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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy!

I am starting to wonder about adding a hardtail to my FS (2018 Santa Cruz Blur over forked with 120 front travel). My typical ride is a "lunch ride" type of deal, I ride a mix of gravel and flat single track to get to the hill, but then once there it's fairly rooty and rocky technical single track with a lot of up and down. It's a little over an hour, just shy of 8 miles (1.5 to get to the hill) and about 1000 ft of ascent / descent. I have recently started going more "enduro" with the bike: heavier tires (DHF/Aggressor) and flats instead of clipless. I find that its a little more fun this way even if less efficient pedaling wise, especially on corners and downhill. Don't get me wrong, I freaking love my Blur, but since my ride is relatively short I am thinking a XC race bike may not be the best choice for the types of riding I do. I am 42 and not getting any younger but I think I could learn to use my legs a good bit to lessen the body blows of losing the full squish on my shorter rides. I also would like to learn how to properly bunny hop (now that I can't just lift up on my clipless pedals, haha) and manual, etc. I think a hardtail (esp if 27.5) may also aid in that mission.

I have started looking around at "rowdy" hardtails, like the Chromag Stylus or Rootdown. I like the dampening idea behind steel, but dang they can be pretty heavy for a hard tail. These can be pretty hard to find, so I thought I'd poll the users here to see what they think of Chromag and other offerings for someone in my situation with an itch to try to simplify with a hard tail. I built the Blur from the frame so I will probably look for a frame only at first unless a complete package comes along used at a good price, could be a fun Fall / Winter project. I wonder about ascending on the Stylus which looks a little more "fun" on the downhills, but I think the Rootdown may ultimately be a better single quiver bike (if I decided to stick to one bike) since it can go 29" and is closer to the XC type bikes I am used to. But I could just be talking out of my ass as I know little about these so far.

Thanks!
 

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Disgruntled Peccary
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It's not only the material that makes a frame stiffer or more compliant. The design is more important IMO. There are a lot of good options out there these days. And I agree that the Hardtail Party YouTube channel is worth a watch while you're considering.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Given the riding you describe, I don't think I'd go full rowdy with the bike selection. I'd probably be looking at more versatile bikes, probably with 120-140mm of fork travel, rather than stuff focusing on more suspension. Timberjack, Chameleon, etc should be on your list. I got a used GG Pedalhead frame awhile ago and went with a 140mm fork on it (upper end of the mfr recommendations for this frame).

Honestly, I'd spend some time getting comfortable with flat pedals before diving into specific skills with them. If you've got some ingrained habits with clipless pedals, you're going to need to do some un-learning, or at least re-learning, and going too far too fast is likely to result in some nasty shin strikes. Ryan Leech has a course dedicated to transitioning over to platform pedals and I'd recommend working on that before focusing on bunny hops and manuals.
 

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Howdy!

I am starting to wonder about adding a hardtail to my FS (2018 Santa Cruz Blur over forked with 120 front travel). My typical ride is a "lunch ride" type of deal, I ride a mix of gravel and flat single track to get to the hill, but then once there it's fairly rooty and rocky technical single track with a lot of up and down. It's a little over an hour, just shy of 8 miles (1.5 to get to the hill) and about 1000 ft of ascent / descent. I have recently started going more "enduro" with the bike: heavier tires (DHF/Aggressor) and flats instead of clipless. I find that its a little more fun this way even if less efficient pedaling wise, especially on corners and downhill. Don't get me wrong, I freaking love my Blur, but since my ride is relatively short I am thinking a XC race bike may not be the best choice for the types of riding I do. I am 42 and not getting any younger but I think I could learn to use my legs a good bit to lessen the body blows of losing the full squish on my shorter rides. I also would like to learn how to properly bunny hop (now that I can't just lift up on my clipless pedals, haha) and manual, etc. I think a hardtail (esp if 27.5) may also aid in that mission.

I have started looking around at "rowdy" hardtails, like the Chromag Stylus or Rootdown. I like the dampening idea behind steel, but dang they can be pretty heavy for a hard tail. These can be pretty hard to find, so I thought I'd poll the users here to see what they think of Chromag and other offerings for someone in my situation with an itch to try to simplify with a hard tail. I built the Blur from the frame so I will probably look for a frame only at first unless a complete package comes along used at a good price, could be a fun Fall / Winter project. I wonder about ascending on the Stylus which looks a little more "fun" on the downhills, but I think the Rootdown may ultimately be a better single quiver bike (if I decided to stick to one bike) since it can go 29" and is closer to the XC type bikes I am used to. But I could just be talking out of my ass as I know little about these so far.

Thanks!
Check out this thread...very similar topic and valuable responses...

 

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Disgruntled Peccary
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I'd even add the Trek Roscoe (7 and up) to that list. Plus probably the RSD Sergeant, Middlechild, Banshee Paradox, etc...

You know, staying just this side of the hyper-aggressive hardtails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If you've got some ingrained habits with clipless pedals, you're going to need to do some un-learning, or at least re-learning, and going too far too fast is likely to result in some nasty shin strikes.
Hahaha, yep, in that first week or 2 just jumping logs at speed cost me some turf toe and bloody calves. The calf took about 2 months to stop scabbing and I think those scars are there for good! The kids thought I had been attacked by a wolf, lol.

Good advice, yeah I don't need a ton of travel, 140 seems like plenty, more the slackness that I was focused on in looking around, but I will check out all these resources like Hardtail Party, etc.. and see what I can learn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Check out this thread...very similar topic and valuable responses...

Thanks for pointing that out, I was just looking at that one!
 

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Evolutionsverlierer
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I can only say that my aluminum ‘15 SC Chameleon kicks my old back to the curb if ridden too much.
Was using it 2-3 times a week as a gravel bike for months and my back was not having it.
 

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Disgruntled Peccary
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I can only say that my aluminum '15 SC Chameleon kicks my old back to the curb if ridden too much.
Was using it 2-3 times a week as a gravel bike for months and my back was not having it.
Gah, I so don't want to hear that right now. I love riding my hardtail, but managed to screw my back up pretty badly last week.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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I can only say that my aluminum '15 SC Chameleon kicks my old back to the curb if ridden too much.
Was using it 2-3 times a week as a gravel bike for months and my back was not having it.
I could buy it if you have a bad back and were using the bike on mtb trails. But on gravel? If that's the case, it sounds to me like you've got deeper issues.
 

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Evolutionsverlierer
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Gah, I so don't want to hear that right now. I love riding my hardtail, but managed to screw my back up pretty badly last week.
Sorry to hear that, I did not put two and two together and blamed the new mattress and kept riding with growing back pain until I could not tolerate it anymore.
I even had to stretch while riding to keep riding in the end.

I did some extensive lower back exercises and even after weeks I can only ride my fully right now and anything but flow trail or gravel is duly noted by my back.

Anyway, enough about me I hope you heal up soon.
 

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Evolutionsverlierer
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I could buy it if you have a bad back and were using the bike on mtb trails. But on gravel? If that's the case, it sounds to me like you've got deeper issues.
Not just yet and I do not hope so.
I was was working on my body positions riding gravel and one thing I did was to put as little weight on my hands so that might have amplified the issue of riding an aluminum am ht.
 

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Gah, I so don't want to hear that right now. I love riding my hardtail, but managed to screw my back up pretty badly last week.
I had real back problems (as well as cornering problems) on both my hardtail and FS until I finally started focusing on flexibility. Turns out old issues in my hips (decades of squats and then carrying a pack in the sandbox) did not resolve until some dedicated deep tissue therapy and then a bunch of foundation/core training. My guess is that much of what people experience as "hardtail beating" is really due to insufficient flexibility (and of course poor line choices).

I bomb hard stuff now for good durations regularly with no back issues on the HT and my God what a difference being able to corner in both directions makes!
 

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Since you do the same trail most of the time, I would see if you could get your hands on a slack geometry bike to try out on that section of trail before you buy one. The thing with a slacker bike is that it's a ton of fun when you're riding fast but can become significantly unfun when riding slow. I have a couple of trails that I really like on my XC bike and really don't enjoy on my all-mountain because slowly picking my way through a narrow trail becomes pretty burdensome on a less agile bike.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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I had real back problems (as well as cornering problems) on both my hardtail and FS until I finally started focusing on flexibility. Turns out old issues in my hips (decades of squats and then carrying a pack in the sandbox) did not resolve until some dedicated deep tissue therapy and then a bunch of foundation/core training. My guess is that much of what people experience as "hardtail beating" is really due to insufficient flexibility (and of course poor line choices).

I bomb hard stuff now for good durations regularly with no back issues on the HT and my God what a difference being able to corner in both directions makes!
My understanding is that a lot of back trouble ppl have traces back to deficiencies in their core from being too sedentary in other parts of their lives. The only soreness I've ever had from riding my hardtail (on everything from gravel to some pretty rowdy stuff) is muscle soreness. The only times I've had any other type of soreness on my bike, it's been traceable to a fit issue of some sort or another.
 

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Disgruntled Peccary
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I had real back problems (as well as cornering problems) on both my hardtail and FS until I finally started focusing on flexibility. Turns out old issues in my hips (decades of squats and then carrying a pack in the sandbox) did not resolve until some dedicated deep tissue therapy and then a bunch of foundation/core training. My guess is that much of what people experience as "hardtail beating" is really due to insufficient flexibility (and of course poor line choices).

I bomb hard stuff now for good durations regularly with no back issues on the HT and my God what a difference being able to corner in both directions makes!
I landed on my hip and knocked my pelvis out of alignment. Already have torn (and keep working on) my hip flexors and hip mobility. But right now, man, there's no way I could even ride my big bike. I'm hoping that I don't have continued issues moving forward from this injury. Getting older sucks.
 

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Have been riding 2016 Specialized Fuse, upgraded w/ aftermarket Pike 140mm on the front after the stock shock crapped out. I love this bike. The bigger tires make a huge difference. Full disclosure: I'm 56, have been riding mtbs since 1984 (had one of the first Stumpjumpers sold in Seattle), have ridden every kind of bike, fave bike ever was a 2000 Rocky Mountain Blizzard (Reynolds 853 steel), which I would still be riding if it could take discs and 27.5 wheels. I am skinny and fit and still like to go fast on rough downhills. On the Fuse and w/ no pads and an XC/road helmet, I not uncommonly pass people in full pads and full-face helmets on the downhills.

The idea that a hardtail "hurts your back" is nonsense, esp. as regards downhill rough/gnarly stuff, in which case even on a FS you are on your feet. Gnarly downhills are the place where the slack hardtail w/ big tires and good fork penalizes me the LEAST. Hardtail is PERFECT for your 60-90 min. lunch ride. Where a hardtail DOES beat/eat you up is on longer rides over rocky and rooty terrain...you get worked much more than you would on a FS because you are subconsciously constantly lifting your butt off the saddle to unweight over small obstacles. When I do 90+ min. rides here in the rocky and rooty PNW, I find myself fantasizing about buying a FS. If I only rode where it's smooth -- e.g., my favorite place to ride, Sun Valley/Ketchum area -- I would have no need ever for a FS. Don't own one right now.

Also...flats are fun!
 

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The idea that a hardtail "hurts your back" is nonsense, esp. as regards downhill rough/gnarly stuff, in which case even on a FS you are on your feet. Gnarly downhills are the place where the slack hardtail w/ big tires and good fork penalizes me the LEAST. Hardtail is PERFECT for your 60-90 min. lunch ride. Where a hardtail DOES beat/eat you up is on longer rides over rocky and rooty terrain...you get worked much more than you would on a FS because you are subconsciously constantly lifting your butt off the saddle to unweight over small obstacles. When I do 90+ min. rides here in the rocky and rooty PNW, I find myself fantasizing about buying a FS. If I only rode where it's smooth -- e.g., my favorite place to ride, Sun Valley/Ketchum area -- I would have no need ever for a FS. Don't own one right now.

Also...flats are fun!
I agree with this. For me the one place that I majorly regret having a hardtail is on longer sections of flat or not very steep climbing trails that have a lot of rocks and rocks. The kind of trails where you don't want to be standing the whole time but sitting on a hardtail beats you up. Trails like that are ones I either avoid or wish I really had a full sus on.
 
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I have been looking to add a HT back into my lineup for the entire summer. I have all the parts I need sitting around waiting for a frame. Obviously availability is terrible right now.

I was pretty well set on getting another Salsa Timberjack frame to replace the one that I gave to my daughter. But after looking around more, I pulled the trigger on an RSD Middlechild V2 frame.

I was hoping to get it in before I leave for a biking trip in a few weeks, but I doubt that's going to happen.
 
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