Why Your First Mountain Bike Should NEVER Be a Full Suspension!


Why Your First Mountain Bike Should NEVER Be a Full Suspension!

Hint: It's not because it costs more!

This is the MOST discussed topic in my members group The Bike Commanders on Facebook, plus I've seen it everywhere. 

If you are buying your first bike, it's important to get the right one for you.

Here's what I hear everyone else say, and here's why they are wrong:

1. "Full suspension is more forgiving, so you can pay more money to get an easier learning curve."

2. "Hardtails are less expensive, but they are more harsh and less forgiving."

Here's why they are all wrong. 

After riding full suspension for 12 years, I got my first fully RIGID bike. 

That means zero suspension. 

It also had *zero* gears. 

It was a single speed. 

It was the bike I finally learned how to go fast on my bike with. 

Why? It forced me to be excellent with the following:

  • Line choice
  • Entry speed
  • Body Command*

*Body Command is simply being capable of telling your body how to ride and getting it to perform. 

When I took those skills back to my full suspension bike...I feel like I got twice as good, it was effortless!

With a full suspension bike, you are allowed to make plenty of mistakes that will build less-than-ideal habits forever, such as plowing through a section of trail you should instead be picking a line where you can gain speed. 

With a full suspension bike you can just "hold on", and while you may clean a section of trail, or a jump or drop, you will pay for it later when you hit a plateau. 

let's break this down:

With full suspension, it's unlikely you know how to set it up properly out of the box unless you are an engineer or suspension mechanic. 

  • You have to set the sag properly
  • You must adjust the rebound damping properly
  • You have to hope your compression damping is dialed

And, the more expensive bikes have both low and high speed damping capabilities.

To make it more complex, if you get one wrong it affects the others. 

For example...If your rebound is too fast, it can affect how the compression damping behaves. 

This is only the rear shock...

Air pressure, body position, and FRONT suspension setup all affect the feedback you get from the bike when riding. 

As you can see, I'm a fan of simplicity for your *first* bike. 

All you have to worry about is air pressure. 

Which...you can figure out in about 5 tries. 

Pump up...

...or air out. 


So, if you are dead set on buying a full suspension, go for it! Mountain biking is still awesome, you are awesome, and if the budget fits, you can get a world-class steed for around $3000-$6000 and a really good full suspension for $2000-$3000. 

But...if you want to get the most focus on the fundamentals and not have to worry if your suspension is working against you...

A simple hardtail with basic front suspension can do the trick. 

After all, the most fun way to ride is in control and with command of the body and bike.

The easiest way to learn that is with a simple mind-body-bike connection built through direct feedback. 

If you push down, the rear tire feels it. 

If you jump up, the tire lifts. 

The way it should be. 


P.s. If you found this valuable, share it with your riding friends and check out our workshop on building a strong MTB body, the Strength and Mobility Workshop. Join the workshop here. 

Footage: Vitalmtb


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