While full suspension mountain bikes were introduced in the early 1990s, front suspensions have been around since the early days of the single speed mountain bike of the 1970s. Front suspension mountain bikes are called hardtails since they have no rear suspension. When rear suspensions are added to the front suspension, the mountain bike has a full suspension.
Full suspension mountain bikes have several advantages over their hardtail counterparts. First of all, full suspension mountain bikes are more comfortable to ride, especially after a long day on the trail. Some riders claim full suspension mountain bikes are more easily controlled than hardtails.
Hardtails have their advantages. They are generally lighter and they pedal more efficiently. Hardtails also tend to require less maintenance. Dirt jumpers like hardtails better because they are more easily controlled during jumping.
There are several considerations before purchasing your full suspension mountain bike. Consider these four designs:
1. Optimized for downhill riders, a rocker or linkage design provides an active ride.
2. Another design is the Horst-link, which is considered by many riders to be the best in suspension performance and comfort. The down side for the Horst-link design is that it tends to be more expensive and it is slightly heavier than other designs.
3. A sweet spot design is good for an all-purpose cross country mountain bike since it is able to isolate the mountain bike suspension from the pedaling force.
4. A single-pivot design tends to be simpler in design than other approaches and therefore requires less maintenance.
Specialized mountain bikes with full suspensions provide a comfortable ride in most any terrain. Consider all the various suspension designs and what design most suits your riding style. It is also helpful to test ride mountain bikes to help select the design that is most comfortable. And of course, don’t forget to shop for mountain bike helmets.