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Old 04-05-08, 03:25 PM   #1
genec
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OK I'm a roadie, but I wanna go off road... so what bike??

and yeah I qualify to be in here...

I'm thinking some full suspension machine... with at least 4 inches of travel...

I have taken a hard tail fat tire bike down some of the local trails, so I have a basic idea what I am getting into... but that bike is really not suited to the ruts and various conditions (gearing, lack of suspension, high top tube) that are out there on those trails. I wanna go off road, so I've been visiting the lbs and looking...

I see Diamondback, Giant and Trek... I'm thinking something in the $1200-$1500 range to get a decent starter machine... Diamondback Mission 1, Giant Trance 2...

Any recommendations?

Got another birthday coming up and I'm gonna treat myself... so tell me what you think.
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Old 04-05-08, 03:49 PM   #2
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Stay on the road. MTB is for youngsters who like to fall down a lot.
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Old 04-05-08, 03:58 PM   #3
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IMHO, Off road is where the fun is. Nothin' like playin' in the dirt. Not to mention, there are no "car wars" to deal with on single track.
I went from a rigid fork, like the bike you have, to a hardtail Rockhopper. Within a year, I decided to buy a dual suspension (Specialized FSR XC Comp). Much to my surprise, I find I frequently prefer to ride the hardtail. I think a lot of what type of bike to buy depends on the type of off road riding you'll do and the comfort level you prefer. No doubt, the dually is easier on them bones!
As for the bikes you mentioned, the Trance 2 has a very good reputation and, of course, Trek makes some really nice dually bikes. Diamondback has become known as a Dick's Sporting Goods house bike. IMHO, I would not pursue that ride, but that's up to you. Specialized has been very innovative with their off road bikes, that's one of the reasons I went with their bikes. If you've got the coin, the Specialized FSR Stumpjumper is really nice. Good luck with your decision and certainly you should pursue off road.
EDIT: BTW, my shoulder problem was aggrevated when I began riding road bikes. Never had a problem on the dirt.
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Old 04-05-08, 04:09 PM   #4
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Nonsense, the challenges of steering and getting through tight spots and the feel of navigating over obstacles is HUGE fun. Just skip the 12 foot drops and the ladder bridges that take you 12 feet above scrub with jagged stumps....

Will this be a cross country racy style of riding? Down your way I gather the trails are relatively smooth desert like stuff for the most part. In that case something more of a cross country riding position that lets you easily crunch up the hills will be a big benifit. And things like anti bob and shock lockouts may be worth looking at. On the other hand if you're looking at a lot more of the downhill "surfing" then something much more slack angled and with a much shorter cockpit sizing that let's you shift your weight literally back over the rear wheel will be more in tune.

Either way I can confirm your desire to go full suspension. I've done it both ways and my own findings are that I'll take a full suspension bike over a 5 to 7 lb lighter hard tail any day of the week IF the trails are rough. If the uphills have multiple rock steps in them then the full suspension lets you just pedal and the bike floats over the steps. On the hardtail you need to unload the rear for each step and that just adds to the workload. If it's more smooth rolling dirt uphills then a hardtail will have the advantage.

If it's as important to go up as to come down something like the Trek Fuel or equivalent would be a nice choice. And remember that you'll want to spend more for a full suspension than for a hardtail to ensure you get equivalent quality.

Around here it's more about the downhilling so I've got one of the old Norco VPS3 monocoque framed bikes. I CAN go up hills with it but it's not set up well for it. But it makes me feel like some sort of superman coming down with the way it just floats and soaks up the little 1 and 2 foot jumps I'm willing to risk.
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Old 04-05-08, 04:13 PM   #5
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Still do a bit of Mountain biking but I am afraid I can no longer takes the jolts. Been riding a hardtail ever since I started in 1990 and at that time- Full suspension was hardly worth talking about. In fact- front suspension was hardly worth considering either.

Unless you are prepared to pay a lot of money-Full suspension bikes are heavy. My son-in law has just bought the Giant Trance 3 and that is heavy. Front suspension is not the best around and that rear suspension unit is taking some tweaking to get right. The trance 2 is not much better and I have not even bothered to look at the 1 as it is right out of my price range.

I would suggest a Hardtail anytime. First of all a lighter weight version with good Forks and a drivetrain is not going to cost a fortune- well not in comparison to FS. And a hardtail will teach you the skills to enable you to ride offroad technical without relying on the bike to keep you out of trouble. It teach's you to be a better rider in other words.

There are FS bikes around that work and one of the best I have tried was the Whyte 46. No longer made but they do the bike as on the link. Well out of my price range- and probably yours but definitely a bike worth trying to see how much more you have to add to the budget. Now if you want to have Fun offroad- then get an offroad Tandem. Well out of your price range- but well worth the expense- If you can find a willing idiot to ride with you.



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Old 04-05-08, 06:54 PM   #6
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Stapfam, you need to go look at the recent FS offerings. There's some seriously nice cross country race worthy FS bikes now. Yes they may be a lb or two more than a similarly priced hardtail but if the climb is lumpy that extra weight will pay for itself many times over when the rider can just worry about pedalling and let the back end deal with the lumps. For lumpy trails the extra couple of lbs of suspension isn't a handicap, it's an advantage for anyone that's not a serious racer and has learned to deal with hardtail issues on lumpy climbs. I know it's mostly about personal taste and as I mentioned earlier some regions are just tailor made for hardtails. But don't judge the current developments by the standards of even a couple of years ago.


Geting back to picking a bike....

When I go out to play on the trails it's not so much about distance or speed as it is about playing and my riding style for this sort of playing has more in common with trials riding than with racing. So I like a bike that has a shorter wheelbase and that is set up with me sitting back a little more so I can loft the front easier. To the OP, if you think that will be more what your riding is like I suggest you test ride a wide range of styles and find the one that is the best all arounder for you. Playing around with some parking lot curbs and road curbs can sort of give you a feel for what you want.

Also if you're going to be more about the playing then I'd strongly suggest good platforms, and the shin guards to go with them. If you're going to be more about the distance and speed then go clipless. Perhaps not right away but eventually you'll want to.

I personally tried clipless and after two silly falls I gingerly went back to the truck to re-install my platforms. Platforms don't need to be a disadvantage. Look at the stuff the BMX'ers do with platforms. It's about body tension and bike control, not about being clipped in.
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Old 04-05-08, 07:04 PM   #7
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My two cents worth. Because you qualify yourself as a roadie first, that imply's that you'll still be doing most of your riding there. If this is so, then at the pricepoint you are looking at, a quality hardtail with a good front fork will do it for you. The bike will behave more like the road bike you ride and will be less of a change from ride to ride.

If you really want to go after the mountain biking thing, then reference down to the pages about BluesDawg's purchase of a dual suspension machine. Take a good look at the pictures of the trails he rides on. If this is going to be your style of riding then go for it, but at a slightly higher budget.
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Old 04-05-08, 09:25 PM   #8
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Thanks guys... the stuff I am planning to tackle is not mountain, but trails... I've been doing some reading about bob and the suspension systems... but I don't have enough knowledge yet...

So where is this stuff from BluesDawg?
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Old 04-05-08, 09:29 PM   #9
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Old 04-05-08, 10:00 PM   #10
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Thanks guys... the stuff I am planning to tackle is not mountain, but trails... I've been doing some reading about bob and the suspension systems... but I don't have enough knowledge yet...

So where is this stuff from BluesDawg?
I have been looking at the GT Peace. A 29'r with no suspension at all. It comes in a fixy and geared.

The nicest mountain bike I have ever had the chance to ride was a buddy's Specialized M something. A 21 lb hardtail. It was awesome. I don't believe that many here in S. California can actually take full advantage of a full suspension bike and I think it takes a great deal of the flying by the seat of your pants learning experience out of the equation. One of my mountain bike hero's is Ned Overend. When he was racing there were no suspensions.

I had a mid level Marin hard tail and was more than capable of holding my own on ruts, sand, rock gardens, baby heads and big downhill runs. A comparably equipped full suspension bike would run
$ 2,500 to $ 3,000.00. I really liked the Specialized Epic, but could never afford one.

I will caution you - from experience - that learning to shift weight between the front and rear is a skill that is often overlooked and can have significant repercussions if done improperly whether you are headed up a steep trail or screaming down some single track. In or out of the saddle!!!! I blew it going less than 3 mph up a very steep incline when I ran into some sand and tried to slide back a bit to weight the rear wheel for traction. Some how I ended up horizontal in the air with the bike about ten feet below me. The end of the handle bar left a shattered sternum and a 1 x 3 inch hole through the abdominal muscles. Surgery was required to put it all back together.

Full suspension bikes are neat. I just don't think I would ever really take advantage of the extra money and weight. Reading the OP made me realize how much I miss my mountain bike!

Here is a list of good to know Mountain Bike Lingo:


Learn to talk the talk while you're raging down the mountain. Useful terms that every rider should know. cologo
Cycling Home Mountain Bike Lingo*

* anchor (n.): A spouse or significant other who prevents you from riding with impunity. (Best not used within earshot of said anchor.)
* astro boy (n.): A rider launched into unexpected flight.
* baby heads (n.): Rocks the size of a newborn's cranium. Often results in bacon.
* bacon (n.): Long, nasty scabs caused by falls. Also, trail jerky.
* bolt-on (n.): A woman with a surgically enhanced front end . Derives from aftermarket bike parts that are bolted on.
* butt ruff (n.): Terrain that isn't tough enough to ride out of the saddle but is excruciatingly painful to ride seated.
* dipped (v.): To be happy. "I'll be dipped in doo."
* e-ticket (adj.): A great, major hairball ride. Derives from the old ticket system at Disneyland.
* half-track (n.): An overgrown trail that doesn't meet even the minimum definition of singletrack.
* JRA: Bike shop slang for "just riding around". How cyclists invariably describe to a clerk the mysterious sequence of events that led to a folded-up fork or some other warranty claim.
* pimp (n.): A bike-shop employee who has a bad habit of trying to sell product on the trail. Also a know-it-all who's constantly bragging about his new rig or latest gadget.
* POW (n. or v.): A strong rider who gets stuck on a lame group ride.
* prune (v.): To use your bike or helmet to unintentionally remove shrubbery from a trail.
* soil sample (n.): An update on the more traditional face plant.
* tea party (n.) When a group of riders stops to chitchat and nobody is in a rush to get going again.
* three-hour tour (n.): A Sunday spin that mutates into a death march. Derives from the neoclassic Gilligan's Island theme song.
* wang chung (n.): What a male rider risks if he stops his bike suddenly and his stem has no padding (a.k.a. nard guard).
* winky (n.): A reflector, typically frowned upon by serious riders. "Stylin' winky set, Spankster!"

*An excerpt from the "Men's Journal", March 1998
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Old 04-05-08, 10:10 PM   #11
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Depends how much abuse your trails will deliver, and how much your body wants to take. [This is the 50+ forum after all.]

My old bones far prefer the dual suspension, but I also like flying down stairs, whether concrete or wood and dirt and over logs like they are hardly there. Trails in the US can get gnarly. (I've also ridden in the South Downs in the UK near where Stapfam lives and the trails were a lot smoother.)

Much prefer the full suspension, but hate the weight and rolling resistance, the more time I spend on light road bikes.

A lighter faster 1.9 tire, can speed things up a bit, for a little loss of traction.
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Old 04-05-08, 10:30 PM   #12
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You can get a good hardtail for $1200 to $1500. You can get an OK full suspension bike for that. Whatever cost goes into the rear mechanism and shock has to come from somewhere. It will come from some combination of the quality of the components, wheels, frame and suspension. Rear shock quality is especially important. Platform technology like Fox's Pro Pedal makes a big difference in keeping the rear end from bobbing during hard pedaling. You rarely see that on bikes costing less than $1800 or so. Good front suspension is also important.

I have ridden on all kinds of XC type trails with no suspension, front suspension and full suspension. They can all go just about anywhere. Each has advantages and disadvantages. For most conditions, front suspension makes more of a difference than rear. But good rear suspension sure rides nice.

A doozy of a "what bike to buy" thread
I love my Stumpjumper FSR!
A nice ride on a tough trail

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Old 04-06-08, 01:04 AM   #13
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Stapfam, you need to go look at the recent FS offerings. There's some seriously nice cross country race worthy FS bikes now. Yes they may be a lb or two more than a similarly priced hardtail but if the climb is lumpy that extra weight will pay for itself many times over when the rider can just worry about pedalling and let the back end deal with the lumps. For lumpy trails the extra couple of lbs of suspension isn't a handicap, it's an advantage for anyone that's not a serious racer and has learned to deal with hardtail issues on lumpy climbs. I know it's mostly about personal taste and as I mentioned earlier some regions are just tailor made for hardtails. But don't judge the current developments by the standards of even a couple of years ago.


.
I will agree that there are some Good XC Race level Full Suspension bikes out there that work. But they are not cheap. The lower offerings are out- they are Pogo Sticks. Medium price and you may be getting there but I do not know of an FS bike that offers rear suspension that has the Propedal asset, a decent front fork with adjustability and weighs less than 30 lbs.(And a 30lb hardtail is a heavy bike) And taking the lower prices of the US into account- That will be less than $2,500. On top of that there are the quality of the brakes- and wheels that I would like to say would be sensible. And on those lumpy climbs- That is where you would find a lightweight Hardtail will be better. Effort used in climbing with a bike that is at least 6lbs lighter-easier to manoevure over the tricky stuff and on the severe lumps- not having that rear suspension coming back and hit you. The only place an FS bike will have a definite advantage is on the Fast lumpy Downhills. And that is still only if it has the "Right" type of suspension.

I was looking at new road bikes last year and got one. BUT I was also contemplating staying Offroad. I looked at the options available and the only way I was going to get a new FS bike was by going top end. I could not afford one.

Couple of other points-What bikes are the XC racers using? And what happens to FS bikes in MUD?- one of the things we have to consider over here.

I see BD has replied aswell- and Although we ride different types of trail, he has mentioned the Propedal rear suspension- It is the only type that does not bob and take riders energy- and is not cheap. You still have to keep the rest of the components up to a level that is suitable aswell and Good frame- Good suspension- Cr*p brakes, wheels. and gear train do not make for a good bike. You have to talk money and we are not far out on that price where you start to find sensible bikes.

And Rideorglide. I ride the South Downs Way a lot- But Try Windover hill in Winter or the "OLD" roots at Jevington- or the climb up in front of the Longman. Although the SDW has a lot of smooth paths on it- These are just off the trail and if you want Gnarly- They will give you it, And all on slippery wet chalk with 12 to 15% slopes for a mile. My Hardtail can do it but when a Full suspension bike cannot get grip- it is the same as any other bike with a rider that relies on the bike to get him through tricky terrain- It Doesn't work.


And Genec- You asked for opinions- and these are mine. I think I can say I am now a roadie- that only occasionally goes offroad- but I have only been in this sorry state for a year. Bikes are changing- But if you are thinking of buying a bike- ANY bike- Test ride it first.On the test ride- check the bobbing and find the steepest hill you can to see if you like the extra weight.
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Old 04-06-08, 07:36 AM   #14
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What racers use has little to do with what 50 year old guys use. Racers are willing to sacrifice comfort, or anything, to save a little weight. Having said that, more racers are using full suspension, including Ned.
I know you can ride through ruts and rough stuff on a hardtail, but it's so much nicer with rear suspension. The brakes work better, climbing is less jarring, and the entire experience is enhanced by the rear shock.
I'm speaking from a SoCal location, where we have ruts, rocks, and square edged bumps. If you only ride smooth trails, then a hardtail is fine.
As far as bobbing, it has a lot to do with the rider. If you are a smooth spinning roadie, you may not bob at all. I don't, but I see others bounce all around, even on flat ground. There are technologies to combat this, and suspension design has come a long way in a decade.
The only negative is price. You can get a lighter hardtail for the same money, but if you are fat of wallet, you can get a 21 pound full suspension bike.
Stapfam, we'll have to agree to disagree.

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Old 04-06-08, 07:58 AM   #15
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Have you seen the Mountain Biking forum FAQ?
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Old 04-06-08, 08:29 AM   #16
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Any comments on this bikesdirect bike? http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...elite_ds08.htm
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Old 04-06-08, 08:44 AM   #17
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Genec: fwiw, if I were you -- and if the budget could stretch just a leeetle bit -- take a look at and t/ride (preferrably on trail) the 08 Giant Anthem 2. This is an xc-race platform, but reviews etc. are universally positive re. its capability as an 'all-round fast trail bike.' Thing with this bike is that you get 'ok' drive train/wheelset, but very good frame/rear shock, and fork (RS Reba), etc. Stock the bike is a hair under 28 lbs; wear out the stock crank/wheels over a season, replace, and you'll have a v. nice 26 lb f/s bike. Don't bother with it if you're interested in "sweet jumps", but otherwise well worth a look.
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Old 04-06-08, 11:05 AM   #18
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Any comments on this bikesdirect bike? http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...elite_ds08.htm
The marketing blurb seems a bit high for comparable priced bikes at $3,000, but spec is good- lockout on the suspension- front and rear so better than cheaper suspension. Brakes are not bad but doubts over the wheels on a $3,000 bike.
Weight is a bit high at 32lbs- but when a few parts wear out and are replaced with better- then the weight could drop.

Problems---High weight and bobbing could still occur on the suspension. But for $1300- better than most.
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Old 04-06-08, 12:10 PM   #19
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hA Ha Ha kerlenbach/rides on manicured tar and doesnt know a thing about old.I ride on gravel roads and trails seldom on the tar.So Genec dont spend big money on a bike for a couple of years.//until you try lots of set ups The terrain you like to mountain bike will determine your final choice.[example I ended up likeing frames to big for me[im 6' like frames for a guy 6' 5" and bars raised so I could get weight to the back when climbing. there are so many other things from shifters to breaks,/ I say all mountain bikes are fun you'll have fun finding that special one for you./Ken
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Old 04-06-08, 01:18 PM   #20
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One aspect of going full suspension is that you're going to need to spend a little time tuning it to your own weight. Also the FSR 4 bar system is known for absorbing bob better than some other systems. But even so you still want to tune the shock for a firm but compliant ride. Soft and squishy is going to bob regardless of the design. "Firm" meaning that when you sit on the bike the suspension should settle around 1/4 of the full travel from your weight.

Also "light" and "heavy" are relative terms. Yes if you can get a 21 lb FS bike then it'll be superb but extremly costly as mentioned. But a few lbs here and there doesn't mean much in comparison to the weight of the rider if you're just out for fun.

I still stand by my claim that I'll happily carry around 5 to 7 lbs of suspension stuff over a hardtail. That extra weight for the suspension gives back easily a virtual 20 lbs off the total weight and a virtual 10 to 15 years off our age when it comes to climbing and riding in the rough stuff. This is just the same as Big John is describing above.

Things to look for in rear suspension are the link bearings. Be sure that all the pivots that determine and control the rear wheel travel are cartridge ball bearings. Some of the cheaper frames still use bushings for those that can wear over time. Bushings used in the shock links are not so big a deal. But if you can get a design that uses ball bearings for all the pivots that's a bonus.

As much as I like to save money I would not buy a FS bike without being able to test ride it. Seemingly minor changes in the suspension design can make a huge difference in how the bike feels and performs. So sadly I'd have to say just turn away from buying sight unseen over the 'net. Things like the angle the rocker arm is on will determine the rising rate of the compression stroke and what's good and what's not is not something that is easy to see but it is easy to feel when you slam the bike into curbs to try out the suspension and deliberately mash on the pedals to test for the amount of bobbing.

Time to hit up all the local shops you have and test ride all the bikes you can.
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Old 04-06-08, 06:11 PM   #21
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I would have probably killed myself it I had started out on a dual suspension. Starting on a rigid kept me from going too fast. I wiped out a bunch but it was at slow speed. I couldn't believe how much easier it was to get going faster downhill on a front suspension hardtail. Bumps I would have wiped out on at speed on the rigid were nothing with suspension. Dual suspension could really get me into trouble!
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Old 04-06-08, 07:10 PM   #22
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...I do not know of an FS bike that offers rear suspension that has the Propedal asset, a decent front fork with adjustability and weighs less than 30 lbs.(And a 30lb hardtail is a heavy bike) And taking the lower prices of the US into account- That will be less than $2,500.
My Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp lists for $2400. Fox Triad rear shock with positions for open, propedal and lockout. Fox F120 fork. Avid Juicy 5 hydraulic disc brakes, SRAM X-9 RD. At 28 lbs., it is 1/2 lb. lighter than the hardtail it replaced. For the hardest climbs I use the propedal setting, but I don't get a lot of bobbing even in open position unless I am standing and really stomping on the pedals. Propedal damping assist is not the only way to eliminate bobbing in rear suspension. Suspension linkage design and smooth pedaling also play a part. A good spin helps a lot.
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Old 04-07-08, 05:08 AM   #23
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My Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp lists for $2400. Fox Triad rear shock with positions for open, propedal and lockout. Fox F120 fork. Avid Juicy 5 hydraulic disc brakes, SRAM X-9 RD. At 28 lbs., it is 1/2 lb. lighter than the hardtail it replaced. For the hardest climbs I use the propedal setting, but I don't get a lot of bobbing even in open position unless I am standing and really stomping on the pedals. Propedal damping assist is not the only way to eliminate bobbing in rear suspension. Suspension linkage design and smooth pedaling also play a part. A good spin helps a lot.
Quite possibly the best price/performance FS bike available.
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Old 04-07-08, 10:34 AM   #24
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As others have said, it really depends on where you will be riding. I have a Trek 6500 hardtail which is an absolute joy to ride. I use it mostly on dirt roads and trails. I don't do the hardcore downhill stuff. About 5% of my riding time I wish I had full suspension, but I make do. There are some insanely long and steep dirt road climbs on my routes and I would hate to be dragging all that rear suspension along with me.
If I could play fast and loose with your money I would recommend you get a hardtail first and, if you decide you need a full suspension, buy that next year. But it really does depend on where you will be riding.
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Old 04-08-08, 11:49 AM   #25
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I'm also a roadie who wanted to tackle some trails, but leave the really rough stuff to the younger guys. So I recently bought a 16-year-old Rockhopper hardtail, cheap. Already having a lot of fun on some local trails that are inaccessible to my road bike. I'll have more fun when I replace the slightly out-of-round rear wheel.
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