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Tips for change to hardtail

5489 Views 25 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  traffic002
Hey folks,

I am in the midst of a change from a GT fs xc bike to an On One Summer Season hardtail. Really struggled on the trail today and wondered if you have any tips for making the transition fromm FS back to hardtail. It has been about 6 years of riding FS. I was especially surprised by how hard it was to climb.

During the second portion of my ride I adjusted the seat back some and that seemed to help.

Any tips would be appreciated.


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You have to shift your weight more to maintain traction on climbs on a hardtail, IMO. Practice makes perfect.

As well, I'm betting your OOSS is slacker angled than the GT - that can make things tough when still adapting. Takes a bit more front weight to keep the front end from wandering.

Then you have to keep moving around on the techy stuff to keep the rear from breaking free...

It's a balancing act. Keep at it, and you'll get it! Did you swap to different tires as well?
Yes, it is way slacker... 66.6 for the OOSS and about 70ish for the GT (I put alonger fork on it, I think originally it was about 71, but just a guess)

I only threw on some older Tioga Yellow Dragon and Blue Dragon tires on it. Both are 26x2.1. I am looking for new tires, but had to spread out the $ a bit. Do you have a tire and width to recommend?

Thanks for the tips, keep 'em coming.

If you stick with it a bit your riding style will adapt and your ninja skills will develop. There is a definite period of culture shock when you first get back on a hardtail after time away. Full suspension lets you be very lazy about your riding in a lot of ways. You can be very tense and not get beat to death and the rear suspension sucks up bumps on climbs so as long as you can keep the motor running you can chug up some fairly rough stuff. Stand up and relax, your knees have way more travel than your old bike.

Big volume tires at a bit less pressure help a lot both with traction and comfort. I'm currently running 2.5 folding bead Nevegals. The price isn't too unreasonable online and the traction is great, they're just slow. My tire rule of thumb would be run the biggest volume tire you can get (or fit) that has a tread, compound, and weight that you are happy with.
Fake it till you make it!
Flow it, don't mow it
what kind of climbing? steep? technical? steep and technical? hard tails require much different techniques on some types of climbs, especially rocky techy stuff where unlike you FS, you GOTTA attack it in most cases WAY different. If you are a single speed rider as well you will know that momentum is your friend through technical climbs, same with a geared hardtail, learn to stand and hammer up through techy stuff as seated climbing is where a FS dominates on AM rides.

also, as i think somebody else noted, compliant and big tires out back, to the extent you can fit it, really help. Your frame has pretty good clearance...I run 2.4s on my AM hardtail and it really helps and in fact, whereas with smaller tires on a hardtail I can in fact get away with some level of seated climbing on mildly techy stuff, only due to the bigger tires
It was definitely some technical climbing. Thanks for the advice. Also figured out that I screwed up in my ordering for this build. I have a 24/36 front chainring set and an 11 - 32 rear cassette, effectively leading to no granny gears.

I am looking at replacing just the front chainrings with smaller rings and have contaced a company that makes those custom. It would be less expensive than replacing the whole crankset and I would not have to replace the rear cassette either. Not knowing much about these things (obviously) I have asked them what will work. We'll see.

Here is a link

What crankset are you running right now? Most cranks come with a 22-32-44. The Shimano SLX comes in a 22-36-bash.

I would just buy a cheap Shimano 22T ring and be set. I actually had a used one for sale on here for $12 or $15. You can get them cheap. I sold a 32 for $15 shipped.

You made a pretty big switch in bikes. It will take some time to get used to the new ride. The OOSS is one of the slacker HT frames out there. You came from a pure XC bike to a pretty gnarly AM HT.

Do some more research before you waste anymore money.

Like Fo said, higher volume tires could make a big improvement. Just don't go out and buy some boat anchors.

Also, what fork are you running? Make sure it is set up for you and your weight.

Any pics of the bike. It might make it easier to help you out.

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you don't have to change your chainrings
I am running 26-36 setup with 11-34 at the rear.

give it time. it takes time and effort to adjust to riding a hardtail after being spoiled by the FS.

btw: your head angle on the OOSS might not be the 66.6 because I believe you are running a shorter fork then the 66.6 was measured with.
Spoke with Truativ today. They make chainrings that will go right on to the 2.2 AM. I ordered from Pricepoint. 22/32 up front and 11-34 cassette out back. Cost me around $100 total, which I regret but am OK with. If that is the worst thing I do, I am doing alright. I also ordered new tires, WTB motoraptor 2.24. Read good reviews on here and Wheel world had them on sale for $14 a piece. I was going to ride the Tiogas, but can hold those over for when the GT needs new shoes. I am running the 130mm Recon 351 Air on the front. It is 10mm less travel than the designer used to measure HTA, but within the design parameters of the frame. The Recon came with the frame.

You are all correct that this is a big change in bikes. I was looking for something a bit different and wanted to build it myself. Which of course led to the mistake in purchase... but that is how I learn ;) I like the concept of the AM hardtail because, well, not sure really, just think it will be great fun, once I get it and myself dialed in... picking different lines and like you are helping me do, "learn how to ride" again. I am hoping the slack head angle will keep me from going OTB quite so much. I like the idea of a "go anywhere, ride anything" bike and this is supposed to be it.

Most of the riding I do is probably more along the lines of technical XC, with occasional trips to the NC mountains to hit some true "All Mountain" trails. The rolling terrain of central NC can throw pretty much everything at you except really long climbs and downhills.

I will report back when I get my changes done and clock in a few hours on the bike. Thanks and I am open to more suggestions :thumbsup:
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Got my parts in today. I already changed the chainrings to 22/32. Now that gives me 22/32 on front and 11/32 on back. I think I will hit a few trails with this set up before changing the rear cassette to the 11/34. Pedaling around the yard, it seemed "right" but only some trail time will really tell.

In one of the magazines recently there was an article about gearing and had a table for figuring out how far each turn of the pedals moved the bike. Dou you know where I can access a chart like that?

Still waiting on the tires.

In the meantime, I have been working on some of the tips above regarding body positioning, balance, etc... by riding in my yard and treating various things as "obstacles" such as the deck, steps, curbs, roots in the yard, etc....

My biggest change. I stand up a whole lot more and I absorb jumps drops more with my legs way more than on my duallie.

Put on some wider (slightly) handlebars and a shorter (60mm) stem tonight. Reset fork (recon 351) pressure to 90#, which is slightly soft, which suits me better (remember I am s-l-o-w). Continued yard testing finds me liking this with a slightly more upright position, wider hand position, etc... working on shifting weight forward and back, standing over obstacles and for climbing.

First real test ride tomorrow at my favorite local trail, Governors Creek. Supposed to be 60 degrees tomorrow:thumbsup: I will try the current gear combo and if needed change cassettes this weekend.

Thanks for the advice. I will post tomorrow
Much better ride today! Went out today and rode as planned. What a perfect day for riding. Sunny and 60 degrees. This compared to uncharacteristically (for NC) cold days right at 30. Shorts, short sleeves... ahhhh....

Bike rode MUCH better. Still have minor position adjust ment to do, but found the handling incredibly responsive... not quick, like me GT, but responsive, as in, "I want to go THERE" and bam! it tracked like a king right up the line I chose. You advice regarding shifting weight helped a bunch, as well as getting out of the "sit and spin" cycle from being FS for so long.

Also, this was my home trail, which made me a "better" rider, since I knew what was coming.

Here is a link to my bike... some changes as described above since then, but close
OK, so update for you, as if you care;) ... after another month of riding, I am getting it. I think I am still slower than on my FS, but speed is not my game anyway. Several of you mentioned more standing up, definitely. I have moved from just standing to popping it up a few gears, and pulling on the handlebars to help with the movement. Short climbs, I am handling well and powering right through. Definitely building leg strength.

Also you pointed out to me the need to shift weight more. Definitely. This is probably the biggest key, thanks for the coaching.

Bike update: I stuck with the 11/32 cassette. With the standing method of climbing, no need to go to the 11/34, so far.

Thanks guys. I love this sport.

Good to hear you are improving and enjoying the bike.

Funny thing about learning how to ride loose is that it in my experience happens in a series of steps. You have to get to a point where you can feel how tense you are before you can consciously loosen up. Once that happens you continue on for a while thinking you are riding loose until you have the same revelation all over again, realizing how much more you can relax.
bad news said:
Good to hear you are improving and enjoying the bike.

Funny thing about learning how to ride loose is that it in my experience happens in a series of steps. You have to get to a point where you can feel how tense you are before you can consciously loosen up. Once that happens you continue on for a while thinking you are riding loose until you have the same revelation all over again, realizing how much more you can relax.
Exactly. Today was one of those breakthroughs where I did not actually realize I was doing a lot different, but it just all came together. Great day in the woods.
You shoulda gone rigid ss to really "learn"
ricot83 said:
You shoulda gone rigid ss to really "learn"
Actually, I shoulda did what I wanted to... which is what I did...;)
Ahh the memories of forgetting to get off the seat during drops! My first few days were a bit painful as well, after switching from my Heckler. I love the bike now, got a 456. 2 changes I am thinking about that might interest you, one is a stem with a higher "rise" like the 70mm/25 degree Hope DH stem. Also thinking of changing the seat post just not certain if I will go for an adjustable one or a Titanium one. The titanium one a fried has flexes a fair bit and definitely takes the sting out of bumps.
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