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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, I used to think that a full suspension bike differed from a hardtail in that it provided more comfort for the rider's butt when going through rough terrain, but I've read that the primary purpose of a full suspension bike is to give added traction over terrain where a hardtail would bounce and skip over. Is this saying true?

It also brings me to another question. They say you learn riding better with a hardtail as you train how to pick your lines. With a full suspension bike you can essentially ride through without really needing to pick lines. What does a full suspension bike provide that makes this possible?

Sorry if the two questions end up with similar answers. I'm still learning! :)
 

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To answer your question best, ride one of each back to back on the same trail.
I got rid of my hardtail because it was killing my back.

Most of what you think is true.
-traction is better
-it's easier on your butt
-you don't have to pick as smooth of a line, though often times the less smooth line is more fun, such as hitting a good sized drop rather than riding around it. You still have to pick a line though, the FS bike is not a tank.
 

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The purpose of a full suspension bike?

To crush your fellow hardtail riders, see them fall behind you, and to hear the lamentation of their women. [end conan the barbarian]


To your first question, yes, that is correct, full suspension will provide better traction uphill and down hill on bumpy terrain.

Second question, a full suspension bike is more forgiving over bumps so depending on how bad the bumps are you don't need to choose the smoothest line, you might be able to choose the straightest line and be fine where a hardtail would get bossed around on the straightest line and need to choose the smoothest line.


I'm not really a fan of hardtails, but its not because I think they are worse, they're just different in a manner I don't like, I know a few guys that still ride them and those guys are damn fast up and downhill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the clarification guys. I LOL-ed at the lamentations part.

I'm also curious, why do full suspension riders still stay off the saddle if the shock can absorb impacts? I watch lots of mountain biking videos and can understand when they do huge jumps and drops but even the small stuff?
 

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I'm also curious, why do full suspension riders still stay off the saddle if the shock can absorb impacts? I watch lots of mountain biking videos and can understand when they do huge jumps and drops but even the small stuff?
It's mostly a matter of being able to throw your weight around really quickly to power through turns and over obstacles. It's what's called a riding position, in it you are ready for anything the trail throws at you. You won't do a lot of pedaling in that position though, but it improves balance on downhills quite a bit.

If you're interested in building mtb skills and learning stuff from a book (some people detest it) then I recommend Lee McCormack's book, you can get it here. Lee Likes Bikes
 

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Full suspension is not a substitute for proper riding technique. Proper riding technique requires that in any rough sections of trail you are standing over your bike, arms and legs bent (attack position) head up and looking ahead and weigh centered between the wheels.

The suspension will allow you to look farther up the trail picking a general line that the suspension will work in concert with your body to smooth out so that you can stay on that line. It will compensate for things that you may have not seen or small things that aren't worth your time to adjust for.

Riding a hardtail or a rigid bike requires you to be more reactive to everything that comes down the trail, you have to be more specific where you place your tires but riding FS or hardtail you need to be on the bike with the same attack position.

Sitting on your suspension through technical areas will just ensure that you have a painful get off, just like doing so on a hardtail will do the same.

Riding a hardtail or rigid bike helps train your mind to pick the smoothest line down or up things. This can translate into more effortless FS riding but the benefit of the FS is that it doesn't need to pick the smoothest line but in fact can pick the fastest line. The real benefit of learning on a hardtail is learning what to do with your body through rough sections and that is applicable to any type of riding.
 

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Thanks for the detailed explanation rockcrusher! Really appreciate it. :)

If I go through technical sections whilst on my saddle, does this translate to more travel done by the rear shock as opposed to being off the saddle? The last time I rode prior to my injury (~8 months back) I was on my saddle quite a fair bit and noticed that I was very close to bottoming out on my rear shock. I ride a Giant Trance, a 5" trail bike. :)
Oh definitely, your weight is much more biased towards the rear of the bike. That said the rear suspension is design to ride that much into its travel. You should always at least 99% of your travel at least once in a ride. If not you aren't benefiting from it as much as you should.

However what you want to avoid is the situation where your suspension does bottom out and you are sitting because at that point you are now on a hardtail again and that puts you sitting in a technical section with no suspension to help, a fall is probably pending here. Plus it isn't exactly easy on your suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the detailed explanation rockcrusher! Really appreciate it. :)

If I go through technical sections whilst on my saddle, does this translate to more travel done by the rear shock as opposed to being off the saddle? The last time I rode prior to my injury (~8 months back) I was on my saddle quite a fair bit and noticed that I was very close to bottoming out on my rear shock. I ride a Giant Trance, a 5" trail bike. :)
 

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FS gives you better traction, more comfort, and less fatigue for an overall more enjoyable experience. It has it's tradeoffs though, it's more expensive, has additional weight, and requires more maintenance.
 

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I LOL-ed at the lamentations part.
Did you read it in a Arnold voice? :D

When off the saddle of your trance you have the 5" of travel of the bike, and your own suspension in your ankles and knees so by staying off the saddle you allow the bike to move up and down underneath you, thus adding an "extra" suspension system.

When on the saddle you are largely a "passenger" on your bike, when out of the saddle you are capable of being the boss, but to really be the boss you have to learn to weight, unweight, shift your weight forward/backward at the appropriate times. As mentioned earlier, a hardtail is less forgiving so its likely you'll end up learning those skills faster on a hardtail, but you can certainly still learn them on a full suspension bike.


EDIT///

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes I did! Omg you should check out this youtube vid that has like, all of Arnold's quotes from all his movies.

When I get back to riding I'll try to stay off the saddle when I hit technical parts then. Should reduce the bottom out and help in my riding.
 

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Thanks for the clarification guys. I LOL-ed at the lamentations part.

I'm also curious, why do full suspension riders still stay off the saddle if the shock can absorb impacts? I watch lots of mountain biking videos and can understand when they do huge jumps and drops but even the small stuff?
It can still hurt your spine, sit bones, ect when hitting a small bump at speed on a full suspension bike. Your legs are the most efficient suspension you have. I ride a 5.5" travel Stumpjumper FSR, and I only sit when the trail is relatively smooth. When it gets I rough, I stand and help the bike "float" through rough stuff, wether it's uphill, downhill, or evenflat (think rock gardens). Sometimes it's great fun (or unintentionally necessary :D) to pedal through a really uber nasty section of trail and not have to dab or stop. A FS bike makes it easier to do.
 
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