Why is my 140mm trail bike quicker climbing than my 140mm hardtail?

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  • Why is my 140mm trail bike quicker climbing than my 140mm hardtail?
  • 5plusn8
    Member

    On one of my fave loops (Pitch Hill) my 26er Bandit always knocks nearly 10% off my time compared to my 26er Soul. Both have fox 140mm 32 floats, similar 1×10 drivetrains (same cassette and chainring sizes).

    Its flowy a bit rooty some stone hard pack with little bumps. It is kind of like a race circuit on a bike, I know almost every corner, line, bump so I hit everything hard. (I am no racer by any stretch and of average fitness)

    According to Strava decent times are close but I lose/gain on the climbs. It is true that the full suss feels way easier to climb. My feeling is that I am a bit lazy and tend to stay sitting down climbing so will pedal over obstacles whilst sitting. I guess this is much easier on the full suss than the hard tail. Bu also the full suss seems to give a bit back on the climbs. I know this is against conventional wisdom but it really feels nicer..

    Any ideas?

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber
    Premier Icon rossburton
    Subscriber

    No expert but basically the suspension is forcing the rear wheel on the ground and it will adjust as the terrain changes, so you get more traction.

    nickjb
    Member

    When rear suss first came in one of the promoted benefits was improved climbing. I’ve certainly found that to be the case and even more so with modern suspension designs and shocks.

    5plusn8
    Member

    Yea maybe I guess I had not thought about that. I can’t say I have ever noticed losing traction. I’ll have to think about this next time. Although I am thinking of just quitting the hardtail and riding the full suss all the time.

    edit nickjb – thats my feeling too – I would like to know how…

    Traction and the ability to have steady pedalling over rougher ground. My 140/130 Flare has been quicker than a 120 Soul on anything remotely steep/loose/rocky. I’m clearing a climb on my local loop pretty much every time which normally I’d dab 50 percent of the time.

    It’s also a tad quicker on the downs, so the poor old Soul is sitting in the garage looking forlorn at the moment.

    Premier Icon benp1
    Subscriber

    Do you sit and pedal, stand and grind, or something else?

    5plusn8
    Member

    have steady pedalling over rougher ground

    I defo feel this – on the hard tail if I pedal over a rough section seated, it hurts my arse..

    Benp-sit and pedal. LAzy..

    It isn’t traction, it’s efficiency, both of the rolling system and the human powering it. With suspension the mass of the bike can keep moving forwards rather than being displaced upwards over bumps which decelerates it. And because the bike isn’t constantly changing speed over the bumps you can pedal at a more constant cadence which is more efficient for most riders. There’s also a fair chance the pedalling position is more efficient on the Bandit, the Soul’s seat angle is pretty slack with 140mm forks.

    chilled76
    Member

    Probably a combination of things…

    Is the full suss a lighter build overall?

    It probably gives better traction as stated above.

    Different wheel size rolling over rocks better?

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is your position and fit on the bike, maybe you are getting more of your power down on the full susser because it fits you better. Layback and reach etc etc having an impact on power output of your legs/glutes

    5plusn8
    Member

    Lots to consider here.
    Seat tube 74 on the bandit, 71 on the soul with 140mm forks. Which is better?
    Full suss is heavier by a couple of pounds.
    Same wheel size.
    I can believe this too

    With suspension the mass of the bike can keep moving forwards rather than being displaced upwards over bumps which decelerates it. And because the bike isn’t constantly changing speed over the bumps you can pedal at a more constant cadence which is more efficient for most riders.

    Premier Icon benp1
    Subscriber

    If you sit and pedal then a susser will be better over the terrain you mention as you can sit down all the time without getting kicked up out of the saddle and you want need to keep raising and lowering your bum over the bumps. As a result you can have a smoother, more consistent pedalling action. Combined with the tyre being in contact with the ground more of the time that’s going to be a winner

    Surprised you’re the same speed going down too…?

    5plusn8
    Member

    That makes a lot of sense.
    Note: I don’t sit going down..

    Looks like I may be quitting the hardtail. Given that I prefer riding the susser anyway. I’m running out of reasons to keep it. It is like you have these things because everyone says you should.

    core
    Member

    Just stumbled across this thread whilst searching for Cotic Flare info….

    But it’s exactly why I want Cotic Flare info – I had a demo on one last year and found I cleaned some snotty climbs that I’d usually not on my hardtails (even my XC 29er) and beat several Strava PB’s on segments I’d ridden on lighter bikes, in as good conditions, whilst lighter and fitter myself. The same was also true of a 150mm Stumpy I had for a weekend. It really surprised me.

    This past weekend I rode with a mate in the local woods, me on a hardtail (Soul, 27lb complete), him on full suss Rose (probably 32lb complete). I could match him and pull away slightly on the flat, and on smooth, non technical climbs, but as soon as it got bumpy, loose and rough (up or down in fact, but the ups were my concern) he left me behind, and was visibly more comfortable, had less dabs and generally had to put less effort in. We put it down to the back not getting kicked up off every little obstacle and killing momentum.

    So, he was faster (as expected) and more controlled on the downs, same on the flat, less beat up by the end, faster on the bumpier/looser ups, and generally more comfortable.

    There may not be a place for a hardtail in my shed any more…….

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    My ‘new’ Trek FS is much quicker up the rocky climb than the rigid Salsa. Not only does the Salsa itself get bounced up over rocks instead of rolling over, but I have to keep my arse hovering over the saddle for much of it, which is harder work, and I also have to disrupt my rythmn all the time to manage the tricky bits. On the FS I just sit and pedal efficiently.

    But that’s only for rocky bits. First FS I ever got was 27 lbs or so. I rode it all the time, then I decided to go for a ride on my 21lb hardtail thinking it’d be a nice fast blast. Well it wasn’t, despite being 6lbs heavier lighter it was slower on the rocky climbs which is most of them round here.

    EDIT yes I meant lighter.

    steve_b77
    Member

    So basically hardtails on rough ground are $h!te 😆

    core
    Member

    Presume you mean 6lbs lighter? @molgrips

    Rorschach
    Member

    Basically you’re just not very good at riding hardtails.

    core
    Member

    Ah, the old skill compensator argument……….

    There’s some truth in that to be fair, it’s a fine line on a hardtail between staying seated and taking the punishment/trying to maintain momentum Vs getting up and stomping whilst trying to keep enough weight far enough back so as not so lose grip and spin.

    Rorschach
    Member

    I do like the ‘I’m not slower on my 33lb FS than I am on my carbon HT” line.Then you find out they average about 6mph on both of them.

    johnhe
    Member

    I totally accept that my full suss might be faster, but that’s not why I would choose to ride my hardtail. The whole point of riding a trail HT (for me) is that it IS more work, and penalises poor technique or poor choice of line.

    That forces me to think a lot more about what I’m riding on a hardtail, which is part of the fun.

    hols2
    Member

    The whole point of riding a trail HT (for me) is that it IS more work, and penalises poor technique or poor choice of line.

    If you take that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, you should be riding a unicycle.

    5plusn8
    Member

    Rorschach – Member
    Basically you’re just not very good at riding hardtails.

    If that is aimed at me, then yes I fully accept this. If it’s aimed at molgrips, well I don’t know him or his technique, so I would have to unequivocally agree with you Rorschach…

    Meanwhile I have been working hard on this issue and have ridden alternatively the cotic and the bandit for 6 rides each on the same route. According to strava on a slog climb with a few rock gardens and rooty banks, it takes me averagely 13:30 mins on the bandit and 14:45-16 on the cotic. Poor technique or not, the cotic is going out to grass for the rest of its days.

    Trimix
    Member

    Just watched the mens and womens XC world championship race. I didnt see any HT bikes.

    Modern full suspension is way more efficient for riding off road now than it was say 5 or certainly 10 years ago. Better grip, more efficient and stops the bumps limiting forward movement.

    Hardtails still have a few advantages:
    They look pretty (well, steel ones do).
    They’re lower maintenance and easier to clean for British winters.
    They feel a lot different so can make the same trails feel fresh.
    They help improve technique as you notice clumsy riding.

    It a hard to argue that they’re better bikes than full suspensions, but there’s still a place for them.

    5plusn8
    Member

    Oh yeah, I wouldn’t want to see an end to them. It’s just I’m done with them…

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