Newbie seeking full sus help

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  • Newbie seeking full sus help
  • Lactic

    don’t run before you can walk, no point blowing a fortune on an elsworth and discovering you hate mountain biking. Buy a £500 hardtail first (a complete bike will be cheaper than frame + components) and see how you get on over the summer. If you love it you can trade up later and the hardtail experience will have made you a better rider.
    Good luck, and don’t, whatever you do, call your bike a “steed”

    Tricky one,Jules. To this old duffer,it doesn’t seem right jumping straight onto full-susser with that much travel. My advice would be a decent hard tail with a long(ish) travel fork,or a full susser with less travel. Something like a Stumpjumper would be a good starting point.
    Over to more experienced and knowledgeable riders.

    Premier Icon Teetosugars

    Aye aye & welcome….

    Why don’t you get yourself to a demo day, and try a few out there..

    I’m sure there are a few friendly locals on here that might be able to help you out??

    Best advice I could give is try as many as you can..

    And just get out there and enjoy it..


    Who was the friend? Was he ‘informed’ by one of the big bike mags by any chance?

    Of course a 5-6″ travel full suss will be fine for most riding, but it strikes me as a bit of an odd recommendation when you say you’ve never ridden offroad.

    You should easily be able to get a full suss well under 30lbs for less than the cost of an Ellsworth frame. They are very high end frames by a comparivetly small manufacturer

    If you really want a full-suss then fine, but I’d be questioning where and what you want to ride. If you are near freeborn then its not like the lakes, peaks or black trail centre routes are you local playgrounds and would possibly question a full suss at all? Definetly a 6″ travel machine anyway.

    Though its your money, and you bike, so don’t listen to my limiting of your bike buying decisions


    As others have said – I’d recommend a decent hardtail with 100mm forks to begin with.Easy to learn how to ride on if you get bitten by the bug,easy to get rid of if you don’t.Something like the Rockhopper Pro from Specialized ticks all the boxes – great frame,proper geometry,avid disc brakes,dt swiss wheels,xt & deore shifting & recon 100mm forks.Cracking for around £800.

    Whatever you buy though,as has been said,don’t call it a steed !!! 🙄



    Hello all,

    My first post to the forum so please be gentle with me.

    I am a newbie, well no a virgin to be true, I’ve never put rubber anywhere else but on tarmac but thought it was about time I got off the black stuff.

    I am looking to get a full sus machine and the array of different types, prices and applications was surprising to say the least.

    However, I feel I’m more than likely going to build up my own bike as I don’t have all the cash available in one big hit (I could get some form of credit deal I’m sure) but more importantly I can spec the bike with what I want and not what the manufacturers give me and I can do it over a period of time picking up the best value deals and prices I can by way STM classifieds, BS sales, eBay etc.

    If you think this is pants idea be honest and let me know – I can for example take a 5 min walk to LBS and pick anything from Cannondale, Kona, Giant or BH for example and they all produce good bikes.

    One of my first considerations is going to be a decent frame and I know a good one is gonna cost more than 10 & 6!!!

    I’m after fairly capable steed and after talking with a friend have decided to look at someting around 5-6 inches of rear travel. I don’t think I want to go any smaller as I wouldn’t want to sort out a bike and find that I want it to do more than it is capable of and of course I think anything much bigger starts giving me to much and probably more than I will need and it starts to weigh more. Not really a banzi free ride guy – some of the stuff I have seen needs more bottle than I got.

    A friend of mine recommends the Ellsworth Epiphany or Moment as these fit in with the travel and build up fiarly light machines that are very capable and I have seen they both get good reviews.

    I don’t just want to stick with the one company so I was wondering if I could get some idea of what else is available from other companies that is on a par.

    I ask really as I’m off to Freeborn over the weekend and I want to be able to walk away without just buying the first bike I see and try, especially as they do 0% finace.

    Any questions please ask.

    Thanks for all the help.



    Hi all,

    Thanks for all the sound advice.

    The first thing I should state is that I have been riding bikes for more years that I care to remember, and in the past have ridden the occasional club time trial and a number Audax events, but I now want to ride in another manner. From a personal point of view I have wanted to get into off road riding for many years and I now have the opportunty to do so and want to jump right in and get going and will be more surprised than anyone if I don’t like it. But yes I knw that there is a chance I might hate it with a vengence and yearn for the tarmac once more.

    I must admit that where I am isn’t that rugged like many other areas of the UK, however, it was my intention that once I got a grounding in all the basic skills necessary that I do travel to where I could get the most out of the bike including abroad.

    I also have an eye on the futre as I will be emigrating in the near future and I wanted to sort myself out a decent bike to go with me.

    I can, however, see the logic of starting small and working up, walk before you run but have been thinking that it would be better to sort myself something that will do what I anticipate I want it to do rather than taking a hit in the wallet when moving on a 2nd hand bike when it reaches the limit of where it can take i. Perhaps this was throwing me a bit of a bum steer, something I may have to think about.

    Whilst I haven’t ridden a full sus yet I have been at the LBS and stood over a ’09 Dawg (6 inches) and I must say that it felt like it could handle Ben Nevis and being honest I would probably only go for 5 inches at the end of the day. Something that would give me a pretty good alround bike.

    My friend has just given me his opinion about Ellsworth and has said if I wanted to go down the self build route using decent kit I should have a look at them, perhaps I shouldn’t have said “recommend”, an Ellsworth is something he aspires to and he has also said that a Kona would also be a very good bike. He is also of an engineering bent and is very impressed with the principles behind ICT so perhaps that is what draws him to an Ellsworth rather than a Trek, Marin, Giant, etc, etc.

    I am in no particular hurry to be getting into the woods so to speak as I have my road bike so I want to take my time hence this posting to the forum. Expert I am certainly not.

    I am seeking as much guidance and advice as I can get I have still got a lot of research and trying out to do. Demo days are a great idea and I am gonna try to get to Bikeradar Live at Donnington Park at the end of the month.

    Please keep it coming, the more the better as I can then make an informed decision rather than one based on a chat with a friend and quick trip to the LBS.


    this is trolling on a whple new level. Genius.


    * NO GEARS
    * A BEARD

    ****END OF WARNING****


    pretty much as above get a good hardtail to start with, steel is a good choice, if you must have full suss go for a giant trance, as great choice as there is, a great all round and forget about oh i need 5 or 6 inch travel when a quality suss system with 4 inches or so can perform brilliant. enjoy

    Second what hicksville said about a trance – I have one & they are bloody ace.


    just going to echo the above sentiments. a hardtail will be a better place to start with a bike. not only will the basics techniques be easier to grasp but it encourages good technique. i would have thought that coming from the road you will appreciate the lower weight and responsiveness a hardtail will offer.

    don’t fall into the trap of believing that a 5/6 inch full suss is what you need for the alsp etc. i have done foreign trips on a 100mm hardtail and fully enjoyed them/ kept up with others (and not because i’m a riding god – cos i’m not!!)

    a 5 inch bike could be quite heavy – i find mine a bit of a drag a lot of the time if i’m honest. my hardtail is the go to bike.

    if your going down the full suss route have a look at orange 5, very capable bike and light as well.


    I’d recommend a Stumpjumper as an excellent quality starting bike. More than competent ascending and descending do it all bike, NOT jumps etc, and you get a lot of well proven technology for your money. Why buy a boutique bike at boutique prices? Unless of course money doesn’t come into it!!!
    My Stumpies been all over Exmoor, Peak District and Lake District and the only limiting factor was me.


    Stumpjumper recommendation seconded. Complete bikes are much better value than self-builds. And don’t believe all this stuff about having to start on a hardtail, you’ll be fine.


    Full sus, isn’t the way forward for a first bike. Hardtail all the way when starting out. If you have the money to spend the a HT of around £800 should be more than enough, however my suggestion would be a £500 bike from somewhere such as Merlin Cycles as they spec great bikes for the money. You then can upgrade or start to build up your full sus over a period of time but still be riding your HT building on your skills.

    I’ve been riding for 14years off road and started on a cheap HT then progressed to a posh HT which I sold to get a full sus which I didn’t get on with. I bought into at the time that 5 travel is the way forward but soon learnt it wasn’t. I then bought a new HT frame an built that up and I ride faster now than I did on the full sus.

    It’s upto you really but i would suggest a HT before a FS then sell the HT on in a year or two and you won’t lose to much money.

    Good luck.

    Ps try as many before you buy


    Have you considered secondhand? That way you could try out a few different options and not loose too much money if you decided they weren’t for you. Personally I don’t think it matters if you start on HT or FS, but a HT will get you a better spec for your money.

    and don’t forget to buy your Big Bike Bash tickets first.


    I’d recommend anybody new to mountainbiking to start with a hardtail(or even rigid)as a sort of apprenticeship, so you can learn the trade, so to speak.If you must go full sus from the start, unless you know what you’re buying second-hand, building from scratch can be a very pricey option(we’ve lost count of the number of frame-up builds we’ve spent ages pricing, only for the customer to have second thoughts in an “oooh, didn’t expect it to be that much” manner.).You’re probably best off going for a complete bike, maybe with a few upgrades(and i’d definitely suggest looking at a 5 too.).


    as above try as many bikes as you can, and as shinsplints says take all our advice with a pinch of salt as it comes down to what you like. I ahve owned the ellsworth moment, fab bike and if you ask opinions they will rave. The system of ict is brill but Turners did it better and first, i have owned them as well wife still does, I am a Horst Link fan but the trance is outstanding and one if the best bikes i have ridden if you can get the sizing right. They have a system that is great at climbing and neutral in braking and they are as tough as old boots, they can easily match the abilities of longer travel bikes. If you are going to do more all mountain, no idea really what that means but all day up and down in the mountains then a adjustable fork on the trance is they way to go.
    My wifes 1999 turner xce with SID 100 has 4 inch travel front and rear and she has managed Morzine/Les Gets/Lakes/Yorks Dales/Pryenees as well as touring. She has chance to ride most bikes our daughters have had from hardtails to full suss and keeps riding her turner because it fits really well, makes the ride intresting and works for her. Never every got on with stumpies, great bikes but not for me!
    If you go down the full suss route also try single pivot designs, you decide what you like, we are all different. Also get the right size!
    Good luck


    I would agree with going down the rod of a hardtail and also buying second-hand off here / ebay. A lot more bike for your money that way.

    Jules,where do you live? There’s a demo night coming our way later this month.

    Premier Icon njee20

    Don’t buy a bike from Freeborn, head north 10 miles on the A281 to Cranleigh and go to Beyond Mountain Bikes, they’re far better!

    You’ve got to do a few demos and see what you like, it’s impossible to advise you otherwise.

    I think you really need to establish your passion for off-roading before splashing that amount if cash – this will take a minimum of one year IMO.

    If you deffo want FS, look at Pauls Cycles online where you can get a Giant Trance – ace bikes – and uber value.

    But really, think about a £500-800 HT and learn to ride. Sorry, your road riding background will be great for fitness, but off-roading is really nothing like road riding. And you may not like it; I have two friends who are into road but don’t get on with off-road and they never ride their mountain bikes.

    Good luck mate (and welcome)


    500-800 hardtail advice is spot on.

    Premier Icon Del

    another vote for a HT, on a bang-for-buck basis, but it does depend on how you look at it. a FS may make it easier to like mtbing first off, but you are likely to pick up bad habits, and you may even find it a bit dull in some respects.
    on a HT you may find it easier to work out what you actually like as well, in terms of tyres ( type and pressures ), saddles, etc. etc. then when you do go for your FS build you’ll know exactly what you want to put on it.
    get an adjustable fork, 100-130mm ( u-turn on rockshock, talas on fox i think? ), so you can climb more easily, but also pi55 about with the geometry a little, and see what works for you.
    if you can’t afford or don’t have the space for two ( 3, 4? ) bikes when you are ready to get a FS, a well-specced HT can act as a donor for a frame/shock build. hope pro11 hubs are easily converted to bolt through for bigger forks which you may end up with on a FS, though other hubs will do this too.
    i’ve been out on my orange 5 today, and it is a very, very capable bike, but i don’t ride it all the time, as it takes some of the fun out of some my local trails, and can be a tiny bit of an effort to lug about in comparison to my HTs when climbing. tis bloody good fun other than that though 🙂
    welcome, BTW. 🙂

    Greetings and welcome.

    My two penneth. Echo the hardtail suggestions, but it sounds like you’ve got your heart set on a full-suss, so if you really want one, get one. There’s more chance of you riding something you really want.

    If you do go full-suss, 6 inch is a hell of a lot of bike for this country and you’d need big balls and big skills to get even close to its limits. You see a lot of middle aged men dressed as stormtroopers wobbling around the woods on 5/6 inchers who would be far better off on a hardtail or light 4 inch susser.

    I came in from the other end of the bike world (bmx)5 years ago, and got a hardtail and have upgraded everything (is sub zero to 456 upgrade or downgrade?). Still wouldn’t have a clue what full-susser to buy now if i was to get one, there’s too much choice.

    Do demo days, borrow bikes from shops and friends and just try to get on as many as possible, even if its just to discount a few.

    If you’re thinking about Elsworths, i guess budget isn’t an issue, as it would probably be over 3 grand for a decent spec build. If thats your budget, taking a couple of hundred quid hit on a second hand hardtail would be worth it to get you out there now and not waste money on the wrong bike.

    Nice dilemma to be in, wish my budget was that big.
    Good luck


    If you buy a decent hardtail you could always switch over the components to a full suss frame at a later date.

    Has no one recommended a specialized pitch yet or have people accepted there are no pitch pros in the country?

    To go to a 6″ full suss as your first bike does seem overkill and would be expensive to put together at a good spec.

    If you are mad keen then look at some of the big brands, some off the peg bikes are good value. People I ride with rate the Giant Trance, Trek Fuel, things by specialised. Anything more boutique (like elsworth) is probabaly going to be a pain in the wallet.


    Hi All,

    Thanks for all the advice.

    It gives me more food for thought.

    Mentioned my previous riding just to make it clear I’m not a complete novice on 2 wheels just in case it was thought I had pracrically no riding experience at all and that I was a complete nutter in making my first bike an AM FS machine. At this stage of my riding I just want to get away from tarmac although I will never give it up completely.

    I have been mooching around the internet and have seen some good prices for off the peg machines especially for ’07 & ’08 models.

    I know self builds can be expensive especially if you insist on everything being brand spanking new or you don’t bother to hunt around for a the best prices, although that said some off the prg bikes can still cost a hell of a lot more than self build – just look at a £7K Scott!!!! If I do elect to go down the self build I will most definately be making sure my pounds streeeeeeeech!!!

    I hope there was no miss-understanding when I mentioned Ellsworth – I am not just gonna shell out £1600 on a frame without taking in as much advice and guidance I can hence the posting to the forum. Was only going to Freeborn to have a gander at an Epiphany and get some more advice from another source and not to buy.

    I live on the East Kent coast in Ramsgate and am keen to try out some machinery and am gonna have a chat with my LBS to see if they can help out – if anyone here can help me out or point me to any damo days I’d be grateful.

    Please keep the advice guidance and comments coming they are very helpful.

    My apologies to you all for calling a bike a steed but check out p167 in Apr ’09 MBUK mag and there the term is bold as brass.

    Premier Icon ampthill

    Firstlt this is your choice. But I’ll ask a question

    When on the road do you stand up? Do you sprint? Are you fussy about frame stiffness in relation to pedalling?

    It’s possiblt that pedalling a FS will feel like walking through custard/ pedalling a rocking horse to you

    Perhaps equip an on one 456 with bits that could all move to the new FS frame

    happy shoping and riding


    I must admit my sprinting and time trailing days are long behind me and I am now more into distance riding. When climbing I don’t always get out the saddle, it just depends on the severity of the climb or how I am feeling at the time. It does have bar ends fitted and I do use these when climbing out of the saddle as this does allow me to pulled the up against the down stroke of the crankarm.

    My current bike is actually an old MTB with rigid forks but set up for road riding (high pressure tyres, close ratio cassette). It is actually quite old but still perfectly good to ride and is made from 6061:1 aluminium and steel forks.

    It is a fairly stiff frameset but nothing that presents me with any issues and have used this on fairly long distance rides some of over very hilly terrain and I don’t feel fatigued from the frame.

    I also do very much appreciate rding off road will be completely different in about every respect but what I have been led to believe is that with modern suspension frames they can be set up so that pratically all of your pedalling is converted to traction and not wasted in bobbing.

    Thanks for the advice

    jules your new so i’ll be gentle , was your first car a ferrari? by a cheap hardtail and then sell it after a while you might be an accomplished cyclist but your still a beginner at off road a hardtail will teach you how to pick lines, ride smoothly understand the impact of the trail on your momentum when you have learnt these things buy a full suss. riding a full suss from the off will make you a lazy , less skillfull rider

    Premier Icon Del

    I also do very much appreciate rding off road will be completely different in about every respect but what I have been led to believe is that with modern suspension frames they can be set up so that pratically all of your pedalling is converted to traction and not wasted in bobbing.

    while that is true, they still don’t feel like it. my 5 has a fox rp23, which has propedal ( three levels of, in fact! ), but it’s still never going to feel like a HT – don’t let anyone tell you ‘switch everything on and you’ll basically be riding a HT’, because it’s simply not true. lockout the front, propedal the back, it’s a hell of a lot better than it could be, but it still feels like it’s robbing you.
    if you’re basically wheels on the ground, not launching jumps over a foot or two, and not hammering rock gardens, you don’t need FS.
    but you might like it. 🙂


    Get the FS, you may not like it at first but it’s worth giving it a bit time to get used to. FS is so much nicer than HT for offroad IMO.


    The reason for the post was to get as much advice on the subject of getting my first off road bike and it has come in bucket loads and has been varied – just look at the last post.

    I will take stock, chat with my LBS and get as many demo’s as I can but as a cyclist I wanna get going so a decision needs to be made.

    Will let you all know what the decision is when made. Damn Sunday trading my LBS is closed today 🙁


    If you are that desparate to just get going, then buy a cheap HT (eg Rockhopper discs), then over the year start demoing other bikes (from fellow riders, demo days and shops), you’ll soon learn what you like/don’t like, need/don’t need.

    You sound like you have the fitness, so you don’t want to get a beast that can slow you down too much Xc or uphill.

    Alot of my mates with FS are now buying a good HT. Another has just been at the foot hills of the Alps on his HT stumpy (90mm travel) and just tackles anything. There is a big misconception that you need 5-6″, you may like it, it may feel like an arm chair, but you don’t necessarily need it.

    Two questions you have to ask yourself:
    1) Budget
    2) Where you will do most of your riding – XC, trail centres etc…


    Budget – ah yes that is the thing – unfortunately I like all most probably want Porsche but only have Proton money.

    I don’t have a defined budget but what I will say is that I (and probably everyone else on the forum) want the absolute best value for my £’s. I have thought about the used option and have been looking around getting an idea of prices. Although the down side is that you just don’t know what sort of use the bike has been put through so there is I suppose an element of risk. With the new option you should at least get some form of warranty. From my perspective I think best value would be NOS or un ridden ex demo.

    With the self build option I can spread the cost of the build over a number of months so it won’t be a big hit in the wallet at one go and this allows me to seek out the very best prices and spec that I would like based on what I have read and reviews etc. Although that said I know that most of the big retailers do offer credit lines which can help.

    Where I will ride, I know is an important factor, initially it won’t be down the side of Ben Nevis! I will want to learn to ride properly (I know how different off road riding is to my present experience) – I very much appreciate that there is no point in having a £4K bike that I can’t ride properly and end up being so frustrated I end up selling it as a result. I will start buy riding around my local country park (allows riding) to build up the fundimentals and my LBS are looking to start a sunday club for all levels and then as I improve I will look to graduate onto more technical and lumpy stuff.

    Once the trade is learnt (although you never stop improving) I want to look further than my rather flat back yard – Lake District, Scotland, etc and travel abroad as well. Also I will be emigrating to Malta and that is fairly rugged terrain (just a limestone lump in the middle of the med) and will hopefully getting to the Dolomites with the wife (she’ll be working with her job while I bugger of riding).

    Perhaps I have got too much of an eye on the future rather than the now, again all reasons for making the post to the forum, making me think rather than making an expensive rash decesion that I will regret


    jules, personally i would recommend a HT, a steel one that can run adjustable forks, and large tyres if needed, try a Dialled bikes PA great all day bikes and good on the ups but inbreds are good/cotics/pipedreams/sandersons all recommended and incredible value for money, all good for learning on, progressing on and total hardcore, if that is your thing. they are all porches none are protons, the PA was one of the best bikes I have owned.
    Good luck but do tell us what you get


    It would seem that the overall consensus is HT rather than FS.

    I have started to look at this type and I will see what I can pick up. Will check out the online shops (Pauls, Winstanleys,etc.etc. ) and see if I can pick up an a decent specced ’07 or ’08 that has a big dizzy.

    The money saved can go to the FS fund if I can hide it from the wife!!!!

    Will also check in with the LBS and try to get to some demo days.

    Thanks again for the advice.

    If you go the hardtail route, but still desire a full suss, get a HT that you can swap all the bits off on to a Full suss frame later. I could probably swap 99% of the bits from my 456 inbred to a 5 inch full susser, flog the frame for £100 ish and only take a £75 hit on the frame (yes you can get a good frame for that little). Over 3 years or so, £25 a year for frame use, not bad value for money.
    Going this route you could spec pretty high end kit, have a custom build and still not break the bank. Once you’ve got the hang off mud plugging and tested a few frames you can then buy your dream frame.
    Only issue i had to get around doing this was getting my head around the fact that my frame is one of my cheaper components. (forks twice as much as frame, cranks same price as frame etc.)

    I would recommend the honda cbr 650 when starting off, goes up hills like a whippet buT at 210kg without pedals they are on the heavy side if you need to lift over gate or anything, think they have the new electronic shifters too……

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