Full-suspension mountain bikes are no longer the power-sucking behemoths of the past. These new rigs are light, efficient, and saucy rides. See why it’s time to add a new double squishy bike to your stable.
Since mountain biking’s inception almost 40 years ago, bikes have changed drastically, opening new doors into new types of terrain, styles, and speed. The first mountain bikes were clunky, rigid single speeds that left a lot to be desired in comfort and performance factors. Today, full-suspension bikes are some of the most versatile and efficient machines in the bike world. This wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t too many years ago that a double squishy bike sacrificed much of your efficiency and power in exchange for bump-eating ability. However, full-suspension mountain bikes of today are the pinnacle of cycling technology and are putting the pressure on hardtails and rigid bikes in a race for efficiency.
Some riders still choose to hang on to the “steel is real” bone-jarring and masochistic way of life that is riding a rigid mountain bike, and a strong argument can be made for the skills and abilities that are developed from adding one of these simplistic rigs to your bike lineup. But, the arguments against full-suspension bikes are starting to run thin. Think about it for a minute, suspension is pretty much everywhere when wheels are considered. Cars have full-suspension, trucks have full-suspension, dirt bikes and even most motorcycles have the full-squish treatment. Even vehicles that don’t typically use wheels to get around like airplanes have suspension, so why not include that technology on your bike. The benefits must outweigh the costs of regular maintenance and a slight weight penalty, right?
Having a suspension fork gives you the control to handle your bike with ease over rough terrain, especially when you consider all of the adjustability and custom settings you can achieve for a tailored ride. Throw a shock and a pivot on the back of the bike too, and there you have a winning combination.
Now don’t get me wrong. The bike handling skills you can gain from riding a rigid or hardtail bike is invaluable. I’m not recommending that every beginner mountain biker should rush out and by a 6” travel shred sled right away, or that you shouldn’t include a hardtail/rigid in your stable. What I’m saying is that as technology has advanced, and as your skills as a rider progress, you will definitely want to upgrade to a bike that can take you farther, faster and over gnarlier terrain than you would ever feel comfortable with riding your rigid/ hardtail bike. Let’s face it there‘s a reason that today’s downhill bikes have 200mm+ of full-squish, front and back, instead of the 100mm of yesteryear. With that said, I must take this opportunity to pay homage to Andrew Shandro and Shaun Palmer, who back in the day, raced Downhill World Cups on bikes that had more in common with today’s XC race bikes than with any current gravity-specific offerings… Unfortunately, not all of us were graced with the bike handling skills of Andrew Shandro and Shaun Palmer, so here are my 5 reasons why you should go squishy.
When taking on chunkier lines and bigger jumps with a full-suspension rig, landings, sharp rocks, roots, and ruts are less noticeable which helps you conserve energy for those epic rides. Conserved energy means less fatigue which, in turn, equals longer/more epic rides.
Riding a full-suspension bike inspires you to ride harder and push your limits. Before you realize it you are feeling more confident at handling corners and technical sections of trail, at higher speeds. It also reduces the consequences of small mistakes. While this can lead to bad habits if not addressed, it also means that you can ride another day instead of recovering from an injury.
There are tons of full-suspension bikes out there now with different amounts of travel and varying geometry for every style of riding. They range from “I just want to take the edge off of my XC loop” all the way to “I want to get from the top of this mountain to the bottom as fast as possible without a trail.” With those options and everything in between for a full-suspension bike, there are less than half as many tailored bikes in the hardtail and rigid world for you to choose from.
Full-suspension bikes have gotten so good over the last few years that it is easier than ever to buy a bike that can do it all. If you don’t want to own 5 different bikes, each specifically designed to take on different terrain, it is easy to find a steed with travel on both sides that can climb, descend, and cruise around the block with ease. Plus, with suspension advancement, today’s double squishy bikes require less travel for burlier terrain. This means that these rigs are lighter, more efficient, and much more capable than even bikes just a handful of years back.
Of course, the most important reason to go full-squish is that it’s just fun. Having a bike that lets you go fast and conquer whatever terrain you happen to be riding on without worrying too much about arm pump or being uber selective with your line choice won’t leave you feeling like you brought a knife to a gunfight. No need to worry about your bike when it’s helping to do the work for you. Just ride and have a good time.
Still Not Convinced?
If, after all this, you are still not convinced of the wondrous virtues of full-suspension bikes don’t fret. We’ve got plenty of love for rigid bikes and hardtails. A great alternative to a full-suspension bike for riders looking for a more forgiving ride is to get a mountain bike with plus-sized tires. With a larger volume tire, you'll have a smoother and more forgiving ride on the rougher trails.