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Why is full suspension so controversial?

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Why is full suspension so controversial?

Old 01-19-22, 07:33 PM
  #1  
Dr1v3n
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Why is full suspension so controversial?

Tl;Dr - I just don't understand why there is so much advice like "don't use a fs unless you absolutely have to", or "hardtails are more fun" because from my perspective, after riding road, gravel (with NO "suspension" at all), and now fs, this is the most fun I've had on trails and it tends to also be easier on my back and knees.


Background:

This may seem like a strange question, but my background is that I got into road cycling as an adult almost a year ago (rode a lot of bikes as a kid so not totally new), loved it and rode 1,000 miles. I also am not a huge fan of riding with cars and almost got hit 6 times while doing so, despite always staying in my lane, being predictable as possible, running lights and fluorescent colors, etc... I lived in an extremely busy area of California. There are lots of trails around here. So I bought a gravel bike and rode probably 50% trails, 50% road still, but also learned to take sidestreets and such on the way to trails. I ride for fun and exercise, not for any future competition or speed. I rode another 1,000 miles on that gravel bike in 4 months.

I don't often ride with anyone else, so I don't have many biases or "education" from others - most of my discoveries are just based off of my own experience. I would often wander into what i now understand are mtb trails basically, with my gravel (Giant Revolt Advanced). As I became more and more proficient technique/skill wise, and learned how to distribute my weight at various speeds and terrains, I've been able to get through a surprisingly large amount of rough stuff relatively unscathed on the gravel. In fact, I've been on trails probably 5-6 times where I saw someone on a hardtail or full suspension bike completely eat it right in front of me, on my gravel bike.

Throughout this time, I thought about getting a mountain bike more and more, then I moved to an area with even rougher trails now where I could ride on gravel bike, but I would *have* to limit my speed and often would have difficulty stopping going downhill because rocks and obstacles would literally be lifting my tires off the ground, forcing me to lose traction. I was also getting knee and back pain from such trails.

So I decided that since biking is here to stay, and everyone else on some of the trails I was riding was using a FS bike and seemed to be having a better time, I'd get one (Giant Trance).

Wow, the thing has made a HUGE difference. Essentially I can just glide right over almost anything aside from large rocks and boulders... It was surprising to me to just be able to float right up a curb slamming into it at speed. But I also notice that in general, it makes even the less technical stuff feel more smooth like a road, and I end up travelling much faster, riding longer, getting a better workout, etc... Basically it's all great in my view. Another key point is that a little weight and resistance is okay because in my view, it helps keep me working harder which boosts my heart rate and calorie expenditure over any given amount of time - and exercise is a large goal for me.

However, some of my friends and other acquaintances have basically mentioned "not needing a full suspension" unless I am doing jumps or super high speed downhill, etc... That hardtails are more fun, etc... I don't understand the argument because I can just lockout my front and rear shocks when I want that type of experience too... And the bike doesn't feel heavy to me, climbing is a breeze. I guess I just don't understand why there is so much "don't use a fs unless you absolutely have to", because from my perspective, after riding road, gravel (with NO "suspension" at all), and now fs, this is the most fun I've had on trails and it tends to also be easier on my back and knees.

Thoughts?

Last edited by Dr1v3n; 01-19-22 at 07:41 PM.
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Old 01-19-22, 11:07 PM
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Thatís a tough one to answer, but I think part of the answer is in your own writing. You mention reasons that you like full suspension like being able to ride right up a curb and the trail being effortless to ride, and that youíre riding for exercise. A lot of people would likely find that boring and ride hardtails for the opposite reasons. Theyíre not riding for exercise; they want the challenge of the bumpy trail. They want to rely on their skill, not the bike, to get them blasting down the trail. They donít wanna ride right up a curb. Itís fun for them to develop and use the skills to bunny hop up it. Just different goals and different ideas of fun. To me, a hardtail is more exciting and fun in some ways, and full suspension is fun in other ways(though not as exciting because it makes everything easier). Itís kinda like driving a fast car vs a slow car. Itís way more fun to drive at the limits of a manual transmission car with 150hp than it is to drive an auto transmission 350hp car below itís limits. The 350hp car is faster and easier, but itís basically sitting in a couch coasting from light to light. The lower powered manual trans car is exciting and a challenge to see how fast you can go as you pound through the gears at redline.

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Old 01-19-22, 11:14 PM
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Full suspension is not controversial. It hasn't been controversial for about 30 years now.
Though the bike manufacturers try and keep it controversial in order to make what you're riding obsolete.
Where in the world do you live anyhow?
I once wore my nephews kidney belt on a long out-and-back up and down a mountain ride that had a looooooooong section of scree like surface that had kicked my ass on a previous ride. The belt made it tolerable.
But this was before suspension was invented for mtn. bikes.
True story.

Last edited by tungsten; 01-19-22 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 01-19-22, 11:40 PM
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The only controversy is that FS as it is nowadays costs up to 5x as much as rigid or HT and adds a level of complexity that needs to be maintained. If you are cool with accepting those parameters (cost/maintenance) then you can get FS with lockouts and have the best of both worlds. However, not everyone wants to go all in for something that is grossly "overbiked" for their particular needs.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 01-19-22 at 11:55 PM.
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Old 01-20-22, 10:10 AM
  #5  
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FS has not been ďcontroversialĒ outside of a luddite fringe for over 2 decades.

Most expereince mountain bikers find a place or mood for both FS and HT bikes..

BTW, if your friends need to be riding rigid singlespeeds with flat pedals. Otherwise they are just blowing smoke.

Last edited by Kapusta; 01-20-22 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 01-20-22, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
FS has not been “controversial” outside of a luddite fringe for over 2 decades.

Most expereince mountain bikers find a place or mood for both FS and HT bikes..

BTW, if your friends need to be riding rigid singlespeeds with flat pedals. Otherwise they are just blowing smoke.
Bingo.

Can't say that I've seen FS being controversial anywhere.

I have both FS and Hardtail. While I prefer the FS there are instances where the trail dictates that a hardtail will be fine. Although the design of my FS bike makes it act like a hardtail in some instances.
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Old 01-20-22, 10:38 AM
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I think "controversy" is the wrong word. The idea is more along the thinking of "horses for courses."

When a customer first comes into a shop & says something along the lines of: "I want a mountain bike. I want a good one." But the implied mannerisms of speech & body language also suggest they really don't know a lot about mountain biking, they don't know what a mountain bike costs, or they intend to ride recreationally on the weekends, don't intend to jump, & there is a budget of some amount, then answer is obvious: A hardtail will meet all their needs. It won't blow their budget or scare them off with a wicked price tag. It will save them a bunch of weight, complexity & maintenance. It will also help them to work on their skill & they will also have a ton of fun.

If the bike bug bites & they find they want more, the customer will be back for a much more capable machine & have the skills to use it. If not, then the hard tail was the right bike for them.

The term "over biked/under biked" is over used, but the point is that falling into either camp is not as fun as having the right bike for what/where/how you ride. The right bike is a moving target.

One of my coworkers has a single speed hardtail, another has an e-mountain bike, one has a the most expensive full carbon & lightest full suspension the factory rep could provide (& then went about saving pounds further,) & I rock a late '90's hardtail. We all do ok. There is no equipment controversy among us, only who has the skill & who crashed.
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Old 01-20-22, 11:27 AM
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Excellent answer above IMO. Ride what feels good to you. For years I rode a SS rigid bike and seemingly had as much fun as my friends on their much more complex bikes. As age crept in, I've added gears and suspension and am still having a blast albeit on a heavier, more expensive bike. There are those like a friend who purchased a $9K bike several years ago and proceeded to upgrade many parts in order to lighten it further.

Last edited by 2old; 01-21-22 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 01-20-22, 01:22 PM
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I ride what I like and ignore that other people think about my bikes or theirs.
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Old 01-20-22, 02:27 PM
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The bike market is wide. No matter how iconoclastic you are you can find someone to sell you whatever is the opposite of what you hate for being mainstream
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Old 01-20-22, 02:36 PM
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My last MTB purchase in 2018 was a budget and function compromise. I'd had a FS bike which I liked but I needed to manage commuting and kiddie seats and a trailer. I got a plus tire bike, with all the compromises entailed. I've made some nice changes to it but it's still work pushing that fat soft tire in back. Next one will be FS and whatever tire size is most mainstream by then. But budget might not fit my preferences for a while.

My commuter is a SS rigid, a flat bar conversion of a pretty rugged model of gravel bike. It's tough enough for some dirt paths but I'm not taking it off anything higher than a curb. Even so I sometimes want a little front suspension.
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Old 01-20-22, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
The only controversy is that FS as it is nowadays costs up to 5x as much as rigid or HT and adds a level of complexity that needs to be maintained. If you are cool with accepting those parameters (cost/maintenance) then you can get FS with lockouts and have the best of both worlds. However, not everyone wants to go all in for something that is grossly "overbiked" for their particular needs.
Not a controversy but this. I had my wife get a DS for her MTB since she doesn't ride as much and the bike can compensate some for less ability, and it does well with that and she's ridden places she otherwise wouldn't go though she has now expressed an desire for a hardtail. But there's no doubt the bike is chunky which is part of her problem, she can't put it on the roof rack. Hers at 2000.00 vs mine at 2000.00, mine weights 7lbs less, and was much better equipped in regards to wheels, brakes and shocks; both were deore equipped but actual deore crank vs cheesy fsa crank. To get similar equipment from the same company and be dual suspension would have been another 800.00.

Last edited by Russ Roth; 01-20-22 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 01-20-22, 04:06 PM
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For me, I like the aesthetics of a hard tail. Clean lines and simplicity are appealing. Same reason all my road bikes are skinny steel. I canít really justify it or pretend like itís actually better but I know what I like.

Iím never going to be setting records up the hills, or down. There is added value in having a bike that I like to look at.

Not that I would never own a full squish, certainly a bike that can rip is also pretty attractive. Maybe if I end up living next to a trail system that would justify it.
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Old 01-20-22, 11:06 PM
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When was full suspension controversial at least recently? I missed those threads by a mile. FS stuff is freakin' awesome. The reason I didn't go FS personally is I don't mountain bike that often and honestly a more versatile rig I could also use for bike packing made sense. I want a full suspension bike, there are a lot of bikes I want but I can't currently have them all and live my life reasonably without being completely broke.
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Old 01-21-22, 03:16 PM
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I was unaware of any controversy.

I want a fs bike, but my wallet says no.
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Old 01-21-22, 03:28 PM
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Thanks for the TL;DR.

Last edited by shelbyfv; 01-21-22 at 03:32 PM. Reason: be nice
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Old 01-23-22, 10:00 AM
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Based on the title I thought this thread was going to be about whether a faux bar is really a type of four-bar or single pivot or neither or both. Discuss.
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Old 01-23-22, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by AeroGut View Post
Based on the title I thought this thread was going to be about whether a faux bar is really a type of four-bar or single pivot or neither or both. Discuss.
Iím not touching that

Just using the term ďFaux BarĒ can make some people lose their marbles
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Old 01-24-22, 12:52 AM
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I think the biggest advantage to FS is keeping the tires on the ground for longer - with a hardtail, its easy for an obstacle to pitch the back wheel in the air, then you have no ability to use the wheel until it returns to the ground, whether that be braking and/or cornering.
I was riding some new trails in Rotorua, NZ this past weekend, and what 120mm of rear suspension did for me was plenty for the trails I rode, but under a hard tail I would have been really struggling for cornering grip with the steps from other riders hard braking.
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Old 01-24-22, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by SquishyBiker View Post
I think the biggest advantage to FS is keeping the tires on the ground for longer - with a hardtail, its easy for an obstacle to pitch the back wheel in the air, then you have no ability to use the wheel until it returns to the ground, whether that be braking and/or cornering.
I was riding some new trails in Rotorua, NZ this past weekend, and what 120mm of rear suspension did for me was plenty for the trails I rode, but under a hard tail I would have been really struggling for cornering grip with the steps from other riders hard braking.
Not only that...but FS way more comfortable for a long day of riding.

I save my hardtail use for machine built flowy trails.
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Old 01-24-22, 10:03 AM
  #21  
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Not controversial, just not needed and expensive for most. I have seen the trails evolve and several generations of members of the local mountain bike club. They give me a hard time for riding SS and rigid bikes. I give them a hard time about the squishy bikes. The trails haven't changed in 20 years except getting smoother and less eroded mostly, so why should I change? The jump guys and freeride guys have always built to the limits of the latest and greatest bikes, but that is not most riders.
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Old 01-24-22, 10:41 AM
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Wasn't aware of any controversy. When mtn.biking was just getting started, I cut my teeth on a fully rigid bike. Then went to a hardtail (still have it). If I was riding more, and was younger (don't figure I'd be riding off-road a lot longer-never expected to still be off-road at 71 tho, so who knows?), I'd be riding a full suspension. Unless a rider finds the maintenance and upkeep on extra suspension point, shock, and fork to be intimidating, I don't see any reason not to take advantage of full susp. on rougher trails. There have been times when I wish I had one, but can't justify the expense for the amount of off-road riding I do these days.
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Old 01-26-22, 10:26 AM
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That settles it. I want a FS MTN bike because I want a FS MTB !!
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Old 02-06-22, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr1v3n View Post
Tl;Dr - I just don't understand why there is so much advice like "don't use a fs unless you absolutely have to", or "hardtails are more fun" because from my perspective, after riding road, gravel (with NO "suspension" at all), and now fs, this is the most fun I've had on trails and it tends to also be easier on my back and knees.


Background:

This may seem like a strange question, but my background is that I got into road cycling as an adult almost a year ago (rode a lot of bikes as a kid so not totally new), loved it and rode 1,000 miles. I also am not a huge fan of riding with cars and almost got hit 6 times while doing so, despite always staying in my lane, being predictable as possible, running lights and fluorescent colors, etc... I lived in an extremely busy area of California. There are lots of trails around here. So I bought a gravel bike and rode probably 50% trails, 50% road still, but also learned to take sidestreets and such on the way to trails. I ride for fun and exercise, not for any future competition or speed. I rode another 1,000 miles on that gravel bike in 4 months.

I don't often ride with anyone else, so I don't have many biases or "education" from others - most of my discoveries are just based off of my own experience. I would often wander into what i now understand are mtb trails basically, with my gravel (Giant Revolt Advanced). As I became more and more proficient technique/skill wise, and learned how to distribute my weight at various speeds and terrains, I've been able to get through a surprisingly large amount of rough stuff relatively unscathed on the gravel. In fact, I've been on trails probably 5-6 times where I saw someone on a hardtail or full suspension bike completely eat it right in front of me, on my gravel bike.

Throughout this time, I thought about getting a mountain bike more and more, then I moved to an area with even rougher trails now where I could ride on gravel bike, but I would *have* to limit my speed and often would have difficulty stopping going downhill because rocks and obstacles would literally be lifting my tires off the ground, forcing me to lose traction. I was also getting knee and back pain from such trails.

So I decided that since biking is here to stay, and everyone else on some of the trails I was riding was using a FS bike and seemed to be having a better time, I'd get one (Giant Trance).

Wow, the thing has made a HUGE difference. Essentially I can just glide right over almost anything aside from large rocks and boulders... It was surprising to me to just be able to float right up a curb slamming into it at speed. But I also notice that in general, it makes even the less technical stuff feel more smooth like a road, and I end up travelling much faster, riding longer, getting a better workout, etc... Basically it's all great in my view. Another key point is that a little weight and resistance is okay because in my view, it helps keep me working harder which boosts my heart rate and calorie expenditure over any given amount of time - and exercise is a large goal for me.

However, some of my friends and other acquaintances have basically mentioned "not needing a full suspension" unless I am doing jumps or super high speed downhill, etc... That hardtails are more fun, etc... I don't understand the argument because I can just lockout my front and rear shocks when I want that type of experience too... And the bike doesn't feel heavy to me, climbing is a breeze. I guess I just don't understand why there is so much "don't use a fs unless you absolutely have to", because from my perspective, after riding road, gravel (with NO "suspension" at all), and now fs, this is the most fun I've had on trails and it tends to also be easier on my back and knees.

Thoughts?
I've tried them all and I get most fun, enjoyment and satisfaction out of riding a singlespeed with a rigid fork. ..IMO suspension is overrated and unnecessary unless you're doing some serious downhill and freeriding which involves all kinds of crazy stunts and big drops.
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Old 02-06-22, 03:55 PM
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Because suspension was a horrible development direction, and rigid fatbikes are the correction to the poor path of mountain bike development.
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