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  1. #1
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    Rode a hardtail for the second time in 15 years

    So I purchased an Ibis DV9. I really like the bike - it built up easily, is light weight (I am sub 23#) and the first time I rode it was cyclocross race where the bike performed as I hoped it would. The details of that ride are in the Ibis forum.

    Today I took it out to a relatively tame trail - Saratoga Gap - for those familiar with the Bay Area. For those not familiar, SG is a beautiful ride through undulating terrain with some nice single track sections that are broken up by a few short fire road climbs (climbs with views so amazing you actually don't mind riding the fire road).


    I always thought this ride was a technically easy way to get a good work out (1700 feet of climbing over 11 miles) with no single climb taking more than a few minutes.


    I did the ride with a fully loaded Osprey - just like I do for just about every other ride. But here is the rub: by about miles in 5 my kidneys hurt. I was stunned at how every small bump was transmitted right through the relatively svelte stays to my butt and subsequently to my lower back.


    The other noticeable feeling of the ride was that I felt like I was going way faster on descents than I actually was. Understandably, compared to my 5" travel Primer, I was acutely more aware of my speed.


    On the plus side, climbing with a hard tail is so much more efficient. For the same effort, you certainly get considerably more return. Considerably more return.


    I need to try this again and move my gear and water off my back to my bike. I am 90% my discomfort was amplified by the 3 liters of water and tools for every emergency on my back. I am never going to take this bike into the wild, so I probably could get away with a water bottle, tube and repair kit.

    The experience of the hard tail vs. the hard tail was do distinct, it was as if I were engaged in a different sport. And the ease with which I was able to get over the hills will certainly result in me trying this again.


    So why am I sharing this: because as fun as it was to ride something different, my recommendation to anyone considering a hardtail would be don't do it as your primary ride. Today's full sus bikes are so good, so comfortable and so efficient that you will likely be way more comfortable and in considerably more control on a full sus than a hardtail.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by onobed View Post
    ...But here is the rub: by about miles in 5 my kidneys hurt. I was stunned at how every small bump was transmitted right through the relatively svelte stays to my butt and subsequently to my lower back. On the plus side, climbing with a hard tail is so much more efficient...
    The surprising thing to me is you being surprised. This is the most basic and obvious trade-off between HT and FS. On a HT in rough terrain, you gotta stand way more to let your legs rather than your butt and back take the impacts on than you do on FS. The reason you'd put up with that is for the improved efficiency. There are some other differences, but those are the big glaring ones.
    Do the math.

  3. #3
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    In 15 years from now, whatever format these discussions take place will have a similar thread called "rode a manual bike for the first time in 15 years" that will warn others of the folley that is bothering with the challenges of a non-motorized mountain bike.

    also, not everyone has access to the kind of budget that you do. you have two bikes (that we know if in this thread) that cost several thousand dollars each and you live on the west coast (from what I gather) and can afford to travel around the Bay area to ride. all that sounds expensive as hell. I am sure this was not your intent, but advice from that perspective feels a bit condescending.

    meh, for my riding style and skill level, I have never felt the need for a FS bike. keep in mind that people on this forum live all over the world, so what you "need" for where and how you ride might be overkill to others. where I live, a short-travel 29er is the most popular choice, but not having that does not slow me down... much.

  4. #4
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    Sorry but I laugh every time I read somebody categorizing a hardtail as something extreme.
    What you found out is that you are in poor physical shape and that over pampering your body can have negative effects.

    If you have health issues then sure FS is the way to go but please stop making HTís like they are inferior or something cause they are not. Itís just that YOU have no physical shape and/or skill to handle them correctly.

  5. #5
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    TTIWWP (This Thread Is Worthless Without Pictures)

    I'll be sure to post my own thread like this after I get my hardtail built. Mine sure as hell won't be some 23lb wunderbike, either. I'll christen it on some proper Pisgah chunk.

    Then I'll whine about sore kidneys (hell, I get sore kidneys on that shit on my FS bike) and how rad the bike is and how all bikes are fun and you should just ride what you like.

  6. #6
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    One time I was riding a horse and my kidneys hurt so bad I feared they might burst but I think it was mostly because I didn't really know how to ride a horse.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  7. #7
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    Not sure I've ever been physically aware of my kidneys.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  8. #8
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    OP is sitting down too much.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Not sure I've ever been physically aware of my kidneys.
    Honestly, the only time I've ever been was after riding a very rough roller coaster, in which I quite likely bruised my kidneys by bouncing off of the seat back.

    Quote Originally Posted by phlegm View Post
    OP is sitting down too much.
    yep.

  10. #10
    Anytime. Anywhere.
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    There are all kinds of hardtails, just like suspension bikes. Mine is pretty compliant and doesn't beat me too badly. Ride it some more and continue to be surprised.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  11. #11
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    I think a lot depends on the trails that you ride routinely. If the general trail surface is smooth over the majority of the system, a HT is a no brainer. In California generally and especially in the Bay Area it seems we specialize in an overall trail surface that is super rough due to dry conditions commonly shared trails with Bovine / Equistrians, and adobe clay which turns into cement after being wet. Literal cement.

    I just bought a Trek Farley EX 8, FS Fatty, and am riding the same trail I was predominately riding a GBEMC (HT Fatty) on. The FS soaks up the bumps and definitely makes the trail more enjoyable, so I totally get what the OP is saying.

  12. #12
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    Tire selection is really important on a hardtail. Get something supple and voluminous like XR2s, Ikons/Aspens, or Fastrak/Renegades Gripton. I'm running 2.3 Fast Traks front and rear at about 24-26psi and the rear is not nearly as harsh as it was when I was running contis.

  13. #13
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    Hardtail only for smooth surfaces? I don't like where this thread is going.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    The surprising thing to me is you being surprised. This is the most basic and obvious trade-off between HT and FS. On a HT in rough terrain, you gotta stand way more to let your legs rather than your butt and back take the impacts on than you do on FS. The reason you'd put up with that is for the improved efficiency. There are some other differences, but those are the big glaring ones.
    The reason I was surprised is that I did not consider this trail rough. Had I ridden just about any other trail in the area I would have have been less surprised.

    Totally agree with your point on standing - something in will need to adjust.

  15. #15
    Anytime. Anywhere.
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    I ride my HT on all the same trails as my FS. It's more of a Gnartail©.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by phlegm View Post
    Hardtail only for smooth surfaces? I don't like where this thread is going.
    emtbs. that's where this thread is going.

    I never thought I would be the kind of person to say this, but mountain biking is becoming wussy-fied. golf-ification is another issue, but some people need to HTFU.

    yes, riding a FS bike is easier than riding a HT on the same trails at the same pace. a HT requires more awareness and physicality. in truth, I have only ridden a FS bike once, in a brief demo, on trails that are populated almost exclusively by FS riders. but I get the difference. you have to approach the terrain differently. mental focus and physicality make things challenging, which is why riding a mountain bike is fun for me.

    stand up more. if you can't do that, it's not the bike's fault that you have flimsy core muscles. do some situps.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    emtbs. that's where this thread is going.

    I never thought I would be the kind of person to say this, but mountain biking is becoming wussy-fied. golf-ification is another issue, but some people need to HTFU.

    yes, riding a FS bike is easier than riding a HT on the same trails at the same pace. a HT requires more awareness and physicality. in truth, I have only ridden a FS bike once, in a brief demo, on trails that are populated almost exclusively by FS riders. but I get the difference. you have to approach the terrain differently. mental focus and physicality make things challenging, which is why riding a mountain bike is fun for me.

    stand up more. if you can't do that, it's not the bike's fault that you have flimsy core muscles. do some situps.
    Easy Sgt Hartman. At least the OP bought a hardtail so he should be commended for that. Most people nowadays treat hardtails like they are toxic nuclear waste.

    OP keep riding it in all kinds of terrain. You will adjust to it and it will make you a better rider. Honestly, I don't even enjoy the FS experience anymore unless I am riding a trail that has big air jumps. Then I just rent.

  18. #18
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    Rode a hardtail for the second time in 15 years

    I picked up a hardtail to help me work on my weak spots. I used to ride Saratoga gap (before MidPenninsula paved everything) on a 26Ē hardtail all the time back in the 90s.

    Now that Iíve moved to Colorado, I realized how complacent Iíve gotten with my full suspension. Still love it but it lets me do really dumb things. And dumb things will get you hurt. Iím going to fix that by riding my hardtail when I feel like it.

    Which bike I ride doesnít always depend on the trail, and there are some rides I wonít take a hardtail on, others I will.

    Yeah it sounds like the OP needs to not sit and spin. Even on SG you have to get out of your saddle, full suspension or hardtail.

    Also it sounds like the OP needs better tires (as another poster said). Or take some air out.
    Guerrilla Gravity BAMF, Colorado Front Range
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  19. #19
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  20. #20
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    I personally prefer my hardtail over my fs bike on any given day but I do enjoy both. Also if I had to have only one bike it would be the hardtail and I do not believe it limits me to where or what I ride.

    Sent from my HTC One M9 using Tapatalk

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by natas1321 View Post
    I personally prefer my hardtail over my fs bike on any given day but I do enjoy both. Also if I had to have only one bike it would be the hardtail and I do not believe it limits me to where or what I ride.

    Sent from my HTC One M9 using Tapatalk
    Church!!

    HT for life...

    Get stronger, fitter, better & you'll see things differently ;-)

    'Born to ride!'
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by hesitationpoint View Post
    Easy Sgt Hartman. At least the OP bought a hardtail so he should be commended for that. Most people nowadays treat hardtails like they are toxic nuclear waste.

    OP keep riding it in all kinds of terrain. You will adjust to it and it will make you a better rider. Honestly, I don't even enjoy the FS experience anymore unless I am riding a trail that has big air jumps. Then I just rent.
    Thanks. I completely agree that riding this more regularly will make me a better rider. And for sure I need to use different tires.

    I am amazed at the animosity this post stirred up. Condescension, wussification, critiques on fitness? I guess anonymity enables people to show their true colors.

    Appreciate your comments and sanity.

    Cheers!

  23. #23
    The White Jeff W
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    When I ride a FS bike I feel like my back tire is flat.
    No moss...

  24. #24
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    Sorry if I was rude about that. I am just salty because it's been raining non-stop for over a month and my bike is lonely.

  25. #25
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    I rode a hardtail for the second time in 24 hours today. After a minimum of a year of riding the FS bikes I have owned I have sold every one of them, but I still have 3 hard tail 29'ers. While I prefer hard tails, I'll admit to also having a pivotless soft tail with 1" of rear travel that rides like a hardtail but takes the edge off the harsh stuff.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    ...yes, riding a FS bike is easier than riding a HT on the same trails at the same pace. a HT requires more awareness and physicality...stand up more. if you can't do that, it's not the bike's fault that you have flimsy core muscles. do some situps.
    Are you riding rigid fixie with no brakes or saddle and 35mm tires, or something that requires less physicality and awareness?
    Do the math.

  27. #27
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    Ouch
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  28. #28
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    Next year I will ride exclusively on my track uni in my bare feet. I am weening myself off water and filling my hydration pack with apple cider vinegar. If that gets old, I'll go back to shuttling my FS fat emtb to the top of the local soapbox derby track, but only when the temperature is exactly 72.6 degrees.

  29. #29
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    Started on a HT for a few years then switched to a FS for another few. No big deal, I enjoyed picking different lines and having different styles on each.
    Then when I hit about 50, I noticed I'd get a sore back after riding the HT so I pretty much stayed on FS's exclusively until I decided to try out this plus thing...Haven't been on the FS in 6 months now.
    tl;dr
    Thought a FS was the cat's meow then STACHE!!!
    Niner Jet 9 RDO, Scalpel 29, XTC 650b, 04 Stumpjumper FSR Pro, Trek Rigid SS - No suspension, no gears....no problem

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by upstateSC-rider View Post
    Started on a HT for a few years then switched to a FS for another few. No big deal, I enjoyed picking different lines and having different styles on each.
    Then when I hit about 50, I noticed I'd get a sore back after riding the HT so I pretty much stayed on FS's exclusively until I decided to try out this plus thing...Haven't been on the FS in 6 months now.
    tl;dr
    Thought a FS was the cat's meow then STACHE!!!
    I LOVE my rigid aluminum-framed Stache SS! I liked my Fuel EX 29 with 2.5 tires. I sold the blingy full carbon FEX bike. I ride the SS plus bike everywhere, up the same HUGE steep climbs, down the HUGE chunky stuff I did on the Fuel EX. While I might not be quite as fast on some of the really gnarly descents, I am way faster everywhere else. The Stache SS has taught me a tremendous amount about riding bikes. The Fuel EX didn't. I could be lazy on that bike. The Stache SS is demanding, but it sure does pay big dividends.

  31. #31
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    I love a HT (that why I have 3 I guess and thinking of a 4th). Yeah they can beat you up a bit more but really for my local trails, there's only a couple of places where the FS bike is measurably better than a HT. I can say i easily have the most fun on my old aluminium 26er HT.
    All the gear and no idea.

  32. #32
    Wanna ride bikes?
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    This is my favorite new thread
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgltrak View Post
    I rode a hardtail for the second time in 24 hours today. After a minimum of a year of riding the FS bikes I have owned I have sold every one of them, but I still have 3 hard tail 29'ers. While I prefer hard tails, I'll admit to also having a pivotless soft tail with 1" of rear travel that rides like a hardtail but takes the edge off the harsh stuff.
    I wish somebody still made a reasonably affordable soft tail... Have you tried yours as a single speed? Does the chain stay tensioned enough?

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I wish somebody still made a reasonably affordable soft tail... Have you tried yours as a single speed? Does the chain stay tensioned enough?
    I've got two of them (26" & 29"), but never tried either as a SS. Both bikes were purchased used, so price was reasonable.

    Rode a hardtail for the second time in 15 years-0423181626.jpg

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgltrak View Post
    I've got two of them (26" & 29"), but never tried either as a SS. Both bikes were purchased used, so price was reasonable.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    My sister had that exact MOOTS 26Ē soft tail for years. Great bike, she raced it very successful I might add. Itís been long gone but I know it was one of her favorites of all the numerous bikes sheís owned. Oh, and Iím sure hers rode that trail many times. She had a vacation place in Moab for years. Another thing she sold that I disagreed with. LOL
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    emtbs. that's where this thread is going.

    .
    E-bikes have been mentioned three times in this thread and they are all you. Come off it.

    OP, riding FS makes for lazier line choice. Altering your perception of the trail and what you consider an obstacle will be part of the challenge. It's a different way to ride, that's all, hopefully you can continue to find the fun in it.

    Also, stand more, and for an 11 mile ride just take a water bottle. Be light and nimble!

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

  37. #37
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    2+ hours = Ripley LS / Under 2 hours = Honzo. This formula works best for me here in Colorado. I'm on my bike every day so this keeps it fun and interesting.

  38. #38
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    I like my hardtail its fun and a change of pace actually spent some money to upgrade the brakes recently wider bars and add a dropper. Tubeless and lower pressure made a huge difference in comfort. Old Bike but still functioning and fun 2008 Stumpjumper 26. I like how it rides and it fits me well

    Love my Pivot 429c 2014

    Ride the same local trails with both socal rocky dry

    Now my 86 GT Backwoods beat me up pretty good for many years.

    I can take my hardtail down any trail but prefer the FS overall. The right size bike and good tires on any bike with the right pressure I think important. If you ride a dropper you should ride it with all your bikes

  39. #39
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    I mix it up with both the hardtail and the squish. Close to 50/50. You just ride them differently. Of course I'm out of the saddle more on the HT.
    You're entitled to your own opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts.

  40. #40
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    Welcome to the internet but I'm not sure exactly what you were expecting. Your post sounds like you don't know how to ride a hardtail. You rode it once then come here offering advises to other people.


    Quote Originally Posted by onobed View Post
    Thanks. I completely agree that riding this more regularly will make me a better rider. And for sure I need to use different tires.

    I am amazed at the animosity this post stirred up. Condescension, wussification, critiques on fitness? I guess anonymity enables people to show their true colors.

    Appreciate your comments and sanity.

    Cheers!

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumby_rider View Post
    Welcome to the internet but I'm not sure exactly what you were expecting. Your post sounds like you don't know how to ride a hardtail. You rode it once then come here offering advises to other people.
    Exactly.
    If the OP didn't put his "recommendation" this wouldn't backfire on him.

    If you want to learn how to ride bikes well you start with a hardtail. They don't forgive as much and they teach you to how ride consciously otherwise they will bite.

  42. #42
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    I've been riding HT for several years. Just recently got out my old salsa spearfish for some reason (that's right, A full 80mm travel in back, 100mm fork, 73/71 ht/st). Dang it - now looking for a new FS. Just when I thought I was through buying bikes.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grooverider View Post
    Exactly.
    If the OP didn't put his "recommendation" this wouldn't backfire on him.

    ...
    You beat me to it. I think Mack in particular was having a bad day and was harsh, , but the OP appeared to have limited experience on the HT, and quickly declared it a lesser choice. I suspect that set the tone.

    I've owned both HT and FS and consider them different tools.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by onobed View Post
    [based on riding a hardtail on trail once, the second time on any hardtail in 15 years]

    my recommendation to anyone considering a hardtail would be don't do it as your primary ride. Today's full sus bikes are so good, so comfortable and so efficient that you will likely be way more comfortable and in considerably more control on a full sus than a hardtail.
    this just rubbed me the wrong way. the idea that some of us are "considering a hardtail" assumes that FS is the default bike that everyone rides and a hardtail is some lesser subspecies of bike for losers and masochists. talk about condescension!

    You admitted to having almost no experience with hardtails, then proceeded to pontificate on how they are inferior. trying it once and declaring the hardtail a secondary choice at best is like trying to eat an apple once after 15 years of only eating cobbler and declaring raw apples to be inferior. (the superior choice is to smother raw apple slices in peanut butter. mmm peanut butter.) (that's the best metaphor I can conjure up. you get what you pay for here on MTBR. If you want better metaphors, go read Grimy Handshake.)

    my comment about flimsy core muscles and standing up more is from personal experience, so I should have mentioned that to avoid sounding like a snob. I have detailed my lower back issues in (too much!) detail on this forum and on my blog. short version:

    my back started hurting so badly that I could not ride for more than 45 minutes at a time. I blamed the new frame I had just purchased and messed around with different saddles, considered a titanium seatpost and almost resorted to getting a FS bike for the first time in my life. the real problem though, was more weak core, which only started to manifest itself around the time that I got the new frame. A bike fit that was too upright encouraged me to sit too much for any sort of bike, but it was amplified on the hardtail.

    I went to a chiropractor who confirmed that my spine was messed up, but he taught me about the real cause of my aches and got me in the gym working hard on my core and hip flexors. I have been keeping up with some basic strength training and that has kept back pain at bay, even after riding with a bunch of FS duders for 4-5 hours at a time in rocky central Texas on a rigid singlespeed.

    riding a hardtail does require a different level of physicality than riding a FS bike on the same terrain. if your body hurts on a hardtail, the FS bike is just delaying the same sorts of injuries long term. you have to condition your body for mountain biking, no matter what bike you ride.

  45. #45
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    I rode my FS bike (140/150) at a local place where I usually take my 120mm HT...it wasn't as much fun...aaand it sucked to pedal up there. It's basically a fire road schlep up and flowy singletrack back down.

  46. #46
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    Everyone talks up how they're a badass hardtail rider on the forums. Then I actually go ride and no one is on a hardtail anymore. Well, no one except that one weird guy who's about 900 years old riding a 1996 rigid Gary Fisher. But he'll blow your doors off, so it's ok.

    So yeah. Hardtails do suck. Unless it's a gravel bike, or you're also 900.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Everyone talks up how they're a badass hardtail rider on the forums. Then I actually go ride and no one is on a hardtail anymore. Well, no one except that one weird guy who's about 900 years old riding a 1996 rigid Gary Fisher. But he'll blow your doors off, so it's ok.

    So yeah. Hardtails do suck. Unless it's a gravel bike, or you're also 900.
    I'm not old enough apparently, but if I blow your doors off can I keep my hardtail?
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    I'm not old enough apparently, but if I blow your doors off can I keep my hardtail?
    All depends what you need and what you are looking for. When I step on the gas, I want to go right now with no lag or slack. Plus all that freaking weight and extra pain in the butt upkeep. My hardtail checks in at under 20 lbs with Di2 and synchro shift . On your left.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    this just rubbed me the wrong way. the idea that some of us are "considering a hardtail" assumes that FS is the default bike that everyone rides and a hardtail is some lesser subspecies of bike for losers and masochists.
    I had a similar initial reaction to that paragraph. My thought was that it seemed kind of silly to be offering an unsolicited broad general recommendation to all riders here without knowing each rider's style, terrain, skill level, experience, etc. Maybe that advice could have been offered as a reply to thread in which an inquiry about hard tails was made.

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    As someone whose been riding a similarly long time and never really liked FS bikes all that much (although i own/owned a bunch of them) i thought the first post was hilarious. I didn't reply cuz i'd definitely sound like a dick.

    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Everyone talks up how they're a badass hardtail rider on the forums. Then I actually go ride and no one is on a hardtail anymore. Well, no one except that one weird guy who's about 900 years old riding a 1996 rigid Gary Fisher. But he'll blow your doors off, so it's ok.

    So yeah. Hardtails do suck. Unless it's a gravel bike, or you're also 900.
    Yeah that's what i see. I like them a lot but nice hardtails are rare. Trail randos seem to think i'm some combination of weirdo/badass. (definitely not badass) I think hardtail fans are a vocal minority.

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    I see two issues here that made the OP feel the way he did. The first one is that he is not currently accustomed to riding a ht, perhaps sitting down too much, not using his body as suspension etc. This will probably change after a few rides.

    The second one is even more obvious, 3lts of water + tools on a backpack is a lot of weight. I replaced my 1.5lt bladder with a 2.5lt one this summer and the extra heft was pretty obvious after a couple of long climbs. Combine the effect of a heavy backpack with #1 and you'll certainly have an uncomfortable ride.

    On HT vs FS, they're just different tools to enjoy riding. There's no denying that on a bike with rear suspension you're gonna be faster, safer and less beaten up at the end of the ride. A HT on the other hand gives you a more feedback-rich experience and some people are into this.

    I like comparing mountain bikes to surfboards. There are conditions where you can ride a log or a shortboard and have fun on any of them. Some people may pick up a keel fish for the same job. Sure, the conditions dictate the choice of equipment up to a point, but the feel you're after is equally important.

    OP, you should take your new ibis for a few short rides on technical terrain, but without so much weight (ideally no backpack at all). Take a more active approach, try to "dance" with the trail, absorb bumps with your arms and legs, hover over the saddle on rough climbs and use your body weight to keep traction on both wheels. It's so much fun your FS may feel boring afterwards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    Take a more active approach, try to "dance" with the trail, absorb bumps with your arms and legs, hover over the saddle on rough climbs and use your body weight to keep traction on both wheels. It's so much fun your FS may feel boring afterwards.
    thats what happened to me, I got a rigid Fatbike for fun in the snow and fell in love with it for year round riding (it now has 100mm up front & a dropper), the FS sat in the garage, after approx 2yrs I had to take the FS for a ride due to repairs on the Fattie. It made the trail so goddam easy and bland I was amazed, no picking lines or stuff just bomb down full speed, I rode home disappointed and put it back in the garage. Fast forward 1.5 yrs (it took me that long to decide what type of HT I was after) and a new Meta HT AM 27+ (150mm Yari & 170mm Dropper) is in the garage next to my Fattie and the FS (which hasn't been ridden) is for sale.

    Im 47yrs old and feel I dont need a FS, maybe in the future as the body starts to hurt (more). Plus HTs are damn cheap
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Everyone talks up how they're a badass hardtail rider on the forums. Then I actually go ride and no one is on a hardtail anymore. Well, no one except that one weird guy who's about 900 years old riding a 1996 rigid Gary Fisher. But he'll blow your doors off, so it's ok.

    So yeah. Hardtails do suck. Unless it's a gravel bike, or you're also 900.
    Depends where you live. Where I live, I'd say over 50% of the people are on hardtails because we have mostly twisty singletrack with lots of climbing and hardly any jumps. And even most people who started off with full suspension bikes eventually switched to hardtails. A full suspension bike basically turns your mtb ride into a road ride with a very heavy bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hesitationpoint View Post
    Depends where you live...
    Depends WHEN I ride as well. On evenings when the spandex race crews are out in full force, the percentage of hardtails on the trails is shockingly high. Lots of respect for those guys. That said, I took the plunge and bought a steel Honzo in August. Still waiting for my Fox fork to arrive. I am assuming it's on the very slooooooooooow boat from China...

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    ^Exactly. The spandex crew are mostly bad assess on hardtails and certainly not retro grouch 900 year olds. On the local single tracks, even the cat 2 XC guys on hardtails can pretty much destroy a few of the local collegiate racers who podium in regional enduros and downhill races. I'm sure those guys would be faster on their enduro bikes on specific downhill courses, but on the common singletracks, they can't hang.

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    I have the feeling too many folks think about "smashing trails" or being "fast" or "smoking the other guy" (which in my day was a homosexual term) or are worried about the extra 50gr a pedal has.

    I base my rides on "smiles per miles", sometimes lm last sometimes not, but if it aint fun, whats the point? regardless of your bike


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    Maybe it didnt come off enough as a joke, but it *really* doesnt actually matter. Im just out for a fun ride. The bike im riding isnt even the best for the trails im doing. Maybe not even the most fun, but its what I want to be on and that's good enough. I dont even know where my kidneys are, much less have pain in them or not. Im doing pretty mild trails on a 160mm bike this season, maybe next ill do it all again on a CX bike just for giggles, it only needs to be amusing.

    Unless you're on a singlespeed, then you're definitely wrong. Probably a puppy kicker too.

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    I can't wait to have money saved up to buy another hardtail (probably the new Nukeproof Scout 275 Race).

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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Unless you're on a singlespeed, then you're definitely wrong. Probably a puppy kicker too.
    Funny you mention that, l always that that about SS'ers
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  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by hesitationpoint View Post
    Depends where you live. Where I live, I'd say over 50% of the people are on hardtails because we have mostly twisty singletrack with lots of climbing and hardly any jumps. And even most people who started off with full suspension bikes eventually switched to hardtails. A full suspension bike basically turns your mtb ride into a road ride with a very heavy bike.

    It's about 2/3 full-suspension and 1/3 hardtail here in San Diego. From what I've seen, mostly judging by how people climb hills and not by how fast downhill they go, the FS bikes are divided up into beginners who barely even know how to ride, and older, experienced riders, and the hardtails fall into a more intermediate group in-between. I've seen guys on $5000 FS bikes that have the seat down trying to climb uphill. Most people on hardtails are just out to have fun but know what they are doing to a certain point.

    I'm on a hardtail and I'm doing just fine downhill: I'm in the middle of the pack on Strava for downhill times, and it actually surprised me to find that out, considering it's a $500 bike. Most riders don't need a full-suspension bike, they either want comfort, or trying to eke out 2-3 more mph downhill. Or they are conformists but we won't go there.
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  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    Most riders don't need a full-suspension bike, they either want comfort, or trying to eke out 2-3 more mph downhill. Or they are conformists but we won't go there.
    Like this guy in my area?

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    Pfffttt...
    Dude's got 160mm of cush under his ass

    Just kidding.

    That said, here's some decent hardtail footage to balance things out...




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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    Like this guy in my area?

    IMO thats a HT trail, no FS needed there

    YMMV
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmg71 View Post
    IMO thats a HT trail, no FS needed there

    YMMV
    Kinda feel that way about leogang too, at least with the sweet conditions in that vid (and the terrain-flattening wide angle lens). Not to diminish that video; atwill was kicking ass.

    That's the fun thing with hardtails; you have to dial it back a little, but then maybe that means you go 'faster.'
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    You donít really think FS is needed for that trail, right? Thatís a smooth ass, groomed trail. Iíd love to ride it though, looks super fun!

    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    Like this guy in my area?


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    A couple people finished the Windrock enduro on hardtails last month. That sounds very unpleasant but possible. However, how much bike is 'needed' depends on the rider. The average mountain biker couldn't complete that race on any bike.

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    The way I see it, full suspension on a mountain bike serves a different function than say, on a dirt bike. On a dirtbike, especially a motocross bike, you literally NEED full suspension to retain control and not crash your a$$ off on consecutives whoops at high speeds. In mountain biking, you just don't have those things. You may need full suspension for huge gap jumps and big air in mountain biking but most people aren't doing lift assisted riding.
    The other area in which full suspension might be needed is ironically in XC racing where small bits of compliance other small trail features and chatter improves rolling resistance. But that requires no more than 100mm and then has to be designed to balance pedaling efficiency.

    Aside from that, it's mostly want rather than need in mountain biking. And there is nothing wrong with that. But if you are scared to ride the majority of trails because you don't have rear suspension, then it's time for a skills course.

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    Lots of great posts on this thread. Like many, I have both (Intense Spider 275c and Pivot Les SS). Ride the hardtail on the local stuff, which is generally flowy and shorter in duration on the ride length. Take the FS on the longer, mountain rides. That said, I took the Les on a long trip not too long ago and made the comment at the top how I had never felt fresher after so much climbing. I'm 55, and if anything, I'm looking at some of the AM type hardtails for the future. I like them that much for how/where I ride. Good time to be a mountain biker as there are so many great choices out there these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by midwestmtb View Post
    The way I see it, full suspension on a mountain bike serves a different function than say, on a dirt bike. On a dirtbike, especially a motocross bike, you literally NEED full suspension to retain control and not crash your a$$ off on consecutives whoops at high speeds. In mountain biking, you just don't have those things.


    Serious rock gardens (not 'rocky' sections) are effectively the same thing. FS provides more traction and control, which you will need at a certain speed. I agree you don't NEED full suspension on most singletrack but FS still serves the same purpose as any other vehicle (traction & control). There's still non-lift access mountain trails where you'll need FS to ride at high speeds. Outside of real mountains, this benefit is limited to certain short sections of trail.

    BTW, Windrock has actual dirt whoops in two different spots (see Seth Bike Hack's video where he crashed on them).

    Aside from that, it's mostly want rather than need in mountain biking. And there is nothing wrong with that. But if you are scared to ride the majority of trails because you don't have rear suspension, then it's time for a skills course.
    I agree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by midwestmtb View Post
    The way I see it, full suspension on a mountain bike serves a different function than say, on a dirt bike. On a dirtbike, especially a motocross bike, you literally NEED full suspension to retain control and not crash your a$$ off on consecutives whoops at high speeds. In mountain biking, you just don't have those things. You may need full suspension for huge gap jumps and big air in mountain biking but most people aren't doing lift assisted riding.
    The other area in which full suspension might be needed is ironically in XC racing where small bits of compliance other small trail features and chatter improves rolling resistance. But that requires no more than 100mm and then has to be designed to balance pedaling efficiency.

    Aside from that, it's mostly want rather than need in mountain biking. And there is nothing wrong with that. But if you are scared to ride the majority of trails because you don't have rear suspension, then it's time for a skills course.
    I know guys that do fine riding MUNIs on trails, proving you don't NEED a second wheel or handlebars or brakes.

    Or proving NEED is pretty worthless criteria. Hell, you don't NEED to ride anything at all, can get down the trail just fine walking.
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    Suspension. You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Quote Originally Posted by midwestmtb View Post
    The way I see it, full suspension on a mountain bike serves a different function than say, on a dirt bike. On a dirtbike, especially a motocross bike, you literally NEED full suspension to retain control and not crash your a$$ off on consecutives whoops at high speeds. In mountain biking, you just don't have those things. You may need full suspension for huge gap jumps and big air in mountain biking but most people aren't doing lift assisted riding.
    The other area in which full suspension might be needed is ironically in XC racing where small bits of compliance other small trail features and chatter improves rolling resistance. But that requires no more than 100mm and then has to be designed to balance pedaling efficiency.

    Aside from that, it's mostly want rather than need in mountain biking. And there is nothing wrong with that. But if you are scared to ride the majority of trails because you don't have rear suspension, then it's time for a skills course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    Serious rock gardens (not 'rocky' sections) are effectively the same thing. FS provides more traction and control,
    And comfort.

    I'm assuming that the trails in the midwest don't look much like the trails in New England (or much of the east coast). In my neighborhood, you tend to end up riding a lot of stuff like this, and have quite a few TTFs mixed in. I don't fault anyone for preferring a little extra squish for it, specially when putting in solid miles.


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    Quote Originally Posted by cmg71 View Post
    IMO thats a HT trail, no FS needed there

    YMMV
    Quote Originally Posted by redwarrior View Post
    You donít really think FS is needed for that trail, right? Thatís a smooth ass, groomed trail. Iíd love to ride it though, looks super fun!
    Nah, a HT can run that trail. It does have some rough spots. I just wanted to point out that his style of aggressive riding (and jumping hard) does work way better with FS, especially on our double diamond trails in WA. NOTG is a single diamond up on Tiger Mountain. I am gonna ride this specific trail fairly soon on my hardtail. Plus I love LukeMTB's YouTube videos.
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    And comfort.

    I'm assuming that the trails in the midwest don't look much like the trails in New England (or much of the east coast). In my neighborhood, you tend to end up riding a lot of stuff like this, and have quite a few TTFs mixed in. I don't fault anyone for preferring a little extra squish for it, specially when putting in solid miles.


    First of all, I haven't "faulted" anyone. I said very clearly that there is nothing wrong with FS if that's what people want. But that is different from a guy like OP who is "never" going to take his hardtail into the "wild." That is what I am talking about. He does not need his FS bike to go into the wild.

    And yes, I agree with Jeremy and you that there are circumstances in which FS is needed. My post was about the majority of circumstances not special situations.

  75. #75
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    Before the world was introduced to front suspension I rode a lot of technical trails on a 26" rigid bike with cantilever brakes and narrow bars, so it can be done, but I was a lot slower and I had to be "pickier" than I am on my current FS bike with 160mm travel. I can ride a lot more challenging terrain now but that also might be having a few decades of experience and fitness to draw upon.

    I seem to recall having as much fun back-in-the-day as I do now.

  76. #76
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    I ride my Moxie on ALL the same trails that my FS goes on. Same lines as well. Here it is setup for Winter Dorkduro riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    Before the world was introduced to front suspension I rode a lot of technical trails on a 26" rigid bike with cantilever brakes and narrow bars, so it can be done, but I was a lot slower and I had to be "pickier" than I am on my current FS bike with 160mm travel. I can ride a lot more challenging terrain now but that also might be having a few decades of experience and fitness to draw upon.

    I seem to recall having as much fun back-in-the-day as I do now.
    I agree. I got hooked on mtb on a walmart bike. Lots of exciting times on the trail with that POS. But hey, it was fun.

    I recently demoed a bunch of long travel bikes in the $3000-$7000 range. They were very capable but to be honest, most of them felt sluggish like I was driving a diesel across smooth pavement rather than riding trails with roots and rocks. I wasn't even faster than I was on my hardtail on a flow trail with jumps and berms according to Strava. And my riding experience was muted. Honestly, the only reason why I'd trade my hard tail for one is because I can sell it, re-buy my hardtail and pocket the difference. And before anyone gets upset, I am only talking about *my* preferences. Not telling anyone else that their preferences are wrong.

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I know guys that do fine riding MUNIs on trails, proving you don't NEED a second wheel or handlebars or brakes.

    Or proving NEED is pretty worthless criteria. Hell, you don't NEED to ride anything at all, can get down the trail just fine walking.
    Now, that's just crazy talk, right there, Mike Hewhoshallnotbenamed

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    Quote Originally Posted by LoneStar View Post
    I took the Les on a long trip not too long ago and made the comment at the top how I had never felt fresher after so much climbing. I'm 55, and if anything, I'm looking at some of the AM type hardtails for the future. I like them that much for how/where I ride. Good time to be a mountain biker as there are so many great choices out there these days.
    Many great choices yes, but I am not finding what I want as I debate going short FS or HT.

    The really light carbon HT's with compliance built in (Scale, Highball, Exceed) are still a bit too XC/traditional for me to get excited about...which has me looking at the Transition Vanquish...which I wish was lighter and had some compliance built in.

    Meanwhile Sniper Trail, SB100, Oiz, look pretty good in the short travel FS dept., with the Sniper leading my list for the combo of progressive design and light weight, but it could have shorter chainstays and steeper STA...

    Clearly I'm not the market being catered to as a 51YO, 140lb weight weenie finesse rider with 30yrs of riding (mostly N. Rockies)...and yes, the '91 Epic SJ was purchased new and is my townie ride now
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    Quote Originally Posted by IPA Rider View Post
    Many great choices yes, but I am not finding what I want as I debate going short FS or HT.

    The really light carbon HT's with compliance built in (Scale, Highball, Exceed) are still a bit too XC/traditional for me to get excited about...which has me looking at the Transition Vanquish...which I wish was lighter and had some compliance built in.

    Meanwhile Sniper Trail, SB100, Oiz, look pretty good in the short travel FS dept., with the Sniper leading my list for the combo of progressive design and light weight, but it could have shorter chainstays and steeper STA...
    Funny you should mention Transition as I like the looks of both of their hardtails. The Vanquish is just too close to what I have, but the Throttle looks very interesting. I like having a bike I can pop off little trail features.

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    oops, never mind

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    Mudhugger rear, RRP Proguard front.
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    I just finished a wet ride with lots of big puddles. Not a drop on my face, incredible.

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    Thanks. I found the info elsewhere and decided not to bother you with it but you clearly saw it before I killed it! Thanks again.

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    Random thought: I wonder how much dropper posts are what is making modern HT's a much more viable option as all around trail bikes...
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    Quote Originally Posted by IPA Rider View Post
    Random thought: I wonder how much dropper posts are what is making modern HT's a much more viable option as all around trail bikes...
    That and bigger tires.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IPA Rider View Post
    Random thought: I wonder how much dropper posts are what is making modern HT's a much more viable option as all around trail bikes...
    Dropper is a non-issue for me, don't use one, larger tires had a much bigger (pun intended) effect.
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    I think geometry has had the biggest effect on hard tails remaining a viable option. That and trails getting easier.

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by richj8990 View Post
    It's about 2/3 full-suspension and 1/3 hardtail here in San Diego. From what I've seen, mostly judging by how people climb hills and not by how fast downhill they go, the FS bikes are divided up into beginners who barely even know how to ride, and older, experienced riders, and the hardtails fall into a more intermediate group in-between. I've seen guys on $5000 FS bikes that have the seat down trying to climb uphill. Most people on hardtails are just out to have fun but know what they are doing to a certain point.

    I'm on a hardtail and I'm doing just fine downhill: I'm in the middle of the pack on Strava for downhill times, and it actually surprised me to find that out, considering it's a $500 bike. Most riders don't need a full-suspension bike, they either want comfort, or trying to eke out 2-3 more mph downhill. Or they are conformists but we won't go there.
    Ok so I ride in SD as well and have nothing against either hardtails or FS I have both and ride both but would disagree with your analysis and numbers.

    1/3 hardtails? Not i my group nor where I ride the numbers are less than that. I see far more FS. When on the trail and when I do see hardtails most of the ones I see are not intermediate riders more like wicked fast experts that want to drop weight and gain watts. I see other hardtails to be sure and a range of age and expertise but the ones i see the most are the xc types

    As far as age and skillset on FS and Hardtails I would say that it ranges from beginner to expert and all ages. We have a group mostly older riders and a few in their early 20s and everybody rides FS except the one dude that shows up now and again on his rigid single speed and drops everyone on climbs and descents

    Love my 08 Stumpy HT just did some upgrades Hydraulic Brakes wider bars and a dropper. I like to ride it for a change of pace and well just to get a smile on my face and ride a bike. My go to in the dirt is the Pivot 429.

    I rode hardtails from the early eighties until 2014. I have two road bikes and two mountain bikes now. Got my first road bike given to me to try out in 2010. Since I own two now I guess I must like it.

    If I were to have to pick one bike and one bike only it would be a hardtail with a lockout front suspension. In my opinion the most versatile and useful bikes in the market. I did many tours on the road with my HT and countless miles on the road and dirt for decades.

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