So you have finally made the decision to splash out on a trail slaying full suspension bike. Congratulations, you won’t regret it!
Compared to hardtails, full suspension bikes absorb much more impact – making them more appropriate for technical trails and considerably more confidence inspiring. This does mean they’re heavier and the extra technology makes them more expensive – but when it comes to shooting down the tougher sections, the benefits far outweigh the cons.
Buying your new full suspension bike isn’t something you should rush into. There are many different styles and it’s important to choose one that will meet your needs, and keep you satisfied for years to come.
Not completely decided yet? Read the pros and cons of hartail and full suspension bikes here
Here Rebecca Parker of Run . Write . Ride helps you to find the perfect trail companion…
What’s your style?
The first thing you need to consider is what type of riding you plan to do. Every bike has a designated purpose. You wouldn’t buy a fighter jet for your daily commute and in a similar way, a full blown downhill rig probably isn’t best for teaching a timid newbie to ride on surfaced river paths! Here is an overview of the basic bike classifications…
A XC bike tends to be lightweight, 22-28 pounds, designed to be pedalled vast distances on epic days out. They are more often hard tail bikes with short travel of 80-120mm. Wheel sizes vary between 27″ and 29″, although riders typically prefer the larger 29″ wheel size with smooth, fast rolling tyres for higher efficiency.
The higher spec models are available with suspension lock, carbon frames and a more stretched out geometry for better comfort over long distances. Expect to spend anything from £500 – £1000 for strong entry/mid level bike, but this will shoot up if you’re after something a little more high end, and race suitable.
A wide bracket of bikes here, but most bike loving amateurs will fit into this category.
These are predominantly full suspension bikes with 120-170mm travel, wheel sizes 27.5″(650b) or 29″, depending on rider preference, but all will have fatter tread for more grip.
The geometry is slacker, and the bars are wider for added stability at quicker, more aggressive speeds. These are heavier bikes due to their sturdier, durable components designed to handle much rougher terrain.
At the same time they are also made to pedal uphill with the extra suspension aiding grip and lock outs taking out excess bounce for maximum efficiency. You should expect all round lock outs and a dropper post on anything other than the most budget model. Prices range anywhere from £1000 to £4000.
These are the most extreme of full suspension bikes, for daring riders and true speed junkies. These are long travel bikes with 180-220mm travel, coil sprung rear shocks, super slack geometry, reinforced compound tyres, and 8 inch rotor discs for extra stopping power.
What they don’t have is many gears, and with a super slack geometry, you’ll have a tough time pedalling uphill on these bad boys. They are better suited for lift assisted riding. The price tag on these bikes is pretty hefty with most ranging from £2500+