What Full Suspension bike for a seasoned Hardtail rider?

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  • What Full Suspension bike for a seasoned Hardtail rider?
  • hock
    Member

    OK, I started doing some reading… I read VPP and DW-link and drop link…
    VPP, DW, drop… VPP, DW, drop, VPP, DW, drop…

    (it’s a little bit like having been locked in the early 90s and now discovering the wonders of full suspension development in time lapse mode)

    Premier Icon mattjg
    Subscriber

    Personally I’m absolutely baffled by all the various suspension designs and I doubt if I could tell the difference (much) when riding. Perhaps it matters at the top of the professional sport, when tiny differences in performance could affect results, but for the typical weekend warrior (that’s us by the way), I doubt it.

    A lot of this is really businesses fighting over patents and intellectual property rights IMO.

    hock
    Member

    true, but as I don’t like the idea of the single pivot swingarm concept and superficially grasp the benefits of multi-link systems it tickles my technical curiosity to at least start to understand the differences 🙂

    Milkie
    Member

    I went from riding for 5 years on a 11kg HT to a 180mm Full Susser weighing 14.5kg. They both put a smile on my face for the opposite reasons. In about 4 years I will probably replace the full susser with a 140/150mm bike. I do find I ride the HT less and less, but every time I do, I am amazed by it!

    There are sooo many choices out there! Good luck! 😉

    hock
    Member

    Quick update:
    only got one test-bike arranged but it stays with me for the whole weekend and might provide a pretty comprehensive full-suspension experience as it is a Bionicon Golden Willow:
    – integrated travel adjustability from 2.8-5.5 upfront(rear stay at 4.7in)
    – according headangle range from 74° to 67° and everything inbetween
    – apart from that classic 4-bar with chainstay joint

    I will try to get the most out of it!

    hock
    Member

    First ride on full-suspenson today, usual loop, but very muddy so don’t know how much that dilutes the experience.

    Initial thoughts:
    – it encourages a non-jumper to jump more
    – a lot of bulk and faff (weight not so much, but things to adjust, things that move, things that isolate you from what’s going on)
    – stayed in uphill position a lot because it felt natural and right
    – downhill position sacrifices front-end bite due to weight being shifted to the rear

    Not sold to the idea of FS yet, but will keep trying to like it.
    Definitely not ready yet to spend any money on it!

    Cheers!

    hock

    dekadanse
    Member

    Superlights are simple but great, and if you want the evolved version go for the Blur XC (pricey though) – but the most hardtail-like FS bikes are a) the Cannondale Scalpel, and b) the Specialized Epic. Someone mentioned the Scott Genius – yes, you have bar mounted full lockout, but it’s a bit long travel perhaps for you. The Scott Spark is shorter travel and still has full bar mounted front and rear lockout.

    Bet you’re confused after all these suggestions……..!

    hock
    Member

    Went out for another brief test ride on almost dry, flat singletrack. Definitely terrain that doesn’t need a FS bike. While this is my preferred terrain, it’s a bit of a shame that I didn’t have the chance yet to test it on rougher stuff.

    Locked out rear damper and the bike felt right: more agile, more positive feedback, less irritating geometry/position changes. BUT even with the rear damper locked it still encouraged to jump more than my hardtail because the rear would still allow for some give in the rear on harder impact.

    Which leads me to 2 conclusions:

    1) I obviously like my hardtails. Main benefit of a FS bike accessible to me so far seems to be the safety net effect when jumping/landing. This could suggest a FS bike that behaves like a hardtail most of the time. I know that you can tune the damper to achieve that behaviour but while I have the chance to buy a bike I would rather choose one that’s inclined to a more HT behaviour anyway.

    – the Commencal Meta 4X has been suggested, but I am not sure about it’s everyday-do-it-all-qualities.
    – the SC Superlight seems to fit the bill (just read an older long-term test by Steve Worland in WMTB).
    – Scalpels, Epics and Genius have been suggested: will they be fun and trail-“smart” in a Soul way?
    – are there others that would fit the “HT with safety-net” bill?
    – Anthem anybody? in the end I might buy one despite brand reservations…
    – the short-travel Cotic Rocket creeps in again, too…

    2) So while I could settle for a FS that actually mimics a HT I should probably still try to test a FS bike in more appropriate conditions that might show me whether I might like to ride something new and different etc. rather than reduce a FS to a HT with safety-net. I will try to rent a FS bike at a bike park, in the Alps etc.

    While this process will probably take a little more time the Soul will see some LTC and a new stiffer fork, maybe through-axle.

    kudos100
    Member

    From reading the ramblings in this thread, you seem to suffer from analysis paralysis.

    Rather than over thinking every little detail, go and try some bikes that are short travel ie <120mm travel and see how you get on.

    emac65
    Member

    Anthem 29er may be more your cup of tea…Some seem to think they’re only ok for cross country on here,which is crap.Mine clattered banged & bumped its way around the Dyfi with my 13’n a bit stone on it.It’s also had countless trips to other Welsh rocky places….

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    You won’t notice much of a revalation when you jump on a FS. It takes quite a while to understand what you’ve got and how it’ll affect your riding.

    Buy one, learn how to ride it, enjoy it. You seem to want a FS bike that rides like your HT. That would be silly. Get a different style of bike and maybe ride differently, find some new trails, explore.

    There’s more to it than just soaking up bumps. Longer travel bikes have different geometries and often different kit.

    downhill position sacrifices front-end bite due to weight being shifted to the rear

    The bike doesn’t simply provide grip – you use the bike to get grip. So in that position, you will have to adjust your riding to maximise grip, and you’ll get other benefits from that riding position.

    Some seem to think they’re only ok for cross country on here,which is crap.Mine clattered banged & bumped its way around the Dyfi

    Eh? What’s your definition of XC then?

    emac65
    Member

    Didn’t say just the Dyfi though did I pal ? I’d ride the Anthem on anything except a d/hill track…It’s one of 9 bikes,4 of which are FS…..

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    Hock, I sort of have the same issue, ride a Cham at the minute, and want a full suss that’s stiff, light, enough travel to make it grip but not too much to make it squirm, did i say it needs to be light? want it light. Don’t want an XC race machine though, as it needs to be 130-140 travel.

    You seem to want a FS bike that rides like your HT. That would be silly

    Not really, want it too behave like a hard tail ( tight, fast light) want the extra grip of rear suss, but I don’t want the rear suss to get in the way when I don’t need it. Not silly, very serious

    hock
    Member

    Not really, want it too behave like a hard tail ( tight, fast light) want the extra grip of rear suss, but I don’t want the rear suss to get in the way when I don’t need it. Not silly, very serious

    @nickc: exactly! 🙂

    Then again I don’t know what I don’t know. Maybe I would happily adjust to full squish if I had a little time to understand and experience the benefits. But for the time being: what nickc said!

    Cheers!

    hock

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    God, the search for that perfect elusive FS….

    I suspect we’re not that different, I’ve ridden long enough to be able to compensate when the bike gets overfaced, as long as the front bites into the corner I don’t care what the rear wheel is doing, it can chatter away to its hearts content…not interested…but I know it’s slowing me down and pushing me out of corners…

    So rear suss, 100mm is enough, I just want it to allow the rear to keep up with what I making the front do, not interested in comfort, just grip.

    Foes came closest a few years back.

    Premier Icon Normal Man
    Subscriber

    I know it’s been mentioned already (page 1) but what about a Spesh Camber 29er?

    I’ve got a 26er expert and am really impressed with it.

    rootes1
    Member

    i’m going to demo an Epic and a Camber at the Queen E park demo this coming weekend..

    re same as you move from Hardtail to full sus..

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    Then again I don’t know what I don’t know. Maybe I would happily adjust to full squish if I had a little time to understand and experience the benefits. But for the time being: what nickc said!

    I’m not sure anyone’s mentioned it, but one of the real pluses of full sus, if you ride somewhere rocky or similarly rough, is that you can often pedal and put the power down in places where a hardtail tends to skip around.

    I’m a hardtail sort of guy most of the the time, but the full sussers I do like tend to be unobtrusive – my race bike is still a Maverick ML7 because it pedals like a hardtail, but soaks stuff up when you need it to. I also liked my Pace RC405 – which I’m about to sell – because it again pedals really well, but again works when you need it to.

    I live and mostly ride in the Peak and generally use a hardtail, I’m not sure I’d bother with full sus at all if I lived somewhere mostly flat and smooth.

    I’m not sure I understand why you want a full suspension bike and I’m not sure you do either. If it’s just consumerism, why not just get a different sort of hardtail? Go 29er. Or rigid. Or singlespeed. Or all three. They’re kind of simple and easy to understand and potentially a lot of fun on terrain that sometimes seems dull on a suspension bike.

    nickc – Member
    Hock, I sort of have the same issue, ride a Cham at the minute, and want a full suss that’s stiff, light, enough travel to make it grip but not too much to make it squirm, did i say it needs to be light? want it light. Don’t want an XC race machine though, as it needs to be 130-140 travel.

    You seem to want a FS bike that rides like your HT. That would be silly

    Not really, want it too behave like a hard tail ( tight, fast light) want the extra grip of rear suss, but I don’t want the rear suss to get in the way when I don’t need it. Not silly, very serious

    Sounds like you maybe want a Bur TRc or a TR and the lottery win for pay for one – or an old Blur 4X built light. Oddly feels like a full suspension Ragley, only has 115mm travel but feels like more and pedals really nicely.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    Thanks BWD, I’ll give it a look.

    You’re right though, 99% of the time, I’m happy as a lop on the Cham, it’s definitely a “want” rather than a “need” 🙂

    purser_mark
    Member

    You don’t want a bike that is too like your hardtail, otherwise it will be just like riding a hardtail 🙂

    Exploit the fact that you have two bikes, use one for XC and the other for more technical gnarrrly stuff.

    To be honest most full sus bikes have been good for years, it’s tricky to find a bad one. I sold my old BlurLT for £300 frame only. In 2006 that was my dream bike! It’s still dam good.

    Just buy a used Stumpy, Anthem, Trance, Blur, Zesty etc. They’re all great fun and won’t kill the wallet. Next time around you will have a better understanding of what you need.

    Remember a bike is just for Xmas not for life and the perfect bike doesn’t yet exist.

    Enjoy!

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    @hock thanks for update its always interesting to hear how the story progresses. I agree with @purser_mark you’re trying to make the FS like your HT, that’s fine if you want a stiff xc orientated bike, fwiw I have a HT (BFe) and FS (Covert) and my thought is that they would be a bit different so I have a suitable bike for what I’m riding. To be honest most of what I ride (enjoy and am capable of) I can do on BFe (Surrey Hills, Peaks, Wales), the Covert can do all that too of course. For Alps the Covert is fine as I don’t / cannot hit most of the jumps etc anyway but the FS gives me a lot of confidence to push myself, around my local trails which I know well I like the fact the BFe keeps things investing as it skips around a bit more and forces me to ride “better” plus it pedals well for the flatter xc (it has a 150/120 adjustable fork)

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    Thing is P-mark I don’t want more than one bike, that we the whole point of the Cham, with 140mm forks its pretty much capable whether I want to ride for 6 hours round the Chilterns or throw myself down some welsh mountainside.

    I think BWD’s suggestion comes pretty close ( the blurTR) but I don’t think I want to spend quite that much, 2nd hand one might be a goer though

    daveh
    Member

    Blur TRc, Yeti ASR5, Bandit, new Cotic or a bit cheaper, Mega TR or Grapil. Short travel, slackish, lowish.

    hock
    Member

    nickc: I suspect we’re not that different

    yep! 🙂 front end bite essential, comfort not

    NormalMan: Spesh Camber 29er

    Thanks! I heard that Cambers are a little long in the chainstay?! If 29/FS it would be Whyte 109/129 or Superlight right now. But I am more inclined to stick with 26 for an FS.

    BadlyWiredDog: I’m not sure I understand why you want a full suspension bike and I’m not sure you do either.

    that’s quite right and one of the reasons I am asking people if and what difference it made for them to move from HT to FS

    Go 29er. Or rigid. Or singlespeed. Or all three.

    I had a rigid Inbred29 SS before the Soul. The Sould was initially SS, had rigids and then adjustable travel Talas before I happily settled for 100mm and gears. It’s my perfect 1st do-it-all bike.

    Now I am looking for my perfect 2nd do-it-all bike. Not (mainly) because of consumerism but to have a back-up bike, to have a change, to broaden my horizon, to evolve as a biker, to satisfy my curiosity.

    As mentioned it should be different enough but not too far away from what I want from a bike. A slack DH barge would be very different but I wouldn’t be able to exploit it (lack of talent, risk taking, terrain), wouldn’t ride it = waste of time and money. A 29er HT on the other hand might be too close to the Soul. Still an option if I can’t bring myself to invest into FS though. Or a new Soul with more aggro tapered/through axle/dropper post spec. :-/ 🙂

    jambalaya: always interesting to hear how the story progresses

    thanks! 🙂

    As mentioned before asking a forum can only tell so much, BUT in the cold light of day I do not have infinite chances to test ride all the bikes on offer. Apart from the rare and/or sold out ones. The forum can help to narrow things down a bit. Combined with test rides and best guessing on my behalf I increase my chances to make an as informed choice as possible. That’s all I want really. (And that’s what has worked perfectly for me before by the way!)

    Thanks to all for helping with that! 🙂

    I’m off for another ride with the Golden Willow tomorrow (extended test ride period). Hope trails dry a bit. Will try the more gnarly bits around here. Will try a slightly different set-up, too.

    Cheers!

    hock

    Current short-list in no particular order:
    – SC Blur
    – SC Superlight (26 and 29)
    – Anthem (26)
    – Whyte 109/129
    – Rocket
    – Solaris
    – new Soul
    – Nukeproof Mega (new entry)

    Premier Icon Normal Man
    Subscriber

    @ Hock

    Find a 2012 Camber expert 26er in the sales 😉

    emac65
    Member

    I’d have a test of the bigger wheeled Anthem as well.I had an extended loan of the smaller one for a few months off a mate,nice bike but not a patch on the 29er.The mate I borrowed it off now has the 29″ version,which he prefers as well.

    purser_mark
    Member

    Thats quite a varied short list, from XC to Enduro to hardtail.

    I have a Soul and a Zesty, they work pretty well together. I could ride the Soul all the time if I chose to and the Zesty climbs well enough to do everything all day. The confidence you get from a full sus bike can really push on your skills though.

    If I had my choice again I may lean slightly more towards the enduro side of things as the Soul is such a good XC bike. There’s quite a big overlap.

    I’d be looking at the Rocket or Mega or Spesh Enduro. I have ridden with guys on Mega’s in the Alps and they are very capable bikes, perhaps a bit on the slack side for climbing?

    I haven’t bought into 29ers yet simply because both of my bike are fairly recent.

    Interesting discussion.

    hock
    Member

    The confidence you get from a full sus bike can really push on your skills though.

    Those are the statements which motivate me to get out of my “never change a winning team”-comfort-zone. 🙂

    kudos100
    Member

    – SC Blur
    – SC Superlight (26 and 29)
    – Anthem (26)
    – Whyte 109/129
    – Rocket
    – Solaris
    – new Soul
    – Nukeproof Mega (new entry)

    So you want something between a hardtail 29’er and a 150mm all mountain bike?

    You also want something that behaves like a hardtail and are looking at the rocket and mega?

    Put down the crack pipe man, you’d have more success throwing a dart at a board the way you are going.

    hock
    Member

    Hi Kudos,

    please accept my apologies for not having progressed any further with this topic so far!

    And thank you for your help: I will now consider using drugs and darts to make up my mind.

    Sorry again for any inconvenience on your side.

    Regards
    hock

    Premier Icon ratadog
    Subscriber

    First proper mountain bike was a 26HT which I stil have in 456 form. Scandal 29er became the winter bike – although given the recent summers we have had it has become to some extent the all year round bike. 29er short travel full sus has become my other option and if you are looking for something slightly but not too different then like others I can recommend it.

    I ruled out the anthem as too racer for me ( I am not a whippet 🙁 ) and the Tallboy as too much bike. At the time Specialised were not bringing the Cambers in to the UK. the Salsa Big Mama was unobtainable and Titus were in the process of going bust.

    Partly on the basis of advice from this forum regarding non whippets and suitable frames I went for a Ventana El Rey. Yes it is plush compared to the HTs but it certainly acts as an all day bike while also being OK uphill, quicker than me downhill and fine on the bendy bits.

    Now there are a whole stack of bikes in this category. The newer version of the El Rey, the Camber, the Orange, Cannondale Scalpel etc. etc.

    On the basis of current value can I add a Titus Rockstar or a Salsa Spearfish/Horsethief to the list. According to reviews the Salsa suspension system, relying as it does on the flex in the seatstays gives a slightly firmer rear suspension which may be what you are looking for and the Bikemonger has some sell outs on frames and complete bikes at the moment which are worth a look if the size is right. I am sure there are others on STW with more experience of the Salsas not least the Bikemonger himself.

    Premier Icon ddmonkey
    Subscriber

    I would suggest that to take the place of a hardtail you should buy any good FS XC or trail bike, one you like the best after testing a few, and set up the suspension fairly firm with the rebound on the fast side of right. You will then get a lively FS bike that is responsive and fun. But you will need to test a few FS bikes to find the FS bike you like first, rather than trying to find a FS that is “like a HT”. So much choice these days it is hard to know where to start, try a few different bikes and start to whittle it down. Its taken me 10 years to really refine my idea of what it is I want in a bike, and I’ve tried quite a few in that time.

    kudos100
    Member

    Hi Kudos,

    please accept my apologies for not having progressed any further with this topic so far!

    And thank you for your help: I will now consider using drugs and darts to make up my mind.

    Sorry again for any inconvenience on your side.

    Regards
    hock

    Good man. You will have a much better chance of finding something you like.

    b45her
    Member

    hock have you considered a lapierre zesty with the EI shock? they’re adjustable as to how much impact is needed to start the suspension working.

    hock
    Member

    ddmonkey: Its taken me 10 years to really refine my idea of what it is I want in a bike, and I’ve tried quite a few in that time.

    🙂 not sure if I find your comment comforting (I’m not alone in not knowing initially what I exactly want in a (2nd) bike) or scary (the decision making process might take longer)

    Spearfish and Horsethief are interesting indeed and certainly fit the “like a hardtail” approach.

    Maybe an explanation for those who are a little impatient with me still pondering the decision:
    – the first time I thought about buying a 2nd bike is one week ago
    – until then I had only a very superficial interest in FS bikes
    – I only managed to get one test bike arranged since then
    – yes, I intend to do more test riding
    – I am in no rush

    kudos100: analysis paralysis

    that is a great term! And I recognise myself to a certain degree. I just don’t feel paralysed at all.
    My approach might be analytic (or not), but just because I havn’t made up my mind yet and bought a bike within a week doesn’t really qualify as paralysed, does it?

    A similar process incl. reading in this very forum has led me to buy my current bike and I am very, very happy with it. And I didn’t even make use of drugs and darts then.

    daveh
    Member

    I am (was?) A HT fan, bought a Heckler a while back but quickly went back to HT. I recently made a rash decision and bought a Grapil, absolutely love it! I stick by 130mm max rear travel (longer fork if you want), 67/68 head angle, 13 and a smidge BB height. Unless you’re riding big stuff I think this is where the most fun lies. The Grapil doesnt bob, doesn’t have a million knobs, bells and whistles, it does take the jarring off and gives you more confidence. I particularly love the way the Grapil seems to steer from the back, though I really must have a look at spoke tension in my back wheel!

    kudos100
    Member

    just because I havn’t made up my mind yet and bought a bike within a week doesn’t really qualify as paralysed, does it?

    Not at all. Saying you want something a bit like your hardtail in terms of geometry and feel (quick steering, not too wallowy) and then adding the rocket and nukeproof mega to your list suggests you have no idea what you’d actually like.

    Mental masturbation is probably a better term.

    It has taken me 3 years and probably 11-12 frames to really find what I like in a bike. (I now have 3 mtb’s, a hardtail, trail bike and DH bike)

    My advice would be to go and ride a load of bikes back to back and see what you actually like after riding some.

    And to stay away from internet forums 😉

    hock
    Member

    It has taken me 3 years and probably 11-12 frames to really find what I like in a bike.

    Really??? That’s not exactly best practice, is it?
    You should have asked the forums instead! 😉

    hock
    Member

    P.S.:

    analysis paralysis

    [quote]mental masturbation[/quote]

    let me guess: you are a trick cyclist by profession?!

    hock
    Member

    another/last test ride with the Golden Willow:
    – how can I tell whether it’s the set-up, suspension hardware or the bike itself that’s wrong?
    – I even switched to my usual tyres to make things comparable…
    – how can I tell within even an extended test ride if FS and/or a bike is right for me when others need many years and bikes to find their ideal bike?
    – if I need to adjust to a new riding style in order to appreciate a different kind of bike how can I achieve that within the limits of a test ride?

    I can’t… test rides are not always THAT helpful…
    Recommend me stiff and light 100-130 travel adjust forks for a Soul please… 😐

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