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  1. #1
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    What do people mean when they say XC bikes aren't as fun?

    I hear they are fast, and efficient. But some say they are not as fun such as going downhill compared to a trail bike.

    Why is this? Would it have to do with the frame geo?

  2. #2
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    Yeah, it's the geo. XC bikes are optimized for pedaling. Freestyle bmx bikes are optimized for jumping and tricks but they suck for seated pedaling. There has to be compromises. Some XC diehards might argue XC bikes are capable of almost anything you can throw are them, that misses the point. When I ride an XC bike I tend to want to stay in the saddle more, as opposed to standing and jumping off stuff. XC bikes tend to have longer stems, shorter reaches and steeper head tube angles. It's more awkward to carve turns, jump, and generally throw around.

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    I see what you mean.

  4. #4
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    I love riding my XC bike on some of the smoother trails around, I can jump and pop off stuff that don't have enough speed for on my other bikes. Quick line changes, the bike is so much more responsive, I can stand up and pedal from a "dig" in way-too-hard of a gear that would bog me down on my other bike, etc. One thing that is especially fun is the fact that you can often corner faster on much of the terrain, because you can keep your speed higher and even on a lot of DH stuff, you can corner and ride faster. It takes some serious gnarly DH for my 6" enduro bike to be faster. People tend to way-overestimate what kind of bike is faster on DHs, in terms of using bikes with more travel that are not faster and sometimes slower. Lots of people ride more travel because it's more comfortable in some ways, but it's also fun to go real fast and rail turns on the XC bike.

    Dropper posts and 29 wheels have eliminated a lot of the past issues, like endos and not being able to roll over real rough terrain.

    I don't like riding hardtails much, because they just beat me up too much, but I do love riding and racing my XC bike.

    That said, not everyone needs an XC race bike. I went to great lengths to keep the weight down on the wheels and other parts, it's not super cheap and a lower-end bike would likely not be as snappy or well suspended. Unless you are riding in flatter places between the Rockies and Appalachians, a bit more travel can be nice, especially if you like to occasionally travel to places to ride. These are reasons why it may not make the most sense for your "only" ride.
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    Today with really good suspension tuning options and wheel rim and tire width choices with different pressures you can get a broader range of usage out of most bikes. And that means you can get by with a lighter lower travel bike if you know how. So new XC bikes are coming with a little slacker head tube angles and a bit more reach so you can use a shorter stem. They're XC but a trail bike too in some of the lower models with the same frame. The lower models of the Scott Spark for 2019 come with wider rims and 2.6 29 tires standard. Only the couple top end bikes have skinnier rims/tires. I think one of the lower models would be more fun if you're not using it primarily for racing.
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  6. #6
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    Expensive lightweight bikes are too precious to beat up, if people can't afford to pay for the upkeep. If they play it safe and just use it to cover ground quickly, or with less effort, avoiding situations that risk themselves or their bike to a beating, then that sounds kind of boring to me.

  7. #7
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    I feel there are lots of slow people here. Go ask in the XC racing forum.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I feel there are lots of slow people here. Go ask in the XC racing forum.
    The AM crowd says XC bikes aren't fun. Figured this thread gives them the chance to elaborate what they mean. The XC racing forum will defend their discipline, seeking to ridicule others for lacking understanding (such as imagining people in this subforum are slow). It's just a casual biased judgement that's often based on mere opinion. Nothing serious.

    BTW, what's "Elitest" mean? The most elite of the elite? Inside joke? Misspelling of elitist (power/glory to the elite)?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post

    BTW, what's "Elitest" mean? The most elite of the elite? Inside joke? Misspelling of elitist (power/glory to the elite)?
    Inquiring minds want to know. Keep us updated.
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  10. #10
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    "XC bikes aren't fun" = "I am slow and in love with chair lifts and pizza rolls".

  11. #11
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    That's what I say to people about fireroads. I find them fun, at least at speed.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by John445 View Post
    I hear they are fast, and efficient. But some say they are not as fun such as going downhill compared to a trail bike.

    Why is this? Would it have to do with the frame geo?
    I'd say it has more to do with the people that are telling you that.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    The AM crowd says XC bikes aren't fun. Figured this thread gives them the chance to elaborate what they mean. The XC racing forum will defend their discipline, seeking to ridicule others for lacking understanding (such as imagining people in this subforum are slow
    Some of us have been there and done that... All that gram (bike) and calorie counting, hr monitors etc just seems silly now. I'll take a slacker/heavier bike built for what I really enjoy every day even if it means a little more work.

    Whatever turns your cranks.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I feel there are lots of slow people here. Go ask in the XC racing forum.
    ^Proof XC bikes suck the fun out of people.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    The AM crowd says XC bikes aren't fun.
    With more travel and more stable geometry you can hit rougher trails faster. Which is more fun.

  16. #16
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    Hardtails with the right geo are fun. Nothing to do with travel.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    Expensive lightweight bikes are too precious to beat up, if people can't afford to pay for the upkeep. If they play it safe and just use it to cover ground quickly, or with less effort, avoiding situations that risk themselves or their bike to a beating, then that sounds kind of boring to me.
    It's all relative. I used to thrash the crap out of my XC race bikes. Good technique meant that they mostly survived just fine. Although I do remember going through quite a few rims in the 90's.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    The AM crowd says XC bikes aren't fun. Figured this thread gives them the chance to elaborate what they mean. The XC racing forum will defend their discipline, seeking to ridicule others for lacking understanding (such as imagining people in this subforum are slow). It's just a casual biased judgement that's often based on mere opinion. Nothing serious.

    BTW, what's "Elitest" mean? The most elite of the elite? Inside joke? Misspelling of elitist (power/glory to the elite)?
    First of all, misspellings are just proof that the poster is a genuine mtbr. They either don't realize or don't care (probably both).

    Second, they are entitled to their opinions, but Plus bikes are where the real fun is to be found.

  19. #19
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    You have to define a XC bike

    I think you are just hearing a combo of old ideas of what a mtb geo should be and the tribalism of people who live in those camps.

    Quote Originally Posted by John445 View Post
    .... compared to a <b>trail bike</b>....
    I put "trail" bikes in that 130mm +/- 10mm category with slack headangles. There are exceptions in this class of bikes but they live in that nether region of not xc or enduro but a little of both. Compared to an enduro bike they climb better, are more lively, more poppy, lighter, making them more fun at a lower (safer) speeds.

    There are few "xc" frames that are slack enough I'd use them as a trail bike and look at the Olympic and WC courses, dudes feel the need for a dropper post. Frame geo standards and wheels sizes are changing so fast right now I could not tell you what a modern XC geo is today 8/11/18. Stick a 1" longer fork on them and they look like a trail bike to me.

  20. #20
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    There is a lot of stuff overblown right now, that you need a 64 degree head angle, that you need 7" of travel, that you need 2.8" tires, and on and on.

    Lots of people are over-biked, a lot of the time. I'm over-biked a lot of the time. I wasn't yesterday during some of my ride when I was doing some ass-way-behind-the-seat steep chutes and some high speed DH (4500 vertical), but most of the TIME on that ride, I was still over-biked. Fast forward to today, took my XC bike to the more local trails in the city and it's a blast. I can hit turns and jumps with more speed. No one is losing XC races because their HTA is too steep or because they can't ride downhill fast. With a 29er wheel, my bike is in no danger of endo-ing unless I do something drastically stupid.

    There is a lot of fun to getting out there and having the right bike for the trails, you can maximize your speed and have a lot of fun dodging trees at mach5.

    IMO, it's not as fun if you ONLY own a very-XC bike, unless you live somewhere that naturally limits what you can do, such as out in the midwest and some places that just don't have big terrain. But on the other hand, it's real fun to get out on a trail and have the right tool for the job. With more experience and riding, you find that you can ride such a bike very fast, land on the transitions, know when to loft, etc.

    At the higher levels of XC racing, you realize that these guys ride their XC bikes harder than most intermediate "all mountain" or "enduro" riders. At these levels, the riders are usually multi-discipline too, they often ride enduro and DH as well as XC, for the variety. Some of these guys have more bikes to choose from, some of them don't and ride the hell out of their XC bikes. Went and rode Sedona right after the Whiskey 50 with some fellow expert riders from my state. Even advanced riders wouldn't ride all the stuff that we rode. Would I have liked to have my bigger bike for it? Sure. But realistically, bigger tires and fork would have gotten me 80% of the way there and allowed me to have a big boost in security. So this year I'll bring some extra tires and maybe my extra fork or switch it out for that trip. That said, we did just fine coming down stuff like Highline and the Hogs on our "XC" bikes. There are things you can do for shorter travel bikes like a Pivot 429 Trail with only 120mm of travel to really boost the technical ability, like a slightly bigger fork, some bigger tires, and so on. On the same token, you can turn it into a dog with big + sized tires, wide rims, heavy fork, and so on. Kind of nice with something like that to have some rim and tire options to go back and forth.

    My main point is, unless you are riding stuff all day long that is the equal of chairlift and full on DH-bike terrain, no, you don't need an AM bike and you are probably over-biked with one. That isn't necessarily a hugely bad thing, I love to blast off obstacles and ram through rock gardens, but on the other hand, I also appreciate a fast light XC bike, which can also be a blast, taking corners faster, allowing you to hop off stuff that you just can't with your bigger bike. These bikes can be fun and you have to figure out if your terrain and riding style really needs all that extra travel and beef. If it doesn't, then you are just lugging around extra pounds and energy-absorbing suspension.
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  21. #21
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    I have come full circle on this. I started riding in the 80s on fully rigid bikes and had a blast. I didn't have as high of a standard then of what trails I thought were "fun" -- it was ALL fun.

    Later, I started racing XC, but didn't stay in that very long because the courses were only physically challenging, and I was into riding much more technical terrain at that point.

    I then got into downhill racing and dual slalom, at a time that the sport was in its infancy and bike technology was escalating rapidly. It was a very exciting time, for sure. I got into DH full-on and my bikes kept getting bigger and bigger suspension, brakes, etc. But you know what? My expectations of trails also rose. For a long time, I was riding 40+ pound behemoths and trails just had to have a real payoff to make lugging the thing to the top worth it. I simply stopped riding any trails that were flatter and smoother, since in reality, my bikes at the time carried a huge performance penalty on such trails. They needed to be pointed down and the trails needed to be gnarly for me to have a good time, I told myself. Flat, "xc" trails were now "lame." To be fair to myself, I was still very fit back then and earned my turns. It was just a different kind of riding-- but I was missing out.

    Fast forward 15 years or so and I borrowed a buddy's 22 pound carbon 29er wonder bike. He actually lent it to me for an entire fall/winter, as he was overseas. I began doing 30+ mile backcountry rides again and quickly rekindled what got me into mountain biking in the first place -- efficient, fast travel into remote areas filled with solitude. I started having fun on trails that I hadn't ridden in 20 years. And for the first time in as many years, I didn't care much what the trail was like, as long as I was racking up miles. After that period, I bought one for myself.

    I still enjoy riding ultra-gnar terrain on my enduro bike; indeed, that's a blast. However, trails like that are getting harder and harder to find. Trails that truly put my enduro bike to the test are no longer being built, in favor of the "flow" trail movement. I am starting to find now that my XC hardtail is faster both up and down on most modern trails.

    Anyhow, I'm starting to ramble now. Both approaches can be equally fun. Mostly it's about choosing the right tool for the job. Sometimes the "right" tool for the job is one that makes it more challenging, not less.

  22. #22
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    I'd say it has more to do with what you consider fun. The better I get skill-wise, the more fun riding becomes. The better shape I'm in, the more fun riding is. Eventually, I'll mention the bike...

    I need a FS bike, but aside from not being able to take the beating on rougher trails it is not more fun to me than riding the same trails on a hardtail with relatively similar geo. Not getting the crap beat out of me is a pretty big deal, though. Suspension setup, and how the bike uses its available travel is another topic(maybe that should BE the topic, though), but since I use almost all of my current 140/140 travel with "standard" sag percentages and everything set up to perform the way I want it to on every ride, I suppose anything less would be less suited to my roughest trails.
    Certainly doesn't mean it would be less fun, though. I'd ride a hardtail, shorter travel bike, or the one I have with the shock set up to be more progressive(it gets super poppy!) in a heartbeat if my body would let me get away with it.

  23. #23
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    Is it not common knowledge that the fun is in the challenge? People say flow trails are boring too. Just like fireroads, you can have fun on them even on big bikes, as long as you're riding it hard/fast enough for it to present a challenge.

    I guess since I'm sensitive to the costs, I'd be saying it's fun until something breaks. Then it's a major buzzkill and you lose the passion in it. That or you get burned out from overtraining.

  24. #24
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    Steeper head angles, less travel and longer stems of xc bikes make them awesome uphill stompers and flat single track rippers. When you go down your weight is further forward and the steeper and gnarlier the descent the more difficult they become to control. There comes a piont of gnar where the xc bike is no longer fun, then another point when it becomes dangerous and the a point when it is physicall impossible to ride the xc bike on that terrian. Those points are lower than a trail and a lot lower than an am bike. Trails that DH bikes enjoy are in the dangerous or impossible category for xc bikes.


    If you don't like playing in the really tech stuff and are happy with the upper tech end of and xc bike then you will love the speed, hill climbing and single track ripability.


    If the gnar is what is calling to you then the upper tech end of an xc bike is just too low for you. That is what people say it is not as much fun.


    Im in the gnar camp. The xc bike is fun on the flat and up and thats about it for me. My daily ride is 165/180mm and I love it! It pedals fraken stupid good for so much travel. Every ride i go on I inject some gnar into ride that an xc bike cant handle. Even the pedal fests that i go on. Its those injections of gnar that makes me grin the most! So no XC bike for me. What i love to do the most it cant do.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    My main point is, unless you are riding stuff all day long that is the equal of chairlift and full on DH-bike terrain, no, you don't need an AM bike and you are probably over-biked with one.
    That makes no sense. Either that or what you consider DH terrain is quite mild.

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    It's just personal preference and riding style. There are lines I can't ride as aggressively as I like on a bike with a steeper HTA and less suspension. On an XC bike there are lines I just flat out avoid because its more like taking punishment than having fun. On a bike with AM Geo and suspension those same lines are fun and much less like slow rolling abuse.

    My bike has a 150mm fork with 130mm travel in the rear and weighs 31lbs with a dropper post. 90% of the time I'm "over biked" but I bought this bike for the 10% of the time I'm under biked (I've ridden double black diamond at the bike park on it). I would make very good use of a bike with 160mm travel when pointing downhill but it would be to big to lug around the rest of the time.

    I'm keeping an eye on Tantrum Bikes. 30ish Lbs is a good weight but having 160mm of travel without being to squishy on steep climbs would be awesome.

  27. #27
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    The bikes I most commonly see on the trails are medium-travel, maybe around 140mm, eduro bikes. I used to think that they were overkill but I've changed my mind. If I was buying a new full-sus today I would buy one.

    The difference between these bikes and a cross-country bike is that they can do anything a cross-country bike can do but the reverse is not so true. They climb well enough, cover ground adequately but can handle fast, rough descents far better than a cross-country bike. They offer more fun simply because they can do more. Yes, you could fly down a rocky trail on a light-weight cross-country bike but you're not going to enjoy it as much. Less fun.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by EatsDirt View Post
    That makes no sense. Either that or what you consider DH terrain is quite mild.
    On MTBR using an All Mountain for what it's designed for is considered overbiked.

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    People keep bringing up travel and capability but that's not why I think XC bikes are less fun.

  30. #30
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    Having the right tool for the job is fun...

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    I'm not new, I've been riding mountain bikes for 15 years. I am slow, and I have no intention of being "fast". I have skills and I'm not really pushing for more.

    I just like riding. I like climbing (slowly) and descending playfully. I'll take the dumb line to plow over a big rock or pop off features on the corner. It's not the race winning line, but I enjoy it.

    I find this fun on a 6 inch bike. It's stable and planted, and I have a good time. It's sketchy and unenjoyable on an xc bike.

    Someone being faster or slower than me has no bearing on me having fun or not on an xc bike.

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    All bikes are fun. Every bike is fun for different things. If someone says an XC bike isn't fun it means they are slow, can't pedal and have crap handling skills. If someone says a AM or DH bike isn't fun they are afraid to send it off stuff and hit 30mph+. If someone says a road bike isn't fun they are afraid to wear lycra and they are slow. All bikes are fun.

  33. #33
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    XC bikes are great for getting to the top of a fireroad faster to prove yourself on Strava. For anything else, you are under-biked.
    We don't ride to add days to our life, we ride to add life to the days we have left here.

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    ^^^I've ridden WC level DH courses on an XC hardtail outfitted with 2.3" tires and a short stem as the only adaptations, and beat people on full DH bikes. Yes, I was underbiked -- but it was still fun.

    Going back to what I said earlier, newly-built trails are getting easier and easier at a time when bikes are more capable than ever.

    I made a post in Passion the other day about what people look for in trails. It was a response to my massive disappointment after riding a trail that had been hyped to me by endurbro-types for years as one of the greatest trails in the region. It turned out to be a total yawn-fest. ZERO technical skills required. If I ever ride that trail again it'll be on my XC hardtail and I'm sure it'll be faster and more fun.

    The reality is, a lot of people ARE overbiked, and really aren't aware of what can be accomplished on a lesser bike.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    Hardtails with the right geo are fun. Nothing to do with travel.
    Hardtails with the right geo aren't XC bikes...


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    Quote Originally Posted by cookieMonster View Post
    ^^^I've ridden WC level DH courses on an XC hardtail outfitted with 2.3" tires and a short stem as the only adaptations, and beat people on full DH bikes. Yes, I was underbiked -- but it was still fun.

    Going back to what I said earlier, newly-built trails are getting easier and easier at a time when bikes are more capable than ever.

    I made a post in Passion the other day about what people look for in trails. It was a response to my massive disappointment after riding a trail that had been hyped to me by endurbro-types for years as one of the greatest trails in the region. It turned out to be a total yawn-fest. ZERO technical skills required. If I ever ride that trail again it'll be on my XC hardtail and I'm sure it'll be faster and more fun.

    The reality is, a lot of people ARE overbiked, and really aren't aware of what can be accomplished on a lesser bike.
    I don't know wtf you underbiked guys are riding but locally, my friends as well as EWS pro acquaintances are all riding exactly what we need to go fast down and still do big days on the bike - AM/Enduro rigs.

    Anyone who's spent any significant time on the various different bikes can figure out the trade-offs fairly quickly.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by EatsDirt View Post
    I don't know wtf you underbiked guys are riding but locally, my friends as well as EWS pro acquaintances are all riding exactly what we need to go fast down and still do big days on the bike - AM/Enduro rigs.
    Like I said, these are the bikes I'm seeing all the time and they do not seem to handicap their riders significantly on climbs or smooth trails. They are happy as can be.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by David R View Post
    Hardtails with the right geo aren't XC bikes...

    Exactly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thustlewhumber View Post
    XC bikes are great for getting to the top of a fireroad faster to prove yourself on Strava. For anything else, you are under-biked.
    Have you actually ridden an XC bike on XC trails, which are the majority of trails in most areas? A lot of us prefer the challenge of picking a line and feeling the trail; we're not looking to just roll down the trail on a cushioned ride. If I want that, I ride my road bike on the road.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    Have you actually ridden an XC bike on XC trails, which are the majority of trails in most areas? A lot of us prefer the challenge of picking a line and feeling the trail; we're not looking to just roll down the trail on a cushioned ride. If I want that, I ride my road bike on the road.
    Riding a hardtail with more trail oriented geo and a short stem is more fun than riding a full suspension XC bike. The trail hardtail inspires more riding out of the saddle and popping off stuff, as a opposed to an XC bike with a longer slammed stem which is better suited for seated pedaling and keeping the wheels on the ground. Taking a bmx bike trail riding is pretty fun too, kinda dangerous but then you can really pop off stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    Riding a hardtail with more trail oriented geo and a short stem is more fun than riding a full suspension XC bike. The trail hardtail inspires more riding out of the saddle and popping off stuff, as a opposed to an XC bike with a longer slammed stem which is better suited for seated pedaling and keeping the wheels on the ground. Taking a bmx bike trail riding is pretty fun too, kinda dangerous but then you can really pop off stuff.
    But that all depends on what the rider is looking for, it's an opinion. Which is the answer to the OP's question, it is their opinion. I'm a bit more of a climber than a descender.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

  42. #42
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    I own a Pivot Les and a Ibis Ripley and the Ripley is a funner bike its very poppy and playful where as the Les is efficient and fast and climbs for days.
    2018 Canyon Spectral
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  43. #43
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    Terrain dictates travel. Riding style determines angles.

    I ride an AM hardtail in xc land. But even here, there are opportunities to gap into rock gardens, session big boulders, ride elevated skinnies, ride down rooty downhills at mach chicken, hit BMX jumps, etc. And if that is my intent and style, would it be fair and reasonable to expect an xc whippet to put up with that abuse, day in and day out? Of course not. The AM bike is built for it. An XC bike compromises strength for weight, and descending prowess for climbing efficiency.

    Descending challenging terrain on an xc bike requires more skill, or risk, or both. Bikes with slack geo put you in a more neutral position for descending. Less risk at any given speed, with all other variables controlled. It's the right tool for the job.

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