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Catbatman

Climbing FS bikes

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Posted (edited)

This is something that I have thought about for some time, and now that I have a full suspension bike I have something to go off of.

It is a generally said that fs bikes climb worse and are less efficient than hard tails. That makes sense, but in my years of riding mountain bikes what has been the biggest time and energy sink on climbs is technical parts combined with loss of traction for whatever reason: tire spin, rocks, roots, mud, sand, weighting balance. With that, I considered quite some time ago that rear suspension, despite it lowering the pedaling power slightly, would give more benefit than loss when rocks, roots, and low traction is added to the mix. I imagined it would basically dampen most of the power spikes from cranking hard, and reduce the rear tire unweighting from hitting obstacles while climbing.

So now, after doing the same short, steep, technical climbs that were always challenging for me to keep momentum and traction up on a hard tail, vs doing them on my fs cannondale scalpel, I have been convinced that the rear suspension is a huge benefit.

I guess what I'm wondering is why does it seem like pedaling efficiency is the only thing considered when climbing a mountain bike on mountain bike trails? If climbs were all long smooth ascents then yeah, hard tail all day, but that is just not the case.

I don't know. Has anyone else noticed or thought of this? I'm just an enthusiast rider, and when all of the experts have said for years that hard tail and locking out the rear shock is the only way to climb it made me wonder if it is just a repeated concept without considering the application.

Edited by Catbatman

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That would be correct, on s choppy hill section a FS bike can be more efficient. Not always, but can be.

 

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My best climbing bike is my Framed Marquette w/ 27.5x3" tires. Yes it is a hardtail and yes it climbs better than my Giant Anthem X 29 FS bike.

I think that besides it being a hardtial, the extra traction and lower pressure flotation provides superior ability to get up a climb with more efficiency.

My Strava times confirm that! 

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12 hours ago, NYMXer said:

My best climbing bike is my Framed Marquette w/ 27.5x3" tires. Yes it is a hardtail and yes it climbs better than my Giant Anthem X 29 FS bike.

I think that besides it being a hardtial, the extra traction and lower pressure flotation provides superior ability to get up a climb with more efficiency.

My Strava times confirm that! 

Nice. That shows there is always another way.

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I'm also a fan of full suspension on technical climbs. I'm predominately a road cyclist, and a pretty good climber considering I'm not a complete twig. On smooth climbs on the MTB, my style pretty much mimics my technique on the road bike...lot's of out-of-saddle pedaling, I prefer the suspension to be rigid in that case.

On technical stuff, I'm either sitting down or hovering over the seat, trying to give the rear tire some traction. Having the rear suspension is a big game changer for me in that scenario. Maybe if I was an expert level XC racer, it wouldn't be a big deal, but someone of my 'talents' needs any help they can get.

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12 hours ago, Sierra_rider said:

I'm also a fan of full suspension on technical climbs. I'm predominately a road cyclist, and a pretty good climber considering I'm not a complete twig. On smooth climbs on the MTB, my style pretty much mimics my technique on the road bike...lot's of out-of-saddle pedaling, I prefer the suspension to be rigid in that case.

On technical stuff, I'm either sitting down or hovering over the seat, trying to give the rear tire some traction. Having the rear suspension is a big game changer for me in that scenario. Maybe if I was an expert level XC racer, it wouldn't be a big deal, but someone of my 'talents' needs any help they can get.

Staying in the saddle helps put weight over the rear wheel, increasing traction and preventing a spin out. On the plus bike, I rarely spin out and if I do, I can usually save a full spinout and get a regrip on the tires. Spinning up a climb is better than shear muscle strength too.

The best way to get good at climbs, is to do them and vary your technique and see what works for you.

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3 hours ago, NYMXer said:

Staying in the saddle helps put weight over the rear wheel, increasing traction and preventing a spin out. On the plus bike, I rarely spin out and if I do, I can usually save a full spinout and get a regrip on the tires. Spinning up a climb is better than shear muscle strength too.

The best way to get good at climbs, is to do them and vary your technique and see what works for you.

Yep, I'm already a spinner, usually ride in the 90-100 rpm range. 

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I guess the types of climbs I am thinking of are short (maybe 50 meters give or take), fairly steep, and have big chunky rocks, root shelves, and such that you have to wheelie and hop over while in the middle of a climb.

They take big surges of energy, and your line and technique has to be spot on or you stop instantly. I don't think spinning would be possible on that kind of stuff.

On that stuff, the rear suspension has been great.

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What a great thread. After much back and fourth about this and at the age of 40 I am a bout to demo my first fs 29er.
I got into toad years ago for cross training for moto and have had small stints w mtn bikes over the years and have been Mtn biking now more seriously for 5 years.

6’ and 170-175. Managed to stay very fit and lean so Like posted above I am a decent climber because I have muscle. In fact when the lads go down I restrain myself so as not to lose a spleen and then I kill them when we go up....it’s kinda my thing haha.

So my son is now on a Mtn bike team and his coach is 57 and on a scalpel. Just had his knee done and the guy just kills it. He looks over to me and says you need one of these. I give him the old “no way- I can climb on this thing” he laughs and tells me I will climb better.

So a Trail429 is on its way for me to demo. Do we need to get w the times and are these DW links what they claim to be?

I’m kinda stubborn and a purist. Perhaps I need to lighten up.....actually no the fs is heavier- See?!!!

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Put simply: guys are winning cross country world championships and Olympic gold medals on dual suspension bikes. The newest tech is that good.

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