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  1. #1
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    Need advice:Full Suspension or Hardtail(For Dad)

    My dad is 57, and he wants to start mountain biking with my brother and I. He is very physically fit. Strength trains and runs/walks at his gym five times a week. Even so, he is still 57. I was wondering if you think a hardtail would be too hard on his back. He hasn't ridden a bike in forty years. I just dont want his body taking too much of a beating and keeping him from really enjoying the sport. He is picking up the sport to spend more time outdoors and the cardio. No jumping or hardcore stuff. Also, he is wanting to spend a max of $500. Any suggestions from some of you on bikes you have had good experiences with would be wonderful.

  2. #2
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Hardtail with a suspension fork. You could look at Haro or Mid level Iron Horse in that price range. If he has a tender back you can alway buy and install a suspension seatpost. If he wants to ride the bike all purpose, not just in the woods you can fit some semi slicks on it for tires and go anywhere.

  3. #3
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    I'm 56 and I ride my non-suspension Trek MB everywhere. I'ld try
    one of my daughters' bikes with front suspension....but I'm afraid
    I'ld like it so much that I'ld be shopping for a new bike for myself.

    Maddmaxx is right on the money about the tires too, for all around
    use stay away from the knobbies.

    Get Dad whatever he wants.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by recneps345 View Post
    Also, he is wanting to spend a max of $500.
    Hardtail. When you have a limited budget spend your money on quality rather than fancy-boy features.

  5. #5
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    There is no full suspension bike under $1K that I would think of recommending, but plenty of hardtails. I use the Thudbuster suspension post on my Rockhopper and the only times my bad back (herniated lumbar disc) hurt was when I raced.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I'm 67 and have ridden a hard front AND rear tail for 10 years. I have about 10,000 miles on that particular bike, including many Colorado passes. It works fine for me, but I don't do any technical stuff. I have slicks.

    Let your dad decide.

    We really aren't very fragile.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    I'm 67 and have ridden a hard front AND rear tail for 10 years. I have about 10,000 miles on that particular bike, including many Colorado passes. It works fine for me, but I don't do any technical stuff. I have slicks.

    Let your dad decide.

    We really aren't very fragile.

    Yeah, I know he is not fragile or anything. I just know how some older guys get when they are riding with younger men and get into more than they can handle. I am in pretty good shape(6'2" 185lbs, 27yrs old) and my dad is still as strong as I am. I just don't want him getting out there and hurting himself. I know I sound like a woman.

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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by recneps345 View Post
    Yeah, I know he is not fragile or anything. I just know how some older guys get when they are riding with younger men and get into more than they can handle. I am in pretty good shape(6'2" 185lbs, 27yrs old) and my dad is still as strong as I am. I just don't want him getting out there and hurting himself. I know I sound like a woman.
    Well, start out easy. Build up gradually. You and he will know when he is over his head, if he gets over his head.

    He didn't get to 57 by being stupid.

  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    There is no full suspension bike under $1K that I would think of recommending, but plenty of hardtails. I use the Thudbuster suspension post on my Rockhopper and the only times my bad back (herniated lumbar disc) hurt was when I raced.
    Full suspension bikes that work are a lot more than you expect. Even Good name manufacturers bikes that do not cost enough are not worth getting. Can't tell you the US price for a good one but they start at around£2,000 over here.

    I do have a back problem but not on the bike. The thudbuster Suspension post is expensive and I do have one on the Tandem. It also fits the MTB so long hard rides will have the thudbuster fitted for comfort.

    Now on the bikes- For a beginner- Basically any bike will work- but Specialised- Kona- Giant- Bianchi all make good basic bikes. Couple of points that should be born in mind though. At your price range- The forks will not be quality. They will work but are often not that good for an experienced rider and will probably not have any adjustment- so look for an upgrade within a couple of years. And I can assure you "V" brakes work well but if going for Disc brakes- At this price range they will probably just about outlast the forks.

    And I do still have some pretty Gnarly rides on my Bianchi Hardtail. For a cardio workout- you cannot beat a 15% rock strewn slope that goes on for about a mile. And as for the Downhills- No better way of getting a full body massage.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  10. #10
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    I'm 54, and have a Trek 820 hardtail. IMHO there's too much power lost with a full-suspension bike - I sometimes wish mine had a non-suspension fork. When pedaling hard - climbing - the front end gets to bobbing up and down in time with my pedal strokes. That energy expended in making the bike go up and down is energy lost to forward motion. If your dad is set on a mountain bike, then I suggest a hardtail.

  11. #11
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    Full suspension bikes that work are a lot more than you expect. Even Good name manufacturers bikes that do not cost enough are not worth getting. Can't tell you the US price for a good one but they start at around£2,000 over here.
    Well, of course we all have different standards depending on our intended level of riding and our economic situations. In my opinion, the very low priced full sus bikes, like $500 to $750 are not worth buying for much any purpose. At around $1K to $1.5K you get bikes that might be OK for someone on a tight budget who really wants the softer ride for trail riding but not hard riding or racing. Up around $2K you get bikes that are pretty good for serious riding. Beyond that they do get much better and it is worth it if you can afford it and can ride at a level to use the higher performance.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  12. #12
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    He didn't get to 57 by being stupid



  13. #13
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
    I'm 54, and have a Trek 820 hardtail. IMHO there's too much power lost with a full-suspension bike - I sometimes wish mine had a non-suspension fork. When pedaling hard - climbing - the front end gets to bobbing up and down in time with my pedal strokes. That energy expended in making the bike go up and down is energy lost to forward motion. If your dad is set on a mountain bike, then I suggest a hardtail.
    That is the other point about Suspension- It does take some energy to propel forward. I would prefer to ride with a Rigid fork but My body will no longer take it. What I use instead is a set of 80mm travel forks that are set up with the hardest setting I can get. Modern bikes can be had with forks that have an adjustment setting so that you can vary the amount of travel that is available. Unfortunately- A good set of forks with this adjustment will probaly take up your budget on their own.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  14. #14
    The cat says Merry Xmas Pamestique's Avatar
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    I would get the best hardtail his money could buy to start out. If he then stays with the sport and starts to improve and wants to do harder trails (some people are perfectly happy just doing smooth fireroads or bike trails), then he can decide on getting a good full suspension bike. He can always keep the HT as a back up bike or sell it.

    People alot of times buy too much bike for their skills and then get frustrated they don't feel comfortable. Best to match the bike to the skill and then again, if there's interest, move up.

    Good inexpensive hardtail - Specialized Hardrock.

    Nice move up bikes - Specialized Stumpjumper FSR or Santa Cruz Superlight.

  15. #15
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCIpam View Post
    I would get the best hardtail his money could buy to start out. If he then stays with the sport and starts to improve and wants to do harder trails (some people are perfectly happy just doing smooth fireroads or bike trails), then he can decide on getting a good full suspension bike. He can always keep the HT as a back up bike or sell it.

    People alot of times buy too much bike for their skills and then get frustrated they don't feel comfortable. Best to match the bike to the skill and then again, if there's interest, move up.

    Good inexpensive hardtail - Specialized Hardrock.

    Nice move up bikes - Specialized Stumpjumper FSR or Santa Cruz Superlight.
    +1
    I usually advise people to choose a low end Rockhopper over a loaded Hardrock for about the same $, especially if I think they might end up getting into riding more seriously. I would rather have a better frame and fork than disk brakes or slightly better components. Not to say that the Hardrock is a bad bike, just that the Rockhopper is a better one.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  16. #16
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    +1
    I usually advise people to choose a low end Rockhopper over a loaded Hardrock for about the same $, especially if I think they might end up getting into riding more seriously. I would rather have a better frame and fork than disk brakes or slightly better components. Not to say that the Hardrock is a bad bike, just that the Rockhopper is a better one.
    I went the route BluesDawg recommends, and purchased a base Rockhopper in 05 (with V-Brakes). I'm glad I went that route. The frame has provided a good base for upgrading over time. Disc brakes are great, but unless your dad is riding serious downhill, I'd go with V-brakes and upgrade other parts.
    I subsequently purchased a Specialized XC Comp dual suspension with Avid disc brakes. Yes, I like that bike more than my Rockhopper, it also costs 3 times what the Rockhopper cost and is not as fast as the Rockhopper without further (costly) modification.
    IMHO, Go with a good hardtail.
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  17. #17
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by recneps345 View Post
    I know I sound like a woman.
    ?!?

    Women are the toughest riders I know.

  18. #18
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    Would you guys suggest spending $500 on a bike such as a 2001-2003 Trek 6700/Trek 8000 with minimal miles and wear OR a 2005-2007 Trek 4100/Trek 4500 for around the same price. I am not limited to Trek I was just using them as examples.

  19. #19
    The cat says Merry Xmas Pamestique's Avatar
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    You need to consider what type of riding your dad would be interested in. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a used bike and in fact I always recommend newbies think about finding a used bikes instead of getting new because it's better to get higher end components than shiny new. Just know who was using the bike and how.

    Not personally a Trek fan but they are OK bikes. I appreciate Specialized because I know they stand behind their bikes and will take care of any problems. Just remember however, that warranties seldom move beyond the original owner.

  20. #20
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Suspension or rigid, it depends on what you are using it for. If you stay away from rough ground, then you have no use for suspension. If you ride over rocks, ruts and roots, suspension is great. I switched to full suspension 9 years ago and I will never ride a hardtail again. With full suspension, you can pick any line you want, or no line. The brakes work better, everything is better.
    What everyone has said above is true, though, about the money part. You're better off with a decent hardtail instead of a cheapo suspended bike if you only have $500. I would suggest used might be an option. Again, decide what you want out of it.

  21. #21
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    ?!?

    Women are the toughest riders I know.
    Yeah, I didn't get that, either.

  22. #22
    Pedal pusher... alicestrong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
    He didn't get to 57 by being stupid


    And men do tend to get smarter as they get older...we hope.
    May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

  23. #23
    Pedal pusher... alicestrong's Avatar
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    Hey do any of you actually ride stiffies on singletrack? I know that might sound dumb but I have always had a front suspension bike. What's that like?

    I mean his Dad could find a no suspension bike used for a song...
    May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

  24. #24
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alicestrong View Post
    Hey do any of you actually ride stiffies on singletrack? I know that might sound dumb but I have always had a front suspension bike. What's that like?

    I mean his Dad could find a no suspension bike used for a song...
    I always used to and I used to shock a lot of the Full suspension riders on the downhills by staying with them and thanks to the rigidity of the Steering-(No wandering off line)- I could sail up hills easier than most and on on tight singletrack I was superb. Thanks to surgery- I had to get suspension and That was when I got the Bianchi. Front Suspension was not good till I got the low travel forks and hard springs fitted. Just took the sting out of the lumps. The bike till then was the Kona Explosif that had Rigid Project ll forks and I still have the bike but once again I have had to fit a heavy pair of low travel forks with hard elastomers fitted.
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  25. #25
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    My old school Schwinn mountain bike (see signature) was made when men were men and your frame was your suspension system. I find it perfectly adequate for the nontechnical trail work I do, and it is superb on the road.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
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    Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069

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