The Great Debate

Posted by on Apr 8, 2008 in Uncategorized | No Comments

The debate raging in my own skull is far more intense than anything Obama and Hillary have come up with. Those 3 way exchanges between McCain, Huckabee and Romney? Child’s play.

Over the last several weeks, and months I have gone back and forth, back and forth over wether or not to switch to a full suspension bike. I have argued for both sides, against both sides, I have made decisions, been happy with them, and then reneged on those choices, only to start the process over again.

There is one underlying reason that makes this all so difficult.

I love my Jersey Devil hardtail.

There is no obvious reason to strip it down and build up it’s sister-frame, the Jersey Devil FS. The bike handles well, it’s comfortable, it’s light, and it looks fantastic. But then, the FS version is all those things as well. And it has 4 inches of rear travel to go along with it.

The first time I ever considered a full suspension 29er was last September during the VT125. I was descending off of Tomichi pass, and I became what can only be described as a human jackhammer. It was a long, difficult, rocky descent. Since then I have waffled back and forth, back and forth…

Approaching Tomichi Pass

This spring I put a White Bros. Magic 110mm travel fork on the hardtail. It feels incredible. But the Rim Ride conjured up more human jackhammer moments, and I finished the ride wondering if some rear squish would have helped me along the way a little more efficiently.

I must be getting soft. When I got my first 29er I was amazed at how comfortable it was, and how aggressively I could ride it. I was coming from a FS 26er and was worried that I’d miss the suspension. I didn’t miss it at all. I rode several solo 24s, including Moab three times on a hardtail. I have done the E50 twice, the E100, the E12 twice, the KTR twice, and the RR twice, among others, all on a hardtail. Until that descent off of Tomichi, it never crossed my mind to get a full suspension bike.

If I do make the switch, I still have my Ramble Tamble SS for those times when I want a rigid feel. I will be racing the RT in the ICUP this year, so it is going to still see all kinds of trail time.

And so I continue to go back and forth.  Right now I am back, (or it is forth?) leaning toward the full suspension frame.  I just can’t see a compelling reason NOT to pull the trigger.


  1. Ed
    April 8, 2008

    You want a FS bike based primarily on the Tomichi descent? Bah!

    Have you demo’d one?

    Seriously, go for it. Why not? You’ll have great fun with it, especially in places like Moab and the like. The riding you do around SLC looks very conducive to FS riding.

    You will give up a little of the lightning fast responsiveness of a HT and will have to put in some time maintaining it.

    What’s the worst that can happen, you start buying full face helmets and armor?


  2. Dave Harris
    April 8, 2008

    Is one of each out of the question? Tangential question: can you convert your Ramble Tamble to gears or is it dedicated SS?

    Bike choice is always a tradeoff…but having a few different kinds of steeds lets you minimize the tradeoffs for any given course.

    Get one of each. He he croaks with the most toys wins!

  3. Jeff Kerkove
    April 8, 2008

    I agree with Crackhead….have a hard tail and and FS bike. Then choose your weapon and do battle with the race or route.

  4. bradkeyes
    April 9, 2008

    I never thought I’d say it but I sure enjoyed having a suspension fork on the walt works on the rim ride. I’m sure if I had done it on a FS I’d be saying the same thing about it. You don’t realize how nice suspension is until you are on it. Good luck with the choices.

  5. UltraRob
    April 9, 2008

    I’m in the same position as you right now. I’m still riding a 2000 Specialized hardtail. In 2001 I got a Specialized FSR and hated how slow it handled. I gave the full suspension a try for a full year and then went back to the hardtail.

    My bike is tired and I really need to replace it. I’ve been doing test riding. I’ve pretty much settled on the Trek Fuel EX 9.0 It doesn’t seem to bob much at all when I’m gear mashing. I think the fork is way overkill. I’m not even sure I want disc brakes.

    Brad says you don’t realize how nice suspension is until you are on it. When I first got a suspension fork, I didn’t think it helped much. After a couple years, I rode with a rigid fork some again. You notice even more when you’ve had suspension and go back. I even noticed it on the rear but I liked the handling of the hardtrail so much more I didn’t care.

  6. Hilton Meyer
    April 9, 2008

    I had a similar dilemma and now race on a Specialized Epic. Best of both world really becasue the rear suspension only works when you need it so its much stiffer than a normal FS.

  7. Dave Byers
    April 9, 2008

    I think you are in a perfect position to build up a FS because you already have the rigid, lightweight SS for an alternative. I love the squish of the FS!

  8. Cellarrat
    April 10, 2008

    sell them all and become a trail runner 😉

    do what yah gotta do just keep spinning!

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