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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am possibly looking to buy a brand-name (not the WalMart brand!) full suspension bike for mostly commuting through busy streets and big traffic. It might be a substitute for my old & dying car, but I'm not completely sure on that one yet. But also, I'd eventually want to try mountain biking as a hobby too, and take it out on trail. (A real mountain trail is about 500 miles away from here, so that might never happen.)

Buying full suspension will be a big jump for me; my previous bike (which was stolen) was a cheap hard tail Mongoose. And with such a steep jump in technology, I probably wouldn't even know how to shift gears initially.

When I was making my decision, first I was interested in more expensive version of a road/racing/commuting bike, but then I always admit to myself that I'd be afraid to ride on the road with cars passing next to me, and I'll end up riding on the sidewalks anyway... so, if I'll end up riding on the sidewalks, then I should get a hard tail mountain bike or cyclocross. But now that I've done my hours of research online and at local bike shops, I am closing in on the idea of full suspension, only so that I don't end up regretting if I bought a hard tail mountain bike. Although, hard tail is still not excluded as an option: there are several bikes I still like in that category.

My two considerations are currently the Trek Fuel EX 5 and Giant Trance X4. I certainly like the Giant's graphics better. I am only 130lbs., but my legs are strong and durable. My daily riding could go 5-10 miles with no problem. My understanding of bikes is minimal, so I'll not be the type of person tampering and switching components any time soon. As long as the info on the bike says Shimano, and both bikes are loaded with such components, then that's a good thing, right? I was also looking at this way-cheaper version of full suspension: http://forgebikes.com/saw7.asp but it's not a known brand-name, right? If I take that bike on trail riding, I guess that's when one can see the difference between a brand-name and cheaper kind.

Some other questions I have. I know these bikes are build for dirt and mud, but how do they perform on heavy rain? Are the disc breaks OK... would I ruin them... would they start squeaking? What about riding through deep puddles? Here in Florida the summer rains are heavy, and the puddles on the roads are deep too. Do I need to wipe off the bike every time after rain to prevent rust building up? I never do that with my car!

Security for the bike is a big issue, because I'll be locking it in front of grocery stores... so, this time I'll be going all the way with the priciest chain/u-lock available. I see some of them offer $1000-$3000 warranty, but how does that work? If the lock gets broken, and the bike is stolen, and the lock is not present, then I don't have a proof that it got stolen, right? So, the thief would do me good, if at least he left the broken lock, so that I can use that as an evidence.

Any other comments and suggestions? Thanks.
 

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Still using dork disk.
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Between the two bikes you mentioned, I would get the X4. In fact, that's what I did! However, I was buying it as a trails-only bike.

As others have mentioned, you may be better served by a hardtail mountain bike. I love riding mine around town and do ride it on trails sometimes too. Being able to put a rear rack (and panniers or just strap cargo to the back) on a hardtail is great and very convenient to have.

And get disc brakes! I think they are way easier to maintain than old v-brakes and their stopping power is better.

If I was looking for a city bike/road bike/commuter/trails bike, I would look long and hard at 29ers. Seems like it could be perfect.

Ryan
 

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If you eventually will ride trails then the full-suspension bike is good idea. If you're not sure about that, having one might just motivate you to ride trails so I say if you can afford it, get it. :) The only problem would be that it's more attractive to thieves and if you use it for commuting, the chances of it getting stolen will be higher.

Professional thieves can get to bikes even if they are secured with good locks so you have to also consider using multiple locks, how you use the locks, where you lock and leave your bike, how long you leave unattended, etc.

I don't think the aluminum frame will rust but the suspension system (fork, shocks and pivots) will need regular maintenance and cleaning.

I like the Maestro suspension so if I were you and I decided to get a FS, I'd get the Trance X. I am actually waiting for one already. :D I wouldn't use it for commuting though. For that, I'd get a second cheaper bike just so that I wouldn't be worrying everytime it's not within my sight.
 

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I would go with the Trek between those two bikes. I think the trek has a little better rear shock and some other things. I like having the pro-pedal on my ex5 the x4 doesn't have pro-pedal and its a giant shock instead of a fox.
 

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T.W.O.
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Hotwhls said:
I would go with the Trek between those two bikes. I think the trek has a little better rear shock and some other things. I like having the pro-pedal on my ex5 the x4 doesn't have pro-pedal and its a giant shock instead of a fox.
That's the biggest difference between Trek and Giant. Trek ex5 needs pp to reduce unwanted bob, Maestro does not as it has mechanical pp built into the design. If you go up on Trek model to get DCRV fox then it's a nice option for off road riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As someone suggested, I even started looking at the 29ers. Instead of starting a new thread on this, I'd ask here: What's the idea behind single speed full suspension?

Also, doesn't 29" mean less control and less maneuverability in expense of more power? This is physics and applies to other sports too; smaller skis, smaller tennis racket, smaller baseball bat means more control, more feel, but less power, less speed. Bigger skis, bigger tennis racket, bigger baseball bat means more power, less feel, less control.

Also, I may not make it to North on the real mountains, but I will take my bike here in Florida on the dirt trails.
 

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T.W.O.
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I went to my LBS today and saw this in the Catalog it may fit your commuting need and still be comfortable. I don't know about riding Full suspension on road and pave, it just seem overkilled and the set up is not the same either. You'd probably want things a bit firmer on the paved road.:thumbsup:

BTW, 29er is a great option. As for the SS FS, it's like a cult thing. They are fun, I'm building my Ibis Szabo SS it gonna be fun.:thumbsup:
 

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I would go for the Trance X4 for the following reasons:

1. Tapered headtube makes the front end more rigid and therefore more resilient so when you hit something hard you're fork doesn't start bending or flexing as quickly. This can be very important when you're flying down the road at 40 mph and hit a pothole.

2. Tora versus Recon fork. The Trance X4's Tora fork is both stronger and beefier fork than the Recon fork used on the Fuel EX5. Since both forks are made the same company (Rock Shox) it's safe to assume that these naming schemes are indicative of what both respective forks are designed for.

3. Better frame. The Trance X frame is better in both relative and absolute terms.
a. Giant redesigned the Trance X frame for 2011. From what I've read in the Giant forums the new 2011 frame seems much stiffer and beefier than the previous Trance X frames. The new revised frame makes the bike more efficient when pedaling and more controllable when you hit the gnarly stuff. If I'm not mistaken believe the EX5 frame is a carryover from 2009.
b. The Trance X frame is comparatively better within its respective lineup. The frame used on the Trance X4 is the same frame used on the $3,850 Trance X1. The frame on the Fuel EX5 is inferior to the frame used on the more expensive Fuel EX7 and EX8 bikes and lacks a tapered headtube.

Although the Fuel EX5 seems to be a decent bike the Trance X4 sounds like it would be the perfect urban assault with some slicks on it, perfect for hitting sidewalks and descending stairs.

As far as the 29er's are concerned they simply don't have the agility of a 26 inch bike. Half of city riding is avoiding obstacles such a benches,garbage cans and people. I'm not saying it's impractical to ride a 29er around a city but I feel that they lack manuverability when operating in an urban element compared to a 26 inch bike. This disadvantage is compounded further because fs bikes have better manuverability than their hardtail counterparts.

To be honest with you a fully rigid 29er with slicks could make sense in an urban environment. Perhaps more so than the a 26 inch fs bike. You'll go faster on the straights and even some slight inclines on a 29er.

The disadvantage of a full rigid bicycle would be obstacles if you're traveling at speed and hit a plate in the road,that might be a little jarring.

The entry cost for something like a GT Peace 9r multi is $550 if you shop around. The brakes of course will suck compared to both the Fuel Ex and Trance X but if you want to fly around town then it's probably the best choice. If you go this route I would suggest upgrading the brakes to Avid BB7's ,without a doubt the best brake you can buy for the money. At 130 pounds those brakes would give you insane stopping power. However if you're a speed demon get a 185mm front rotor,but keep the rear rotor 160mm.
 

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Afric Pepperbird
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To the OP, where do you live in which the nearest "real mountain bike trails" are 500 miles away??

I see you're in Orlando, but surely something is much closer. Have you tried hooking up with the riders in the Florida forum? I'm sure you'll find a decent ride within an hours drive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I still haven't got this bike -- the X4 -- but maybe one day in my lifetime it will happen. Anyway, in addition to dirt trail riding, going shopping, sidewalk and road riding from home to work, I added another interest; I was checking out the CrazyGuyOnAbike website and found it interesting that bikers take trips that are thousands of miles long. So, my question is, since this bike is a trail bike, would it also be comfortable for long distances? Let's say going on a trip across Europe or USA, with a backpack and a sleeping bag, and putting 50 miles per day on it!? I know my legs can handle it, but I worry about my sitting posture and comfort.
 

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If you live in Orlando there are plenty of trails close by.... well within weekend drives. As a matter of fact you are close to two IMBA Epics.... Santos Trails System (over 100 miles of singletrack) is within 70 miles and Alafia River State Park within 80 miles. Alafia actually has some very technical trails. Both actually have trailhead camping which is awesome.
 
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