Full suspension or hardtail for races?



Cheesy

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Aug 21, 2003
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What do you guys prefer for XC racing? I'm in the hardtail league, but have considered switching to full.

Do you vary your ride depending on the race? Maybe hardtail for shorter races, dually for longer (for comfort!). Dually on a harder course? Tell me stories....
 

cem24

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Jul 18, 2005
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ok....i see...its ok to switch to FS...but for me...ill still use hardtail not only theyre lighter....theyre also good at hitting bumps....i know it sounds quite strange but for me...its a lot better than the FS...hardtails are also light and easy to carry when its time to carry them...and also...hardtails need less maintainance not like the FS...so thats my side...have fun riding!:)
 

whackyscientist

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Sep 14, 2004
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Some people only ride full suspension because they cant hack the pain in the ****. They kiss the pain in the **** in the morning and leave her at home when they come out to race:eek: .

you know who you are.... dont make me say names here:p
 

Rideastrong

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Jul 24, 2005
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both. it depends on the course. either my Strong Racing Ti hardtail or my SantaCruz superlight..
 

ExtremeTrek

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Sep 16, 2005
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So I voted FS but it really depends on where the race is. The courses here in Arkansas tend to be very rocky and rooty. That said I rode a Gary Fisher HT for years in mtb and adventure races. When I switched to my Giant NRS I fell in love all over again. I can climb technical sections better. On long races I'm less tired since I can spend more time in the saddle instead of having to use my legs as shocks. I can see how riding on forest roads with a lot of hills could be faster on the HT but with the advances in FS I think I'll be riding the NRS.
 

madisongrrl

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Feb 21, 2004
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Depends on the course and the distance. But I think full suspension might generally be the way to go. There is a really great article in triathlete magazine (July 2005) that interviewed Ned Overend, a Xterra (off-road) triathlete and mountain biking pro.

He said full suspension bikes keep your tires on the ground and reduce the bouncing when you hit a bump thus keeping foward momentum. On a hardtail you bounce up or even backward when you hit a bump. It takes more energy and has an impact on your body.

As far as traction is concerned (climbing, braking, cornering), the full suspension wheels are going to follow the ground better. You won't drift through turns,you climb rough ground better and you can brake later.

Ned says that over the last 10 years, suspension bikes have been getting lighter and have more efficient pedaling systems. There are definitely courses smooth enough that a hardtail is all you need. And of course, a hartail will be lighter. But the efficiency of the full-suspension bikes over a wider variety of courses makes it a better choice if you're in the market for one...

To sum it up, the full-suspension bikes are lighter and pedaling systems more efficient, making them more applicable for a wider range of courses.
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I race XC on a hardtail anywhere from 10-40 mile races and my body certainly takes a toll. I'm going to invest in a full-suspension bike for next year. Though I will still keep my hardtail waiting in the wings - just in case.
 

nickspeedbike

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Oct 28, 2004
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Yeah I can use both.

It's just that lots of cash goes into making the FS bike very light and the shocks need to be good, or else the suspension might make the racer go slower.

Selection depends on the race course and the racer must be able to adapt quickly to the different techniques required to get the best out of each machine.

I use the Giant NRS and a Ti Hardtail. For something in the middle, a Ti softtail would be nice to use.
But hey, this is XC racing right? Just use the kind of bike and setup you're most comfortable with.
 

Born2bahick

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Feb 27, 2005
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Check lap times! My experience is that the first lap or two the times on my hardtail are better, but after that rider fatique sets in, the full squishy starts to shine! It's 6 ponds heavier than my hardtail, but if the race is over 6-7 miles it's very competitive. Your results could vary!
 

K50

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Oct 7, 2005
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I used to use my HT, but that's just too tough. I'm fast as hell on flat and climbing, but as soon as there's very bumpy sections it's gameover for the hardtail. I just cannot keep up over rooty sections. While my competition is seated and hammering over the roots on flat ground, I have to stand and TRY to pedal, but I just can't get the power down. Not because of me, it's the bike. Full Suspension all the way...It's heavier and slower on climbs, a bit, but on places where you NEED suspension, it just dominates...
 

mountainboy

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Dec 30, 2005
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I previously had a full-suspension bike which I tried in a long distance road trek... and I just fall out of the way since it was quite heavy and fast-racing is impossible for a full-suspension bike. I really love my latest cinder cone kona bike, a rigid bike which works good on level land and much more on highlands. My butt does not move even in bumpy roads so its great especially when your are racing with time. I hope this opinion will try to convince you what bike is best for cross country racing.

mountainboy of the Philippines:cool:
 

fury4

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May 14, 2004
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It's a toss up. There are FS bikes out there that don't really weigh much more than a HT. If you are talking a few pounds, which to some is a lot of weight, on a tough track the FS would be the better fit. If race is not rocky and does not have long decents, a HT would be my pick. Depends on the individual and the conditions. You can't loose either way. Just my thoughts.
 

K50

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Oct 7, 2005
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christd said:
how about an FS with front and rear lockout?
Only if it's a poorly designed FS that works. Otherwise it's cumbersome and adds weight, and demonstrates that the designers were too lazy to make the suspension work properly on climbs and flat sections, so they just threw a couple lockouts on...
 

nevermindme

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Jan 15, 2006
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i'd love to go full but the buck overrules. Just means that a decent full suspension is a bit more forgiving on those tracks after several hours in the seat. My kona is light as but really jerks me around when it gets rough, so u have to concentrate on picking the best line, which isn't easy when ur tired! Go duallie if u've got the money
 

far_too_lazy

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Mar 26, 2006
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I haven't seen anyone mention short travel FS bikes like the ORBEA OIZ, they can come in at about 10.5kg.
 

krayzie

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Nov 11, 2004
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How about a Hardtail with a suspension seatpost, wouldn't that be the compromise of both worlds? You can sit down and pedal when it gets rough, and then leave the saddle and put the power down on climbs. I'm thinking a hardtail with a suspension seatpost would still be generally lighter than a fs bike?!?
 

robbielg

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Mar 27, 2005
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the full suspension bikes are getting better and better and i predict racers will eventually favor them over hardtails in crosscountry races..

Price is a factor in my choice of bikes, a decent hardtail is much cheaper than a decent full suspension bike. If it wasnt so expensive id pick the best dual suspension bike i could afford.

For all around off road riding and training i would use a full sus for the comfort it provides. But in a race with climbs and not too technical sections i would use a hardtail for its efficiency and light weight. For very technical and mostly downhill rocky races full sus would be the way to go.
 

K50

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Oct 7, 2005
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robbielg said:
the full suspension bikes are getting better and better and i predict racers will eventually favor them over hardtails in crosscountry races..

Price is a factor in my choice of bikes, a decent hardtail is much cheaper than a decent full suspension bike. If it wasnt so expensive id pick the best dual suspension bike i could afford.

For all around off road riding and training i would use a full sus for the comfort it provides. But in a race with climbs and not too technical sections i would use a hardtail for its efficiency and light weight. For very technical and mostly downhill rocky races full sus would be the way to go.
Yeah I completely agree. $2g will buy you a good racing hardtail, but $2gs will get you a not so good racing fs bike.
My view is that if you can ride the race course with a hardtail and feel fine, then it's not a very good course. I live in the rockies, and have some of the world's best trails. I had a hardtail race bike, but it only holds up in places where there are no mountains...But that just means it's a hammer-fest course. Out where I live, it's FS and discs all the way. A hard tail will get eaten alive outside of uphill sections. Once I switched to FS and hydraulic discs, I could never go back.