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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death but I'm honestly torn and hoping you guys have some input. I'm a mountain newbie. I've had some experience road biking. I'm mostly going to be riding fire trails and hiking trails but as my confidence builds I'll want to tackle tougher stuff. I'm in really good shape, 6'2", 175 lbs.

Hardtail:
I'm obviously attracted to the price here and I can get a kick ass bike for like $800-$1000 (and even less). My concerns here are obviously the rougher ride and my body taking a beating. I also like the idea that I can take this bike around town, down to the super market etc, and not worry TOO much about it getting stolen (more on this later).

Full Suspension:
I'm liking the versatility here, but obviously VERY hesitant to drop $2k on a bike. I tested some of the $1500 range FS bikes and they just felt like crap compared to the $2000-$2300 ones, that extra $500 makes a HUGE difference imho. Now, one thing I'm worried about here is theft. I live in Oakland CA and bike theft is very common. If I got a FS bike I'd probably buy 6 different bike locks for it, and would NEVER EVER ride it around town, only when I hit the mountain. Another thing I'm worried about is maintenance and "dialing in" the shocks, etc. I'm sure all that is learned with experience though and I don't have a problem doing it (I like to tinker with things).

So, today I rode some FS and HT bikes at my lbs and on the HT you could definitely feel it. I guess the problem I have though is as a newbie, does it really make sense to drop $2k on a bike when I could just go with something like a cannondale F5 and probably not know what I'd be missing if I bought the $2k bike.
 

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1000$ gets you a whole lot of HT...that kind of money gets you ncie gear on the bike and i know alot of people feel that an HT is a good bike to learn on...

if you jump into fs, you might miss out on some of the fundamentals that you are forced to deal with on an HT... i ride a ht for the same reasons you want one, and i enjoy it...ive demo'ed fs bikes, but nothing hardcore...

id say save the money, get like a 1k HT and then you have some cash to get some nice pedals off the bat cause lots of hts come with lower end spd pedals..., maybe some other gear youd want. (i ride eggbeaters, i love em)
 

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I moved from HT to 5" FS and back. Now riding trails with some air time on a very simple HT and enjoy it enormously. Of course, had I just stayed with HT, I would never know, that I actually missed nothing. Now I know. My guess is, my legs (or anyone's legs for that matter) are better energy absorber, than any rear shock - just because they are much more massive.
On the other hand, FS gives you lot of topics to discuss with friends - newest trends, fine tuning, suspension design, you name it.
 

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Answered your own question
*I'm mostly going to be riding fire trails and hiking trails but as my confidence builds I'll want to tackle tougher stuff.*

Defently go with HT to start, then once you get to that point in riding where *I'll want to tackle tougher stuff* buy a FS.
 

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Bendial80 said:
I'm sure this topic has been beaten to death but I'm honestly torn and hoping you guys have some input. I'm a mountain newbie. I've had some experience road biking. I'm mostly going to be riding fire trails and hiking trails but as my confidence builds I'll want to tackle tougher stuff. I'm in really good shape, 6'2", 175 lbs.

Hardtail:
I'm obviously attracted to the price here and I can get a kick ass bike for like $800-$1000 (and even less). My concerns here are obviously the rougher ride and my body taking a beating. I also like the idea that I can take this bike around town, down to the super market etc, and not worry TOO much about it getting stolen (more on this later).

Full Suspension:
I'm liking the versatility here, but obviously VERY hesitant to drop $2k on a bike. I tested some of the $1500 range FS bikes and they just felt like crap compared to the $2000-$2300 ones, that extra $500 makes a HUGE difference imho. Now, one thing I'm worried about here is theft. I live in Oakland CA and bike theft is very common. If I got a FS bike I'd probably buy 6 different bike locks for it, and would NEVER EVER ride it around town, only when I hit the mountain. Another thing I'm worried about is maintenance and "dialing in" the shocks, etc. I'm sure all that is learned with experience though and I don't have a problem doing it (I like to tinker with things).

So, today I rode some FS and HT bikes at my lbs and on the HT you could definitely feel it. I guess the problem I have though is as a newbie, does it really make sense to drop $2k on a bike when I could just go with something like a cannondale F5 and probably not know what I'd be missing if I bought the $2k bike.
Hardtails make you smooth, fast too. FS makes you lazy. Unless you're doing dh a ht will do just fine if you know how to ride, and you'll learn fast.
 

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Start with a hardtail. For a lot of riding, incl fire roads and trails, a HT is an arguably better (or atleat as good) option even if you have a full-sus. If your budget allows, spend the $2k on a really kick-ass hardtail (X9/XT components, good fork, good wheels) - you can get a Niner EMD9 or Bandersnatch for this price, and it is a bike you'll never outgrow.

Later, when you are ready for rough stuff, get an appropriate full-sus depending on what sort of rough stuff you mean - AM, DH or more advanced XC.

V.
 

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I'd advise to start on a hardtail as well. I had a hardtail first and it taught me a lot, but once i progressed and wanted to go faster and bigger i went the full squish, and will never go back.
 

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people make it sound like you're training for the olympics. you're not, you're just riding a bike.

progression comes with experience and saddle time.. nothing else. you ride more, you get better. if you want a full suspension bike, buy that right off the bat and skip the wasted money buying a hardtail.

you wont gain some skills you otherwise wouldnt have if you buy a fs bike. legs make terrible shock absorbers.
 

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its all up to YOU!!! i ride my fs like my ht.... HARD and aggressive... some days i prefer ht and some days fs.... its up to your personal preferences...
and still not sure? give it some time and demo a few more setups and see what u really like...
 

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Hey hey,

I was in a similar position 2 months ago...wanted to get into mountain biking but wasn't sure that I would really be into it and REALLY couldn't swing the 2 grand it takes to get into a bike worthy enough.

So I ended up with a HT (Cdale F5) ...a good starter. It's made me realize a number of things:
- I love the sport!
- When I do get a F/S I'll really appreciate it and be able to apply all I learned on HT
- It'll be nice to have a HT for everyday riding and a F/S for the hardcore stuff

Possibly making an 800 dollar mistake is a lot better than making a 2000 dollar mistake. I've definitely learned a lot about riding and what bike I will want next go around, if I just started with some insane 2000 dollar bike I probably would have gotten something that is completely wrong for me, my evolving riding style and where I want to ride.

Get the HT. Enjoy it, and stare at all the pretty All Mountain machines all day long like I do :D
 

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As for your body taking a beating, a lot depends on you. If you are pushing 40 with aches and pains of old injuries, going FS makes a *lot* of sense. If you are younger and still immortal, you aren't going to feel like you are "taking a beating." Especially in fire roads and nature trails.

As for the security aspect, you've got me. At this point I am thinking of keeping my old HT or else picking up a cheapo bike for rides around town and errands. There's no way I'm chaining a $1500+ bike up outside a grocery store.
 
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As for your body taking a beating, a lot depends on you. If you are pushing 40 with aches and pains of old injuries, going FS makes a *lot* of sense. If you are younger and still immortal, you aren't going to feel like you are "taking a beating."
Good point. I rode a hardtail most of my mountain biking life. As I got older, going for long rides on consecutive days was tough. I just got a killer Giant Trance X2 with 5" of suspension. It climbs like a hardtail and descends like a downhill bike. It is a dream to ride.
I'm not sure what you learn from a hardtail that you can't learn on a FS bike. Young or old, I'm not sure why "taking a beating" is something you need to do.
 

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I mean, if he wants to "learn" a lot, he should just get a rigid single speed. That'll teach you a lot real quick. I personally like having FS (though as ronbo said it doesn't climb like one) And converting my $400 bike to SS is next on the list...
 

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It also depends on the terrain where you do most of your riding. I have both a hard tail and fs. Hard tail is great on smoother surfaces where you can ride around sharp obstacles. If the trails are loaded with surface roots perpendicular to the trail, the chatter on a hard tail can get annoying. FS gives more confidence as well, I don't know much about one giving you better skills than the other. I guess with a hard tail you have to pick a line that is more forgiving where with a FS you can bash your way through a lot (which is a skill in itself). Also if there are jumps/drops a FS softens the landing (and allows you to hop more of off lips). I ride the FS almost all of the time as I feel I can get more aggressive with a smoother ride (and hey at my age I'm out to go fast and have fun). Bike swaps are a great place to get good FS bikes for under $1500 (or even $1000). A local mtb forum might have bikes for sale that a near by seller would probably let you try out. Final word: FS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
thanks

Thanks for the feedback guys. Yeah I'm not sure I buy that bit about the hardtail making you a better rider. In fact, the more I think about it IF I were to go hardtail I'd probably get a hardtail 29'er, I rode a nice Raleigh steel 29'er yesterday at my LBS and that think felt like a tank, then if I do get FS later on, I'll still have a nice little 29'er lying around. Though, I'm still undecided because money isn't so much the issue for me, it's more about "bang for your buck" and versatility ... I also like having something I can grow into rather than grow out of.
 

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Any LBS' around you that would let you demo a bike for a day? Maybe take out a F/S and a HT and see what it's really like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
City Goat said:
Any LBS' around you that would let you demo a bike for a day? Maybe take out a F/S and a HT and see what it's really like.
My LBS has demo bikes that they charge you $70 a day to take out on the trail. If you do buy that model of bike, then the $70 goes towards it but otherwise you're out $70.
 

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Really cool friends that would let you try their bike for an hour or so?
Completely agree that it depends on the trails you ride.
 

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I was in the same boat as you. I decided that I no longer needed to be beat up while riding. I also do not race, do drops, or have very many difficult trails around me. I decided that a 80mm FS XC bike was the best for me. I bought mine on closeout for $1000 and it is the best thing I have done. The bike rides like a dream and I hardly ever use the full 80mm of travel. It works just as well on the road and both the front shock and rear shock have lockouts. I will never go back to a HT. I am much more relaxed at the end of the ride and I do not have the soreness the next morning from all the jarring of the trail. Just my personal experience.
 
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