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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    325

    Which MTB to Choose?

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    1)I'm wondering at what point a hardtail needs to be full-suspension--I'm guessing when it is single-track, technical, downhill only trails?

    2)When it is FS, which of the various types to choose? I'm referring to the different rear suspension designs. I'm wondering if they differ much. I'm nerdy so any good links on this is much appreciated.

    Since it seems harder to test ride mtn, is it recommended to rent various models and take them out to the woods?

    Quillfred--wants to get dirty sometimes and leave the traffic behind

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Tustin, CA
    Posts
    1,308
    Tough question - it all depends how you want to ride. I ride a hartail and full suspension bike and like both and do both on the same trails but generally, if the downhills are steeper, gnarly, more technical, I want my fully. And although I'm riding a fully, I have friends doing the some trails and downhills on rigid singlespeeds.

    The general difference between HT and fully is that with a HT your legs and arms become the bike's suspension. You can tire out quicker and you can't usually ride as fast because you need to be up out of the saddle using your legs when if riding a fully, you can still sit and pedal. HT's are lighter and generally better hill climbers but the new shocks allow for lockout or "propedal" cycling which aids in climbing.

    Anyway, if considering a fully, try to keep the design simple, fewer pivot points. Consider mechanical not hydraulic disc brakes or better yet V-brakes because they are easier to use and maintain.

    Hopefully you know of a bike shop and/or mechanic you can trust to ask questions.

    A good fully to consider, not alot of money, but easily upgraded is Specialized FSR. Stay with the basic model** and skip the hydraulic disc brakes. The components and wheels can later be upgraded. Price is around $1650 - 2000.

    **basic model has mechanical disc brakes.
    Last edited by bcipam; 06-16-2006 at 12:08 PM.
    BCIpam - Nature Girl

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Berkeley, CA.
    Posts
    105
    My two cents.....If it weren't for full-suspension, I wouldn't be mountain biking....I used to have a hardtail, but never found it that fun.....plus, I'm older (49) and appreciate the comfort of the full suspension....I mountain bike a lot now and find myself riding trails I wouldn't have dreamed of riding ten years ago......(plus it's easier on my body which is important :-) )....I have the Specialized FSR and had the brakes converted to disk brakes last summmer......I love the disc brakes and haven't had any problems and they are easier on the hands (for me)....the young chicks may not have an issue...

    Ellen

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Off eating cake.
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    1,700
    bcipam, I'll concede that v-brakes are easier to maintain, but easier to use??? Do you never ride in wet glop? Do you never come across really steep little downhills with sharp corners at the bottom that require very careful braking to tackle successfully? Now I've tried 'em, I wouldn't dream of having anything other than hydraulic discs! They've had a bit of lever tweaking to bring the reach in, but that's about it; my (fairly entry level) Hayes have been very reliable.
    Drink coffee and do stupid things faster with more energy.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Tustin, CA
    Posts
    1,308
    Wait - I didn't say I ride with V-brakes. My bikes have disc (but mechanical not hydraulic). I love disc brakes and it I didn't think it was dorky, would put them on my road bike (but that would be dorky).

    My comment was as to what is easy to use and maintain... I think disc brakes require a little more know-how and patience.
    BCIpam - Nature Girl

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ventura County CA
    Posts
    605
    If you have a resort nearby that has trails there are usually bikes for rent. For example I am going to Mammoth Lakes tomorrow, and they rent bikes. That's one way to test ride. Or get to know women who ride and if they're your size they might take you out on a test run. Fit is not as critical on a mtb.

    I ride a hardtail but feel I need a full sus for the same reasons as tomgrrl. I rode an 8 mile technical downhill today and was up in the pedals with my butt behind the seat almost the whole way. My arms were history and my hands numb. You take a lot of abuse on a hardtail. We shuttled the bikes back up and I volunteered to drive down and meet the girls after their second run.

    You will probably want an "All Mountain" bike as opposed to XC or Freeride. I tested a Trek Fuel as I posted before (too short in the top tube). I also tested a Gary Fisher Cake 2GS which I liked because it comes in a size 13". My friends ride everything- Specialized, Cannondale, Santa Cruz. They are all taller than me so I can't try theirs. And everyone loves their Full Sus and hydrallics. Have fun shopping, and buy the best you can afford, even if it means waiting (that what my Dad always said.)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    407
    Quote Originally Posted by bcipam

    My comment was as to what is easy to use and maintain... I think disc brakes require a little more know-how and patience.
    I disagree....They don't really take more know-how to use them. You use the same way you use any brakes.

    1. Pull the lever to brake.
    2. Don't pull the lever if you don't have your wheel attached (insert the brake spacer when you remove your front wheel when transporting the bike).

    As far as maintenance is concerned, yes there is a bit more to it. But if you pay someone to tune up and maintain your bike, then it is not really any more of a burden (bleed kit etc...which if you are so inclined, you can do yourself and it is not that difficult). Rotors and pads wear out and need replacement. On the flip side, regular brakes still need to be maintained also (adjustments just because, adjustments from cable stretch and brake pads wear out faster....and it is not any harder to adjust regular brakes vs disc...I think disc brakes are actually easier to adjust.) While the maintenance between regular/mechanical brakes is different from hydraulic disc brakes, regular brakes often need more attention and MORE maintenance than hydraulic disc brakes.

    If it is a price point thing (as far as your budget), then you have to figure out what is important to you.

    Hydraulic brakes are lighter and more powerful than mechanical brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes are smooth, easy to use, easy on your hands, will work wonderfully in wet conditions, safer and are not an all or nothing thing like conventional brakes. I think they are a worthwhile investment especially if you like to race or go on epic mountain bike rides with lots of fun singletrack where technical braking is a must.
    Last edited by madisongrrl; 06-16-2006 at 04:53 PM.
    Just keep pedaling.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Bendemonium
    Posts
    9,684
    If it comes down to budget though, I would buy the best suspension possible and go with V-brakes rather than disc. You can upgrade one later fairly easily while a better fork and rear shock can be horrendously expensive. Of course, having said that I know notice you are on the damp side of the Cascades. Disc brakes work better in wet conditions. Mechanical are the easiest to maintain.

    FS for the same reasons as tomgrrl. I also climb much better because the back wheel maintains better traction and doesn't require as much power over obstacles. No need to lock out with a good pedal stroke.

    Not so sure about "all mountain" vs XC. Depends on the terrain you'll be riding. An all mountain bike can be significantly heavier. In addition, an all mountain bike can have a long wheel base which is great for the fire roads of California but can take a lot of the fun out of the really tight narrow singletrack of central Oregon.

    Do what you can to rent different types and ride the trails you want. Look at what others are riding and ask them why and if they would buy something different if they did it all over again.

    When you travel from one region to another, you will see that people ride vastly different bikes with different components and tires because of regional terrain. What is optimum in Moab isn't optimum in the Cascades. Go hang out with the local clubs and see what they are riding.

    When all is said and done though, make sure the frame and fork are the best you can get for your budget. The rest can be upgraded over time.
    Frends know gud humors when dey is hear it. ~ Da Crockydiles of ZZE.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Bendemonium
    Posts
    9,684
    Here is a good article that will give you the suspension design terminology for your research.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_bike

    For tight narrow single-track, I adore my Titus Racer-X which has a Horst link with a McPerpherson strut (I think I remembered that right).
    http://www.titusti.com/fs_tech.html

    For fire roads and bigger hits, I like my Marin Mt Vision. It predates the quad design which gets some good reviews. This bike has a significantly longer wheelbase than the Racer-X and is more stable on loose and steep terrain but is a liability on narrow track with 90 degree turns, one after the other, between trees spaced shoulder width apart.
    http://www.marinbikes.com/bicycles_2...uspension.html
    Last edited by SadieKate; 06-17-2006 at 06:03 AM.
    Frends know gud humors when dey is hear it. ~ Da Crockydiles of ZZE.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ventura County CA
    Posts
    605
    I'm sorry I am in my delerious post ride state. I meant to say XC, not All Mountain. My bad.

    And yes we have fireroads but lots of technical singletrack. Just not damp, but very dry and rocky. Good advice to ask the locals.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Cobar NSW Australia
    Posts
    69
    Giant's new Maestro suspension system is pretty good.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    the foggy wetlands,los osos,ca
    Posts
    2,863
    I have both types of bike as well. On my hard tail I have a carbon seat post. It makes it really nice to ride! The full suspension is good too. But I think I prefer the hard tail. But that is just me.
    Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.
    > Remember to appreciate all the different people in your life!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    325
    Thanks to all for your thoughtful replies. You have given me much to think about and consider. I look forward to giving it a whirl.

    Renting definitely seems the easiest. I will probably start with a hardtail and do some easy local trails.

    For the more technical, it looks smart to take a class or at least do a camp. I should make a summer trip up to Whistler mountain as I know they sometimes have biking camps. It is curious to me that you can have more control with more shock absorbtion. I will get right to "play"!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Bendemonium
    Posts
    9,684

    Women's camps

    Frends know gud humors when dey is hear it. ~ Da Crockydiles of ZZE.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Perth, Western Australia
    Posts
    5,318

    hard tail-long post

    Hey quillfred..

    Just letting you know i'm one of the few i think here with a hardtail..Reason..I don't huck..I'm still working on speed-i can go fast but i seem to be getting slower..

    I have a Scott Scale 40 & love it.

    We bought really cheap bikes in 03, have no idea what they were but they were crap. They ended up being stolen made a hasty bike buy but didn't know about bike fit etc at the time...The bike was REALLY heavy, disc brakes & a hard tail.

    05-we decided it was time for an upgrade..Looked at giant, specialized & scott as they're the main ones sold in Western Australia..Chose the scott scale 40 because the WSD Scott Contessa fx15 had crap components & noone sold them in perth..

    Anywho, it does have hydraulic disc brakes/dual shifters & am amazed on how fast they stop!!! I love the bike as it's LIGHT!!!, handles really well, lockout susp and just a nice bike allround.

    Ian has a dually but i wanted to improve before i bought one..NExt upgrade perhaps i'll get one..

    c

 

 

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