Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away...we were all damn sure that the ultimate cross-country bike was a hardtail. No matter the race course. No matter the conditions. No matter the length of the event. Hardtail. With no more than 70 millimeters of front suspension... 63 millimeters, though, now that
was perfection. Oh, and the fork should basically be inoperable--just ram that bastard full of elastomers until it only budges on those rare occasions when it feels like you're about to snap your wrists in half.
The entire world, for the record, was 100 percent agreed on this logic. It was sound. It was science. No, make that Science...capital "S" required.
"Freeride" bikes boasted a mind-boggling four inches of travel and were equipped with four or five-inch travel, dual-crown forks. You think you know crazy? Well, my friend, you don't know crazy until you've been forced to spend a season aboard the nightmare that was a dual-crown RockShox SID.
No, I'm not making this up. I had to test these things for a living. This shit is laser etched in my mind. RC's too. We attend a monthly support group to help us cope with the lingering trauma. Guy Kesteven shows up. Chips brings along his water-color paint set. Ferrentino sits in a corner and whispers to himself... The coffee is crap, but the hugs and the incense help ease the pain.
You can look back on those times and think, "Well, you dumbasses just didn't know anything."
Back when "freeride" meant five inches of squish.
Maybe. Maybe not. I can tell you this, a lot of smart riders, engineers and racers spent years, logging a lot of miles before we came up with the hard and fast rules about the ideal amount of suspension. But then, mercifully, things began to evolve. Kinematics were dialed, suspension damping technology improved...and lo and behold, the ideal cross-country race bike (on courses that were not baby-butt smooth) was now a four-inch travel suspension bike—you know, almost the same amount of suspension travel that used to define a bike as fit for hucking or whatever passed for "rad" back then.
The inexorable march of progress often changes our perception of what's ideal when it comes to suspension travel; given that truth, can we even say that there is
an ideal amount of suspension travel for any given application? The answer may seem obvious: 100 millimeters (4 inches) for cross-country, 130 millimeters (5.1 inches) for trail, 150 to 160 millimeters (6 to 6.3 inches) for all mountain and enduro, 180 millimeters (7 inches) for "freeride" (I know, a dated term, but let's just move along) bikes and 200 to 220 millimeters (7.8 inches to 8.6 inches) for downhill....
Makes sense? In a broad and sweeping fashion, that's more or less how the cookie crumbles today. But, then again, you get bikes like the Polygon Square One EX9
that rocks 180 millimeters of travel and is said to climb so efficiently that the bike doesn't even come equipped with a "lock out" (low-speed compression damping) lever on its rear shock. How do you categorize that
bike? The man behind the design argues, essentially, that if you can have a crap ton of travel and still have the bike pedal efficiently, why wouldn't you opt for the extra travel? If you judge the Polygon purely based on the amount of suspension it boasts, you'd think it was a pure park bike, which it is not. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, you had (until recently) the Kona Process 111, which offered up 111 millimeters (4.3 inches) of rear suspension, but was billed (and rightfully so) as a short-travel, enduro bike.
Clearly, a bike's geometry, build quality and component spec define its place in the mountain biking world in much the same way as its suspension travel does. Indeed, plenty of riders choose to go shorter travel when they cook up the perfect bike for aggressive trails.
So, what's your ideal amount of suspension travel?
I had a trek bruiser hardtail with a shiver, 24x3.0 tires, profile cranks and purple Hayes with 9" rotors. Looked cool.
Wait.... That's me???
I'm sold on the more up front idea. Much more balanced of a ride. Currently on 150f/130r and its perfect for trail/AM riding but I think it might be a better all-rounder with 140r/160f.
Oh, you got 153.4mm turbo boost? That must be 2019 bike.
I've found 8" to be pretty appropriate
But you are right, geometry is the biggest player in all this. So I guess Trek in this case did a great job in nailing the geo that even when you change things up it still holds as a great bike.
160/140 for me
"Better" is a word used by us to describe how we feel about something. Lol I'm sure theres people who dont think its all that much better.
But no the fuel doesnt not have bad geometry that I can assure you, but I do feel they would have been better off selling it stock with a 140mm fork for sure.
I agree I can ride basically anything on my Snabb T 140mm with a 160mm Pike in the front. A lot I agree is the slackness added by running a 160mm fork though.
Here how about... After putting a longer travel fork on my fuel I cant imagine going back to its stock 130/130 that it was at when I first got it..
Either way its pretty easy to see what I am trying to say is "I feel the bike rides better and performs better with a long travel in the front than rear.
Hopefully that helps you.
Overall I think less is more- you can compensate a lot with your riding skills.
No surprises here.
Or did you take a 100mm 29" frame?
XC- bring your CX stiffy.
Trail/AM: 140mm squish squash.
I go ride bicycle. I am happy.
Do pinkbikers believe that the industry has discovered the ideal travel for these classes of bikes? And the answer is clearly yes. Most of pinkbike believes that suspension travel increases are the history of mountain biking, not the future of mountain biking.
I'm pretty sure we'll have 180mm enduro bikes and 220mm DH bikes in a couple/few years. Same for the other categories.
120-100 for XC
170-160 for Trail/Enduro/DH
My 9.5" dh sled has nothing to do with this opinion.
how bout' a 140 rear, 170 front? it will be only until then, that you are in the know; think: "hardtail exploded"!!
Wait, suspension what?
Seriously? The bike has a link to it because some people might want to actually read the article about the bike. What's more, reason I mentioned the bike is because the thing has 180mm of travel, is supposed to climb and pedal amazingly well and doesn't even have a compression-damping adjustement lever on the thing....What other bike right now better represents the idea that you can have a boatload of travel and not have the travel itself pigeon hole the bike's capabilities? Sheesh. I get the general distrust for everything that permeates the world, but come on. You honestly think I'm selling you something? I don't care if you or any other reader ever buys anything. That ain't my job, hoss.
Thanks for doing what you do.
The person putting those poll catagories doesnt seem to know much about mountain bikes.
The travel catagories for XC are absurd. It's not 1995, FFS. We can do better. Where's the 150F/100 option that is actually usable. Also, hardtails need at least a 140mm fork. 100mm fork is a joke.
The travel catagories for trail are just ignorant and simple. There's more to it than the retarded choices given.
Enduro, everything needs at least 170mm fork. Rear is 140-150 for 29 and 160-170 for 27.5.
Same general bs on the rest of your post. It's not the travel, it's the geometry and a linkage design that doesn't suck. Well that and a rider who knows how to ride.