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Hardtail vs Full Suspension question.

Old 04-17-11, 07:14 PM
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Hardtail vs Full Suspension question.

Hi guys --

I haven't been mountain biking very long (few months) but I figured I would ask this and see where it went.

I live in Phoenix and do most of my biking (95%) on loose rock trails with a lot of technical terrain (or what I consider to be technical). Tons and tons of rocks -- most of them loose. Decent incline (600-2000 ft) throughout the trail as well.

I've got a Scott 26in hardtail w/ disc brakes that I bought from REI for $599 (because their return policy is killer and if I wasn't satisfied I could bring it back and possibly trade up) -- but the chain has already fallen off twice and it doesn't seem to be doing too well with loose rock.

Should I be at full suspension? I'm not sure if I want 29... but apparently that's about all I see in the full suspension options offered by Cannondale. I'm obviously not that great of a rider yet, either -- but I don't want to keep beating on this bike when I have the opportunity to spend another $800-$1000 and get a decent full suspension setup if that's what I really need out here.

Thoughts?
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Old 04-17-11, 07:18 PM
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you said it yourself, that you are a beginner. a hard tail is a great place to start and you can get a great set up at about half the price of an equivalent full suspension frame.

if i were you i would ride that nice hardtail untill it is a piece of scrap metal and then look to upgrade if you are completely in love with mountain biking, but thats just me. if you have money falling out of your ceiling then splurge on a nicer ride.
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Old 04-17-11, 07:25 PM
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Yeah. I am agreeing with that completely... if I didn't bike on the terrain I do. I'd like to hear from someone who rides the exact type of terrain I do. Not saying you're wrong by any means, and I realize the advantages of a hard tail. However, the terrain I'm riding on is pretty ridiculous.

I don't have money falling out of the ceiling, but I don't want to buy something that will be a waste of money and not designed AT ALL for what I'm doing.

Thanks!

Last edited by guarnibl; 04-17-11 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 04-17-11, 07:42 PM
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I have a 400$ schwinn with some cheap upgrades. one trail by my house has this like 15 foot rock face at like a 50 - 60 degree angle. Ive gapped the trail to this dozens of times and im surprised my POS mtn bike still rolls in one direction. when it breaks ill upgrade lol. Ive ridden similar downhill things to what you are talking about. just because i live on the east coast doesnt mean everything is that dull and boring haha.

when you say lots of rocks, do you mean like soccer ball sized ones that you pound down?
or VW bug sized ones you are taking 5 foot drops off?

a hardtail will be way more uncomfortable if you are tearing a downhill getting destroyed by rock gardens. if you are plummeting off rock faces on the daily, i say upgrade before you end up in the hospital after your bike snaps in two, which is bound to happen to me.
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Old 04-17-11, 07:50 PM
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I'm not saying your trails are boring that sounds pretty fun.

For what I'm riding, imagine 600-2000 ft inclines and declines throughout the trail (total elevation change) (some sharp, some not) with windy 1.5 foot wide trails. now imagine it full of dirt. now take a football field worth of rocks that range in sizes from golf balls to 60" televisions, and dump them on the trail. ensure they're really lose. that's the best description I can give you I guess.

https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3328/...fd410b1fbb.jpg not that sharp of an incline.. that's tom's thumb, which I'd never try (or, well, not for a long time).

https://photographicinsight.com/blog2...0/gps00119.jpg -- that's more like it, as well, however with the larger rocks you see to the side there often on the spots you're riding over, sometimes at a pretty decent speed.

Last edited by guarnibl; 04-17-11 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 04-17-11, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by guarnibl
I'm not saying your trails are boring that sounds pretty fun.

For what I'm riding, imagine 600-2000 ft inclines and declines throughout the trail (total elevation change) (some sharp, some not) with windy 1.5 foot wide trails. now imagine it full of dirt. now take a football field worth of rocks that range in sizes from golf balls to 60" televisions, and dump them on the trail. ensure they're really lose. that's the best description I can give you I guess.

https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3328/...fd410b1fbb.jpg not that sharp of an incline.. that's tom's thumb, which I'd never try (or, well, not for a long time).

https://photographicinsight.com/blog2...0/gps00119.jpg -- that's more like it, as well, however with the larger rocks you see to the side there often on the spots you're riding over, sometimes at a pretty decent speed.
hahaha a cactus across the trail, we have good old american trees here. your hardtail would be fine for that stuff, definitely less comfortable. if your so concerned about it you prob have some issue with your hardtail im guessing. full suspensions are nice and you can just bomb anything you want

gl and if its a sport you enjoy and want to stay in, drop the cash for a nice suspension bike that will last you
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Old 04-17-11, 08:04 PM
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gl and if its a sport you enjoy and want to stay in, drop the cash for a nice suspension bike that will last you
It is. I don't think there's anything wrong with the hard tail on my bike. I guess I'll try my buddies full suspension and see the difference for myself and then decide. I'm glad you think the hard tail is fine for that stuff though. Probably just my skill level then. woo!

hahaha a cactus across the trail
Yeah, lol. Cactus are awesome! Pointy and painful if you hit them, but awesome!
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Old 04-17-11, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by guarnibl
It is. I don't think there's anything wrong with the hard tail on my bike. I guess I'll try my buddies full suspension and see the difference for myself and then decide. I'm glad you think the hard tail is fine for that stuff though. Probably just my skill level then. woo!
If it's a comfort issue for you, check out the Cane Creek Thudbuster or maybe other parallelogram post suspensions. The ST should be great, but if your seat's high enough for the LT's minimum extension definitely go for the LT instead.

If you'd rather buy a full suspension bike, skip the Thudbuster; you won't need it with a full suspension. If you'd rather avoid spending for a full suspension, Thudbuster is $150. It's a serious seat post suspension, outclasses the springs on your seat (and makes them unnecessary, so you can get yourself a nicer saddle; the stock saddle might also suck pretty bad, re: https://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html ).

The guy that got me into biking does mountain biking, I'm basing this off information he's shared. Wait for someone to chime in with a second opinion.
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Old 04-19-11, 11:09 PM
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If your main issue is the chain falling off then get a chain guide. That'll prevent the chain from dropping. Also make sure your chain isn't too long.

As for the rock issue, you can try to run some wider grippier tires. There are guys who ride hardtails down whistler.

I say ride the hardtail for now and work on improving your skills. My friend went right to a full DH bike when he started and he is seriously lacking in skills.
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Old 04-20-11, 01:01 AM
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Chain dropping off on a new-ish bike is a set up issue. Have the shop tweak things, possibly a different actual bike shop. I love REI, but the REI bike departments I've seen are not where I would actually take a bike for any service.

A nice suspension bike would be nice, but you could also do some things to make it better with the bike you have. Get some fatter meats on those wheels and you'll notice a big difference.

Guess it all comes down to what your overall budget is at this time. Nicer/newer bike, or new tires? A full suspension bike; excuse me - full squish - in the 1500 range wouldn't be bad. A 600 full suspension and I'd stay on the hardtail.

I've spent a day a few years back riding a bunch at SOMO - a hardtail can handle most of the place, depending on skill level of the pilot. If your skills are still in development, a new FS may help for some comfort and to reduce the "oh ****" moments, but there may also be merit in just sucking it up and learning to ride with what you have. That argument can go both ways.
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Old 04-20-11, 10:23 AM
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Hey, I grew up in South Phoenix and rode my Stingray and Paperboy bike all over the desert. I know that terrain you refer too. Those loose rocks are a pain, but the desert is accessible most of the year, so you can get a lot of riding in.

I am also a Scott fan. REI carries the Scott Scale 29er RC for $899. I think that is a good choice, if the frame feels good to you. The 29er tires might give you better traction on those stones. Since you are just now learning, a hardtail might be a good first option for your first couple of years.

HEY, have you eaten at that Mexican Food Restaurant on Central and Euclid, just before Dobbins. Some say the best Mexican Food in Phoenix.
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