I've never seen such a thing myself at a bike park. My friends and I experienced those overly groomed machine made trails in a few places in Bentonville and none of us approved and the fast bikes on those trails were in fact shorter travel bikes on fast rolling smoother trail tires. Actually a BMX bike was the fastest set up I witnessed on 1 heavily groomed trail in particular (Crystal Falls?). Thankfully that was just a small part of what the trails there offered.

    But I fully acknowledge that my experiences may be vastly different than others.

    ~ take care

  38. #38
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    I think having maximum traction is over rated. Maxxis even makes the Ikon in DD for enduro racers. Having Minion level traction is often slower and less fun. On most public trails you're only making a tiny difference in cornering speed going from a moderate trail tire to a Minion. It's one thing if you're taking sweepers at 30 mph or trying to brake on a 40% grade but it's another if most of your corners are just the trail weaving through trees and lower speed berms.

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    Some interesting views here. Here's another one. What style of riding does your crew do? are they punishing xc pedal fests, flowing medium speed trail rides? gnar seeking enduro descent fests? The type of riding you and your crew do will dictate the steed you will gravitate to.

    Also where do you sit it that crew? front of the crew pedaling up? mid pack? back of pack sucking hard? On the descents are you leading it out? flowing mid pack or white knuckle trying to keep up?

    If your hurting on the up and owning the down then less travel will give you a better experience with your buddies.... similarly if you owning the up and white knuckling the down then more travel will help that out.


    Now if you own the up and blaze the down and lead it out both up and down it doesnt matter what you do, you will be punishing your buddies now matter what bike you get!.... hehehehehehehehehehehe


    One thing is sertain. New bike speed is awesome. Go out and by a new bike and enjoy.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by plummet View Post
    Some interesting views here. Here's another one. What style of riding does your crew do? are they punishing xc pedal fests, flowing medium speed trail rides? gnar seeking enduro descent fests? The type of riding you and your crew do will dictate the steed you will gravitate to.

    Also where do you sit it that crew? front of the crew pedaling up? mid pack? back of pack sucking hard? On the descents are you leading it out? flowing mid pack or white knuckle trying to keep up?

    If your hurting on the up and owning the down then less travel will give you a better experience with your buddies.... similarly if you owning the up and white knuckling the down then more travel will help that out.


    Now if you own the up and blaze the down and lead it out both up and down it doesnt matter what you do, you will be punishing your buddies now matter what bike you get!.... hehehehehehehehehehehe


    One thing is sertain. New bike speed is awesome. Go out and by a new bike and enjoy.
    Good idea, buy a bike to assists/ improves your weaknesses, instead of buying a new bike to improve what you are already above average at.

    I had been seeking out a new bike that would improve my climbing performance as that was often where I suffered, and it worked as I went from back of the pack to front of the back in this regard pretty much overnight. It just so happens the bike I choose is also a rad descending platform as well.

    Foxy 29 FTW!
    Last edited by Suns_PSD; 3 Weeks Ago at 05:24 PM.

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    Interesting thread.

    I think a lot of us overestimate how much difference 20mm of extra travel will make on our descents or the size of boulders we are willing to roll etc etc. I ride a lot of tech and gnar, and anything I do with my FS can also be done on my hardtail, with nearly the same speed but just a whole different experience on the HT. I think switching it up now and then is a great way to build skills, and that's why I recommend two bikes: one FS with 130-160mm, and one All Mountain hardtail. Use the HT on flowy rides, of course, but then once in a while man-up and show up to a gnarly group ride with the HT and wow your buds!

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeInPA View Post
    I ride a lot of tech and gnar, and anything I do with my FS can also be done on my hardtail, with nearly the same speed but just a whole different experience on the HT.
    I'd say the say same except for riding DH and a few select public trails. Slow tech is generally not much harder on a hardtail. It's when you add steep terrain and speed that things can get out of hand on a hardtail. It goes back to what Dougal talks about with setting up your suspension based on frequency. At some point of increasing intensity on a hardtail (or any bike really) you'll get to a point where you physically can't handle the frequency and/or magnitude of the impacts...that's when you don't have enough travel in the most fundamental sense.

    Too much travel is when it slows you down or makes your ride more difficult. This could be from losing climbing efficiency or from the suspension frequency being too slow. Unfortunately to answer bith the questions of what's too much or too little travel requires trial and error. Even at the pro level one enduro racer may need 20mm more fork travel than another stronger rider on the same course.

  43. #43
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    Correct....DH above about 7/10ths the HT gets out of shape, sometimes unrecoverable But a little of that now and then wakes up the senses.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeInPA View Post
    Correct....DH above about 7/10ths the HT gets out of shape, sometimes unrecoverable But a little of that now and then wakes up the senses.
    For sure ... also why I don't want max traction from my tires on the hardtail all the time. If you don't experience a two wheel drift every now and then you're not really living.

  45. #45
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    I've been on the same trails for a decade now and they havent really changed, but my bikes have changed. I think my 160f/140r bike climbs actually easier than all my previous trail bikes with a 140mm fork. So the climb is easier if anything.

    I suppose I would agree that its less exciting going down. Good! I've been white-knuckling it and riding on the brink of OTB crashes for so long, its nice not to anymore. Its nice not to, and to not give up anything for the climbs. Also I can take this bike to the bike parks now, so really more has opened up and theres no downside.

    To get the same thrill I certainly do need to go faster and run a higher risk, but often I'm gassed and just want to take it easy on that last descent anyway.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    For sure ... also why I don't want max traction from my tires on the hardtail all the time. If you don't experience a two wheel drift every now and then you're not really living.
    Max traction is for steep, wet rocks - which is all I ride these days thanks to the weather.

    All tires two-wheel drift if you go fast enough...

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