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  1. #1
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    Better, or just easier? (a discussion of technology)

    So, I recently had the chance to do back-to-back loops of a local ride. First time around was on my hardtail (albeit one with 5" of front fork). The ride has a decent climb with a few rooty, techy sections. the descent has roots, rocks and a few gullied-out bits. (typical Pisgah stuff). There are two sections I couldn't get on my 26er hardtail. Each time out there I try things a bit differently and someday I'm sure I'll get them.

    Next time out I'm on a Trek demo Remedy with 6" travel f/r. I roll up to the first unconquered section, point straight at it and charge it. Yeah, I use the same basic body english, but this time I ride straight up and over it. No drama. Next impossible section: same thing. Sure, grinding up non-techy steep stuff was harder due to the weight, but the challenge was much less.

    On the descent, I was able to ride at irresponsible speeds with much less effort and risk to myself (other trail users were still in far more risk). Everything was easier with this bike.

    My 29er also makes these sections much more do-able. More traction.

    Now, the question:

    Is easier better?

    Are people buying these long-travel and 29er bikes because they make riding easier OR because it makes it better?

    How do we distinguish between better and just easier? Many product work better... do we appreciate them because they make us look like better riders?

    Do people still appreciate a challenge? (I also went out fully rigid the other day and didn't enjoy that at all. Arthritic hands are not acceptable to me; I draw the line at severe physical pain). Many people try to remove difficult sections of trail so that they do not have to get off and walk, destroying it for those who like the challenge. Why?! Is it all about ego?

    Of course, every component on your bike should work as intended: a derailleur that shifts is not too much to ask. But, is there a point at which a bike becomes too capable? Should we expect more of ourselves and less of the bike? Is there honor there?

    Let's hear it.

  2. #2
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    Personal preference. That, and the terrain you ride on. Sometimes FS can make the impossible possible. It can also make the possible merely boring. It does open up a wider variety of terrein to a rider of a given skill level though.

    You could take the approach too far, too. How asture do you want to get? Do you kneed knobby, pneumatic tires? How about grips? Would it be even more challenging on a Huffy? How about on a road bike? How about a singlespeed beach cruiser? It all just depends on how good you are, where you ride, and how much of a challenge you want.

  3. #3
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    This is weird. I did not intend to post anything here, but it reads "deleted" as if I posted something and then deleted it.
    Last edited by whitelizard; 11-17-2005 at 06:39 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.F.L.
    Are people buying these long-travel and 29er bikes because they make riding easier OR because it makes it better?

    How do we distinguish between better and just easier? Many product work better... do we appreciate them because they make us look like better riders?

    Do people still appreciate a challenge? (I also went out fully rigid the other day and didn't enjoy that at all. Arthritic hands are not acceptable to me; I draw the line at severe physical pain). Many people try to remove difficult sections of trail so that they do not have to get off and walk, destroying it for those who like the challenge. Why?! Is it all about ego?

    Of course, every component on your bike should work as intended: a derailleur that shifts is not too much to ask. But, is there a point at which a bike becomes too capable? Should we expect more of ourselves and less of the bike? Is there honor there?
    I'm sure the answer varies with the rider, but I'm sure for many people the long-travel and/or 29er equipment allows them to push their personal performance envelope further. This equipment enables people to ride stuff that was otherwise unrideable for them, or allow them to ride it with a different approach. If with new equipment tech the challenge of a particular trail is lessened and you derive no other kicks from it, it either means that you should seek out more challenging trails with your newer-tech bike, or revert to a lesser tech for that particular trail. This is why people have multi-bike stables, in which you will just about always find a hardtail or full rigid. There are always gonna be certain setups that are more fun for a given trail.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.F.L.
    Is easier better?

    Are people buying these long-travel and 29er bikes because they make riding easier OR because it makes it better?

    How do we distinguish between better and just easier? Many product work better... do we appreciate them because they make us look like better riders?

    Do people still appreciate a challenge? (I also went out fully rigid the other day and didn't enjoy that at all. Arthritic hands are not acceptable to me; I draw the line at severe physical pain). Many people try to remove difficult sections of trail so that they do not have to get off and walk, destroying it for those who like the challenge. Why?! Is it all about ego?

    Of course, every component on your bike should work as intended: a derailleur that shifts is not too much to ask. But, is there a point at which a bike becomes too capable? Should we expect more of ourselves and less of the bike? Is there honor there?

    Let's hear it.
    IMHO, easier isn't better. As I approach 44, I realize I've come full circle. I started out full rigid and did all the same rides everybody does now. I've done most of the big rides in Moab and CB and Salida on a full rigid. It was no big deal when everyone had full rigid. Hell, we didn't even think twice about it. It would be a "bigger" deal now.

    In '94 or 5 I bought my first front suspension bike. I could immediately smoke all my friends, even those who were better riders than I. I liked that. That lasted for maybe two rides and then everybody got front suspension and we all fell into our normal places again. I was the first in my group to get a dually. Instant replay of front suspension. Again it lasted maybe a week or two. I kept riding full squishies until '98 and then I went back to hardtails and have never looked back.

    A couple weeks ago I was riding my hardtail on Kokopelli Down and it was amazing how may people on 5-spots and 6-packs and Big Hits would say "how can you ride this on a hardtail?" Shi+, how can you not?

    This year I've been riding full rigid again on my 17-year old Mountain Goat Deluxe, mainly out of desire to quit driving to the trails and having to put in some road miles to get to them. I now ride it more than anything else. All the old "easy" trails are hard again and the hard trails are much harder. That's better. Today, I could smoke the younger "dual suspension me" on my full rigid (at least on the descents, I'm not as fit as I used to be). I've become a better rider over the years. That's better but it doesn't get easier.

    For me, there's not been one time in the last, say, 15-years has my bike ever been at fault for keeping me from doing something I wanted to do, or was capable of doing, on a trail. Me, my skills, and my fears, have always been the limiting factor. Technology isn't going to change that and realizing it makes it all better.
    Last edited by DWF; 11-17-2005 at 07:45 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Ditto to the above reply(s)... 'Upgrading' your rig shouldn't make the stuff you already do seem easier, as much as it should make you to attempt, and master NEW stuff...

    I think that the progression of technology for this sport is awesome, that is part of the appeal. All the mechanical aspects of a good, relatively new mountain bike make the sport interesting...

    You also mentioned a feeling of added invincibility and bravado due to the dualie/29er. This often is true, but can also lead to disaster. As it did for me 4 months after getting my 1st Full Suspension rig... I definately can do more stuff on my full susp. but i have also suffered my only real serious MTB injury while riding it (bad bad ankle sprain) <

    As far as buying better components to make yoruself feel/look better, i think that's all personal choice. Anyone who thinks their expensive bike makes them a better rider is a complete gomer. Usually this is pretty easy to notice. But then again, if you are consumed by MTBing, and you save up yer dough for a long time to buy that super-dope fork/frame/build kit, and FINALLY set it up and go ride, you will probably ride better because you are more into it...

    I used to drool over all kinds of expensive crap that i didn't ever really need... Since im older and wiser now (uhh...married), i pretty much have to ignore the bling factor. I still think that stuffs cool, tho. Just doesn't fit my wallet, and if you can get by on a well made production bike with XT stuff, why bother with a boutique XTR baddass $4000 rig? The riding is what the main enjoyment should come from, not the bike you are on.
    Last edited by dtmartin46; 11-16-2005 at 07:16 PM.

  7. #7
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    cool thread.

    I have a 6 year old hardtail with XT and I'm very satisfied with it. Most all the people I ride with have newer, fancier, even LIGHTER full-suspension bikes. I can ride almost everything that the best of them can, and more than some of them on "better" bikes. This keeps me on my toes, but I like it that way. Also, It really makes me almost sort of "bond" with my bike since I've had it so long and it has been so reliable.

    Simplicity is a good thing in my eyes; and maybe some day, the bikes will make the trails "too easy" and everyone in the world will be out clogging the trails instead of sitting on the couch watching football. I don't think that's a good thing at all. Is that a bit "elitist"? Perhaps, but there has to few a few factors that protect our few open spaces from all 6.5 billion of us.

  8. #8
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    More fun = better

    More fun = better. Each person has their own definition of fun. Ride the bike that gives you the most fun and don't worry about others.

  9. #9
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    Sounds like most are on the same page.

    Yeah, the newer technology (for me) has made riding some seemingly impossible stuff possible, but it can dumb down easier trails and make them somewhat boring as well. So, on trails like that, the other bike comes out....

    What's funny, is that once I clean a line on the bigger bike (descending or ascending), it suddenly seems easier on the smaller bike too. I think it comes down to figuring line selections / speed out and the bike with more squish can give me confidence due to the 'fudge factor'. More margin for error means I'm more likely to try something at or above my level. A good example of that is hitting lines at full speeed and clearing multiple ledges in the air on Porc Rim or Amasa or trying a gap that I'd never attempt on my other bike.

    So, for me, it has helped provide more fun and, as wherewolf said, more fun = more better!

    Chers,
    EB

  10. #10
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    I've been puzzling through this stuff lately, too.
    I've never gone anywhere to ride with my hardtail that when I got there I thought I was in over my head. This includes the climb from the bottom of a trail in TN that a bunch of dually squished dudes from Florida felt the need to shuttle up in order to merely descend.

    That doesn't mean that I don't have a pointless lust for full suspension. I took a dualie out on the local trail closest to my home, and though it did what it was supposed to, it also rendered the experience at the trail completely dull.

    My experience on the trail with the rear shock showed me that though my riding would become easier with full suspension, that in that case it also ruined it. But what about when I travel to more difficult trails? I already know I can ride them on the bike I have, so what's the point of another rig? Comfort? Again, easy can be boring.

    I have this fear of becoming acquisitive and greedy about material goods. Part of that fear means that I'm not particularly comfortable with the idea of the bike "stable". I have a road bike and a hardtail, and older frames that are sometimes singlespeeds with bits of lying around parts. I'm starting to think, bike lust aside, that's all I really want.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.F.L.
    So, I recently had the chance to do back-to-back loops of a local ride. First time around was on my hardtail (albeit one with 5" of front fork). The ride has a decent climb with a few rooty, techy sections. the descent has roots, rocks and a few gullied-out bits. (typical Pisgah stuff). There are two sections I couldn't get on my 26er hardtail. Each time out there I try things a bit differently and someday I'm sure I'll get them.

    Next time out I'm on a Trek demo Remedy with 6" travel f/r. I roll up to the first unconquered section, point straight at it and charge it. Yeah, I use the same basic body english, but this time I ride straight up and over it. No drama. Next impossible section: same thing. Sure, grinding up non-techy steep stuff was harder due to the weight, but the challenge was much less.

    On the descent, I was able to ride at irresponsible speeds with much less effort and risk to myself (other trail users were still in far more risk). Everything was easier with this bike.

    My 29er also makes these sections much more do-able. More traction.

    Now, the question:

    Is easier better?

    Are people buying these long-travel and 29er bikes because they make riding easier OR because it makes it better?

    How do we distinguish between better and just easier? Many product work better... do we appreciate them because they make us look like better riders?

    Do people still appreciate a challenge? (I also went out fully rigid the other day and didn't enjoy that at all. Arthritic hands are not acceptable to me; I draw the line at severe physical pain). Many people try to remove difficult sections of trail so that they do not have to get off and walk, destroying it for those who like the challenge. Why?! Is it all about ego?

    Of course, every component on your bike should work as intended: a derailleur that shifts is not too much to ask. But, is there a point at which a bike becomes too capable? Should we expect more of ourselves and less of the bike? Is there honor there?

    Let's hear it.
    Good question and I think everyone will have different thoughts on the matter. To me better/worse and easy/hard really don't matter. Just go out and do what is most enjoyable for you. Whether it's rigid SS, 10" full squishy, or somewhere in the middle, (or the full quiver) who really cares? To me mountain biking is all about having fun. Nothing is worse than all the arrogant thoughts about what kind of riding is best/hardest/more pure, etc. The elitist attitudes and egos that people have attached to certain types/brands of bikes and ways of riding them just show me that a lot of people are really missing the point. Find a bike that fits the style (or styles) of riding that you love and ride the hell out of it.
    Sipping the Knolly Whisquillappa

  12. #12
    Don't be a sheep
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.F.L.
    So, I recently had the chance to do back-to-back loops of a local ride. First time around was on my hardtail (albeit one with 5" of front fork). The ride has a decent climb with a few rooty, techy sections. the descent has roots, rocks and a few gullied-out bits. (typical Pisgah stuff). There are two sections I couldn't get on my 26er hardtail. Each time out there I try things a bit differently and someday I'm sure I'll get them.

    Next time out I'm on a Trek demo Remedy with 6" travel f/r. I roll up to the first unconquered section, point straight at it and charge it. Yeah, I use the same basic body english, but this time I ride straight up and over it. No drama. Next impossible section: same thing. Sure, grinding up non-techy steep stuff was harder due to the weight, but the challenge was much less.

    On the descent, I was able to ride at irresponsible speeds with much less effort and risk to myself (other trail users were still in far more risk). Everything was easier with this bike.

    My 29er also makes these sections much more do-able. More traction.

    Now, the question:

    Is easier better?

    Are people buying these long-travel and 29er bikes because they make riding easier OR because it makes it better?

    How do we distinguish between better and just easier? Many product work better... do we appreciate them because they make us look like better riders?

    Do people still appreciate a challenge? (I also went out fully rigid the other day and didn't enjoy that at all. Arthritic hands are not acceptable to me; I draw the line at severe physical pain). Many people try to remove difficult sections of trail so that they do not have to get off and walk, destroying it for those who like the challenge. Why?! Is it all about ego?

    Of course, every component on your bike should work as intended: a derailleur that shifts is not too much to ask. But, is there a point at which a bike becomes too capable? Should we expect more of ourselves and less of the bike? Is there honor there?

    Let's hear it.
    Like what many others said, ride whatevers fun for you, it's not a contest. That being said, I have one of pretty much every type of bike and if you feel that the 6" travel bike makes things too easy you aren't even close to realising the potential of that bike. I have a friend with a Nomad with a Fox 36 ( 6" travel) he took that bike to Whistler and it wasn't enough bike, he ended up renting a DH bike. Depends on what and how you ride.
    "Do not touch the trim"

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by catch22
    To me mountain biking is all about having fun. Nothing is worse than all the arrogant thoughts about what kind of riding is best/hardest/more pure, etc. Find a bike that fits the style (or styles) of riding that you love and ride the hell out of it.
    I couldn't put it any better. Different bikes ride stuff differently. If you have a quiver, it depends on what you are in the mood for. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.
    I really identify with you...SO MUCH.

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  14. #14
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    My FS geared bikes were making my local trails that I ride pretty easy. The thing that I really didn't like was the constant maintenance required to keep them running at top performance.

    I dragged my old steel SS out and dusted it off, then rode those same trails again.

    Oh boy... lots of pain and suffering, but FUN ! !

    No more gears, just a simple SS...lovely..


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  15. #15
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    picture of your Remedy, please...

    and, to stay on topic, as a fifty-something rider, more and better travel= more riding with less Motrin...How about posting a review and pictures of the Remedy on the Trek forum. Thanks.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by catch22
    Nothing is worse than all the arrogant thoughts about what kind of riding is best/hardest/more pure, etc. The elitist attitudes and egos that people have attached to certain types/brands of bikes and ways of riding them just show me that a lot of people are really missing the point. Find a bike that fits the style (or styles) of riding that you love and ride the hell out of it.
    Couldn't have said it better.
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  17. #17
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    Nicely put 22

    Loved that thought. I too hate the arguments about what type of bike/riding/suspension is best/most pure/etc. I want more bikes, I want a stable but I know I dont need anything but one bike to go ride. I love rides where someone shows up on a hardtail, someone shows up on a short-travel "racer" and others show up on big hit bikes. Those rides are cool. Its fun to see how different people with different bikes approach the same obstacles. One of my favorite rides was one where I (short travel FS) followed a young kid, newb rider, on a Bullit up and down a bunch of technical stuff. I got to see his enthusiasm and he got to see what a little experience can do for you. It was sweet.

    Having said that, I dont think easier is better. I hate when people dumb-down trails. Also, I think, that in some ways those people new to the sport that have never ridden something with less than 5 inches of travel (on both ends) are missing something. IMHO ONLY!!! I would like to see them ride a rigid or hardtail, even just once. BUT before you all go flame crazy...If the 5" bike was what got them into the sport and to them" that" is their definition of fun, then I am all for it. My thoughts are just that if everybody tried what the others are ridin/preachin maybe there would be less of the "mine is better" arguments that sometimes get in the way of what is important. Still, like others have said what is important is that you go out and have fun.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDtofer
    Also, I think, that in some ways those people new to the sport that have never ridden something with less than 5 inches of travel (on both ends) are missing something. IMHO ONLY!!! I would like to see them ride a rigid or hardtail, even just once.
    Totally agree with you.I'd even go a step further and say it's key to start riding MTB on a hardtail and develop your skills on it BEFORE you go and buy a full suspension.Full suspension bikes give you a margin of error that's just too big for novice riders.And instead of learning your body english on a hardtail on easier trails, you start learning it on intermediate or even difficult trails, where you can get seriously hurt much easier.

    Marko

  19. #19
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    Mpov

    I ride my SS on all the same trails I was riding with my 6-7" travel bike. I can't go quite as fast on the DH's and the experience is certainly less comfortable. I do feel it has added a challenge. It was the challenges that drew me to MTB'ing so the more I face the more I enjoy riding. I did stop doing drops even though I know they can be done fully rigid. I just relied on my suspension instead of skill back when I was doing them.
    I can understand the draw of techology. I did love my long travel bikes, Hopey damper, and my lightweight fs racing bikes. I just realized after awhile I felt more like a motor and less like a pilot. I like tubeless and discs so I am not a retro-grouch for the sake of grouching it.
    To each his own, as long as we are all having fun.
    Last edited by teamdicky; 11-17-2005 at 06:21 AM.
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  20. #20
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    There is one factor in favor of the FS bike that....

    I haven't seen mentioned yet. I agree with everybody that an FS can dumb down a trail that would at least be fun if not challenging on an HT, and that it is not necessarily a good thing. I also agree that the best bike for a newb is a hard tail or a ridged. They require the rider to learn techique and bike handling skills that take much longer to aquire if the rider starts out with an FS bike. I also agree that bike choice is a personal decision and an individual is free to buy the bike they want, regardless of what I or anyone else thinks, regardless of their reasons for doing so.

    But for me it is all about the ride. I really don't care what I am riding on as long as I can ride! And that was the factor that recently lead me to go FS. I'm pushing 50 really hard and starting to feel my age a bit. Mostly in the aches and pains department. An unfortunate cycling injury 6 years back left me with a lower back that I need to stretch out in the morning so that I can get moving. After the initial stretch I'm fine for the day. But the residual is that it had shortened my ride times by quite a bit. Before I would happily ride 6 hours, sometimes more, with no problem. Since the injury, the best I was able to do was maybe 2 or 3 and then have to give the back a rest and pay for it the next day with additional stiffness and some pain. I decided to try an FS bike, and couldn't be happier! I can ride all day and come back the next and ride again! And I can do it without the additional discomfort that I used to experience with my HT.

    Does the FS bike make it easier, YUP! And for me that is a GOOD THING! Can I ride sections that I couldn't before, yeah a few sections that I couldn't clean before have been ridden. But there are others that I still can't quite make yet. Has it made the tougher sections easier, that's debatable. Some it has, some I'm still trying to clean. But then I didn't run out a buy a 5 or 6 inch travel monster either. It's just a 4 inch travel Stumpjumper, just a basic XC/Trail bike.

    The bottom line is, yes I bought the FS to make it easier to ride, so that I could keep riding!!! So if a long travel bomb the hill with your hair on fire FS bike makes you happy and gets you out on the trails, I think it's a good thing. Do I want one, no. Would I ride if I didn't have an FS bike, yup, just not nearly as much or with the same amount of pleasure that I do now. I still have my HT and it still sees service and I still like riding it. But for the most part I'll stick with my FS. I didn't buy it to compensate my inabilities, but to keep riding so I can continue to improve my abilities. Nuf Said!

    Good Dirt
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by problematiks
    I'd even go a step further and say it's key to start riding MTB on a hardtail and develop your skills on it BEFORE you go and buy a full suspension.
    A couple of years ago that's exactly what I told every newbie that came my way, but with full-suspension burgeoning with interesting shapes and promising some magical feat of performance, most if not all of the newbies blew off my advice and plopped $1K down for an entry-level FS bike.

    But my advice had nothing to do with challenge nor honing of skills. It was simply that:

    1) First, a newbie is not going (nor should he/she) blow really serious money ($2K+) on his/her first real mountain bike. For the same outlay, he/she is going to get a better-equipped hardtail that feature better-quality components (read: less upgrading later on) over an FS bike.

    2) Second, the most common reason dabblers into the sport stop riding is because their aerobic fitness is lacking, and climbing is considered a pain that has to be suffered to enable the fun. If the perceived pain outweighs the fun, they stop. A hardtail will be lighter than an FS for the same quality level, and quite a bit lighter for the same outlay. They'll suffer less pain, and even should they stop, it'll be easier to pick back up again.

    3) Third, I always end up wrenching for newbie friends anyways, so a hardtail saves me the futility of trying to get a cheap FS bike to work right. This last rationale I don't share.

  22. #22
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    I sure do love riding a good steel hard tail but my back side does not! If I was forced to keep only 1 bike it would be a tough draw but I'd have to go with the FS bike. I have found a couple circumstances that I could not clear a section with my fs bike but had no trouble with a hard tail, so I don't think it makes all trails easier. It just makes them hurt less.

  23. #23
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    I made the mistake of buying a Specialized Enduro as my first MTB. When the frame broke, and I was broke, I bought a cheap HT frame and built it up with gears.....6 months later it was an SS. That was 5 years ago. All I ride is SS now and I couldn't be happier. But I agree with everyone else, run watcha brung.

  24. #24
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    Yeah, run what you brung, no doubt. No shame or villainy attached to any rig.

    What I wanted to get to in my original post, but kind of screwed up, was that I hate being a sucker for the ads and the planned obscolescence (spell check on aisle 9) of the western world. Includes bike world. We are all told we need full suspension. In the face of advertising and hype, it is a feat of human thinking to convince ourselves that we in fact do not and that what we have works. When I get all bike lusty, I just tell myself that what I want is more of the experience, not more of the bike.

    Reports of my hardtail's death are greatly exagerrated.

  25. #25
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    I went through this... always wanting more tech. Got a FS. pivots got loose. i dont want to change bushings a few times a year!

    Now I want something with minimum maintenance. My dream bike would need zero maintenance. I now ride SS but have a geared bike and only use it when necessary because it requires additional maintenance, so the less I ride it the less work it needs.

    I have some buddies who stopped mtb because their bike was always messed up. You end up spending so much time/money on keeping the bike running that they said to hell with it.

    so any new tech that leads to a lower maintenance bike is good for me.
    Only boring people get bored.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by jh_on_the_cape
    I went through this... always wanting more tech. Got a FS. pivots got loose. i dont want to change bushings a few times a year!

    Now I want something with minimum maintenance. My dream bike would need zero maintenance. I now ride SS but have a geared bike and only use it when necessary because it requires additional maintenance, so the less I ride it the less work it needs.
    That's the difference between a quality FS bike and a cookie-cutter FS bike from a major brand.

    The pivots on the turner I have are one of the biggest reasons that I bought it. They have grease ports so you can purge old grease. They have bushings so they are much stiffer and have much more contact area than a bearing pivot, and the bikes themselves are known for many many years of service. SS bikes still suffer from most of the problems that normal bikes have, like wheels going out of true, breaking chains, headset loose, crank bearings going bad, and a plethora of other issues. Doesn't mean that you'll experience them, but a poorly set up SS will be crappy, just like a poorly set up geared bike.
    "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

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  27. #27
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    I'm 53 -- Easier IS Better

    Trust me

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by jh_on_the_cape
    I went through this... always wanting more tech. Got a FS. pivots got loose. i dont want to change bushings a few times a year!

    Now I want something with minimum maintenance. My dream bike would need zero maintenance. I now ride SS but have a geared bike and only use it when necessary because it requires additional maintenance, so the less I ride it the less work it needs.

    I have some buddies who stopped mtb because their bike was always messed up. You end up spending so much time/money on keeping the bike running that they said to hell with it.

    so any new tech that leads to a lower maintenance bike is good for me.
    I ride a SS as well as geared bikes, I also ride with a lot of SS'ers and I can tell you from my experience the SS riders have as many mechanicals if not more as the geared riders. Between loosening EBB's and sliding wheels in dropouts to broken and derailing chains they have their own set of problems. I also like the one about the "simple" SS, not from what I see, with everybody building $5000.00 custom bikes.
    "Do not touch the trim"

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by catch22
    Find a bike that fits the style (or styles) of riding that you love and ride the hell out of it.


    Well put.
    That which does not kill me, postpones the inevitable.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet
    I also like the one about the "simple" SS, not from what I see, with everybody building $5000.00 custom bikes.


    i'm not sure why you equate 'simple' with 'cheap'.

    also, good point about mechanicals. the only other person i ride with is my brother. i on my cheap converted SS, he on his $4,000 FS. some rides his bike is the mechanically inept, some rides it's mine. but, his bike sees the inside of the lbs more times per riding season than mine because of the complexity of his bike and the sheer amount of things that can go wrong with it.

    my mechanicals are almost always simple to fix, usually done on the trialside. his are usually more complicated, more expensive, and often times requiring a trip to the mechanic.

    the_dude
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by catch22
    Good question and I think everyone will have different thoughts on the matter. To me better/worse and easy/hard really don't matter. Just go out and do what is most enjoyable for you. Whether it's rigid SS, 10" full squishy, or somewhere in the middle, (or the full quiver) who really cares? To me mountain biking is all about having fun. Nothing is worse than all the arrogant thoughts about what kind of riding is best/hardest/more pure, etc. The elitist attitudes and egos that people have attached to certain types/brands of bikes and ways of riding them just show me that a lot of people are really missing the point. Find a bike that fits the style (or styles) of riding that you love and ride the hell out of it.
    Bloody well said Catc22!!

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  32. #32
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    rigid, FS, it doesn't matter to me. just ride and have fun. i prefer my enduro, i can ride all day and not have my hands go numb like on my HT with OLD fork (pretty much rigid). HT is now on the mag trainer.


    btw... those of you that b!tch about a couple of bolts loosening or a pivot needing replacement need to check into how much wrenching other enthusiasts do on their hobbies. i raced Nitro RC cars at the national level and doing that you do more wrenching between qualifiers than you do on even a high maintenance bike in a year!

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    That's the difference between a quality FS bike and a cookie-cutter FS bike from a major brand.

    The pivots on the turner I have are one of the biggest reasons that I bought it. They have grease ports so you can purge old grease. They have bushings so they are much stiffer and have much more contact area than a bearing pivot, and the bikes themselves are known for many many years of service. SS bikes still suffer from most of the problems that normal bikes have, like wheels going out of true, breaking chains, headset loose, crank bearings going bad, and a plethora of other issues. Doesn't mean that you'll experience them, but a poorly set up SS will be crappy, just like a poorly set up geared bike.
    I had a rocky mountain element T.O., which I was led to believe is a quality bike.

    It's stuff like purging grease that I like to avoid. On a geared bike the chain has to be much cleaner than a SS. After a ride, i just hang up my bike. Before the next ride, I just grab it. I lube the chain maybe once in a while.

    once you get a SS dialed in over a few rides, getting rid of creaks, etc. it just keeps going. it is not maintenance free, but much less maintenance. I would love a real maintenance free bike though! shaft drive maybe? unicycle? trail running?
    Only boring people get bored.

  34. #34
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    Actually, I think a FS bike can be more challenging to ride than a hardtail. Try climbing a 35+ pound, 6" travel bike up steep trails. It's hard. Most rides where you earn your descent are much faster and easier on a hardtail because you spend most of the time climbing. And if you push yourself going down it can be every bit as difficult as descending on a hard tail. For me, FS bikes have opened up a whole new world of riding. I ride FS bikes for the challenge.

  35. #35
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    For me, it's a ballancing between the need for speed and the fear of getting hurt. When I'm out riding, I have the most fun when I'm right on the edge of being out of control. However, my fun factor is diminished by thoughts of "this is really going to do damage if I crash". The point where these opposing forces intersect is pretty much at a hardtail with disk brakes and 2.1 tires. Rigid bikes and skinny tires limit speeds to much to elicit much adrenalin. Full suspension bikes, particularly bikes with more than 4", are still totally in control at speeds way above my confort level.

    I used to roadrace motorcycles at the expert level. I've crashed at over 110 mph, and done the rag-doll for a couple hundred yards. I've broken bones in those crashes. I don't want to experience that out in the woods. I know at the speeds big travel bikes like to be pushed, crashes will really hurt.

    When I lived in Austin, TX the fun/fear intersection point was a RacerX. I couldn't keep up with my riding goup on a hardtail, and that wasn't fun at all. The rougher trails there really called for full suspension.

    Also to be taken in to consideration. If I didn't mind wearing pads, I'd ride a much bigger bike. Pads take a lot of the fear out of the equation.

    Lastly, I've never had the experience of being able to climb something of a FS bike that I couldn't on a hardtail. That kind of surprises me, particularly knowing how good you are at finesse riding.

  36. #36
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    Good job! Kiss.

    Personally, I really don't mind what anyone chooses to ride. If you want to turn up and ride with me on your super-bling FS or an old steel cruiser, it's fine by me.

    Single speed, geared, 26'er or 29'er, fixie, whatever.

    For me, I choose to ride a singlespeed. I have ridden everything else. I have come back to the simplicity of the singlespeed because I like what it does for me.

    Maintenance-wise, there is almost none at all. A chain cleanup and oil once in a while is about it.

    My FS bikes in the past required a lot of maintaining. They also made most trails pretty easy for me. I was getting bored, and I wanted more of a challenge.

    Singlespeed gave me exactly what I needed.

    Now, I won't ride the super-bling FS bikes any more. I'm 63 years young. I ride every day.

    I may be a bit slower on some sections of the trails, but my riding has improved so much since I got back to basics...a HT SS.

    I'm not saying that everyone should follow my lead here, as long as you are happy with what you are riding, that's all that really matters. However, if you havn't ridden a simple SS bike you should really try it for yourself. It's a whole new experience.

    The desire for Simplicity is something that comes with age and wisdom, imo. The purity of the experience and the desire for a non complicated machine that connects you to the enviroment efficiently is more important than the latest innovation or technology.

    I'm not against technology, quite the opposite. But for me, simplicity is the answer to my needs in a trailbike.


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  37. #37
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    well put

    Quote Originally Posted by Rainman
    The desire for Simplicity is something that comes with age and wisdom, imo. The purity of the experience and the desire for a non complicated machine that connects you to the enviroment efficiently is more important than the latest innovation or technology.



    Well Put Rainman

  38. #38
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    not an indictment...

    I hope nobody thinks I'm trying to promote one type of bike over another. I'm surely not.

    I'm really wondering if people are gravitating toward technology because it makes the trails easier. GF developed his 29er because he said that he was tired of constantly flipping over the bars. People are in a constant search for devices of all kinds that make life easier.

    I'm just wondering if, in a sensory-driven experience like mountain biking, easier makes riding better. You can get the same challenge by riding less bike at lower speeds, and people still go for the newest, latest, and most capable.

    One real downside to the newer bikes is that people are descending at higher speeds and trail conflicts will occur. Face it, we all ride too fast around blind corners at times. This past fall there were issues here in Pisgah with certain trails.

    And in pisgah, as with other areas, the trails are relatively tame. We don't have a Vietnam or super gnarly legal trails. I'd gladly take a squish bike to nastier trail if we had it. And I'd probably really hurt myself. If I lived in the rock minefield called central Pennsylvania, I probably would quit riding if not for FS.

    I'm just wondering about motivation and responsibliltity, and all that good stuff.

    (and it's great to hear of people who are back on the trails because the technology is body-friendly)

  39. #39
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    if better means less injury crashes

    if better means less injury from crashes then it's all good.

    hense, i respect 5" or 6" or more travel suspension frames.

    the short travel full suspension xc race bike's where i think it maybe easier as most NORBA xc race descends hardly would demand a full suspension frame...these races require more fitness and strength, not more rear travel. a glaring exception would be where there are enough "technical" descends, such as in the 28 mile Downieville XC Classics or (to much lesser extent) Skyline-Napa, both NorCal xc races, where xc fs rig may leave the racer less fatigued and perhaps safer than a xc ht rig.

    me, my 5" steel hardtail with titanium parts is a blast to ride, esp. more so since going tubeless on rear wheel.
    “Everyday is a good day,” from the Blue Cliff Records, Yun-men (864-949 AD).

  40. #40
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    Variety for whatever reason. How many Land Rovers do you see that have never seen dirt. But if owning/driving (or riding when referred to bikes) one makes you happy...

    I ride everything from FS to a rigid fixie on trails, and I don't pick the ride based on the trail anymore - it's all fun. A well working techie FS bike is satisfying - clearing tough section on a rigid fixie is satisfying. We have people who push the limits of whatever bike they buy, and we have people with freeride bikes that only ever see smooth trails. Whatever turns you on.

    What I don't like is the dumbing down of trails. For years, we had a couple of nice singletracks that had various sized logs & ledges, great fun (for us anyways) cleaning them on any bike, different levels of challange for everyone. But recently, another riding group went through and cut/dug/removed everything. I'm sure they thought they were doing a good thing, it's now a fast flowing trail where you don't have to slow down at all.

  41. #41
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    its why i have 2 bikes...

    the bigger travel bikes have me riding stuff i would have never considered a few years ago and has made mtn biking fun again for me (i get bored easily)...i have always been a decent technical rider but drops of any kind scared me, but now i seem to be going bigger every year...

    there are a lot of trails that my 6 inch travel bike seems silly riding on so i grab the HT..sometimes for a change i ride the HT on technical routes as well...then i realize what a difference there is and how much faster i can go on the FS

    last thought...if you are finding things too easy (in any realm of life), its time to try harder stuff...same goes on a mtn bike for me...
    BBZ

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  42. #42
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    Ride what's fun

    Full suspension made the trails way too easy to clear, so I went to a hardtail. Thing was though, that the front suspension still made the trail too comfortable, so I went to rigid. After a few rides, I thought, well these gears here sure do make pedaling easy, let me just get rid of all but one, and just for the heck of it, lets make it fixed. Then, since the fixed gear experience was too "technical," I just got ride of the front wheel all together and went to the uni-cycle. I mean come on, if you have to use two wheels, you're just cheating yourself. Ultimately, I thought the mechanical advantage of a single wheel is just too much, so I became a trail runner.

    If you happen to see me out in the woods, please wave. I'm the barefoot guy with the scruffy beard and loincloth.
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babygorilla
    Full suspension made the trails way too easy to clear, so I went to a hardtail. Thing was though, that the front suspension still made the trail too comfortable, so I went to rigid. After a few rides, I thought, well these gears here sure do make pedaling easy, let me just get rid of all but one, and just for the heck of it, lets make it fixed. Then, since the fixed gear experience was too "technical," I just got ride of the front wheel all together and went to the uni-cycle. I mean come on, if you have to use two wheels, you're just cheating yourself. Ultimately, I thought the mechanical advantage of a single wheel is just too much, so I became a trail runner.

    If you happen to see me out in the woods, please wave. I'm the barefoot guy with the scruffy beard and loincloth.
    Rad
    I think most would stop thier downward spiral at fixed gear, but I love that you took it all the way to it's purest form. Thanks for keeping things under wraps with the cloth


    My bike corral is in constant flux. I have tried SS, rigid, rode hardtail rigs for years, and now have owned several varieties of FS. About the only thing I haven't given a shot is FS DH specific rigs due to logistics of having fun rides. Technology is good, but not to be fully relied upon. Gotta have the skills as well. One item few have touched on here is that the squishy can make trails that are downright jarring on rigid or hardtail and turn them into fun. There really is a time and a place for every type of bike. Heck, If I can buy a road bike and don the spandex then you can ride whatever you want. I swore off road bikes for over a decade only to find them to be an enjoyable compliment to my dirt riding. Go figure.

  44. #44
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    I understand. It's about balance. I started running on a full rigid bike that was an almost fit, and have since moved through several more expensive bikes. First with front travel, then later with rear travel.

    Did biking get easier with a better bike. Yup. Do I want to go back to a rigid hardtail with 10 speeds, canti brakes, and the like. Not really.

    I think it is about finding the right bike for the terrain. If I was to get a freeride bike, or even a 5 X 5 dually, I'd be looking for 1) harder terrain, 2) body armor, 3) better medical insurance. Around here there I just have not seen the need for a long travel dually. As one of my favorite lines... just because we can, doesn't mean we should.

    I've found what works for me and the last several bike have reflected that. I have purchased 5 duallies over several years, and every one of 'em have been a 3-4 inch travel bike, and that's going back to the mid 90's. Heck my latest bike has less travel than the two bikes before it. I have benefitted from better shocks, and disc brakes. Did I really need either one.... no not really. Am I happy with 'em, mostly. I was tweaked about buying a frame that didn't have provision for canti brakes, but I got over it, quickly. I've had more personal issues with Shimano going from 8 to 9 speeds than with the suspension and disc brakes.

    But YMMV...

    JmZ


    Quote Originally Posted by D.F.L.
    So, I recently had the chance to do back-to-back loops of a local ride. First time around was on my hardtail (albeit one with 5" of front fork). The ride has a decent climb with a few rooty, techy sections. the descent has roots, rocks and a few gullied-out bits. (typical Pisgah stuff). There are two sections I couldn't get on my 26er hardtail. Each time out there I try things a bit differently and someday I'm sure I'll get them.

    Next time out I'm on a Trek demo Remedy with 6" travel f/r. I roll up to the first unconquered section, point straight at it and charge it. Yeah, I use the same basic body english, but this time I ride straight up and over it. No drama. Next impossible section: same thing. Sure, grinding up non-techy steep stuff was harder due to the weight, but the challenge was much less.

    On the descent, I was able to ride at irresponsible speeds with much less effort and risk to myself (other trail users were still in far more risk). Everything was easier with this bike.

    My 29er also makes these sections much more do-able. More traction.

    Now, the question:

    Is easier better?

    Are people buying these long-travel and 29er bikes because they make riding easier OR because it makes it better?

    How do we distinguish between better and just easier? Many product work better... do we appreciate them because they make us look like better riders?

    Do people still appreciate a challenge? (I also went out fully rigid the other day and didn't enjoy that at all. Arthritic hands are not acceptable to me; I draw the line at severe physical pain). Many people try to remove difficult sections of trail so that they do not have to get off and walk, destroying it for those who like the challenge. Why?! Is it all about ego?

    Of course, every component on your bike should work as intended: a derailleur that shifts is not too much to ask. But, is there a point at which a bike becomes too capable? Should we expect more of ourselves and less of the bike? Is there honor there?

    Let's hear it.
    JmZ

    From one flat land to another.

    Advocate as if your ride depends on it...

  45. #45
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    i can ride longer and faster on my 5" travel bike.

    I like long fast rides.

    maintenance is slightly higher. but i don't mind working on my bike. it's a labor of love.

  46. #46
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    Another factor - SAFETY

    Some of the responses have hinted at this, but a big reason that I prefer FS over a hardtail is safety. When I ride in the boonies here in Kentucky, the trail is often rocky, washed-out, or overgrown (or sometimes all three at the same time). I'm always going to pick the safest line, but the FS (4" front & rear) gives me a little extra margin of error & helps me keep the wheels on the ground if the trail throws up something unexpectedly. I'm not going to get myself in extra trouble by having the FS, and I don't need the extra challenge imposed by directing rear-wheel shocks directly into my spinal column or trying to muscle up a hill in a 32 x 18. (But I have ridden & liked, HTs and SSs. Not putting them down, just don't like them for getting "out there".)

    I'm a few months short of 50 & I don't heal as fast as I used to, plus injuries interfere with my work. When I ride out in the country, my aim is to get way out there, have fun, but keep adverse events to a minimum. That might make me a wuss compared to most MTBR posters, but I'm still doing way more than the average guy my age. I want to keep riding for the next 15 years.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarryG
    Some of the responses have hinted at this, but a big reason that I prefer FS over a hardtail is safety. When I ride in the boonies here in Kentucky, the trail is often rocky, washed-out, or overgrown (or sometimes all three at the same time). I'm always going to pick the safest line, but the FS (4" front & rear) gives me a little extra margin of error & helps me keep the wheels on the ground if the trail throws up something unexpectedly. I'm not going to get myself in extra trouble by having the FS, and I don't need the extra challenge imposed by directing rear-wheel shocks directly into my spinal column or trying to muscle up a hill in a 32 x 18. (But I have ridden & liked, HTs and SSs. Not putting them down, just don't like them for getting "out there".)

    I'm a few months short of 50 & I don't heal as fast as I used to, plus injuries interfere with my work. When I ride out in the country, my aim is to get way out there, have fun, but keep adverse events to a minimum. That might make me a wuss compared to most MTBR posters, but I'm still doing way more than the average guy my age. I want to keep riding for the next 15 years.
    In my case, having long travel on both ends doesn't make the riding any safer because I just go faster. Regardless of the type of bike I'm riding, I seem to want to push it to the limits. Having a singlespeed with relatively low gearing has checked my top speed more than anything else, because once I reach a certain speed I can't spin any faster, so I just sit up and coast.

  48. #48
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    A friend of mine's idea of fun is being able to blast through a rocky technical section without having to pick the best line, that's the biggest advantage of FS. He gets pissed if anyone changes the trail to lessen the hard technical aspect of the trail. That's what he likes. Me, I like (moderately) smooth (few rock gardens) fast singletrack with ups and downs on my 29er SS, but I still like the technical trails too, just not as fast as a FS. FS does allow a lot of people to ride that might not be able to ride otherwise due to injuries (back pain, etc.).

    Everybody's bike is different. Accept, move on or move over.
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  49. #49
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    My Dream

    Not only, "To each their own." But "to each their own on that day."
    My dream is to have that new Spider29er that Intense is testing, a 6.6 and a Ti Single Speed Rigid. I love my 5.5 if I can only have one bike because I have that need for speed as I'm bombing down some techy single track (but I want to be able to climb the stuff too). I dig that stuff, I look for that stuff and I don't get enough of it. (I also don't mind doing Mx on my bike as I think its fun)
    But I would love the different challenges and simplicity of a SS: picking the right line, and to have to just stand up and hammer on it.
    Now I just need a job that pays some serious $$ so I can have it all!

  50. #50
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    Hell, I'll chime in....

    I'm fortunate enough to own three bikes: a steel hardtail, a 3" travel racebike, and as of about two months ago a high-tech 5" trailbike.

    Hoooray for technology! What a revelation it is to ride five inches front and back. The suspension so smooths the trail that I'm riding familiar downhills faster _at night_ than I ever had during the daytime. I'm riding daytime downhills at speeds that, as another poster said, make me afraid for the damage I'll do to myself if I eat it. And I'm riding drops that I _never_ would have thought possible just a couple months ago.

    And it's fun!

    I love my hardtail, I get out on it once or twice a week, and it's still a joy picking razor sharp lines down rocky rutted trails. That bike will never be obsoleted, as it is its own kind of thrill to ride. But the suspension and disc brake tech available on my new ride have opened a whole new world of riding for me, and that rocks.
    "Check out dude."
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