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Do frames with slacker HAs make it harder to climb?
It's a more complicated question than it seems on the surface. The head angle itself generally doesn't, but slacker head angles tend to be coupled with other attributes that can make climbing worse.
 

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It's a more complicated question than it seems on the surface. The head angle itself generally doesn't, but slacker head angles tend to be coupled with other attributes that can make climbing worse.
I agree. Especially with new bikes, the numbers all have to be taken together to be at all meaningful. I'm on a longer wheelbase, slacker bike, now, and can clean tight climbing switchbacks more easily. And I'm not getting better!
 

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I wouldn't think about the head angle so much as weight distribution. The problem with a slack head angle given the same saddle position is that you have effectively shifting your weight further back on the bike because the front wheels is further forward, your COG is in same place but it is now closer to rear. This can make the front wheel light, to easy to lose traction or get off line.

I have a Fuel EX that I used to ride in the high and switched to the low setting. This slackened out the head tube for descending when I moved to mountains from somewhere more flat, but also slackened the seat tube. In order to combat weight shift I had to slam my saddle forward. If/when you do this you should maintain saddle height (will need to actually raise post a bit to move saddle forward and maintain same distance to BB).
 

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On steep stuff I tend to pop wheelies on my two slack bikes if I don't lean forward enough.
Yah but that's because of your center of mass relative to the rear tire's contact patch. The lever created by the bike's front-center is a smaller factor, and head angle isn't wholly determining that.

Agreed on the correlation, though.
 

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I think it's a matter of what you learn, or get used to.

To say one would not purchase a bike because of that, and give up the characteristics that it is good at may not be a fair compromise. Say a rider wants to climb a lot to have amazing downhill prowess. Would you want to blitz a trail on an XC bike as opposed to a design suited more towards a faster downhill?

My Chameleon is less floppy than my Stumpjumper. Chameleon is 1/4-degree more slack than the Stumpjumper. There are other factors considered, not just the slack head angle.

Compare a 67* to a 71 degree and yes, you will not have as much pleasure on the climb.
 

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Yah but that's because of your center of mass relative to the rear tire's contact patch. The lever created by the bike's front-center is a smaller factor, and head angle isn't wholly determining that.

Agreed on the correlation, though.
Yeah, this is what I was talking about earlier. If everything else stays similar, steeper head angle puts the bars further behind the axle (contact patch) of the front wheel. Essentially your mass doesn't move and thus center of gravity is more on rear wheel instead of front.

To compensate you need to move your body mass further forward. Steeper seat tube, or saddle moved forward, or creeping forward on the saddle all work. You could also put a longer stem on technically but I'm not a fan of this personally as it puts more weight on my hands and they like to go numb.
 

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Like anything there is an ideal range that works.

All other things equal a bike with a 67 degree HA is going to climb just as well as one with a 70 degree HA. Where as a bike with a 63 HA is going to be a bit more a handful on the climbs. Not necessarily a lot worse to ride but enough to be noticeable.
 

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Do frames with slacker HAs make it harder to climb?
Short answer. Yes and No.

Longer answer, depends. If you new to mtb biking and slack is alls you knows, then not harder. If you old skools and current bike has a 130mm stem, 73 degree HA , and 26" wheels a modern 29" enduro bike will feel impossibly wobbly for you to climb on.

We all adapted to the slacker HAs and still climbing the same hills.
 

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I own 2 hardtails - one is pure XC with a 70.5 deg. head tube angle, the other of the AM/trail variety with 66.5 degrees. The slack one climbs way better and needs a seriously steep incline to loop out. Of course it descends better too.

HTA alone doesn't mean a thing. As far as I can tell, the reason why the slacker bike is the better climber of the two is the balanced riding position. Compared to the XC ht it has much longer reach/top tube, steeper seat angle, longer wheelbase and a really short stem. The result is that I don't have to work a lot to keep weight on one wheel or another. On the shorter/steeper bike I have to use a lot of body language in order to maintain traction when it gets steep - both up & down.
 
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