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Stick with a HT for my first MTB or spend the extra money and get a FS?

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Stick with a HT for my first MTB or spend the extra money and get a FS?

Old 05-10-15, 08:43 PM
  #1  
Spectraldust
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Buy a HT for my first MTB or spend the extra money and get a FS?

I'm looking into getting a mountain bike, but I'm not sure what I really should be getting. I kind of want to stick with either Giant or Trek since those are both highly popular at the local shop. Any suggestions on a good FS for a little over 2k? Or even a great hard tail. The local trail that I will be riding most of the time isn't real advanced, but eventually I would like to start traveling to some of the more advanced trails throughout MO and IL.
Thanks!

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Old 05-11-15, 10:16 PM
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Going with a HT for your first MTB will help develop better riding skills. You'll learn to use your body more and learn to pick the smooth lines, which will make you faster. If you go FS for your first MTB, you'll be less inclined to develop those skills as it'll be easy to have the mentality of "I can just plow through everything" =P But when you DO upgrade to a FS (if you start with a HT), you'll be that much better already and will be even faster with the FS.

That said, are you hoping to get into XC racing, or just want to have fun on the trails? I love my Trek Stache (2013-2015 model, not the new 29+, but very curious about the new one). It's a very capable HT with plenty of travel, just not as nimble as a true XC rig, but I still race it anyway!
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Old 05-12-15, 06:43 AM
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I would say it totally depends on what kind of trails you are riding... if you are doing "light" stuff you will not need a FS bike.
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Old 05-12-15, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Spectraldust View Post
I kind of want to stick with either Giant or Trek since those are both highly popular at the local shop. Any suggestions on a good FS for a little over 2k?
Both those brands make excellent bikes. You won't go wrong either way.

A good default suspension bike in Giant's line is the Trance. You'll get around five inches of a travel and a bike that'll work well on just about any trail. The various Trek Fuel models are in the same vein.

If you know in advance that you will focus on racing, then maybe a race-oriented model like Giant Anthem. And if you know in advance that you plan to put on a full-face helmet and really focus on some fast and technical downhill-focused riding involving rocks, then maybe something like the Trek Slash. But you will know if you want to do either of those things -- racing or all-mountain -- and bikes like the Trance and Fuel are good default choices for just general trail riding.

FWIW, I began with a hardtail and regretted waiting so long as I did to move to full-suspension. I rode a hardtail for too many years when I could have been having more fun with suspension. Ironically though, I am currently riding mainly a 26-inch rigid bike with no suspension at all. (But I have a suspension bike also, for when I want one).

If you can afford suspension right out of the gate, then you'll probably have a lot of fun with a good, general purpose trail bike like the Trance or the Fuel.

Also look at what your riding friends have, and at what bike styles are common in your area. If everyone whom you know is riding a certain style of bike, then maybe that style is optimal for your local conditions. Something to consider.
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Old 05-12-15, 09:28 AM
  #5  
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You can find a quality HT for around $900+tax (air fork, Deore, hydraulics). That's a great bike, it can do basically everything. Good full suspension bikes are around $2k+tax, so it's really a question of money. I find hard tails best for flatter areas, you're doing more consistent pedaling and you don't have steep downhills to need the suspension. If you don't have 7% climbs and/or only small elevation gains hardtails are great. Hardtails rely on body english for technical sections, which is actually an advantage for slow technical sections. Trials and dirt-jump riders still use hard-tails almost exclusively, because there's no suspension to mute bike response. Rocky or rooty conditions with rolling hills would best best on a full-suspension to maintain momentum.

Look for demo days so you can try different bikes and hardtail versus full-suspension, as well as see what the typical trails look like. Look to see what other riders have is also helpful. In my area its about 5:1 in favor of full-suspension, but its CA, so there's more disposable income and lots of rutted fire-road descents.
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Old 05-12-15, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
If you can afford suspension right out of the gate, then you'll probably have a lot of fun with a good, general purpose trail bike like the Trance or the Fuel.

Also look at what your riding friends have, and at what bike styles are common in your area. If everyone whom you know is riding a certain style of bike, then maybe that style is optimal for your local conditions. Something to consider.
I emphatically agree with this first item. And I also agree with the second - experienced locals generally know what kind of bike is appropriate for the local trails. Newer riders may not be much help, though.
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Old 05-12-15, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Kuotient View Post
Going with a HT for your first MTB will help develop better riding skills.
I'm tempted to ban the next poster who continues to regurgitate this tired and utter BS.
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Old 05-12-15, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Kuotient View Post
Going with a HT for your first MTB will help develop better riding skills. You'll learn to use your body more and learn to pick the smooth lines, which will make you faster. If you go FS for your first MTB, you'll be less inclined to develop those skills as it'll be easy to have the mentality of "I can just plow through everything" =P But when you DO upgrade to a FS (if you start with a HT), you'll be that much better already and will be even faster with the FS.

That said, are you hoping to get into XC racing, or just want to have fun on the trails? I love my Trek Stache (2013-2015 model, not the new 29+, but very curious about the new one). It's a very capable HT with plenty of travel, just not as nimble as a true XC rig, but I still race it anyway!
I was going to comment, but you spoke for me word for word...

Going to add:
I'm on a full squish now and I know for a fact I am a better rider because I spent my first two seasons on a hard tail...
When your new you will crash unless your just riding flat easy trails with the kids with no Intensity or speeds.
Crashing a cheaper bike feels better, scratching it is not biggie, especially knowing your first bike will not be your last..

NOT curious about 29+ or 26+ 27+ wheels, would not want more rolling mass and so far I don't have traction/stability Issues of any kind..
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Old 05-12-15, 05:33 PM
  #9  
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It all depends where you ride. I have ridden both and currently have a Surly Karate Monkey and really like it. I am getting ready to buy a new frame and it will be a hardtail. Dont let the magazine test sway you. I really like the Salsa El Mariachi. Lot of bike for the money.
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Old 05-12-15, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by dminor View Post
I'm tempted to ban the next poster who continues to regurgitate this tired and utter BS.


The only possible justification I can think of for this is that you can stay on the saddle and roll over smallish rocks and roots with a FS bike that would be uncomfortable with a HT. There's a tendency for some folks to think this is 'lazy' or slow if you're in the saddle. But you can pedal pretty damn hard in the saddle, and you can do it longer than pedaling standing. Being lazy or using poor form doesn't have anything to do with FS or HT.

Plus, if the trail obstacles are small enough that you can ride over them on the saddle of a full suspension bike, does it really matter if you were in the attack position or not?

This post is getting way too long, considering I completely agree with you about this oft-repeated 'start with a hardtail so you learn' nonsense. You learn by reading, watching and asking questions of those who know, and practicing it. What part of those things is negatively affected by having a more capable bike?

Any section of a trail that is rough, steep or fast enough to require the attack position is the same on the FS bike as it as on the HT - you need to be in the attack position. Riding the FS bike is easier on your body, and as the terrain gets more gnarly it becomes faster as well.

End rant.

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Old 05-12-15, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by dminor View Post
I'm tempted to ban the next poster who continues to regurgitate this tired and utter BS.
<3 Sorry our opinions don't match. My first visit to BF in a very long while. Guess I'll just stay off the MTB forum.
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Old 05-13-15, 02:41 AM
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Its going to be tough asking a bunch of strangers on the internet on what type of bike you should buy. The guys that ride FS are going to advocate a FS...while the HT guys are going to suggest HT's.

My advice is to see if where you plan on buying from will allow you to demo a FS and HT. Take it to a local trail. Ride them both...decide from there.
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Old 05-13-15, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by I <3 Robots View Post
My advice is to see if where you plan on buying from will allow you to demo a FS and HT. Take it to a local trail. Ride them both...decide from there.
Demo rides on a trail are always a great suggestion.
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Old 05-13-15, 01:46 PM
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I bought my first modern mountain bike this past winter and live in western Kentucky. The singletrack is rooty, you can get fast, it goes up and down a lot....everybody I asked said to get a full suspension because of the trail system we have here and that is what I went with. I rode a hard tail in the 90's with 80mm of front suspension and loved that bike, but the trails were around Chicago and just weren't as technical as the stuff I have locally and didn't offer near the ups and downs. Anyway, I'm glad I went full suspension for this bike because the riding has been awesome and I can take lines that I would never try on a hardtail, and I'm just a relative beginner at this stuff.

So, I guess I would recommend that you ask around at your local shops/clubs and see what they say. Nothing wrong with hardtails though...there are people who ride the trails on hardtails by me but they are outnumbered...it just seems like more fun on a full squish to me.
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Old 05-13-15, 07:38 PM
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I wouldnt hesitate to go FS for a first bike if money isnt a problem.
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Old 05-13-15, 09:13 PM
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i was just out the other day for a test ride on an IBIS RIPLEY FS. gave it a good test, but decided it was more than i needed.

oh, and i thought i would like a 29er, but really didn't, standover height was a nuisance. i was on a small and am 5'8".
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Old 05-13-15, 09:59 PM
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My take on Mtb'ing is unless you are riding down hill only, then full suspension is overkill, and heavy.

It has been a long time since I owned FS but back then I found it very bouncy and not very efficient for climbing or riding on flat ground. going downhills felt great.
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Old 05-13-15, 11:24 PM
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My 5" full suspension bike weighs less than my rigid . Modern FS bikes with their fancy rear suspension or even just a platform rear shock are so much better than the older ones. I went from an 03 gary fisher suger 29er that bobbed like crazy to a 2011 DB sortie 29er still with a simple rear suspension but a propedal shock and it barely bobs at all.

Anyway the OP goes he will be starting off with a way better bike than the majority of us.
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Old 05-14-15, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Canker View Post
My 5" full suspension bike weighs less than my rigid . Modern FS bikes with their fancy rear suspension or even just a platform rear shock are so much better than the older ones. I went from an 03 gary fisher suger 29er that bobbed like crazy to a 2011 DB sortie 29er still with a simple rear suspension but a propedal shock and it barely bobs at all.

Anyway the OP goes he will be starting off with a way better bike than the majority of us.
I have heard this before actually, and I have no doubt that modern FS rigs have addressed the bobbing woes of my 94 gt rts.


I still have to believe that a significant percentage of your power is sapped by the coil or shock. The amount of torque someone puts down when cranking up a hill will cause even rigid frames to flex. I have to maintain that a bicycle designed to "fold" is going to when that same force is applied. I can be wrong, I should go test ride something nice.
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Old 05-14-15, 05:56 AM
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Bobbing happens on my Trek fuel unless I lock the rear shock out, then it goes like a billy goat. What I do when I climb is just spin more and not mash up and that seems to work pretty well controlling any bobbing even when the shock is set to trail or even descend. If I stand and the shock is set to trail I can feel the rear end bobbing, but it doesn't seem to be a problem. Just a different feeling to the bike.

The one thing the rear suspension does help greatly with when climbing is going up root infested climbs or rocky stuff....better than my old hardtail. It doesn't seem to "get stuck" like the hard tail did, and I don't bounce over stuff and lose momentum.
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Old 05-14-15, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by catonec View Post
I still have to believe that a significant percentage of your power is sapped by the coil or shock. The amount of torque someone puts down when cranking up a hill will cause even rigid frames to flex. I have to maintain that a bicycle designed to "fold" is going to when that same force is applied. I can be wrong, I should go test ride something nice.
Definitely do that. Many FS bikes now have a lot of anti-squat built into the linkage which is only driven in part by chain tension. (The other part is the location of the instant center compared to the contact patch of the rear tire.)

Modern shocks have helped all bikes, but especially single-pivot designs. There is pedaling platform built into most shocks used on short- and mid-travel bikes. But interestingly, some suspension designs are actually going the other way. They don't need the shock to have platform, the rear suspension linkages provide it. So there are shocks like the Monarch RT3 debonair that have much more linear performance.

...Anyway, enough about that. Giant is pretty ubiquitous. Take a demo ride on a Trance or Anthem, after setting the sag properly of course. You'll find that it pedals very well when the shock is 'open' and is nearly hardtail-like when it is in platform or locked-out mode.
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Old 05-14-15, 10:03 AM
  #22  
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I agree with learning on the HT then moving up to and FS later but if you can only have one bike ever then go with the FS if your terrain warrants it.
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Old 05-14-15, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by catonec View Post
I have heard this before actually, and I have no doubt that modern FS rigs have addressed the bobbing woes of my 94 gt rts.


I still have to believe that a significant percentage of your power is sapped by the coil or shock. The amount of torque someone puts down when cranking up a hill will cause even rigid frames to flex. I have to maintain that a bicycle designed to "fold" is going to when that same force is applied. I can be wrong, I should go test ride something nice.
Yes, you should take a test ride. Counting out modern tech based on a 94 design is your loss. My FS climbs like a goat and has very little "bob". I can climb a rocky rooty hill without my rear tire ever leaving the ground. The one draw back can be weight (this is obviously) limited by how much you are willing to spend as pointed out previously. My FS is only 4 lbs heavier than my previous HT and I wouldnt trade back for the world since it rides like it is 4lbs lighter especially up hills.
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Old 05-14-15, 02:15 PM
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Your $2K will go further , spent on a Hard tail..
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Old 05-15-15, 01:55 AM
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For your budget, id get a good hardtail! 2K gets a basic and heavy FS. But it also depends on how rough your trails are. if they are utterly littered in roots and rocks, definately FS, save your body. If they are mostly smoother well groomed dirt with patches of roughness, then Hardtail is plenty. And 2k will get you a hellva nice hardtail versus a "barely above entry level" FS.
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