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Hi. I'm Matt. This is my first post on this forum. The reason for my post is that I need some advice from experienced riders and consumers of bicycle products. This is a long post with a lot of questions. Anyone with the patience to help me out is a saint, and I really appreciate the help.

I started riding in June 2004, mostly mild freeriding. To ride I purchased an 04 Hardrock Pro. Besides replacing the crankset, this bike was served me fairly well. The majority of the riding I do is out and back, uphill on moderately technical singletrack, downhill on about the same. Probably about 40/60, uphill/downhill. Uphill is kind of just a nice grind for me, downhill is where I find my joy... love to flow fast, hitting little drops and jumps, maybe hitting larger obstacles in the future? As I have improved as a rider, I find myself jumping and dropping more often. Experienced riders that I have rode with have told me that my bike is going to start breaking if I keep up with what I'm doing. I have already replaced the bottom bracket and the crank set. I'm told that I'll end up breaking my fork if I keep it up and that my headset should also be replaced. I would also really like to get new brakes. The Shimano discs the bike came with are okay until I get in rain or mud.

So anyhow, I find myself looking at a lot of component upgrades and I am beginning to think that the money would probably be better spent on a new bike. The Hardrock is going for $430 on ebay, and those upgrades would probably put me at at least $600. My thinking is that I might as well take this $1000 and put it towards a bike that is more capabale for the level I am currently at and will allow me room to improve.

This is where the questions start. Hardtail or full suspension? I like the control I have over a hardtail and the weight is definately nice. The obvious disadvantage to a full suspension bike is how well it climbs, but with a lockout mechanism or propedal it seems like this isn't too big of a deal... and I'm not quite sure how the extra weight would affect me. I am a big guy (6'4", 215 lbs) so I don't think it'd bother me too much... I'd have to get used to manualing, hopping, and jumping differently. It'd definately improve my ride downhill, but I feel like it would cost me in the technical area. Hopping seems like it would be a lot more difficult? Also less control uphill and whatnot. But it seems like the components would definately hold up a lot better and allow me a lot of room to grow as a rider. But the hardtail is obviously cheaper and more simple. I'm not sure what the differences are between what my downhill capability is? I'm not thinking I'll end up dropping anything more than 5 or 6 feet, which I'm sure I would be capabale of on a hardtail if I had the courage. A couple of hardtails I have looked at are the Norco Sasquatch and the Rocky Mountain Flow (although I don't really like the reviews I read on the Marzocchi DJ fork... I might consider switching it up for a Fox Vanilla 130). I just want something beefy but not too heavy that I might as well be riding a full suspension bike. Maybe these hardtails are heavy? I'm not sure... I can't really find weight specs on most of the manufacturer websites. I could also build a bike, but it seems to be a lot more expensive. I thought about building a bike with the Mountain Cycle Rumble frame and the Fox fork I mentioned, but at what that'd cost me I'm in the range of buying a full-suspension bike. So if weight and price are not a clear advantage, I'm not sure why I'd stay with hardtail.

Then the question of full-suspension, whether I'd want something that was more like the Coiler or more like the Stinky. I'm not sure what the distinction is (what are the terms used to distinguish between the two styles of full suspension?), but more suspension is the primary difference, I suppose. I automatically thought the Coiler-style bike would be better suited to me for climbing and adequate to meet my jumping needs. But I've read reviews on some full-suspension bikes, the Bullit, for example, and it seems to be given the thumbs up on climbing just as much as the coiler, plus it has more downhill potential. Plus they weigh about the same. Not sure what other factors come into play for uphill except pedaling bob, but both have that as a factor. The full suspension bike I am therefore considering is the 04 Rocky Mountain Switch. I found a great deal at my Local Bike Store. It is the same weight as a Coiler, only a few pounds more than a Sasquatch, has ProPedal on the Rear Shock which would almost eliminate the pedal bob question (if I am correct in my understanding of the system), huge downhill potential and the reviews say that it climbs well. But I wonder if I'd be losing anything by not getting a hardtail?

But, before I commit to the purchase, I thought I'd actually solicite the advice of some folks who actually have a clue. Much appreciation towards anyone who takes the time to read and respond. Thanks so much!
 

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If you biuld a FREERIDE HT it would probabley weigh around 35lbs that SWITCH you are looking at is probabley close in weight. The only thing you would be loosing out on is LOWER MAINTANCE and no bob with the HT. I have a MC RUMBLE that I biult up for a temp. bike. It is weird being on a HT after all these years. The only place a HT is faster is on concrete sprinting!
 

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I dont see why you cant biuld that SWITCH at around 35 lbs. You could lighten some stuff up on it for sure. Pro Pedal helps but if you stand bike will BOB. The mags are full of crap, SPV helps but only slightly. Rode a friends 2003 M1 and when I stood and pedalled it bobbed worse than my 2002 DHR without any SPV shock on it.
 

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I am all for full suspension. I think that you will find a lot more control (on downhills and obsticles) on a full susp. bike as opposed to a hardtail. An efficient frame design and a good rear shock will help the bike climb better. Don't overwhelm yourself with the climbing disabilities of the new bike, I used to be the same way. You will adapt to whatever you buy.
 

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I went to a giant ac frame with spv from a rockhopper about a year ago, and here is what I have noticed.
1. Climbs that sucked before still suck.
2. What you lose by having to push more weight is approximately compensated by having better traction over broken ground, as long as you stay in the saddle.
3. Sprinting is much harder.
4. Downhill is much easier.
5. Having fat tires with lots of rolling resistance makes more of a difference for ride fatigue than the frame did.
 
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I say stay with a hardtail until you feel the need to go bigger. A hardtail is less complex to maintain and will be cheaper both in the short/long run. I think that mountain cycle is on sale and the azonic steelhead is also on sale at jensonusa. Both are pretty good bikes for the money.

People also give you bigger thumbs up when you can go huge on a hardtail. :D
 
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