|So let's assume that you're an MTB Britain sort of mountain biker.
You'd want a bike that Can cope with long hard rides, some scary downhills and quite a few rocks to keep the mud at bay. There are two sorts of bikes that fit the mould for all out cross country riding (Free riding? Whatever..)
the light to medium weight full suspension and the hard tail. Of the two we've come to prefer the full suspension bike, but bear in mind the following disadvantages:
Specialized RockHopper, if you can afford it buy one, and
tell them we told you so!
More weight, the full suspension bike will weigh at least 2 pounds more than a friends hard tail unless you've spent way more money.
More Money, expect to pay a lot more to keep the weight down than those with less bouncy back ends (sorry).
More Maintenance: rear shock servicing by mail order, pivot lubing and replacing.
Slower climbing: due to increased weight and a little energy loss in the damper/spring.
The advantages are:
Higher downhill speed and improved control.
Safer on that bail out line, although this can be cancelled out by your increased speeds!
Less fatigue on long hard rides.
The real question to ask yourself is, 'why don't I want a full suspension bike?' Good reasons are:
I want to race cross country and winning is the name of the game.
I want to race my mates UP the hills and would truly hate losing.
I can't afford one.
I'm too lazy or don't have time to do the maintenance.
The Judy range are good to look for fitted to your new bike.
Marzocchi are the best out there.
If you're on a low budget it makes sense to buy a hard tail, these bikes can do almost all of what mountain biking is really about, for less time and money. Full suspension bikes below £800 and over 30 pounds in weight are seriously out-performed by their lighter, stronger, harder rear ended, brethren. One of the main reasons for this is that the extra expense of the rear end will seriously deplete the money left over for the front fork. A really good suspension fork is going to win the day for the hard tail, until a price for the full susser is reached where a decent fork (and frame) is supplied.
Hope we haven't put you off full suspension. Personally, I wouldn't go back to a hard tail (oh no, I can almost sense the e-mails winging our way already) but I might if I was younger, had less money and rode less rocky trails. Almost every hard tail owner I meet at some point tells me that you don't need a full suspension bike. This is true, but then you don't need a mountain bike at all. You only want one to have fun on, and like blondes, full suspension bikes are more fun! However, there is definitely some sense in the new free ride hard tails, with longer travel forks and lower back ends. These make great all round play bikes, although the more extreme ones are poor climbers. If you can't decide between a hard tail and a full suspension bike, buy a hard tail below £800 and a full sus. Above this (the same for dollars in the USA) if in doubt over which full suspension bike to buy, get the lightest as most people need to 'adapt'
to full suspension before they easily accept the compromises of a heavy steed.
seriously consider getting some proper instruction on a well organised
run great courses for those new to the sport. Go on, invest something in
yourself for once!
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