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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm "helping" several friends in their search for new bikes - I love spending other people's money!

They're both riding aluminum, FS bikes from 3 to 5 years old. Both want to jump to carbon with nicer components and make this their final bike purchase. Hah, my wife has heard this several times already.

We mostly ride an hour at a time at Blankets and Rope Mill north of Atlanta. Decent climbs, some technical stuff, but nothing like the actual NC mountains or stuff out West.

Multiple LBS gurus have told us that bikes like the Ibis Ripmo and Santa Cruz Megatower are overkill for our type of riding and the local trail conditions. They're advising to stay with bikes in the 120 to 135mm travel vicinity like the Ripley or standard Hightower.

I understand that generally speaking, more rear travel has you leaning towards more of a downhill oriented bike. It'll allow you to be more aggressive and lazier with line choice while smashing over roots and rocks on the downhills. However, newer bikes like the Ripmo are also getting rave reviews on their ability to climb.

So...finally...to my question. What is the downside of going with a bike with more travel than you really need? Cost? Weight? If your suspension is set up properly and you simply don't use all available travel in your daily riding, what's the penalty?
 

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This is a situation where your friends should go demo bikes.

With well engineered geo and these new high tech shocks, the downsides of a longer travel bike are attenuated.
 

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Where does your true joy lie? riding the gnar and tech? flowing easier track? pedalling up and down? Get the bike that make your particular joy the most fun.

For me thats the tech and gnar. My daily ride is a 165/180mm Rocky mountain Slayer. (well i actually have 2 now)
I ride everything from rides with the family on the road to xc races to park days to downhill tracks.


I have one Slayer built up light. 13kg 28.9 pounds. It pedals real well. Similar to 130mm bikes. It weighs about the same as a 130mm bike. But when i turn down hill see ya later 130mm guy. I'm ripping the downs like i'm on a dh rig!

So i love it and see no point in less travel for my style.
But i regularly ride tech. Even on a pedal fest ride i will inject some interesting tech.


Now if you have no tech in your trails or dont like going grade 5 Then the extra travel wont be utilized. I find on average trails the Slayer is not faster on the down than a 130mm bike. There are times where it could be slower because you dont have the same snap out of corners or accelleration you get on less travel.


Some people argue that a bigger bike makes the trail too easy and boring so they select a worse descending bike to give them a more technical challenge. I say bollocks to this theory. Just go faster or ride different lines on the bigger bike.
 

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Some people argue that a bigger bike makes the trail too easy and boring so they select a worse descending bike to give them a more technical challenge. I say bollocks to this theory. Just go faster or ride different lines on the bigger bike.
I'll play devil's advocate here.... I've owned many bikes from XC hardtails to full on DH race bikes. My current bike is a Canfield Balance 165/170mm r/f travel. It's an amazing bike but I was really thinking it would be my one bike does all because it does climb and pedal VERY well. The problem is the frame weight and longer travel DOES INDEED make standard trails boring. I FAR preferred the SC Bronson I sold to buy it for those types of trails because you could preload off of trail features easier (with less rear shock stroke) and really pop off things to make even the lamest trails a fun time! Don't get me wrong, I have no intentions of selling my Balance as I'll use if for FR/Park and bigger days but the majority of my riding is on "standard" type trails these days so I'm getting a Yeti SB130 or the new Ripley V4 being released Tuesday. These new gen geometry "Aggressive Trail" bikes give up very little descending compared to the longer travel bikes if you are a skilled DH'r and are WAY more fun for the trails in the OP's area IMHO. Transition Smuggler or Evil Offering would be great choices too.

Have FUN!

G MAN
 

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I'm "helping" several friends in their search for new bikes - I love spending other people's money!

They're both riding aluminum, FS bikes from 3 to 5 years old. Both want to jump to carbon with nicer components and make this their final bike purchase. Hah, my wife has heard this several times already.

We mostly ride an hour at a time at Blankets and Rope Mill north of Atlanta. Decent climbs, some technical stuff, but nothing like the actual NC mountains or stuff out West.

Multiple LBS gurus have told us that bikes like the Ibis Ripmo and Santa Cruz Megatower are overkill for our type of riding and the local trail conditions. They're advising to stay with bikes in the 120 to 135mm travel vicinity like the Ripley or standard Hightower.

I understand that generally speaking, more rear travel has you leaning towards more of a downhill oriented bike. It'll allow you to be more aggressive and lazier with line choice while smashing over roots and rocks on the downhills. However, newer bikes like the Ripmo are also getting rave reviews on their ability to climb.

So...finally...to my question. What is the downside of going with a bike with more travel than you really need? Cost? Weight? If your suspension is set up properly and you simply don't use all available travel in your daily riding, what's the penalty?
It's all going to come down to what they like to ride, how they like to ride, and what their priorities are. Both overbiking and underbiking are a thing. And while bike quality is so much better now than it was in the past (which does minimize the disadvantages of either overbiking OR underbiking), there are still disadvantages to either and each person has to decide for themselves which side of the spectrum they fall on.

For me, my decisions come down to the fact that I'm a finesse rider rather than a smasher. Not to mention, I have a very healthy sense of self-preservation. Much above 150mm of travel is lost on me, as stuff that REALLY warrants that much travel is usually where I get off and walk, or I simply prefer riding the section in such a way that doesn't warrant more travel. I don't really give a rat's a$$ if someone with more travel gets to the bottom faster. Have fun. I ride what I like, how I like.

Some people argue that a bigger bike makes the trail too easy and boring so they select a worse descending bike to give them a more technical challenge. I say bollocks to this theory. Just go faster or ride different lines on the bigger bike.
This comment demonstrates that you just don't understand the perspective. I absolutely have ridden bikes that have been boring on certain trails. Too much travel on a mellow xc trail is very smooth and comfortable, yes. But it also brings a feeling of disconnect from the trail. It's not about the technical challenge. For me, it's about feeling a connection with the trail. I'm sure this relates to the fact that I'm more of a finesse rider than a smasher. You don't always have the choice to "just go faster" or to "pick a different line" when the trail is what the trail is and your body lets you ride it at a certain speed.

I used to live in places where it was difficult to justify more than 120mm of travel until recently (because of the improved efficiency of longer travel bikes). I now live in a place where the terrain is such that longer travel bikes do very well. The consequences for failure are also much higher. Oh, sure, a longer travel bike would let me blast down a chattery, sketchy downhill even faster, but I don't want anything to do with that additional speed and the consequences from eating it at a higher speed than I currently ride those trails.
 

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I'm on a Ripmo and it's amazing. I like bigger drops and ride down very steep trails. It's the perfect sweet spot of travel for my style and trails.
The new Ripley will be lighter, climb better and a great bike for trails all the way to advanced level. It will have more pop and feel nimble.
I'm willing to trade some weight at this point in my riding for DH performance. Coming from an XC background I have always liked short travel rippers.
Your style and trails will determine which bike will be more fun more of the time. Flatter, flowy trails are more fun on a shorter travel bike. Getting only as much travel as you need is the best method.

I ride with a guy that has both a hightower and a nomad 4 that was supposed to replace it. The nomad was just too much travel and it lost the poppy feel he loves from the hightower.
 

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The downside is less pedaling efficiency, slower acceleration, less nimble, tames the trail, might hinder skill development, heavier, etc. I have a Megatower, it's great, it climbs pretty well and I wouldn't have bought if all I did was ride regular singletrack. Outside of DH parks, I can ride nearly everything on my hardtail. I set it up with faster rolling tires with less traction. Sure I could pedal Minions front and rear around the woods but then it would be easy to keep the bike under control and that's no fun.
 

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Yesterday I did a nearly 3hr ride with 4k feet of climbing, and 2 descents of ~1400ft, on a Ripmo I demo'd (in Santa Cruz, CA). Yes, it climbs well for an enduro bike. But it still doesn't climb anything like a 120-135mm bike, and the trail was pretty dull under it. I set a PR and flew down the mountain, but that's not the only reason to ride. You need to have fun flinging the bike around when you're not racing.

Your LBS is right. Get something with less suspension and more playful. Riding will be more fun overall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Excellent advice from everyone - thanks!

Neither friend is the type to purchase something based on specs and reviews alone. They're both going to demo several bikes.

The one closest to buying is going to demo the Ibis Ripley (V4 if rumors are true), Transition Smuggler, and Yeti SB130. He already rode a rental Santa Cruz Hightower at Alafia in Florida back in January. I just was wondering if he should include bigger travel bikes like the Ibis Ripmo or Santa Cruz Megatower in his list but for the type of riding we do and enjoy, this doesn't sound necessary.

The other friend is a bit of a dilemma. He prefers fast, flowy trails without any rocks or roots. But he's also a Strava PR seeking kind of rider that might benefit from longer travel on downhill, technical segments. He'll just have to demo several bikes and see which one fits his overall style best.
 

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I am 80% overbiked when I am on my FS

170F 160R

otherwise I ride my hardtail 120mm/null

I am not a huckmeister and rarely use all the 170/160 but ride it everywhere

the reason I do roll the AM bike is only because it happens to have extremely capable rear suspension on climbs. I am not losing anything on climbs. If I were, I'd stick to hardtails.

so for me if the bike is not a turd climbing, then whatever suspension it has is fine. those times when it's really chunky and when I do take a big drop it'll be there.
 

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You mentioned that your friends are currently riding full suspension bikes.

How much travel do they have right now? Do they want more?
 

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I now live in a place where the terrain is such that longer travel bikes do very well. The consequences for failure are also much higher. Oh, sure, a longer travel bike would let me blast down a chattery, sketchy downhill even faster, but I don't want anything to do with that additional speed and the consequences from eating it at a higher speed than I currently ride those trails.
This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.

This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.
 

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This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.

This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.
you're the one obviously not understanding. I LIKE to feel the trail. If I overbike for what I ride, then I don't feel the trail as much and the trail gets boring. Feeling the trail is PART of the fun. The feedback I get from the trail through the bike tells me how close to my limits I am. The bikes I ride are very capable, and riding a longer travel bike isn't going to make me any safer.

It's not about the likelihood of a crash. I don't crash much and when I do, it's on an easy section when I've let my guard down. Stupid mistakes that happen on any bike.

It's about the consequences of a crash. I am acutely aware of my own mortality and fragility. And speed absolutely increases the consequences of crashes, regardless of where they happen or what causes them.

I OBVIOUSLY ride for different reasons than you. That's fine. Different strokes. But telling me that I'm doing mountain biking wrong because of it? I'm not telling you that you're doing mountain biking wrong. Ride what you want how you want to ride it. OP asked a question that sought exactly BOTH of our opinions. Neither you nor I know what motivates OP's friends. Knowing what motivates a rider is key to helping them choose the bike that's right for them. What motivates me is different from what motivates you. A longer travel bike is right for you and your motivations. Great. A shorter travel bike is right for me and mine. You don't have to understand it to accept that I'm different. I'm not alone. Let it go.
 

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This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.

This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.
You're making a connection between suspension travel and handling that doesn't exist. A trophy truck would get schooled at laguna seca.
 

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This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.

This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.
I would rather crash at 5 mph than crash at 20 mph. My "big bike" is 130F /125 rear travel. I can ride anything I chose to ride on it and there is stuff I could ride on it that I am not brave enough to ride. 90% of where I ride it more than enough bike and for 70% of what I ride is too much bike. If I had a longer travel bike to have the same fun I would have to find even harder trails. Stuff where a minor crash means major pain. Riding the same trails I do now would mean either find them dull or riding so fast there are no more small crashes. I used to have 180/170 travel bike and I realized to really have it be "fun" I had push the bike hard. Very hard on nasty terrain where a small mistake means a big crash and big pain. I sold it when I realized my 130/125 bike was just as fast most places since I just did not want to that fast.

Oh lets be honest. Better handling bike can mean a lot of different things. By best handling bike is my 100/100 XC bike. Responds and turns so well, but as you can imagine has limitations as chunk increases. If I am a steep narrow bench cut trail where going off trail by 6" means falling off the side of Mtn I wnant my nible xc bike.
 

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Big travel on easy trails is boring at best, cumbersome at worst.

Most of the OP's trails are just regular old xc trails, just rolling terrain with constant pedaling. Sure there may be a couple of harder sections, but I wouldn't buy a bike just for that, ignoring the rest of 95% of the available trail.

I can understand having a big bike as your daily driver, but only if you also have some worthy trails to use it on. In the OP's case, that will require traveling.
 

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Some people argue that a bigger bike makes the trail too easy and boring so they select a worse descending bike to give them a more technical challenge. I say bollocks to this theory. Just go faster or ride different lines on the bigger bike.
There has been a few threads like this lately and I when I was driving the other day, I thought of a good metaphor:

Riding a big bike on a mellow trail is like having sex on a soft, memory foam mattress. Still fun and totally doable. If you keep a even cadence, you probably won't feel the difference. But, if you are really active, it absorbs the feedback a good bit and so makes for a less engaging/active ride (or requires much more work to reach that).
 

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This logic makes no sense to me. You choose a lower travel worse handling bike to make you go slower and are therefore safer? Thats is just plain wrong! If you are on a worse handling bike, it will be increase the chance of crashing not reduce it. Injury and accidents is about the propensity to crash and not about speed you are going.

This is something many mountainbikers miss understand.

A better handling bike will mean you crash less. Its that simple. Yes you can go faster but at that faster speed you wil have a lower percentage chance of crashing. Your overall safety factor has increased. Also you do not have to be at the limit of that bike to have fun. You can ride at the limit of your lower travel bike, have the same amount of fun as the low travel bike but be a lot safer.
Makes total sense to me. Speed is what determines how f'ed up you are going to get when you crash. And the faster you go on ANY bike, the more likely a crash is. Why else do you think there are more crashes in races than on leisurely rides?

A big bike is not going to make you crash less. You are going crash just as much, only going faster.

Yes, a bigger bike would mean you crash less IF you went the same speed as you would on a smaller bike... but let's be honest, that is not how most of us ride. If DH trail is at all rough, I am going to ride a lot faster on a 160mm enduro bike than on a 100mm XC bike. So would you. That is the whole point of longer travel slacker bikes.
 

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I've been riding 140-160-ish bikes for 16 years. Currently 160/140 (F/R).

During times when I've been riding a lot, I find even that much travel can get boring on some trails. That is what got me into rigid and 80mm hardtails as second bikes. On twisty, smooth new-school flow trails, I'll take an 80mm HT over a 160mm enduro bike any day. Way more fun and engaging, IMO. Big climbs and big descents with some gnarly stuff? Sure, give me the 160mm bike.
 

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Makes total sense to me. Speed is what determines how f'ed up you are going to get when you crash. And the faster you go on ANY bike, the more likely a crash is. Why else do you think there are more crashes in races than on leisurely rides?

A big bike is not going to make you crash less. You are going crash just as much, only going faster.

Yes, a bigger bike would mean you crash less IF you went the same speed as you would on a smaller bike... but let's be honest, that is not how most of us ride. If DH trail is at all rough, I am going to ride a lot faster on a 160mm enduro bike than on a 100mm XC bike. So would you. That is the whole point of longer travel slacker bikes.
I believe you are wrong or miss understanding what i am trying to say.

You can ride faster and be in more control on a longer, lower, slacker more travel better handling steed.

My statement is the likely hood of crashing is related to how close to the edge of control you are. Not your speed. So..... if you have a bike with a limit way above what you are prepared to push then you will crash less on that bike compared to a bike with a lower limit that you push closer too.

So in your example of the 100mm xc bike V the enduro bike down the same trail. You will be on the ragged edge of the xc bike very soon, yet you will be able to ride faster on the enduro bike, be well within yours and the bikes capability and be safer. The chance of injury is higher going slower on the xc bike than it is on the enduro going faster.

The act of going faster is more fun. You dont need to be at the limit of control. So you can get the longer travel bike, have a real blast and crash very little and be ultimately safer than going slower at the bleeding limit of your lower travel bike.
 
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