T Nation

Any Mountain Bikers?


So for the summer I want a new bike to replace my old beat up POS.

The main thing I cant decide on is whether to get rear suspension or not. For riding on roads a hardtail is best cos with a rear sus bike you lose power but for off road stuff rear sus is useful.

I had planned to get a rear suspension and if Im going on roads or hard flat surface I would just tighten the suspension up but Ive recently been told that this can be bad for the frame since the frames are designed with flexibility in mind.

Any comments or suggestions?


What kind of trails do you ride? Make sure the bike you get is suitable for your riding. If you are riding on a not too rough trail, a race oriented rear suspension frame (3-4 inches travel) will smooth things out well.

But if the trails are rough with not much climbing, get some with more travel like a Kona Stinky or something, or build up a diesel hardtail for abuse. I have a specialized p1 that is about 35 lbs and can take drops all day....but it isn't for distance or climbs(definitely not climbs!).

Sure, for riding on the streets a hardtail is a better idea, but how much of your riding is on the streets vs. on the trail?


I'd base my buy on the kind of riding I would be doing ie, cross country, all mountain, freeriding, downhill, and urban.

Then I would decide what kind of rear suspension and how much travel to go for. There is single pivot(which I have), Horstlink and variation of 4 bar linkages, vitual pivot designs etc.

3 or 4 inch travel bikes are for cross country. 5 to 6 inch travel are for All Mountain or light freeride. 7 inches on up gets you into freeriding and downhilling. All of these diffrent setups are for specific riding conditions. Get what you need.

Of course your budget will determine what you can get and what you can't. It is easy to drop a lot of money into this.

If I was just starting out and know what I know now I would get a 5 or 6 inch bike. I also am a big guy and need a sturdy steed. I ride xc, all mountain, and do some light freeriding/downhilling. 6 inches will get you there if you ride like me. If I did just xc at my size I would get a 4 or 5 inch bike.

We have alot of climbing here in Washington so I factor that aspect in. I like a full suspension bike to weigh around 32lbs preferably on up to 36lbs for the riding I do. I weigh 220 and am 6' tall so I need some strength regarding the bikes build. Lots of things to think about. More than I want to write about lol. Take your time and buy wisely. There are so many choices out there.


Kroll is right on the money, it all depends on your kind of riding.

I ride on mild trails, and basically up and downhill on mtns. No jumps, lil bunny hop is the most I do. I have a hardtail and I find it adequate for what I do. Not having the rear suspension makes the bike ligther and I find using my legs as shock absorbers most of the time.

Rocky downhills are tough in the hard tail(rear bounces off the rocks), so thinking about the terrain you going to be riding on is important also.


I agree with the rest, I rented a bike with rear suspension to see if I would like it. What I found is that rear suspension costs performance in my type of riding


To echo what the others have said: it all depends on what kind of riding you'll be doing. I ride/used to ride small singletrack trails and I have a trek fuel 80 (a few years old, its seen better days.) and I love it.

I used to work at a bike shop, too. I've ridden quite a few bikes, including specialized, Giant, gary fisher, and cannondale. I personally like the fuel the best.

The best advice I can give you is find a frame that you like, you can always swap components later if you really want/need to. That, and make sure it fits. Go to a shop and ask them to measure you for a good fit, if they look confused or say they dont do that, find a different shop.

Whats your budget like?


Speaking of bikes, I recently picked up the book "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack (http://www.leelikesbikes.com/). I cannot recommend it enough; I really look forward to applying some of the things in it to this summer's biking.

The book covers a wide range of biking, from XC to downhill. Lee's blog ain't too shabby either.

All I need to do is find a place to build a course or two...



First of all I have to say major thanks to you all for your advice!! You guys really seem to know your stuff. I dont really follow the mountain biking sport or industry but its something Im getting into more.

Basically I guess I want a good all round bike so I can go on roads for generally getting around town but be able to hit the off roads at the weekend for some fun.

The main route I take is just sweet as fuck, it has every type of terrain you can think of. Its a costal route with gravel paths, tarmac paths with fairly extreme dips and raises, grass, cross country, part of a beach (I know sand sucks) and a few bits of tricky terrain. Theres a few long stretches on good tarmac ground where you can get a decent speed up and heres even a big set of steep steps where you have to dismount and carry the bike up. Like I said it goes along the coast and on a summer evening its just perfect.

Anyway would it be a good idea to go for rear suspension and tighten/loosen it as need be?

I wont go into budget as Im not in America but lets just say my budget aint too high!!

Thanks again guys.


A good ole hardtail with front suspension looks like it would fit the bill. If you need to take the edge off some bumps get a thudbuster suspension seatpost by Cane Creek. It will give you 3 inches of cush.

I don't think you are going to do any drops or stair gaps things that suspension is good for. I would only get full suspension if you feel you are getting beat up on a hardtail from the terrain you're riding on.

A hardtail will keep things cheap(good) but still be fun. I have 2HT's and a 6 inch full susser. I ride all of them. The susser was for my lower back problems and riding specific terrain(stunts,downhill). I still love riding my HT's. One of them is for commuting but built to go on trails too. I wouldn't commute on my susser. Too heavy.

Wish you the best in getting hooked up. Interested in what you will choose. Keep us posted.


Hell ya, another mtn biker! Everyone has the best advice - get a bike that suits the riding that you do. Having said that, it seems you do the same type of riding I do, hilly x-country type. Although hills in my area are rather short.

What I ride is a fully rigid single speed. Look into one. If you NEED some kind of cush look into one with a front squishy. I don't miss gears one bit and I even converted my gearie into a SS after buying a fully dedicated SS, so now I have 2! One fully rigid (main ride) and one with squish that I rarely if ever ride.



I'm not going to repeat what the others have said, all right by the way, but I know that once you get hooked into our great sport its over!! There are not many things better then ripping down a great singletrack trail with some buddies or even yourself. I live in Kansas and even though there is some great trails, NO NOT ALL THE KANSAS TRAILS ARE FLAT!! I ride a hardtail because its light, and very fast. I'm thinking of getting a suspension seatpost from cane creek to smooth out the ride a little.

I can't wait to get mine repaired so I can get back out there!!! Are there any T-Nationer's in the Kansas City area who are mountain bikers?


Its looking like a hardtail will be best suited for me, the old bike I have was decent enough for most things so I guess hardtail will be fine.

I'll probably buy at the weekend and yeah I'll let you know what I get, maybe post some pics.

Some mudguards and a custom paint job and Im set!!

You guys ever do custom paint jobs??

Im thinking black w/ silver or army camo.


I gotta say, My specialized P1 comes stock as a single speed and it was awesome doing drops. It felt like it was one piece and stronger than having all those gears. I added an evil chainguide (which is awesome) and only have one chainring up front and 9 cogs in the rear so the chain is pretty tight with no slapping. But as far as just doing some urban riding around, single speed was awesome. P1 felt like a bmx with front suspension ....only had a rear brake too.


A few guys mentioned suspension seatposts and while I have never used one, I don't think they are for me. If the trail is hitting a rough section, stand up....Unless your seatpost is so high that you really can't absorb the shock with your legs, then in that case, the rougher the trail, the lower you should have your seatpost set.


If you decide to go with full suspension check out something with SPV technology.

SPV is Stable Platform Valving.

Basically it means that the suspension only responds to input from the tires and that when you peddle the suspension "locks" itself so there's no energy lost.

All the benefits of a hardtail with the comform of a squishy.



I agree that the hardtail is best for your riding type, as well as your budget. As for the paintjob: fuck it. Its a mountain bike, its going to get dirty/scratched/dented etc... Paying upwards of 200 bucks for a custom paintjob isnt worth it. It sure as hell isnt worth it when it can be better spent on getting a better quality bike.

Any thoughts on brands yet?


Oh no dude I mean custom as in doing it myself!!!

As for brands Carrera seem popular here for entry level bikes, not sure if you get them in USA though.

What brands do you guys have?


Excellent I'll look into that but something tells me it will cost a fair bit!!

How much extra is it likely to cost?


Go to mtbr.com and check out prices and info on whatever you need to know meow(Super Troopers).

You will sit down and ride more than out of the seat riding. A susp seatpost(a good one)is a beautiful thing for a hardtail. The urban riders, trials and dirt jumpers wouldn't be caught dead with one.

So unless you are like them and ride like them consider a squishy post but only a good one. Great for the the xc rider. Not all are worthy. Cane Creek Thudbuster is.

As far as what bike to get go see what's up on mtbr.com. The site really does help. Let us know though and keep asking questions. A bike can be a very personal thing he he. Your budget will narrow things down. Plenty a good HT's out there.


OK been checking stuff out on mtbr.com and a few UK sites. Lots of new lingo to learn XC, freeride etc!! Fuck it I'll just be hitting dirt trails, gravel paths, light cross country and general commuting. Although I can see myself getting more into mountain biking and wanting to do jumps and shit cos I was pretty big into BMX when I was a kid.

Can you give opinions on this bike?

Works out at $640 although front disk brakes are probably excessive for my needs.