Upgrade hardtail to Full susp???- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Upgrade hardtail to Full susp???

    Sorry If I'm asking too many questions lol. I'm a very curious person Strange how I got so bored in school....

    Anyway, I'm on here ordering my bike (cliff 4900) and I was thinking, what if I want a full susp next year?? Or what if I decide I don't like a hardtail? I was told that a $400 full suspend wouldn't be a very good bike. So I was wondering after I get this Cliff 4900, if I could upgrade the frame to a full suspension? Is it possible to buy a full suspension frame and take the drive train, fork and tires off of this cliff 4900 and swap it all onto the full susp frame? Or would I have to buy a whole new bike?

    Why aren't the full suspension bikes any good anyway? My walmart bike is a full suspend and it seems to work okay

    I know you can buy just frames, but are all the drivetrain and otehr parts cross compatible between a hard tail and a full susp?

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Frame transfers are always complicated. When it's between different platforms, it tends to be worse.

    Suppose I want to transfer parts from my current 26" hardtail to a racier new frame. I have an 80mm fork, so it would be nice if I could find a frame to take that. If the frame had a taller head tube than mine, though, I'd probably be screwed - I only have 6mm of spacers in my headset/stem/spacer stack. FS frames usually take even taller forks, so the fork you have is probably not the right amount of travel. The head tube risk is always there regardless. You're fairly likely to need a new headset, since there are a few different standards and a lot of different size options, and it's getting worse.

    Seat posts come in different sizes. Front derailleurs come in different clamp sizes and cable routings.

    Lately, bottom brackets and rear hubs have a few different standards. That only effects high-end frames so far.

    You might want a 29er.

    So it's certainly doable, but you need to expect to run into a few compatibility issues.

    When you were talking about not wanting to explore fire roads too much, it sounded like you can't climb off-road on your bike. That doesn't seem like operational rear suspension to me. At least, on anything but a dedicated DH bike.

    To be honest, I'd like to do something similar myself. I think it would be a good project for the winter - there are a few NOS 26" hardtail race frames floating around the discount sites and EBay. I could go totally weight-weenie and make a spreadsheet of all my component weights while I was at it - it seems silly to me to try to lose much weight on my current bike, when I'm confident the frame weighs 4.5+ lb. Guess I'll have to strip it and throw it on a scale myself at some point.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Decisions decisions

    I have a hardtail Gary Fisher. I've only been riding a few years but can help you with a few things I hope. Any corrections by other members are welcome.

    A 400 dollar full suspension probably won't get you much. Wal-mart bikes aren't good because they aren't designed to handle the abuse you will want to put the bike through on the trail. Your bike may seem to work well, but ride it rough enough and it will break and it will hurt (probably you and the bike). I was making the same decisions as you with my first bike. I have yet to second guess my decision I made (09 Marlin Disc). The way I see it is if you're first starting off then you will be so excited with your new bike you won't notice little things in performance. As I've gotten better at MTB I have thought of upgrades to make with my bike.

    I suppose you could upgrade the parts considering they're compatible but why? Consider the price of a full suspension frame, plus the time it will take to strip your old bike of all its components and replace them on the new frame. Another thing to conisder is are you knowledgable enough to replace all of those parts? I know I'm not and your LBS will prob charge a pretty penny to do it.

    Hope this helps. Any other members can correct anything, I'm no expert this is just my two cents.

  4. #4
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    Don't sweat it Gem, you have not received your cliff yet try not to worry about your next frame upgrade yet. It would not only drive your crazy but also can prevent you from appreciate the cliff. Never think replace just add if you really want the FS then set the realistic budget and get one down the road, in the mean time just enjoy your cliff man.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885
    Don't sweat it Gem, you have not received your cliff yet try not to worry about your next frame upgrade yet. It would not only drive your crazy but also can prevent you from appreciate the cliff. Never think replace just add if you really want the FS then set the realistic budget and get one down the road, in the mean time just enjoy your cliff man.
    I agree 100%
    Just buy the damn thing already.....and enjoy it. You are already wanting to upgrade the frame and have not even sat on it yet. Learn to ride your hardtail first.
    STOP over thinking this...you'll go crazy.

  6. #6
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    Plus 1 on the crazy. Upgrades seem to become a sickness if you allow it. Before you know it, you don't even want to ride the bike. Just sit and stare at all your upgrades.

  7. #7
    I Tried Them ALL... SuperModerator
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    Build up your bike handling skills on the hardtail. I addition, you will be an expert in line choice selection...on the fly. I'm faster on my FS than I ever was on the hardtail...all attributable to 3 years hard experience on the HT. Start now!
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gemini9
    Why aren't the full suspension bikes any good anyway? My walmart bike is a full suspend and it seems to work okay

    I know you can buy just frames, but are all the drivetrain and otehr parts cross compatible between a hard tail and a full susp?
    First off, Wally world bikes are not intended to be used off road. They specifically say that in the fine print on their bikes. If you use one of these off road you are putting yourself in danger, at least if you get a boutique entry level bike you know it won't fall apart on you. They are referred to as organ donors for a reason.

    Second, if you know what specs your ht has for it's build, you can look for a compatible frame that would accept most of the parts over. Might have to get a longer stem or different seatpost to get a correct fit but if you know what to look for, you could do it for little to nothing.

    It's easier if your doing a build but for example, leave space on your steerer tube above your stem about 20mm, leave a little extra line on your brakes if their hydro, look for a frame with a seat tube diameter the same as your ht.

  9. #9
    Braille Riding Instructor
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    Gem, you know what I would say if several others in this thread haven't already said it.

    Be happy with what you've got and get the most of out it.

  10. #10
    local trails rider
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    Some people actually prefer hardtails, and would consider a full suspension bike a downgrade You won't know until you try it.

    Switching parts from one frame to another, you tend to find some items that won't fit. Different diameter seat post, different headset, different front derailer, different length gear cables and brake cables or hoses (cannot make them longer...)

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  11. #11
    DynoDon
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    You'll find it would be nice to have a loaner/backup bike, better yet a whole bunch of them, so when its time just park the cliff and enjoy the new one, keeping the cliff for a loaner/backup. Happy Trails

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gemini9
    Why aren't the full suspension bikes any good anyway? My walmart bike is a full suspend and it seems to work okay
    This is a good question, and it deserves a factual answer. I just rode a NEXT-brand bike yesterday evening, and did some work to adjust it. I've also overhauled more than one low-end bike. Following are some thoughts on your question:

    Weight is likely to be the first thing you notice. Low-end bike parts are heavy. All the additional heaviness on each and every part really do add up.

    Frame tubing is generally non-butted. That means the tubing is not fashioned to be thinner in low-stress areas in order to save weight. On some low-end full-suspension bikes, the rear-triangle is steel, and hi-tensile steel at that (which is heavier than the chromoly used on better steel frames).

    On the bike I rode last night, the front fork was too soft. I had to take care not to endo when I hit the brakes. The fork was designed for a child's weight, not an adults.

    Fork stanchions are often thin, which goes against stiffness and control. The fork lowers were stamped metal on the bike I rode last night, and really did not look like they would hold up were I blasting down a rooty or rocky trail.

    Geometry is often wrong for adults. The bike I rode last night was way too small for me to ride comfortably on.

    Assembly can be hit or miss. The bike I looked at last night was new at Christmas time. Yet the bottom-bracket wobbled. Yet the lockring was tight. I am reasonably certain the wobble was present from the beginning. The assembler probably did not tension the bottom-bracket correctly. (We still have snow on the ground. That bike has not been ridden much since Christmas).

    Then you get the "cloud of little things" that adds up to an overall poor experience:

    * Flex in the brake systems on low-end bikes often leads to more a sense of dragging than of stopping.

    * Handlebars tend to be overlay narrow.

    * Durability is often lacking. On the bike I looked at yesterday, the front brake cable had cut through the end of the noodle. We're talking a less than 12-year-old kid here, and somehow as a result of poor assembling he was able to pull on the brakes and have his cable slice the ferrule attached to the end of his front brake noodle.

    * The kickstand on the bike I looked at yesterday had come loose. This also speaks to durability and assembly. Kickstands should not "just come loose", especially not after the mere few weeks of barely-warm-enough-riding weather that we've had here since Christmas (we still have snow on the ground).

    Anyway, the above are just some things that come to mind at the moment. Not all inexpensive bikes are disasters. Some are fine for their intended purpose. I have seen some hardtails at Walmart and Target that look like they would be ok for general riding about town. But those full-suspension bikes for $99.99, those are awful. What's worse, is that they are heavy bikes inflicted upon young kids who really don't need suspension at all because they are only riding around their neighborhoods.

  13. #13
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    I agree with the "don't sweat it" comments. Get the bike and ride. If you want a full suspension next year, that's not the end of the world. If you become an avid mountain biker, you won't be able to stand to go a week without riding while your bike is in the shop so you'll want a backup bike. Also, you might find that you prefer a hard tail to full suspension on some trails. I really prefer my hard tail on fast, flowy trails and I prefer my dual suspension on the more technical trails. I probably ride my hard tail a little more than I ride my full suspension, but I wouldn't want to give up either.

    Starting with a hard tail is a good idea because you build skills faster with a hard tail and you can get better quality for the $ with a hard tail.

  14. #14
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    Agreed, start with the hardtail (cuz they rule) and build your skillset up and then decide.... but always remember HARDTAILS RULE

  15. #15
    Cantankerous Old Fart
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    I got luckey & found a NOS Fuji "Police Special" hardtail that everything will swap out to a new full suspension KHS XC904r Team Small frame.he frame comes W/a headset & rear air shock W/lockout

    Seatpost (bushed), front DR, BB, everthing from the hardtail will swap out & it has a Rockshox Recon fork W/lockout..

    It also has a suspension seatpot & Blackburn rack that will be swapped onto my wife's hardtail Specialized "Ariel Sport" hybrid.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Some people actually prefer hardtails, and would consider a full suspension bike a downgrade You won't know until you try it.
    Yep, I was this way. I tried to the FS bikes and simply prefer the ride of a HT. My Specialized FSR now for sale. From this point on...its all hardtail for me.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero260
    From this point on...its all hardtail for me.
    LOL! I once thought I'd never go back from full-suspension. Then I bought a fully-rigid ride. Ditto for 29ers, but then last year I rode my 26er most of the time. I also never thought I'd go with drop bars, but I did that too.

    The only thing I'm reasonably certain about these days is the two wheels part. I'm pretty certain I won't be going back to my tricycle days. OTOH, I am getting older

  18. #18
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero260
    From this point on...its all hardtail for me.
    Last summer, I built up a new bike to replace a hardtail I had some problems with... and made it a bomb-proof rigid singlespeed

    The first thing I learned when I took it on trails was: I cannot ride it like a hardtail. Now my body acts as front suspension too, and my wrists are definitely not strong enough to do that. So, both front and rear suspension must be in the legs

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  19. #19
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonathanGennick
    The only thing I'm reasonably certain about these days is the two wheels part. I'm pretty certain I won't be going back to my tricycle days. OTOH, I am getting older
    Some people feel the need to get on trails even if they cannot ride a two wheeled bike, or even walk. Steve Garro of Coconino Cycles:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXJg1YvfMoU

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  20. #20
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    My Cliff should be here Friday. Hardtail or FS, I'm still pretty excited about it's arrival.

    The Genesis bike I got from Walmart actually does seem pretty solid. It an aluminum frame, the suspension is pretty solid. Only complaint I have is that it's TOO solid. The rebound is just too much and too snappy for my weight and I can't adjust it. The trigger shifters are pretty good and after some minor adjustments, the brakes are firm. Rear V and front disc will stop me on a dime. Rear deraileur is bolted on good and made of solid steel, where the last mongoose I had was plastic. at $150, it's actually a decent ride. Stickers on it are really cheesy tho. But nonetheless, I ordered the Cliff 4900 and taking the Walmart bike back for refund. If they don't give me a refund I'll take gift card. My aunt will buy the $150 gift card off me for cash. If they won't take it back, I'll sell it to my girlfriends brother for $150 lol. Got it all planned out.

    I noticed in the pictures though, that

  21. #21
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    i also have a wallyworld "Next" mountian bike that i keep for a spare if someone needs a bike for a trial ride. I know that it is a cheap bike - heavy and almost all components are crap. However, the best part on the bike is the rear suspension. I got the spring cranked down pretty tight so that it lessens only the hardest of landings. There's not much dampening, but its doesnt "buck" that much.
    I think its a little funny that you should'nt buy a FS unless your prepared to spend 2Gs or more, but i dont think i would mind if that simple little rear chuck and spring on that walmart bike was on my carbon hardtail.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSUTiger
    but i dont think i would mind if that simple little rear chuck and spring on that walmart bike was on my carbon hardtail.
    Salsa used to make the Dos Niner: http://salsacycles.com/bikes/dos_niner/

    It had one, small, one-inch travel shock, but no pivots, so it was sort of a cross between a hardtail and full-suspension bike.

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