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Are full suspension bikes better than hardtails?

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Everyone shopping for a new mountain bike will inevitably face the choice between selecting a full-suspension bike or a hardtail ride. But the configuration that's right for you depends on different factors, such as weight, terrain, maintenance and cost. There are many things that come into play when deciding on your ideal setup.

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Exceed and Lux: Canyon's hardtail vs full suspension options

 Canyon Exceed and Lux mountain bike ranges lead the way in the cross-country scene with their hardtail and full-suspension platforms. But what are the fundamental differences between the two? A hardtail bike is one equipped with only front suspension, while a full-suspension model has both front and rear suspension

Why suspension?

Suspension gives you greater comfort and control when riding over rough ground. Mountain biking is a diverse sport, one that takes in a wide variety of terrain. While relatively smooth trails may suit hardtails , full-suspension setups undoubtedly come into their own on bumpier, longer rides. 

In gravity fed mountain biking disciplines, a full-suspension bike is the obvious choice for ultimate performance. The extra traction and capability negate any weight penalty caused by the shock and swingarm. But the real debate between hardtail and full-suspension bikes exists primarily in the Trail and XC worlds.

Hardtail mountain bikes

With the lack of a rear shock, a hardtail gets its name from a rigid rear end. Like their full-suspension counterparts, hardtails are for off-road use and are typically cheaper and lighter than dual suspension bikes. But while a full-suspension bike may offer increased comfort and control while riding, a hardtail bike should not be overlooked.

Where does a hardtail mountain bike excel?

Hardtail bikes tend to excel on slower, tighter trails and where the dirt offers more traction. On less technical terrain, hardtails often provide a more direct, involving ride. The rigid back end offers superb power transfer to the rear wheel when climbing and sprinting.

Hardtail bikes enable riders to feel more connection with the trail. The extra responsiveness and feedback from the bike allow riders to pump through undulating terrain and generate speed with maximum efficiency. Many also argue that they make a better rider too. Without the forgiving handling associated with full-suspension bikes, riders must anticipate the reaction to sudden shifts in direction and take better lines into corners.

One other key consideration, taken very seriously by those competing at the highest level in XC, is the weight savings which a hardtail offers. On average full suspension models are 1.5kg heavier, and this can make all the difference when trying to save seconds on the ascents.

Budget is also usually a factor when considering your next bike. If equipped with similar component ranges, hardtails are usually cheaper than a full suspension option by about $800-$1,500. Additionally, hardtails require less maintenance as riders only have to set up the front suspension and less moving components on the frameset itself.

What is a full-suspension mountain bike?

Full-suspension mountain bikes have both a front suspension fork and a rear shock. The rear shock improves the bike's traction, control and rider comfort.

Where does a full-suspension mountain bike excel?

Full-suspension mountain bikes perform much better over rough terrain and will thrive on many courses where a hardtail will struggle. This is primarily due to the traction provided by the rear suspension.

On bumpier trails, the rear shock helps ensure the tyres remains in contact with the ground to enable improved traction, rather than rebounding off the bumps and loosing grip. As you hit the roots and rocks at speed, full-suspension bikes also significantly dampen the force through the pedals and handlebars. A smoother ride no doubt helps improve comfort at keep fatigue at bay during longer rides and races.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamThe enhanced compliance from the rear end also ensures that full-suspension bikes provide for a wider margin of error. They enable better traction, control, and steering, reducing the risk of mistakes on rougher laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

Confidence is a massive part of mountain biking, especially for newcomers to the sport. As full-suspension mountain bikes are more forgiving, those minor accidents and scares that slow a rider's progress are often less common. But while the advantages are clear, the added convenience comes with a price- extra weight, higher costs and increased maintenance.

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