Well no bonk at Lebanon today! The trail was stellar, nice and tacky and it was rippin'! I love that sweet table top right towards the beginning, it is probably my favorite part of the trail. There are some sweet sections with some flowy down hill that I really enjoy as well. The black sections seemed easier today. I only had to try twice at that crazy rock garden turn section to clean it. I feel like my legs are coming back more and more each ride. I was able to do two laps with really only a break in the lot between the two laps. I did have a bit of a rest when I would walk back and redo a couple sections I wanted to snap through a bit quicker. My turns are getting sharper and my jumps are getting smoother with every ride! I can't wait to see where I'm at towards the end of the season!
Tomorrow is the almanzo, unfortunately I had to bail and it's probably a good thing after hearing some bad ass riders talking about how difficult the course is with the hills and all. I wish all the riders the best! Maybe next year I'll get my shit together a little earlier and be able to actually compete but I'll be tryin' my best to get a couple comps this summer. The Buck Hill Thursday comps look promising. I am also looking forward to the weekend in Crosby that should be a blast and of course the dirt bag, I won't bail on that race I know I'll be ready by then. I'll have ridden mtb and cross all summer by then.
My thoughts for the day. I've been helping a couple buddies bike shop the last few days. One is a weekend warrior and wants to get that all around bike that he can rip anywhere and the caveat is that he might be moving west in the next year or so. He has been looking for jobs in Washington and Colorado. The other is more of the XC rider also into adventure racing and he probably will be here in MN for a while. The info/opinion I gave to both them is pretty similar but more or less the break down is:
As for my opinion on hard tail verses full suspension. to be straight up if you aren't running 100mm + travel front and rear you're wasting your time. I personally feel you might as well run 120-160mm but that's my opinion but since it's my opinion as well as many others in the industry I'll give you a little incite into why I feel this way.
1. no one can go down as fast on a hard tail as they can on full suspension = point full suspension
2. if you do ride rough stuff you can't float through them as easily or as quickly on a hard tail = point full suspension
3. here's the catch that the hard tail fanatics try to throw back at me, you can't climb as efficiently, well that is true on smooth climbs, where your rear end is always on the trail and there is more forgiveness for poor form = point hard tail
4. it isn't true on technical climbs as the suspension will keep your rear end on the ground and not jumping around = constant contact, but you do need to be in proper position. = point full suspension
5. second caveat the ht riders claim. you loose efficiency when pedaling due to pedal bob, was more true a few years ago, not as relevant any more. With prior single pivot point rear suspension you had a lot more pedal bob but now with virtual pivot points and multiple point suspension platforms you will barely have any efficiency loss on flat smooth trail but you gain efficiency on tech climbs and descending! = point full suspension
6. third caveat is maintenance, there is quite a bit more maintenance with a full suspension, so if you're lazy then I guess that's a problem. reluctantly = point hard tail
7. final caveat and maybe the biggest for most people is price. There is a pretty big gap here. Decent hard tails start at about 800-1000 bucks and goes up to about 4000 for a full out carbon ripper weighing in at about 17-20lbs and a decent full suspension start at about 1800-2400 bucks and goes up to about 8000! yeah but if you have the cash to spend 2000 the full suspension is worth it, not just my opinion most magazines like Bike agree. As the discuss in the letters to the editor of last months issue. But I'll give this point to the Hard tail.
8. The comfort level of a full suspension bike is miles better then a hard tail bike. So unless you are doing a gravel race or riding the smoothest trails around (road riding on dirt) that comfort allows you to ride longer and on rougher aka cooler terrain! = point full suspension
9. And one more thing, yes a full suspension does weigh a bit more but I know that a couple lbs doesn't make much of a difference on the trail, do a couple more reps in the gym. You're not a roadie so don't think like a roadie and stop pinching the grams! = point full suspension!
Final score = 5 points full suspension and hard tail comes in a close second at 4 points
So overall a 4-6inch travel bike is a way better all around bike then a hard tail. It doesn't matter if you are riding trail, xc or even marathon. If you have the money to drop that kind of cash you should get a bike that can do it all and do it all well. I guess if you can't afford to buy a full suspension and aren't willing to buy a used bike then go with a hard tail other wise spend the extra money and get a full suspension.
There are other things to consider like 26 vs 29. I prefer 26inch but it fits my type of riding better but they are starting to make some bikes that I would be interested in like the Santa Cruz tall boy. I recommend that you can consider a 29er as well if you really want to gain long distance efficiency and high speed efficiency , less rolling resistance and they tend to smooth the tail out a bit, but they look a bit ridiculous to me with those giant wagon wheels and I don't like them for technical and aggressive riding but for xc and marathon they are tough to beat with efficiency, but they tend to be a bit more spendy and a tad bit heavier.
Yes I'm sure that there are some hard core rippers out there that can really thrash a hard tail and even a ridged and yes hard tails are better for pure dirt jump, street and pump track riding but for an all around ride for the average Joe a full suspension is the best fit. This is especially true if you like to ride technical trails and trails that have a fair amount of down hills.
Again it's mostly my opinion but there is a lot of truth, fact and experience in it.
I hope to get out and ride at least a few more hours this weekend, maybe I'll see you out there!
Keep it real!