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  1. #1
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    Hard tail or Softail

    I know this has probably been asked a million times but must ask again. I've been road riding for a few years with a little over a year of road racing & 2 years track racing experience. Job and family responsibility means no more racing this year. I am looking to buy a performance oriented mountain bike as I am moving to Northville, MI and have many mountain bike options in that area.

    I have done some (limited) mountain biking with a training partner so I am learning the drastic differences between the two sports. Every bike shop I walk into wants me to buy a full suspension. I'd like to keep the cost under $2K and am concerned about weight but obviously don't have enough experience to know if this is valid.

    So, I'd like your advice on this topic. I don't plan to race in the near future but do plan to ride aggressively and want to keep up with a few friends that are still road racing and mountain biking as a training alternative. I'm leaning towards a hard-tail as they are lighter and seam to be easier to work/maneuver on the trail.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
    Shreddin' heaven on his 20" the wonginator's Avatar
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    under 2k? get a squishy. something like a specialized FSR XC PRO which is 2g CANADIAN

  3. #3
    ÖöÖöÖöÖöÖö Dannihilator's Avatar
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    If going from a road bike, I'd say get a hardtail.
    Strike like an eagle and sacrifice the dove.
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  4. #4
    Shreddin' heaven on his 20" the wonginator's Avatar
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    hrmhm.m.m.m

    actually i think a squishy could be better, because it soaks up more bumps... but you've got the experience over me so i concede

  5. #5
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    See if any of the shops can offer you a demo ride on the bikes, that is the best way to see what you will like..Ive been saying this to alot of people , Stumpjumper FSR is a solid bike, ..Try and ride both and see what you are most comfortable to..
    Bike: 04 Stumpjumper FSR with Mammoth Rims

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  6. #6
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    You can get a great hardtail for much less than $2k. You can find plenty in the $1 - $1.5k range.

  7. #7
    Hazardous biker Ricardo's Avatar
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    Well, I strongly suggest you take your time and read some reviews, maybe from specialized magazines or on the Internet. From those reviews, pick 5 to 10 bikes and try to ride 'em all and make your choice.

    Ricardo

  8. #8
    Lets Ride Trekke's Avatar
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    OH. We're talking about bikes? Now that is a different story.
    Phil

  9. #9
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hacrwj
    I know this has probably been asked a million times but must ask again. I've been road riding for a few years with a little over a year of road racing & 2 years track racing experience. Job and family responsibility means no more racing this year. I am looking to buy a performance oriented mountain bike as I am moving to Northville, MI and have many mountain bike options in that area.

    I have done some (limited) mountain biking with a training partner so I am learning the drastic differences between the two sports. Every bike shop I walk into wants me to buy a full suspension. I'd like to keep the cost under $2K and am concerned about weight but obviously don't have enough experience to know if this is valid.

    So, I'd like your advice on this topic. I don't plan to race in the near future but do plan to ride aggressively and want to keep up with a few friends that are still road racing and mountain biking as a training alternative. I'm leaning towards a hard-tail as they are lighter and seam to be easier to work/maneuver on the trail.

    What do you think?
    Start out with a hardtail. If you decide you like the sport then upgrade. By starting on the hardtail you will gain valuable bike control skills that would be glossed over on a FS rig.

  10. #10
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    I too would recommend a hardtail. You'll learn better bike-handling and trail judgement. Even those of us who have FS bikes still would do well to regularly ride HTs. I gave away my full-rigid when I got my FS bike and it was the worst mistake I ever made. I plan on building up a new one again at some point. That said, you can find some really nice FS bikes for around $2k and if you put that money towards a HT, you can score some serious upper-crust gear. I personally would recommend skipping over the ST type bikes unless there are very specific reasons you feel it would be beneficial. They really only work best in a very niche set of applications.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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  11. #11
    Lets Ride Trekke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by khuon
    I too would recommend a hardtail. You'll learn better bike-handling and trail judgement. Even those of us who have FS bikes still would do well to regularly ride HTs. I gave away my full-rigid when I got my FS bike and it was the worst mistake I ever made. I plan on building up a new one again at some point. That said, you can find some really nice FS bikes for around $2k and if you put that money towards a HT, you can score some serious upper-crust gear. I personally would recommend skipping over the ST type bikes unless there are very specific reasons you feel it would be beneficial. They really only work best in a very niche set of applications.
    Great advice and I agree however there is a movement to go directly to a FS without having good reason too. It is just a bling thing I guess.
    Phil

  12. #12
    ÖöÖöÖöÖöÖö Dannihilator's Avatar
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    All I will ride now are hardtails.
    Strike like an eagle and sacrifice the dove.
    Words and Stuff.

  13. #13
    pnj
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    Hard tails for life!
    4130

  14. #14
    Shreddin' heaven on his 20" the wonginator's Avatar
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    i'm a big hardtail fan too, but he was asking what was good...

    meh.

    i'm gonna get myself a hardrock or a bruiser

  15. #15
    pnj
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    I was just stating my feelings on the subject.

    while I agree that buying a hardtail first will help gain skills, I see no reason why someone shouldn't buy a full squish if that's what they want. I personally wouldn't do it though, because as I said above, "hard tails for life"
    4130

  16. #16
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    Thanks...I want to go with a hard-tail and your confirming my 'emotional' opinion. Also, thanks for the comment on ST bikes. I actually had a Scalpel for a few months (long story) and hated the bike....I really struggled to keep up with a group that I normally could keep up with on a borrowed hard-tail.

    Based on the reviews on MTBR and this site, I'm leaning towards a:
    Kona Kula (or Kula Deluxe)
    Specialized Stumpjumper
    Cannondale F800

    Any commments?

    Thanks

  17. #17
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    Can you guess what I'll recommend? ... <--look at my username

    Seriously though, your list looks pretty good except for the Cannondale. IMO, the Cannondale has had a problem using proprietary parts (odd size headset, etc.) which I think will come back to bite you in the future - especially if you want to upgrade to a FS and move the parts over to a new frame instead of buying a whole new bike. There are endless varieties of bikes to chose from, and quite frankly they are for the most part similar enough to matter a whole lot. I would find out what's popular in the area where you are moving since there would be better support for it should something go wrong.
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  18. #18
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KleinRider
    IMO, the Cannondale has had a problem using proprietary parts (odd size headset, etc.) which I think will come back to bite you in the future - especially if you want to upgrade to a FS and move the parts over to a new frame instead of buying a whole new bike.
    I'm sorry but I'm going to have to chuckle at a Klein advocate berating Cannondale for using proprietary designs. Klein is also not without their sins in that department. I'm not defending Cannondale but I do find it ironic.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by khuon
    I'm sorry but I'm going to have to chuckle at a Klein advocate berating Cannondale for using proprietary designs. Klein is also not without their sins in that department. I'm not defending Cannondale but I do find it ironic.
    no doubt my mission control II has left me "stranded" in the upgrade department... *but* it's 10 years old; Cannondale is still doing it (AFAIK)... BTW, I think "berating" would be too strong a word.
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  20. #20
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KleinRider
    no doubt my mission control II has left me "stranded" in the upgrade department... *but* it's 10 years old; Cannondale is still doing it (AFAIK)... BTW, I think "berating" would be too strong a word.
    You're right. I probably should have said "criticising". And you're also right that Cannondale is still doing it. The thing is each company did it for very specific reasons that weren't necessarily without merit (at least at the time) but it does leave the end-user in a bit of a pickle.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by khuon
    The thing is each company did it for very specific reasons that weren't necessarily without merit (at least at the time) but it does leave the end-user in a bit of a pickle.
    exactly!
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  22. #22
    Senior Member zx108's Avatar
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    i would just like to but in with something here.

    what if you get a fs with lockout, like the fsr xc pro

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by zx108
    i would just like to but in with something here.

    what if you get a fs with lockout, like the fsr xc pro
    I guess my question would be "why?". Why spend the money on that type of feature when he could get by with a "good" HT and save a little cash that he could later spend on a bike (or frame) that he *knows* he wants? My $0.02
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  24. #24
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KleinRider
    I guess my question would be "why?". Why spend the money on that type of feature when he could get by with a "good" HT and save a little cash that he could later spend on a bike (or frame) that he *knows* he wants? My $0.02
    Ding Ding DinG

  25. #25
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    I ride both a ht an squishy... that being said each has it advantages and disadvantages. I started yrs back on my hardtail and fell in love with riding. The ht is a very responsive quick handling bike that transfers all my pedal smashing into the drivetrain. On longer or more technical rides it does beat my back, seated or standing I am very aware of terrain. I have to say that awareness is nice, helps me zone out on my trail and my riding. I do still ride my ht from time to time.

    My baby is a trance x i picked her up for about 1400(us) and feel my riding has taken serious steps forward. I have no lock out on my rear shock but with the shock tuned the pedal bob is very slight and she climbs very well especially on the techie climbs. Lock outs dont completely freeze the shock as this will damage the shock. I dont know how it does this something i have been told by many shops over the years. There are many types of design for the rear pivot points and again they all advantages. I have found that with my squishy that I am much more confident jumping and with drops and find places for to jump and ride off of instead of down like i did with my ht. Alot of people think turning and cornering is better on a ht but my experience has been my trance turns like a dream and in berms at speed the suspension loads and releases energy coming out of the turns and helps propel me forward.
    Pedal bob is the one of the biggest concerns with any fs bike and keeping your upper body quiet helps with this. You get used to it. I tend to stand a lot and pedal even though it uses more energy I cant stay seated. the control I have over the bike and the trail keeps me to excited to stay seated. Besides who doesnt have moments when they think they are Sam Hill sprinting to the finish line.
    My squishy gets about 80% of my ride time and she takes more work to keep up with all the moving parts but off road and on it is a great ride going all out or just tooling around. Most of all though comfort is king. The one thing I would suggest no matter what style you buy would be disk brakes. Mechanicals are cheaper but are easier and cheaper to upgrade than if you got rim brakes and the wet/muddy stopping power of disks provide the ability to stop when wet rims slide through cantilever pads.

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