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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How do you decide how much travel you should get on your bike. now there are so many bikes that can peddle fairly well with a good bit of travel, how do you know if you should get a 4" travel trail bike,or a 5", or a 5.5", or a 6" travel trail bike. I ride a HT and I am not really familiar with the difference of an inch or two of rear suspension.
 

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You ride them! The more I ride, I find the more travel I want. This year, I am going to be riding on a 6" travel bike, but where I live 4" is more of the norm. If you are not racing, and just want a comfortable bike that you can do anything with, I'd go for a 6" bike. If you are racing, you'll be hard-pressed to find a "lightweight" 6" travel bike though.

Go ride some.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
sonyisdope, does six inches of travel smoth the trail out too much? Some times I think I would like a 6" trail bike so I could go a little bigger on jumps and such, but then do you still feel the trail your riding. I am courious if a 4" trail bike just gives you more control and more of a snappier response. I don't race I just ride for fun and fittness.
 

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You can get a pretty smooth ride with either 4 or 5" bikes. I have the Woodstock 707 and it has about 4 inches of travel and I've never bottomed out.

I've ridden bikes that have 5 in the back and 6 in the front, control wasn't an issue. It was price. Everyone knows ,the bigger travel the more it costs.
 

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I have been going through a similar situation as you recently. I have 5.5 inches of rear travel and have been considering buying 6 inch rockers. But, I have decided against it and will be sending my rear shock to Push to get a personal touch.

My opinion is that quantity is not always the answer. You should be looking at the quality of the ride. You could put a good 4" bike up against a crap 6" bike any day and realize that 4" of travel is great when setup correctly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I didn't want to start a what bike to buy thread; I am more interested in how much travel to get The whole "how they fit" argument for picking a bike doesn't work cause the bikes I am looking at all fit pretty well. So I am trying to narrow it down by looking at the amount of travel. Riding a HT I have to finness my bike down the trail, and I don't mind that, I am just ready to step up to the next level.
 

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rekibtm said:
I didn't want to start a what bike to buy thread; I am more interested in how much travel to get The whole "how they fit" argument for picking a bike doesn't work cause the bikes I am looking at all fit pretty well. So I am trying to narrow it down by looking at the amount of travel. Riding a HT I have to finness my bike down the trail, and I don't mind that, I am just ready to step up to the next level.
So buy the most travel you can get (without the bike being overly-heavy for your trails). If you buy 4" or 5" you'll always be wondering what 6" would feel like.
 

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I agree with Nat. With the 5 and 6 inch travel bikes being much lighter these days, why not treat yourself. I was very content on my Heckler, it came in at 32.75 lbs, and had 6 inches in the front with 5.75 in the back. The extra travel will also allow you to feel a little more confident in more technical sections, and like he said, you wont be wondering or wishing you had bought something with more travel. In addition to having more fun on the downhill, you'll get a little bit more of a workout lugging your 5 or 6 inch travel rig uphill.

In my opinion its better to have too much travel than not enough travel.
 

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Yes many a people have sold their 6" duallies to buy 4" duallies and vice versa within the first year. There is a wrong choice to be made depending on your riding really.
I ride for fun and fitness as well. I ended up going for 4" (well it's Maestro so 4.2in) and haven't regreted it at all, but my rides are mainly xcish at the moemnt with up to 2ft drops (as big as I'm game to do right now) and trying to get better at small dirt jumps as well. I did increase the travel up front to 130mm (it's more fun now).

I seriously considered going 6" but something that stuck in my head was that more travel takes the challenge out of the trail (ie just smooths everything out without effort) so that & the fact that a 4" bike is generally lighter than a 6" bike in combination with my kind of riding made the 4" a more sensible choice. It's true I do wonder what 6" would be like, maybe 4yrs down the track when I'm ready for a new bike.

I must say though adding 30mm travel to the fork made a very noticeable difference.

If you like to do alot of jumps, drops and other fun stuff like that then 5" or 6" would probably be a better bet, a 6" bike would generally have slacker geometry aimed more at AM type riding. If you just enyou going out on the trail xc style with some technical rock gardens and such then 4" may make you happy enough.

I guess once 4" bikes become the norm in xc races then 6" travel will probably be the minimum standard for everyone else. Ahhh technology, it's great!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
energetix, I think you said it"something that stuck in my head was that more travel takes the challenge out of the trail (ie just smooths everything out without effort) " It would seem that a 4 " travel bike would let you keep more control over technical terrain than a HT and allow you to peddle over technical terrain better than a HT , but still let you feel the trail. Although a 6" bike would give you more confidence to go big, jump more, and correct the mistakes that you make. My problem is that I can only afford one bike other than my HT if I could I would own a 4" and a 6" bike. Anyone that rides a 6" bike , do you still feel the trail roots and rocks?
 

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Beyond just the travel aspect, as you go up in travel, you're generally going to have a corresponding change in geometry, too. A 4" travel bike will likely be designed with more "racy" geo. whereas a 6" bike will have more "slack" geo. These ride differently and you really should tailor that ride to where you go/will be going most.

The quality of components is such today that you can enjoy any level of travel and find merit in any type of bike. It's really no longer a question of what you need, but what you want. So many consumers demanded bikes that "do it all" that the market has responded pretty well. The lines between 4-5" bikes and 5-6" bikes blur pretty quickly. Some companies are even breaking them down to 4.5", 5.5" and 6.6" (or 6.3 or 5.7 and so on). It's somewhat maddening! I think, when I buy another bike in a few years, I will look at geometry and where and how I plan to ride. Travel length won't be as big a factor in my decision.
 

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That comment particularly rang true for the trails I mainly ride - my main concern at the time (comparing a 4" trance to a 6" reign) was wether a 4" bike would cater enough for my future skill advances and wanting to perhaps dab in a bit more dh, or jumping. In the end that comment that someone on mtbr hadmade just seemed to ring true for me and in the end I decided to buy a bike that would suit my riding as it is "now". It is a long term investment (keep it for at least 5yrs) and also my only bike. I figured that if my abilities or future riding style really outgrew the 4" dually I'd worry about it when it happens, after all could always buy a new frame or 2nd hand down the track. The future is just too unpredictable & I ride for now.

Like chad1433 said consider the geometry for the type of riding you plan to do. More AM/DH then go slacker, mosty xc then go along the 4" or 5" bikes that usually have the steeper geo, keep in mind what you plan to do in the future but don't base it totally on that.
Oh & go for the bike you like the most, if you don't really like the 4" bike as much as the 6" bike (regardless of what you think you should buy) then you'll probably never be truly happy. Get the one you know will make YOU happiest.
 

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rekibtm said:
energetix, I think you said it"something that stuck in my head was that more travel takes the challenge out of the trail (ie just smooths everything out without effort) " It would seem that a 4 " travel bike would let you keep more control over technical terrain than a HT and allow you to peddle over technical terrain better than a HT , but still let you feel the trail. Although a 6" bike would give you more confidence to go big, jump more, and correct the mistakes that you make. My problem is that I can only afford one bike other than my HT if I could I would own a 4" and a 6" bike. Anyone that rides a 6" bike , do you still feel the trail roots and rocks?
I no longer have a 6" bike (or any FS for that matter) and only hardtails. When I did have a 6" fully, I could still feel the trail and there was still challenge. You learn to ride a bike to the level it can handle. You pick different lines with a hardtail than you do with a fully. You climb differently. You descend differently. The more travel you have, the more you learn to use it.

Have two bikes, one at each end of the spectrum. One HT, one 6+6.
 

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Nat said:
I no longer have a 6" bike (or any FS for that matter) and only hardtails. When I did have a 6" fully, I could still feel the trail and there was still challenge. You learn to ride a bike to the level it can handle. You pick different lines with a hardtail than you do with a fully. You climb differently. You descend differently. The more travel you have, the more you learn to use it.
You pretty much hit the nail on the head.

I sold my Heckler and now ride a 05 Gary Fisher Rig 29er s/s with a Reba in the 80mm travel setting. Do I take the same lines I used to take on my Heckler, no way, but it some cases I do. I sometimes miss the 5 foot drops and plowing through rough sections, but the challenge of riding the same trail with only 80mm up front is a whole new riding experience for me.

I still vote for a 5-6 inch travel over a 4 inch travel bike. Many forks have an ETA to make the geometry steeper for climbing which is a huge plus if you do ride a longer travel bike with the slacker headtube angle.
 

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One possibility that I have not seen mentioned. Have you looked at a few of the bikes that offer adjustable travel.

Titus Moto-Lite is a 4 or 5" bike.
Ventana El Salty can have multiple settings too.
Heck even some of the cheaper ones offer some options, the KHS AM series used to offer this option, and the Motobecanes still do.

Just a thought, and it's one I'm considering myself. Got a XC ride, and now thinking of something with a bit more travel, but the question of how much and what design are still questions I'm asking.

Good Luck,

JmZ
 

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JmZ said:
One possibility that I have not seen mentioned. Have you looked at a few of the bikes that offer adjustable travel.
Good idea. I'll add that when I had a Quasi-Moto, also with adjustable travel, it ended up "permanently" in the biggest travel setting pretty quickly.
 

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Nat said:
I think a good combo is one 6" (or more) bike no more than 30 pounds, plus one very light hardtail.
I agree. I've got a 20# HT, a 6" squishie (though it weighs 36#) and a 26# SS.

My FS has 4-5-6 adjustable travel. It resides permanatly in the 6" setting. It feels more balanced on drops that way, and in the shorter travel settings the rear shock (A Swinger 4-Way Air) feels over damped in the beginning of its stroke.
 

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rekibtm said:
energetix, I think you said it"something that stuck in my head was that more travel takes the challenge out of the trail (ie just smooths everything out without effort) " It would seem that a 4 " travel bike would let you keep more control over technical terrain than a HT and allow you to peddle over technical terrain better than a HT , but still let you feel the trail. Although a 6" bike would give you more confidence to go big, jump more, and correct the mistakes that you make. My problem is that I can only afford one bike other than my HT if I could I would own a 4" and a 6" bike. Anyone that rides a 6" bike , do you still feel the trail roots and rocks?
Nah, 6 inches of suspension is magic, and makes the rocks and roots disappear, for a smooth, auto-pilot ride that requires absolutely no effort at all..................NOT! ;)

Seriously, this is one mode of thinking that I've never really understood. I learned to ride on a rigid bike, back in the day when that was the only option. I currently ride a hardtail, a 6" DS bike, and an 8" DS bike. If I ride each of these bikes through a long gnarly/rough rock section, the SAME riding techniques apply for each bike, however, I can go a little bit faster, as I go up in travel. You most definitely still feel the rocks and roots the same way, even with the 8" bike :rolleyes:

For a long time I rode a 3" DS bike, I now ride a 6" DS bike (a Giant Reign) as a "do-everything" bike, and I would never, ever go back. :thumbsup: :D
 

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I'm in no way implying that more travel means you need less skill as a rider - like you've said Deoreo you're generally going faster so you probably need at least the same level of skill if not more. It totally depends on the trail and I did say that he should choose travel to accomodate the type of riding he'd mainly be doing.
Riding an 8" bike through a fairly sedate xc track would take less effort as you wouldn't have to worry about lines and such - of course that's not entirely true as you would need more effort in other ways - like pedalling the heavy beast!
I guess the statement mainly brought home to me that 6" would have probably been more than I needed for my trails. Also consider that I'm fairly lightweight (130ish lb)
 
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