Full Suspension vs. Plus Bike HT?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Full Suspension vs. Plus Bike HT?

    I'm getting a bike for the first time in many years. I'm a complete novice but athletic and want to explore the trails and do some fun trips like Thunder Mountain (near Bryce) that are easy access for us Utahns.

    I've been looking at plus pike hard tails like the Trek Roscoe 8, 2018 Stache 5 as well as used full suspension 29ers and 27.5.

    I am lost. I like the idea of plus bikes and simplicity of the hard tail but every biker I talk to here is on full suspension and try to steer me away from a HT.

    I'm I wasting my money on a HT? Is it inevitable that I'll regret it and want a FS out here?

  2. #2
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    Man, tough to say, as there's a lot of personal preference. I don't think a plus hardtail is a waste of money, though I don't think it's a good solution for me personally. I think they make a lot of sense, generally. As someone getting into the sport, I think you could have a lot of fun with an entry level plus hardtail and not drop a lot of $$.

  3. #3
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    I have both, and wouldn't want to be without either one! Right now, I'm riding my Krampus more though.

  4. #4
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    Demo if you can. I tried replacing my full sus with a hardtail plus and did not like it. The worst part were the long flat slogs with roots and rocks where you could sit and spin on a full sus, but the hard tail plus was just rough. Going down, surprisingly, was mostly fine, but going up was hard sometimes as I tended to lose traction in technical stuff.

    But I have a younger cousin with a hardtail plus and he likes it a lot. So it really is personal preference.

  5. #5
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    I have a 2018 Trek Stache and love it...but I have to say watching youtube videos and seeing guys on the trail with full suspension bikes does make me a little jealous. Bottom line is I spent $1500 which for me as a new biker seemed like a ton of money, so going full suspension with the bigger price tag wasn't really an option. Thats my advice...go big if you can afford it. Otherwise I think you'll be happy on a HT plus.

  6. #6
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    I personally do not recommend HT's to anyone, be it a fat bike, plus bike or just a regular size bike. Unless you are dead set on one for riding fire roads, jeep trails or pavement, there is nothing a HT does that a FS bike can't do.
    A FS bike is going to be better on any trail, especially the rocky, steep technical trails going both up and down. There is minimal extra maintenance required and most new FS bike allow you to lockout the rear suspension for better efficiency. A FS bike will allow you to stay out on the trails longer more comfortably.
    There are always deals to be had on last years bikes and used bikes for nearly every budget are always up on KSL. Go find a part time job for a couple months, donate plasma, have a yard sale if you have to, it only takes a couple thousand dollars to get a decent FS bike.

  7. #7
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    I'd approach this as a difference in preference in feel between the two options.

    There are a lot of trail/AM hardtails right now capable of tackling technical trails if the rider is up for it. Most times they are cheaper and/or lighter than a similarly spec'ed FS.

    On the other hand, FS bikes don't carry much of a weight penalty nowadays (esp. on higher price levels) and are smoother, faster and safer everywhere. Maintanance costs will be more than a ht (annual shock service, linkage bearings replacement every few seasons). You may (or not, depending on your riding style) save some money from rear wheel truing or rim replacement, which take more of a beating on a ht.

    They ride and feel different, and that's what should help you decide IMHO. If you prefer a direct, feedback rich feel then a ht is for you. If you want to go as fast as you can dare and stay relatively fresh after a long ride, then a FS will suit you better.

    I'm a big hardtail fan myself, but recognize that they have limitations and they are not for everyone/every place.

  8. #8
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    I think we need a bit more information. Where are you local to? For instance, on the wasatch front and Park city a great majority of the trails are pretty doable and maybe even preferable? on a ht/plus ht, especially if you're not looking for airtime. How often do you think you might want to go to Moab, or St George? If once a year or less you could try the plus ht but my guess is you'll end up wanting to rent an fs which could be a viable option. If you think you may go more often, I think you'll want your own fs. Same goes for if your normal trails aren't on the wasatch front. Or if you like to get air. Or if you're hitting middle age or above or have back problems.

    I know someone will come along that fits all that and says they love rocking their old fully rigid bike and it's perfect for them, but in general, if those apply to you (or will soon) I'd save a bit more for an fs bike. It's not a lot more maintenance, they're pretty efficient, and you're less likely to be underbiked when the trail gets rough.
    I'm looking forward to regretting this.......

  9. #9
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    IMO the reasons for getting a hardtail are cost, Maintenance (cost), cool factor, or you only have trails with no chunk. I have 2 bikes right now, a great all round FS and a steel HT with 29 and 27.5+. The hardtail is longer, a į slacker, and just as fast on the smoother trails. Once I hit roots and rocks it slows down because the rear end bounces off line DH, and it is slower to pedal flat or climbing. I got it to have a winter bike that's reliable and low maintenance. It also happens to be an incredibly cool bike. I could have picked up a decent used FS for the same or even less money. I would definitely take the HT to St George/Hurricane, but not to Moab.
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    Quote Originally Posted by michealj View Post
    I personally do not recommend HT's to anyone, be it a fat bike, plus bike or just a regular size bike. Unless you are dead set on one for riding fire roads, jeep trails or pavement, there is nothing a HT does that a FS bike can't do.
    A FS bike is going to be better on any trail, especially the rocky, steep technical trails going both up and down. There is minimal extra maintenance required and most new FS bike allow you to lockout the rear suspension for better efficiency. A FS bike will allow you to stay out on the trails longer more comfortably.
    There are always deals to be had on last years bikes and used bikes for nearly every budget are always up on KSL. Go find a part time job for a couple months, donate plasma, have a yard sale if you have to, it only takes a couple thousand dollars to get a decent FS bike.
    My Trek Stache works much better on the trails around Hurricane than my Pivot M6 did.

  11. #11
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    Full suspension makes most things easier, which is probably what you want if you're going to be riding with experienced riders who are on full suspension bikes. In a lot of situations you'd be at a disadvantage to them on a hardtail, and that combined with them most likely being faster and stronger, may make it difficult to keep up.

    Budget is a big factor. If for example you only have a $1,500-$2,000, you'd probably end up with a HEAVY full suspension bike with cheap and poor performing suspension. That same budget would buy a decent hardtail though. Hardtails are also a safer bet if buying used, since there's much less to worry about.

    That being said, I personally like to keep things simple and enjoy the challenge of hardtails and rigid bikes. I have both rigid and full suspension bikes, but my rigid bikes probably get ridden more than the full suspension 10 to 1.

  12. #12
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    If you're mostly going to ride in the Wasatch front/back (ie SL valley and PC/Heber) area, and money is a concern, I'd absolutely get a hardtail (plus or not). Northern UT riding is mostly pretty nontechnical and if you just want to get out and enjoy some trails, you'll be perfectly happy. Hell, you can probably find a perfectly serviceable 29er hardtail used for ~$500 that won't hold you back in any meaningful way around here, so long as it fits you ok.

    As others have mentioned, the hardtail will do poorly in Moab, at Deer Valley bike park trails, etc. If shredding even a little gnar is your thing (or you think it might be) you probably want an FS bike of some sort.

    -Walt

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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    My Trek Stache works much better on the trails around Hurricane than my Pivot M6 did.
    I absolutely believe you, generally speaking a HT will be better on fire roads, Jeep trails and on the pavement. Once you start riding some of the technical trails in Hurricane, you will see the Mach 6 is the far superior bike.

    Riding Gooseberry with my group of friends, those of us on FS bikes are almost always able to clear the technical features easier and safer than the guys who choose to ride HTís. Now there is one guys who is a very accomplished trials rider and he is pretty good on a HT, but he can ride anything better than most people.

    There is nothing wrong with a HT, once you advance in your riding, a HT is a great tool to help develop skills. I donít recommend them to anyone getting into the sport because, IMO, you will be at a disadvantage from the start.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by michealj View Post
    I absolutely believe you, generally speaking a HT will be better on fire roads, Jeep trails and on the pavement. Once you start riding some of the technical trails in Hurricane, you will see the Mach 6 is the far superior bike.

    Riding Gooseberry with my group of friends, those of us on FS bikes are almost always able to clear the technical features easier and safer than the guys who choose to ride HTís. Now there is one guys who is a very accomplished trials rider and he is pretty good on a HT, but he can ride anything better than most people.

    There is nothing wrong with a HT, once you advance in your riding, a HT is a great tool to help develop skills. I donít recommend them to anyone getting into the sport because, IMO, you will be at a disadvantage from the start.
    I bought a 29+ hardtail 2 years ago and it is hands down my favorite bike. I actually prefer it while riding gooseberry. In fact, I have a rigid fork that I put on specifically for the gooseberry trails.

    To each their own, but if you haven't tried an AM 29+ hardtail they are so much fun and crush any xc trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by michealj View Post
    I absolutely believe you, generally speaking a HT will be better on fire roads, Jeep trails and on the pavement. Once you start riding some of the technical trails in Hurricane, you will see the Mach 6 is the far superior bike.
    Uh, no.

    I just rode Goose and Guacamole earlier this week, and as I said, my Stache makes it easier. I've done it on my Pivot, and the Stache makes it easier.

    It'll fly down JEM, no doubt, but the advantage of FS bikes is when it's fast and rough, when it's fast and smooth (your fire road example) or slow and rough, hardtails have an advantage. The BB is always in the same position relative to the tires, and absolutely no energy is transformed into heat in the shock. The plus tires do take a bit of harshness out of the slickrock, so a regular HT will beat you up a bit more, but the point still stands.

    Pro Tip: Don't use a condescending tone on the internet when you don't know who you're talking to.

    I also used my Stache to finish in the top 20% of my age group in True Grit and win the sport course at Fears Tears and Beers....and it was significantly faster than my Pivot, along with being easier to pedal uphill.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    Uh, no.

    I just rode Goose and Guacamole earlier this week, and as I said, my Stache makes it easier. I've done it on my Pivot, and the Stache makes it easier.

    It'll fly down JEM, no doubt, but the advantage of FS bikes is when it's fast and rough, when it's fast and smooth (your fire road example) or slow and rough, hardtails have an advantage. The BB is always in the same position relative to the tires, and absolutely no energy is transformed into heat in the shock. The plus tires do take a bit of harshness out of the slickrock, so a regular HT will beat you up a bit more, but the point still stands.

    Pro Tip: Don't use a condescending tone on the internet when you don't know who you're talking to.

    I also used my Stache to finish in the top 20% of my age group in True Grit and win the sport course at Fears Tears and Beers....and it was significantly faster than my Pivot, along with being easier to pedal uphill.
    I'm not being condescending, I'm just messing with you. I've seen your posts before and believe you are an accomplished rider.
    As I said before, IMO, an accomplished rider will be able to get more out of a HT, while someone just getting into riding will be able to progress better and safer on a FS and the original poster was asking about getting into the sport as a novice.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by michealj View Post
    I'm not being condescending, I'm just messing with you. I've seen your posts before and believe you are an accomplished rider.
    As I said before, IMO, an accomplished rider will be able to get more out of a HT, while someone just getting into riding will be able to progress better and safer on a FS and the original poster was asking about getting into the sport as a novice.
    The main difference is that a novice wouldn't know what they're missing on the slickrock trails by riding a HT (basically just a smoother ride). But then again, they probably wouldn't be covering a whole lot of ground, so even that is debatable. It would also minimize pedal strikes to some degree.

    The first time I made the switch in bikes "just to see," I was amazed by how much easier everything got. This is the first HT I've had for decades, and all that stuff people say about how a HT will accelerate and climb? It's true, when you jump, the bike doesn't just go, it jumps...even with 29+ tires. That's definitely not the case with a long travel FS bike, even with loads of anti-squat like a Pivot has.

    Whether a beginner would benefit from a FS or HT depends on a lot of factors, budget, mechanical competence/attention to detail, etc..but the real limit is the rider. I think riding both has some crossover benefits for experienced riders, but what a beginner needs is a reliable bike with friendly geometry at a price they're comfortable with so they can have fun and start building their skills.

    New HTs are getting a lot more trail-orientated than in the past, and that's pretty awesome IMO.

  18. #18
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    Roscoe 8

    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    The main difference is that a novice wouldn't know what they're missing on the slickrock trails by riding a HT (basically just a smoother ride). But then again, they probably wouldn't be covering a whole lot of ground, so even that is debatable. It would also minimize pedal strikes to some degree.

    The first time I made the switch in bikes "just to see," I was amazed by how much easier everything got. This is the first HT I've had for decades, and all that stuff people say about how a HT will accelerate and climb? It's true, when you jump, the bike doesn't just go, it jumps...even with 29+ tires. That's definitely not the case with a long travel FS bike, even with loads of anti-squat like a Pivot has.

    Whether a beginner would benefit from a FS or HT depends on a lot of factors, budget, mechanical competence/attention to detail, etc..but the real limit is the rider. I think riding both has some crossover benefits for experienced riders, but what a beginner needs is a reliable bike with friendly geometry at a price they're comfortable with so they can have fun and start building their skills.

    New HTs are getting a lot more trail-orientated than in the past, and that's pretty awesome IMO.

    Thanks so much for everyoneís feedback. I pulled the trigger on the Roscoe 8. Itís in my budget and will give me enough bike to start riding mostly here in the SL valley. I imagine Iíll end up with a FS at some point given the amount of support for both kinds of bikes

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