Proper amount of rear travel for bad low back?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    DTL
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    Proper amount of rear travel for bad low back?

    So Ive got a bad l5-s1 disc. I had a discectomy at this lever 14 years ago and a protrusion has returned over the years causing right leg pain and numbness in right foot. Basically my l5-s1 is f#$&%d up. Taking a break from riding right now and set to get two epidural injections over the next few weeks to try and shrink the protrusion and inflammation. Im planning on retiring my stache 29+ hardtail for a fs rig. What amount of rear travel would be enough cush for the low back for general trail riding (no crazy jumps, drops etc) but will still provide for an efficient enough ride so I dont feel like Im towing a sled around? A few months ago I tried a stumpy 29 LT and felt crazy bob with every pedal stroke and yes I had it set up correctly and experimented with higher pressures. This makes me think 150 mm is too much so maybe 140, 130, 120, 110?

  2. #2
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    There's no hard number anyone can give you. Try out a few bikes and talk with the lbs employees about the air pressures or spring rates.

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    It may be that riding position, as in bar height above seat height will be an important factor as well. You might want to experiment with that, if you haven't already.

    I'm not sure what crazy pedal bob means to you if you've been riding a hardtail forever. Any FS is going to have more bob than a hardtail, of course. I've found that most FS bikes these days are pretty good without locking the rear shock out, but if you're "mashing" the pedals, you're going to get bob. I'm not accusing you of bad technique, it's just different.

    Is the problem impacts on the downhill, or is it related to torque on your lower back on climbs?
    I find that climbing in any kind of rough terrain is faster and easier on a full sus compared to a hardtail.

    If your terrain is more groomed, I suppose you've already tried significantly lowering the tire pressure, but if you haven't, that might help on a 29+. Also changing the geometry, but again, you may already have tried that.

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    DTL
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    It may be that riding position, as in bar height above seat height will be an important factor as well. You might want to experiment with that, if you haven't already.

    I'm not sure what crazy pedal bob means to you if you've been riding a hardtail forever. Any FS is going to have more bob than a hardtail, of course. I've found that most FS bikes these days are pretty good without locking the rear shock out, but if you're "mashing" the pedals, you're going to get bob. I'm not accusing you of bad technique, it's just different.

    Is the problem impacts on the downhill, or is it related to torque on your lower back on climbs?
    I find that climbing in any kind of rough terrain is faster and easier on a full sus compared to a hardtail.

    If your terrain is more groomed, I suppose you've already tried significantly lowering the tire pressure, but if you haven't, that might help on a 29+. Also changing the geometry, but again, you may already have tried that.
    Id say the problem I want to avoid are rear impacts from roots, ruts, rocks and general trail chatter. There is no downhill riding where I live, mostly flat with lots of roots, ruts, punchy drops and climbs. I can still ride the 29+ hardtail Im just choosing to exercise caution at this point in my life (48 yrs old) and wanting to switch to fs so the bike can absorb most of the trail instead of my body. If I could pick a number Id say 140 mm up front for a nice stack height and 130 out back. Hard to find this combo though. Fuel ex ticks those boxes but I dont like the knock block. I thought about orbea occam but fear it might be too much rear travel. Also looking at giant trance 29 since many say it rides like it has more travel in the rear than 115mm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DTL View Post
    Id say the problem I want to avoid are rear impacts from roots, ruts, rocks and general trail chatter. There is no downhill riding where I live, mostly flat with lots of roots, ruts, punchy drops and climbs. I can still ride the 29+ hardtail Im just choosing to exercise caution at this point in my life (48 yrs old) and wanting to switch to fs so the bike can absorb most of the trail instead of my body. If I could pick a number Id say 140 mm up front for a nice stack height and 130 out back. Hard to find this combo though. Fuel ex ticks those boxes but I dont like the knock block. I thought about orbea occam but fear it might be too much rear travel. Also looking at giant trance 29 since many say it rides like it has more travel in the rear than 115mm.
    "Too much bike" is realtive. Most of the bigger all mountain bikes actually pedal really well and are awesome all around bikes. I'd suggest looking at something with a 150mm rear. Seriously.

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    Type of suspension matters more than travel. Look at Revel bikes or Forbidden. Both peddle great and stay active which is what you want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerberus75 View Post
    Type of suspension matters more than travel. Look at Revel bikes or Forbidden. Both peddle great and stay active which is what you want.
    They probably pedal great as well.

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    Given your concern, you could also remove whatever spacer comes with the rear shock and it might give you better small impact absorption no matter what you chose for design and travel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DTL View Post
    This makes me think 150 mm is too much so maybe 140, 130, 120, 110?
    Does not matter, just set more sag to keep your ride smoother. More travel generally equals more bob. You will have to find a happy place between sag and bob

    Not sure I would recommend riding at all with said injuries until healed.

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    120-140 should be a good sweet spot. The type of suspension will also be important. 120mm on a Santa Cruz will feel cushier then a 120mm Pivot. 29er will also help smooth things out as will getting a proper suspension tune.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Outhouse View Post
    Does not matter, just set more sag to keep your ride smoother. More travel generally equals more bob. You will have to find a happy place between sag and bob

    Not sure I would recommend riding at all with said injuries until healed.
    I have disc issues myself... also L5-S1. Mine is a herniation... no discectomy, but had two cortisone shots. First one held for a month, the second one took for a long time so I could really get into PT. Probably could go for another but the PT is getting some improvement still over a year later so sticking with it since I'm improving and don't have sciatica or anything worse.

    Anyway, just wanted to second what outhouse said. I finally spent the time to really play with sag and rebound (front and rear) and it's helped a good bit. If memory serves I'm at about 5" travel on the rear and 120mm up front and ride aggressive xc and trail in a rocky and rooty region. Could use some more travel up front but I'll make it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FredCoMTB View Post
    I have disc issues myself... also L5-S1. Mine is a herniation... no discectomy, but had two cortisone shots. First one held for a month, the second one took for a long time so I could really get into PT. Probably could go for another but the PT is getting some improvement still over a year later so sticking with it since I'm improving and don't have sciatica or anything worse.

    Anyway, just wanted to second what outhouse said. I finally spent the time to really play with sag and rebound (front and rear) and it's helped a good bit. If memory serves I'm at about 5" travel on the rear and 120mm up front and ride aggressive xc and trail in a rocky and rooty region. Could use some more travel up front but I'll make it.

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    How long did you have to wait after the injections before you started riding again?

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    Well I was out of biking for several years so unfortunately I'm not very helpful there.

    However, I felt a lot of improvement after about two weeks. My DPT was hesitant about biking because of where my herniation was. That was about 11 months ago (shot was about a year ago). I got discharged from PT in (with dry needling to continue as needed) October last year I think it was. Started riding maybe two months ago now.

    The caveat to that is we have a one year old and a three year old, so that definitely affected timeliness for healing and getting back to biking. Had an unrelated surgery in December too, so I was out for a little after that too.

    I'm not sure if that helps, but I hope it might. Hope things go well. The shots made me a little nervous but certainly helped.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DTL View Post
    Id say the problem I want to avoid are rear impacts from roots, ruts, rocks and general trail chatter. There is no downhill riding where I live, mostly flat with lots of roots, ruts, punchy drops and climbs. I can still ride the 29+ hardtail Im just choosing to exercise caution at this point in my life (48 yrs old) and wanting to switch to fs so the bike can absorb most of the trail instead of my body. If I could pick a number Id say 140 mm up front for a nice stack height and 130 out back. Hard to find this combo though. Fuel ex ticks those boxes but I dont like the knock block. I thought about orbea occam but fear it might be too much rear travel. Also looking at giant trance 29 since many say it rides like it has more travel in the rear than 115mm.
    Why do you think 150 in the back is too much travel?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FredCoMTB View Post
    Well I was out of biking for several years so unfortunately I'm not very helpful there.

    However, I felt a lot of improvement after about two weeks. My DPT was hesitant about biking because of where my herniation was. That was about 11 months ago (shot was about a year ago). I got discharged from PT in (with dry needling to continue as needed) October last year I think it was. Started riding maybe two months ago now.

    The caveat to that is we have a one year old and a three year old, so that definitely affected timeliness for healing and getting back to biking. Had an unrelated surgery in December too, so I was out for a little after that too.

    I'm not sure if that helps, but I hope it might. Hope things go well. The shots made me a little nervous but certainly helped.

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    Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
    Why do you think 150 in the back is too much travel?

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    The only reason I think 150 rear would be too much is because our local trails arent that aggressive and I feel I may be loosing a lot of energy pedaling. Here we pedal more than we descend. I was thinking of something like the orbea occam with 140 rear might be good but have not been able to demo one because there are none at the local dealers right now.

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    There is no consistent travel to bob ratio. I've ridden 160mm bikes that bob less than 120mm bikes. I think the suggestion of a 150 bike is a good suggestion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DTL View Post
    The only reason I think 150 rear would be too much is because our local trails arent that aggressive and I feel I may be loosing a lot of energy pedaling. Here we pedal more than we descend. I was thinking of something like the orbea occam with 140 rear might be good but have not been able to demo one because there are none at the local dealers right now.
    I see. But who are you racing?

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