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Suspension: Do I Need It

Old 10-24-11, 10:46 AM
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formicaman
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Suspension: Do I Need It

I'm a noob riding a hardtail, rigid fork cro-mo Gary Fisher on some highly technical trails with serious rocks and roots. I've ridden with a suspension fork, but never got comfortable with the feeling of instability when braking. Never tried a rear suspension bike at all. Is it a metter of comfort or control? I don't mind hitting the ground hard and I'm running 2.5" tires, but I was thinking suspension must help keep you from bouncing off the ground.
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Old 10-24-11, 11:25 AM
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It's a matter of control, or better put, control/speed. Suspension helps the tires track the ground better and keep them in contact with the surface, which equals more control. The faster you intend to go, the more of an issue it becomes.
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Old 10-24-11, 11:42 AM
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Hmm, maybe one day I'll upgrade. Probably after I crash a few more times.
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Old 10-24-11, 11:51 AM
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The more you ride what you have, the more you will 'upgrade' yourself and reduce your crashing. By the time you decide on a 'need' for suspension, you will fly .
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Old 10-24-11, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
Suspension: Do I Need It
Nope

Like D said, it doesn't really matter at lower speeds. A rigid bike will teach you better technique in getting over objects, how to adjust your weight for difficult climbs/descents, etc because suspension (though undoubtedly advantageous in many kinds of riding) can act as a crutch that keeps you from learning the proper ways to handle different scenarios you'll encounter when riding. When you get to a point where you feel like you've taken everything from your rigid that you can & its rigidness is only holding you back, that's when it's time to look into suspension.
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Old 10-24-11, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
Hmm, maybe one day I'll upgrade. Probably after I crash a few more times.
Absolutely. Definitely wait until you crash several times before upgrading. lol (insert Patrick Bateman cool, calm voice here)
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Old 10-24-11, 02:44 PM
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you don't *need* suspension, but it automatically gives you +10 skill points at bike riding. you climb rocky/rooty stuff better, descend rocky/rooty stuff better, and are generally more in control, as explained by Dminor. you can go off bigger stuff, it gives you more confidence, and it makes riding in general easier and more fun and better, because you can ride more stuff.
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Old 10-24-11, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pablosnazzy View Post
you don't *need* suspension, but it automatically gives you +10 skill points at bike riding.
I need all the skill points I can get, but I also just bought a vintage road bike and I already have the mountain bike, a fixed gear and a commuting/grocery bike. I don't think an $800 bike is in my future just yet, so I am going to pretend I am a purist.
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Old 10-24-11, 03:30 PM
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It is a funny thing life....I began riding in the 80's had hard tail rigid fork C-dale Beast of the east. Got first suspension fork 1" travel Scott elastomers, tried the flex stem, got real HT with good shock , then added a suspension seat post, then FS specialized FSR expert, now back to HT with good fork.
Suspension does make life easier but after 25 yrs of riding my favorite rides were back in the day. HT no suspension. I had far better skills on the trail....Suspension is great but Just ridethe bike buy what you can afford and enjoy.....if you plan to race then you will NEED to upgrade if not ride what ever...
have fun
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Old 10-24-11, 04:02 PM
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I always wanted a Beast of the East! I loved that bike. Prolly one of the first FRHT's



OP: It depends on how fast you wanna go and how rough your terrain is. (as stated) I'm really wishing I had a dually trail bike now b/c my new town has some pretty rough trails. Not all buffed out like my old regular trail. I do just fine on my hardtail, but I would be able to sit down and keep the power on a bit more and spin through some stuff that I currently have to stand and English my way through. Granted, my front suspended hardtail is 10x better than riding these trails on my rigid bike, but if my dually weren't such a pig beast...I'd be riding it all of the time.

There are sections of trail that I currently rely on momentum to get me through b/c I can't pedal through it as well as I'd like...or as well as I would with a dually.

Time to save for a trail bike.

Last edited by ed; 10-24-11 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 10-24-11, 05:08 PM
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For the most part, my progression has been pretty steady. However, I saw two jumps in my riding. The first was when I bought a full-suspension bike and could all of a sudden ride things I wasn't able to before. The second was when I bought a rigid and used that as a play bike...and then got back on the full-suspension after that.

As everyone said, you don't NEED suspension. But having one is like playing on God mode!
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Old 10-24-11, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Zephyr11 View Post
For the most part, my progression has been pretty steady. However, I saw two jumps in my riding. The first was when I bought a full-suspension bike and could all of a sudden ride things I wasn't able to before. The second was when I bought a rigid and used that as a play bike...and then got back on the full-suspension after that.

As everyone said, you don't NEED suspension. But having one is like playing on God mode!
I would say it is more like playing one of the old Tony Hawk games with the slowmo cheat in. You just seem to have much more control at higher speeds. I'm making the exact opposite transition as the OP. My old bike (along with every mountain bike I've ever owned) has been full suspension, and now I have a hardtail, and my fork has lock out and I sometime try to ride with lockout on. You seem to have 1000X more control at lower speeds, but at high speeds it almost like the tires are never touching the ground and you have to rely on your own skill to position the bike (while in the air) to go where you want it to. Either way, I personally love riding both ways.
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Old 10-24-11, 06:42 PM
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I think there's just a bit of exaggeration of how helpful suspension is in general mountain biking (beyond the obvious exaggeration...obviously we all know suspension doesn't really make you a god). Suspension definitely makes you an overall faster rider, but not necessarily better. There's one section of a climb in particular at my local trails that's very techy with scattered bowling-ball sized (or bigger) rocks & a massive root you have to hop over at the end, & I have not been able to get it with my squishy yet, but was always able to get it on the rigid. Trying to hault-hop the front wheel & rear wheel over the rocks feels like trying to skateboard on a trampoline compared to the rigid.

Now overall, my lap times (timed myself out of curiosity) are far better on the squishy, because it absorbs vibration to reduce fatigue (less standing) & makes my bike feel like a rocket through descents. But that doesn't mean I can do anything MTB related on that bike better than on a rigid.
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Old 10-24-11, 06:52 PM
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^^^^ on the trail that I usually ride, I'm am actually faster on the hardtail with lockout on that I was with the old full suspension (it is a mostly smooth, fast single track with just the occasional root and rock).

But my favorite trail that is around an hour away, I am a little scared to try on the ht to be honest. It is nothing but super rocking and rooty climbs and descents, including this, and I'm not 100% sure about riding down this on a ht.



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Old 10-24-11, 06:57 PM
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formicaman, what trails are you riding? I recently got back into MTBing and have been riding the trails in Wissahickon and am finding them very difficult. I have a front suspension but rode rigids back in the 90's and don't remember having as much trouble as I've been having recently. Either the trails are harder or I'm getting older and out of shape. Man, I hope it's the former.

On another note, I've been bitten by the vintage road bikes myself. Got a couple sitting the basement now waiting to be built back up.
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Old 10-24-11, 07:12 PM
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Whew, I'd be pretty scared to try that on a hard tail too!
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Old 10-24-11, 07:31 PM
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I wouldn't,looks FUN! But then,it reminds me of my local trails from where we just moved from (not here),so I was used to riding rocks\etc looking lots like that (and I been riding 30 years,not counting motocross back when too,LOL!). And I rode trails like that rigid fork'd for years. That doesn't say that I'm an expert or even a great rider by any means,but you learn to pick the best,smoothest line through it (like previously said).

That said,having a suspension fork isn't only for control and speed,it is as well for comfort...my example,as some old spinal injuries progressed (meaning,bothered me more as I got older) over the last few years,I feared I was going ot have to give up mtn biking. It'd been a few years since owning a sus. fork (back when Fox RLC125's were new,what,'02,'03?),but I bought one as a last ditch effort,and viola! I can ride rough trails again.

The key is (like mentioned),don't let suspension make you lazy or dependant on it,but it can make you faster with better control once used to it.
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Old 10-24-11, 07:36 PM
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I've seen people ride rocks like that on rigids, a few, not many. Great balance and good brakes are helpful as well. dminor can probably jump down that without blinking. NAH, he would blink.
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Old 10-24-11, 07:46 PM
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I'd say just launch off the top of it and land past the rocks on the trail. Either way, hell dude...that's the crap I've been having so much fun on lately on this new trail on my HT. Granted...it's more fun going down that stuff on the dually, but riding up it is a different story.
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Old 10-24-11, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ed View Post
I'd say just launch off the top of it and land past the rocks on the trail. Either way, hell dude...that's the crap I've been having so much fun on lately on this new trail on my HT. Granted...it's more fun going down that stuff on the dually, but riding up it is a different story.
I've seen a video of a guy going up that exact set of rocks, and it is just completely redic, he doesn't ride up it, but rather hops up it while holding the breaks the whole time. I'm planning on riding down it on my new HT, just wanna get more comfortable on the bike in general first. Also Ed, the rock right in front of the one I am standing on, from it to the ground is about 4', I would never jump that on my current bike.
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Old 10-24-11, 08:21 PM
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It's actually easier to go up that on a rigid bike. We have a nice long set of "stairs" here that you never actually pedal up just throw your body forward after getting your front wheel up. I was originally on a HT SS, I swapped forks to a rigid SS and am much faster. Most of it is made up in the efficiency on uphills and I have also enjoyed no fork compression when taking a tight turn which usually throws me off a bit. I have ridden a few full suspension bikes most of them I hated a few I really liked.



I made a silly drawing to show a route I would take.

I do not see how you could climb anything better with suspension? Most people would lock their suspension out on big climbs to make it easier. I also do not know why you would go from rigid to suspension as a progression? I can see it as a way to continue riding like a previous poster with back issues. But if you can master something on a rigid bike it would only be easier on a HT or FS.

As you can all tell I am a big support of a rigid bike and it being SS.

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Old 10-24-11, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by dsprehe89 View Post
Also Ed, the rock right in front of the one I am standing on, from it to the ground is about 4', I would never jump that on my current bike.
Yeah man it always looks burlier in person. Camera doesn't do it justice, I'm sure. Still looks like fun though
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Old 10-24-11, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr Pink57 View Post
It's actually easier to go up that on a rigid bike. We have a nice long set of "stairs" here that you never actually pedal up just throw your body forward after getting your front wheel up. I was originally on a HT SS, I swapped forks to a rigid SS and am much faster. Most of it is made up in the efficiency on uphills and I have also enjoyed no fork compression when taking a tight turn which usually throws me off a bit. I have ridden a few full suspension bikes most of them I hated a few I really liked.



I made a silly drawing to show a route I would take.
I would love to see that, not saying it impossible, or that you couldn't do it, but it would be extremely challenging, each of those steps are close to 1' tall. Here is the video of the guy hopping up it. He has a suspension fork, but it looks like it is locked out.


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Old 10-24-11, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by ed View Post
I'd say just launch off the top of it and land past the rocks on the trail. Either way, hell dude...that's the crap I've been having so much fun on lately on this new trail on my HT. Granted...it's more fun going down that stuff on the dually, but riding up it is a different story.
So true, I hate how cameras will either make things look really small or really big, but never really accurate. That is why I posted the pic with me in it, just to give you an idea, I am 6' 2"
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Old 10-24-11, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by dsprehe89 View Post

Not to discount a man's hard work and accomplishment...but that's kinda ghey. Not saying I could do it...but it's like watching paint dry. It's so much more interesting to watch someone clean something like that with the wheels actually rolling instead of "Hans Rey'ing" your way to the peak.
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