Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 57 total)
  • Pros and cons of long travel (150mm plus) hardtails.
  • Kramer
    Free Member

    For those of you on hardtails with long travel forks above 150mm travel how do you find them?

    Some of the magazines seem to think that much more than 140mm travel on a hardtail leads to an unbalanced bike because the changes in geometry when the fork compresses can make the bike feel unstable.

    Mind you, I’m pretty sure that back in the day they used to say that about old school hardtails with more than about 100mm of travel.

    Obviously slacker head angles do alleviate the impact of fork compression.

    I can see how they’d be great fun when you’re on it on steeper gnarlier stuff, but how do you find them for day to day riding?

    What are the advantages and disadvantages?

    nickc
    Full Member

    Pros: Huge amounts of fun. 

    Cons: errrr…

    I know what folks say about hardtails with long forks, and I’d say most folks haven’t ridden hardtails with long forks on them. In reality does the geometry change? Yes probably, the physics seems sound. Does it make any difference? No, not in my experience. 

    Mind you, I’m pretty sure that back in the day they used to say that about old school hardtails with more than about 100mm of travel.

    A chap in a car park in Watlington once told me with a straight face that I was stupid for running a HT with a 100mm Manitou back in the late nighties, he was very convinced that you’ve never be in a position where you ever need more than half that, and that 100mm was only for DH bikes. 

    dc1988
    Full Member

    I don’t think it’s as simple as there being a fixed amount of travel that is too much. How hard/soft do you run your fork, how slack is your head angle, how long is your wheelbase. They will all influence how a hardtail rides.

    desperatebicycle
    Full Member

    Only slight disadvantage is the backend feels a bit more stiff (or rigid?) probably. But that’s only when I come from riding a nice comfy full sus for a bit. I guess if the forks were longer (they are 150mm) it would lift the BB up a bit, instability may ensue, but the Meta HT is designed for long travel. I like it as it is anyway.

    reeksy
    Full Member

    I’ve got a 36mm fork that I’ve used over many thousands of km on three modern hard tails (SolarisMax, Switch9er and Rad bike co.). It’s adjustable between 140,160 and 170mm.

    None of the frames have been designed around more than a 140 fork. So I guess it’s not surprising they’ve all worked really well with 140. I did try the Stanton with 160 for a while. It wasn’t hugely different, but I would say that on steep technical climbs it wandered a bit more. You can adjust your riding to reduce that, but the advantage downhill wasn’t sufficient for me to bother so I went back to 140.

    chiefgrooveguru
    Full Member

    “Some of the magazines seem to think that much more than 140mm travel on a hardtail leads to an unbalanced bike because the changes in geometry when the fork compresses can make the bike feel unstable.”

    The weird thing is that none of these reviewers seem to have realised that a full-sus bike’s geometry changes even more whilst riding: Point a 160mm hardtail and a 160mm Horst-link full-sus down something steep and then brake and the full-sus’s fork squishes down as the back end rises whilst on the hardtail at least the back end stays put!

    Yes, on bigger landings a big fork hardtail gets steeper for a brief moment on time but it’s a non-issue. The classic mistake though is setting the bike up with the bars too low so you get pulled forwards when you get deeper into the travel.

    Also, the hardtail needs to be designed for that long axle to crown length – in terms of geometry, not just strength. Jacking the front end up raises the BB, shortens the reach and slackens the seat angle, none of which are usually good things. My Moxie is designed for 140-170mm forks and before getting it I figured out that 160mm would put the geometry exactly how I wanted it, and based on the last 18 months of riding it was the right choice.

    singlespeedstu
    Full Member

    This is my current hardtail.
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/2peWxNE]Autumn Dust[/url] by StuartBrettle, on Flickr

    Marino custom geometry i had built for not a lot of money.
    62 degree head angle with a 160 fork on there ATM.
    Do everything on it from ride to the pub to most of the steep trails we have here in the TV.
    Does everything I expect a bike to do just kicks the crap out of me more than my other bikes on really rough trails…

    I’ve never once been unable to ride something on this that i can ride on full sus bike because of the change in geometry.
    It just doesn’t even come into it in the real world.

    Only drawback is someone once told me not to put XC tyres on it if the fork was over 120 travel. 😉

    I’m running a 110mm fork on my (80mm corrected) Kona – although that doesn’t go off road, but used to and it was fine

    Running 170mm forks on my 26″ wheeled Shan and that’s been fine – although that will no doubt get retired now I have the Big Al

    150mm on the Big Al

    munkyboy
    Free Member

    160 on a bfemax. It’s designed for it and partly the reaso. I chose the frame. I tend to hammer it less than the full suss so it naturally uses less travel/ doesn’t get out of shape. But it’s there when you need it. It’s a brilliant thing

    reeksy
    Full Member

    I’ve never once been unable to ride something on this that i can ride on full sus bike because of the change in geometry.It just doesn’t even come into it in the real world.

    Agree. The geometry definitely doesn’t affect that. Ability to not destroy a rear wheel is my limiting factor.

    nickfrog
    Free Member

    I have run my Meta HT with 170mm because thats what the Lyrics I had were, and while I was planning to reduce to 150mm or 160mm I never did. I got a 160mm Fox 36 which had a similar AtC to the RS anyway.

    The bike was super fun. The only downside was on very steep climbs where the front end was a bit vague particularly on a 2.8+ tyre Vs shallower rear tyre.

    That was resolved by lowering the bars by 15mm or so.

    chestrockwell
    Full Member

    I’ve got a 150mm Pace HT and as has been said above, it’s just a bike that can ride all the same trails my FS can. I like the fact that the shorter chain stays make getting the front end up easier and like the feedback you get from a rigid frame. Defo feel more beat up the day after but don’t notice it at the time.

    mert
    Free Member

    If you’re not running a wildly unsuitable fork or a incredibly badly set up fork, it’s not too bad.
    I ran a long fork on an early “heavy duty” HT frame designed around a 100mm fork. It was awful, wandery, crap climber etc

    Put the same long fork (and everything else!) on a newer version of the same frame, but designed around a longer fork (proper head angle etc) and the only time it gets weird was steep, gnadgery, stepped descents where the fork would try to tuck under sometimes when it was further through it’s travel. Think it might only have been 140 actually.

    Also, i put a 100mm fork on my 60mm XC HT, and it was bloody awful, wandered around in a straight line, climbed like sith, was wandery as hell on descents.

    seriousrikk
    Full Member

    I think with the slacker head angles that are becoming more common on hardtails, it is less of an issue that it used to be. The geo still changes as you press into the travel, but not as much, and certainly not enough to throw you forward. Couple this with bikes being longer, and putting the rider more central, over forking is not such a big thing any more.

    Didn’t stop my shying away from putting 150mm on my cheap marley frame though.

    lovewookie
    Full Member

    I ran a NS eccentric cromo with a 150mm fork for a while. Just couldn’t get used to the difference in head angle change so didn’t really like it.

    However, I do think that it depends largely on the fork, and the frame. 150mm for the NS was at the upper end of travel, plus the fork was a RS reba, solo air and MC damper, so known for being a little bit ‘divey’.

    Having since then ridden bikes with the charger dampers with way more mid travel support, I’ve little doubt that a suitably slack bike with a long fork would ride fine.

    nickc
    Full Member

    I think with the slacker head angles

    I had a Shan with a 67deg head angle that had a 160mm fork on it, and s well a head angle the overall geo was pretty old school. I’ve also used a Chameleon mk8 as a XC bike in the Chilterns and that had a 140mm fork on it.

    kneebiscuit
    Free Member

    I had a Pipedream Moxie MX3 running a 160mm Fox 36. Pro’s- It was awesome and never once felt geometrically challenged. Cons-there really were none. Echoing other posters, as long as the frame is designed for it then go for it!

    5lab
    Full Member

    the geo does get worse just when you need it not to. This makes it harder to ride steep, rough stuff. Not impossible, but also not any easier than riding it on, say, a 120mm fork, so given there’s little advantage I don’t see any reason to long-fork a hardtail

    spannermonkey
    Full Member

    Ra bikes have a different take on this with their .410 hardtail…

    “The geometry is designed around a 160mm fork running 40% sag. Or a 140mm fork running 20% Sag

    The reason for the 40% (64mm) sag on a 160mm fork is that it gives a much larger dynamic range to the small bump capabilities of the front end which really helps calm everything down and generate more front end grip as the wheel can stick to the ground much more effectively. This set up allows you to really drive from the front and let the super short back end follow. The faster you go the more noticeable this becomes.”

    rOcKeTdOg
    Full Member

    I know nothing about the handling, the longest fork I’ve had on a HT is 130mm but I can say they look daft, like they’ve got the wrong fork on. I always think they look like Halfords or Asda built them with the wrong components

    jameso
    Full Member

    I think for riding in a certain way, pivoting around the back wheel and if you’re able to pump/hop/jump well with flats, a long travel HT can be great and the added travel is then just a preference rather than good or bad. Damping and spring rate probably more important than +/-20mm of travel. Basically as long as the bike still feels ok in those Oh Sh– moments bottomed out on a steep section it’s ok. It just gets a bit trickier to balance the geometry well as both fork travel and the range of riding you want it to be good for increase.

    I swear that a longer fork (more sag, softer for a given amount of travel) helps the back wheel lift over bumps too if you’re riding light on a rough trail. The rear lifts and the frame rotates around the BB, compressing the fork a bit.

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Agree. The geometry definitely doesn’t affect that. Ability to not destroy a rear wheel is my limiting factor.

    I think this is what I feel – and I am only on 130mm/140mm forks!
    I agree that FS can ‘change’ geometry a lot more in use than a HT – and the change in a HT is more easy to understand / deal with as it pivots around the rear axle.
    But, it is the battering of a rear wheel that limits things. The only time I am slower on a HT is when it gets properly repeated bigger hits that I cannot float over as easily and cannot hop far enough!

    the geo does get worse just when you need it not to. This makes it harder to ride steep, rough stuff.

    I am not so sure with a well set up fork. I choose to run my (crappily damped) RS Yari with less focus on small bumps. But that gives far more support when I really do batter into things, or have a combination of steep down and brakes going on.
    And, as said before, what is the difference of a FS when on the same ground? The same fork will dive the same amount, and arguably the rear end can come up more in it’s travel, so making it worse on a FS.
    Set up is key.

    ndthornton
    Free Member

    I used to run 160 forks on my 27.5 Kindom Vendetta. I didnt like the excessive change in geometry especially under braking or on steeps which I think was exacerbated by the fairly short wheelbase of the older frame. I converted to 29 Mullet and dropped the travel to 130 to keep the height the same. Much prefer it now. I haven’t noticed the dip in travel. with no suspension on the back I could never ride fast enough on lumpy trails to use the 160 on the front – maybe others can..?

    chiefgrooveguru
    Full Member

    “the geo does get worse just when you need it not to. This makes it harder to ride steep, rough stuff. Not impossible, but also not any easier than riding it on, say, a 120mm fork, so given there’s little advantage I don’t see any reason to long-fork a hardtail”

    This Canadian chap explains why more travel can be a good thing on a hardtail:

    https://m.pinkbike.com/news/chromag-doctahawk-a-nerdy-geometry-explanation.html

    I tried the short travel slack hardtail thing and it didn’t work as well for me as longer travel. Have done 100-160mm across four frames, three wheel sizes and with various angle-adjusting headsets too. It clearly depends on how you ride a bike but the “geometry getting worse at the worst moment” is mostly bad (over-simplistic) science.

    Alex
    Full Member

    160mm on my BFEMax as well. Built it with a 140mm Pike, then I had a ‘spare’ 160mm Lyrik available. Plan was to put a 150 or 140mm airshaft in, but i never bothered. Can’t honestly tell that much difference, maybe turns in a bit slower, but that’s probably just perception!

    I do run a lot of sag tho. Maybe 35%. No downsides against the shorter fork. Agree back end does feel quite harsh with all that plushness up front even with a 2.6 tyre/rimpact/low-ish pressures.

    5lab
    Full Member

    This Canadian chap explains why more travel can be a good thing on a hardtail:

    https://m.pinkbike.com/news/chromag-doctahawk-a-nerdy-geometry-explanation.html

    person selling a bike tries to make it sound good shocker. Anyway, at no point does he state more travel is good, just that he’s designed the geo to try and work around the limitations of a long forked hardtail.

    the “geometry getting worse at the worst moment” is mostly bad (over-simplistic) science.

    ok, educate us, when do you think a slack head angle is most useful on a bike? Going down steep rough stuff, or at some other time?

    badfink
    Free Member

    Bird Forge here with 150mm Domains.

    Had a terrible time at first on rougher tracks with recommended fork sag/pressure, as the fork kept on smashing into the ramp up at the end of the stroke; also wasn’t a fan of the fork getting caught on rocks/roots on steeper stuff, diving deep into its travel and lurching my weight over the front.

    Now at around ~18% sag with a short Trutune and it’s perfect. Handles big hits/chatter nicely and front end stays up nice and high in the midstroke on steeper bits. Anecdotally, it feels like the firmer fork marries better with the very firm back end.

    weeksy
    Full Member

    Why in all the races are the HT classes slower than the rest ? (fairly a generalisation, but pretty much always/everyone the case) 1st is slower than the other classes, 5th place is slower than 5th in the others, etc.

    breadcrumb
    Full Member

    Only two rides in on my Scout. I’ve a 160 Pike on it, I thought I’d have to fit a 150 shaft that I’ve got in my spares box but it pedals along nicely. The BB feels low enough as it is.

    PXL_20231106_122359006

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    ok, educate us, when do you think a slack head angle is most useful on a bike? Going down steep rough stuff, or at some other time?

    ALL bikes with suspension though will have the head angle change as you go through the travel.

    It seems that many people suggest this is only a HT thing. When in fact it is FS thing as well…

    chiefgrooveguru
    Full Member

    “person selling a bike tries to make it sound good shocker. Anyway, at no point does he state more travel is good, just that he’s designed the geo to try and work around the limitations of a long forked hardtail.”

    The history of that bike is that he likes riding gnarly stuff on a hardtail, which is how the bike came about. He’s a medical doctor, he doesn’t work for Chromag, they just made a new model inspired by what he wanted. Maybe he gets paid something for it but his arguments tally with my experiences.

    This is what he says about having the big fork and long slackness:

    “This bike is a monster truck on descents, and it’s far more comfortable at speed and in rough terrain than my previous hardtails.”

    “ok, educate us, when do you think a slack head angle is most useful on a bike? Going down steep rough stuff, or at some other time?”

    A slack head angle is most useful when going fast over rough stuff. A long front centre is most useful when going down steep stuff. A big fork is most useful when going over rough stuff or trying to get maximum front-end grip.

    A common mistake when looking at bike geometry and its behaviour as the bike goes through the travel is to assume that the bike is pivoting on the suspension like it’s on flat ground (be that angled or horizontal). When we hit a bump with our front wheel the front end of the bike goes up, not down, so measured against the direction of travel a hardtail gets slacker when it hits a bump which the fork partially absorbs.

    I know some people prefer how a short fork feels on a hardtail. Inspired by BTR’s 120mm Ranger I modded a bike to be very like that. I tried that bike with a range of fork lengths and anglesets and found that for how I ride the longer travel worked better for me. My current hardtail is 10mm longer travel with bigger wheels and longer slacker (but not lower) geometry and it works even better for how I want to ride.

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Full Member

    Why in all the races are the HT classes slower than the rest ? (fairly a generalisation, but pretty much always/everyone the case)

    I don’t think we are arguing that they are or aren’t slower than an equivilent travel/geo full suss.

    Just whether they have compromises/issues relating to having lots of travel at one end and none at the other.

    As always, my suggestion is look on a ruler at the difference between 150mm “long travel beast” and 120mm “modern xc”. The amount of travel is not the issue, the geo, setup and components are.

    nickfrog
    Free Member

    person selling a bike tries to make it sound good shocker.

    You’re probably judging others by your own standards of narrowmindedness.

    A 160mm HT can work as well as a 120mm HT for the intended use, it’s also about geo, set up, damping etc…

    No need to over simplify and eliminate other variables just because you have a bee in your bonnet as you run the risk of ending up with a sophism.

    cokie
    Full Member

    I did a back-to-back BPW trip and swapped between my 150mm Enduro FS bike and my 140mm Cotic BFeMax HT (A-2-C almost the same across the forks mind).

    The usual geometry argument didn’t stack up for me. Did plenty of reds on the HT and it felt absolutely fantastic. The blues where actually more fun on the HT too. I was more beaten up at the end of each run though. Tempted to up the travel on the HT to 150 or 160, but I use it a lot for mondain flatter local loops and wonder if the even slacker HA might numb the ride on the flats and long climbs.

    Pros: more fun at slow speeds, winter friendly & forces you to read the trail more and pick your lines so you enhance your riding skills

    Cons: Noticeably more fatigue, can get caught out on big features & faster trails.

    jameso
    Full Member

    my suggestion is look on a ruler at the difference between 150mm “long travel beast” and 120mm “modern xc”. The amount of travel is not the issue, the geo, setup and components are.

    Exactly.

    jameso
    Full Member

    A common mistake when looking at bike geometry and its behaviour as the bike goes through the travel is to assume that the bike is pivoting on the suspension like it’s on flat ground (be that angled or horizontal). When we hit a bump with our front wheel the front end of the bike goes up, not down, so measured against the direction of travel a hardtail gets slacker when it hits a bump which the fork partially absorbs.

    True to a point, though if the fork is supporting weight that’s heading fwd and down it’s inevitable you’ll get some compression that pitches you fwd a bit. When you’re going down something steep and rough or steppy the fork can compress into the backside of a bump and potentially feels stally, or over a rolling drop where there can be that trapdoor feeling. But if you spec the bike for that kind of riding I expect you’d get bar height, fit and fork set up right to cope with it.

    I think a lot of the ‘trapdooor bike’ perceptions some had (myself included) BITD were from riding 140-150mm forked trail HTs that weren’t optimised for DH in geometry or set up. Whereas now I don’t think as many of us would build a HT with a 150mm fork for general all-round riding (could be wrong – I see fewer about anyway), or if you did the geometry is better to start with.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    My Hello Dave has a 150mm fork and is my general use mountain bike. I’d pick my lightweight 120mm full sus for all-day/multiday riding or maybe if I wanted to go fast between two points over rough terrain but for everything else, I take the Dave.

    It’s raison d’etre is steeper off-road but with a quicker rolling rear tyre (with a knobblier one up front) it’s great.

    If I could only have one mtb though I’d go for a lightweight hardtail with about 120 fork, something like the Yeti ARC.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    Note that I have never been tipped over the bars on my Hello Dave, maybe it’s 62 degree head angle has something to do with it. 

    Blackflag
    Free Member

    I know nothing about the handling, the longest fork I’ve had on a HT is 130mm but I can say they look daft, like they’ve got the wrong fork on. I always think they look like Halfords or Asda built them with the wrong components

    Conversely i think they look really aggressive and purposeful and that shorter travel / xc race style hard tails look massively outdated now.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    A long travel hardtail is not the most efficient bike off-road but they’re generally:

    – Cheaper to buy than a full sus

    – Cheaper to maintain than a full sus

    – Lighter than a full sus

    – More predictable to ride than a full sus

    – Easier to clean than a full sus

    – Better looking than a full sus 😉

    – More engaging to ride than a full sus 😜

    – Better at downhill than a rigid or short travel hardtail 😎

    – Annoys chunky folk people on full sus e-bikes when you keep up with them on the descents 😬

    – Destroy rear rims and tyres 😏

    – Teaches you good riding habits especially when ridden with flat pedals. 🤟

    – Makes their riders be amazing at using emojis 🦦

    All bikes are compromises, just some are more compromised than others.

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