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Hardtails for DH training?

Macho

Chimp
Sep 24, 2010
14
0
Currently UK
Just wondering how many of you ride hardtails on aggressive trails for DH training.
I DON'T MEAN FOR DIRT JUMPING.

I wonder is it a good thing to do? I guess any bike riding helps, but I find on steep stuff I ride totally different.. and slower......
I find it really stange and I have to change my riding style. I also crash a lot!

Anyone know of any pros that practice on hardtails? is that a regular thing that pros do to get faster?
Just thinking that Aaron Gwinn probably has riden a hardtail MTB a handfull of times.....

My thinking is maybe I am just better off sticking to a short travel suspension bike for trails and aggo riding in off season....
I am thinking hardtail will kill my confidence and make me ride slower with more caution?
 
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Arkayne

I come bearing GIFs
May 10, 2005
3,745
13
SoCal
I am thinking hardtail will kill my confidence and make me ride slower with more caution?
No, it will reteach you how to be smooth again. Then, when you apply that to your dh bike, will make you ride faster with less caution.
 
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w00dy

In heaven there is no beer
Jun 18, 2004
3,414
31
that's why we drink it here
It doesn't transfer all that well. Riding bmx or a hardtail will teach you good bike handling skills, but riding a HT down the mountain is not all that helpful.
I rode a minuteman exclusively for a few years. It taught me some DH techniques I'm still trying to kick, like going slow.
 
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demo 9

Turbo Monkey
Jan 31, 2007
5,911
45
north jersey
Im with woody, it will help you be smoother over rocks, but you wont be able to go fast enough to "double up" or "skip over the tops" *yes its possible, but not plausible* You will essentially become slower, but smoother as well. I think that riding in the off season is important, regardless of what you ride though, so take it to the trails.
 
Aug 3, 2009
66
0
Bowlda
Unless you have a ****eating grin after every run on your hardtail you should probably do something else. Staying really stoked on bike riding is going to lead to more improvement than anything else. Shredding some XC trails on your hardtail would probably be pretty fun and beneficial.
 

rigidhack

Turbo Monkey
Aug 16, 2004
1,210
1
In a Van(couver) down by the river
I am going to disagree with what has been said so far. Riding a HT will definitely make you smoother and will massively help with your ability to pick a line. Once you get it wired, you can start riding faster as well. I spent a number of days riding Whistler on my Sinister Ridge this past season. After a few runs, I was not exactly going slow, nor was I avoiding any of the gnar. I was easily keeping pace with other riders on big bikes most of the time. In the super tight techy nasty stuff, I had to slow down a bit, but since I was choosing smoother lines, I was able to maintain my momentum through it all better than the big bikes could. Once I got back on my big bike, all of that confidence transferred directly.

What you cannot do on a HT is plow through obstacles, but even on a suspended bike, this is not always the fastest thing to do anyway. Too many riders rely on their suspension and not on their ability to handle the bike. It is as if they think a Fox 40 (or Boxxer, or whatever) is there so that you don't have to steer. If you want to be a plow rider, then the HT won't help you at all. What I find is that when I get back on a fully after some time on my HT, I move much faster because I am choosing better lines. The suspension is there to make up for mistakes, not lack of skill. With 8" of travel underneath you, you can be a bit less particular with hitting the line perfectly.

EDIT: Where I found the HT to really suffer the most was in the braking bumps. Crank It Up was far less fun than In Deep or Original Sin for that reason.
 
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gemini2k

Turbo Monkey
Jul 31, 2005
3,527
115
San Francisco
I am going to disagree with what has been said so far.
I agree. I've found riding a hardtail on DH or mini-DH trails gets my arms less lazy. I actually find myself bunny hopping and double-ing up stuff MOAR because it's a lot smoother and a lot easier to maneuver my hardtail for moves like that. You don't really need as much speed on the hardtail for those moves because you can bunny hop twice as high! Then when I hop on my big bike I found that I was going faster than before, better lines, and jumping more features.
 

Tootrikky

Monkey
Jul 31, 2003
772
0
Mount Vernon
If you look as suspension as solely a feature to smooth out rough terrain, I could see a hardtail making sense. However suspension in my imo is also used for preloading off lips, for increasing speed out of corners etc, etc. I guess what I'm getting at is that I think learning how to use suspension is a skill that should be worked on as well when "training".
 
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Metal Dude

Turbo Monkey
Apr 7, 2006
1,140
0
Smackdonough, GA
The HT may be good in that it makes you do all the work but,

I think the HT trains you to ride wrong technique! I would say riding moto would be better.
The technique used in riding FS bike is totally different in that you have to use the suspension preload. It's like doin all your sprint work on a road bike, while helpful because you are gettin in rides. Your motorskills are being trained for one effort then you change it up to a total different riding style. You would get more out of riding a short travel bike!
 

rigidhack

Turbo Monkey
Aug 16, 2004
1,210
1
In a Van(couver) down by the river
If you look as suspension as solely a feature to smooth out rough terrain, I could see a hardtail making sense. However suspension in my imo is also used for preloading off lips, for increasing speed out of corners etc, etc. I guess is what I'm getting at is that I think learning how to use suspension is a skill that should be worked on as well when "training".
I do not disagree with this. It would be a bad idea to ride nothing but HT until the race, then switch to a big bike. A combo of the two is ideal, but I am not convinced that a short travel bike is that combo in itself.
 

profro

Turbo Monkey
Feb 25, 2002
5,608
282
Walden Ridge
The HT may be good in that it makes you do all the work but,

I think the HT trains you to ride wrong technique! I would say riding moto would be better.
The technique used in riding FS bike is totally different in that you have to use the suspension preload. It's like doin all your sprint work on a road bike, while helpful because you are gettin in rides. Your motorskills are being trained for one effort then you change it up to a total different riding style. You would get more out of riding a short travel bike!
I agree.

Just image riding a hardtail moto in the woods vs riding a regular moto in the woods. The techniques are completely different and I think you should train on what you race.
 
Aug 4, 2008
330
4
Headlines: Ridemonkey strikes again!

Riding HT is excellent training for DH.

1. Build a minute long track, fill it with all the fundamental stuff (left berm, right berm, drop ins, flat corners, jumps of various sizes and lengths). Rinse and repeat. Mix in some riding with DH bike (on this track also ofc...).

2. ??

3. Profit!
 

Metal Dude

Turbo Monkey
Apr 7, 2006
1,140
0
Smackdonough, GA
If riding hardtails worked, all those years experience I had with slalom and mtx would have translated over to me being a much better DH rider than I am.
I can kill jumps and berms sure, but DH has much more going on!
 

JRogers

talks too much
Mar 19, 2002
3,789
1
Claremont, CA
Lots of different opinions here, so I might as well throw mine in the mix. Generally, I would do whatever you think will be the most fun and will get you out there the most. Getting fit and having fun are usually the most important things (and both will make you go faster).

That said, however, I agree with the group that seems to be saying that specifically riding a hardtail won't increase your skills and speed as much as other things might. It does depend somewhat on what kind of trails and what kind of hardtail we're talking about- riding a 35lb hardtail with a 6" fork might be more beneficial than a 20lb rigid one. But if we're talking about your "average" run-of-the-mill trailbike, then the skills and style are way different than on an fs bike. I really don't know what people are talking about in this whole "helps you pick your lines" thing, but I've been hearing it for years. I don't ride the same trails, let alone the same lines on a HT as I would on my DH bike. Maybe it is helpful for some, but I haven't found that to be the case.

Most of my riding is on my hardtail. It's pretty middle of the road- 4" fork, 20-something pounds, 2.2" tires. I love the bike. But when I ride the same trails on my 5" travel FS bike with 2.4" tires, the difference in speed is very significant. Love the hardtail for all-around XC riding, but for tech stuff an FS bike is just so much faster, easier to jump over stuff, easier to drift, easier to plow over rocks...I can't imagine the hardtail really helps me that much because the difference is so big. But I still ride the HT more because it's hassle free and it makes the long climbs more enjoyable
 

FCLinder

Turbo Monkey
Mar 6, 2002
4,403
0
Greenville, South Carolina
I will say for well over 13 years of racing a Hardtail has done nothing for me other than some fun in the skate and BMX park. I think Moto and normal trail riding helped me the most..... But, will say everyone is different and training is different for everyone. I remember doing DH run after DH run here in Greenville at our old DH Training trails. I think understanding your equipment, having your setup right, and most important trusting your setup does the most for any racer. If you’re not confident with your setup, you can be your best.

My 2 Cents,

Cecil
 

gemini2k

Turbo Monkey
Jul 31, 2005
3,527
115
San Francisco
That would be a useful (sarcastic) observation if anyone had actually said that.
Really? I must've missed something.


Metal Dude said:
I think the HT trains you to ride wrong technique!

you should probably do something else.
demo 9 said:
You will essentially become slower
but riding a HT down the mountain is not all that helpful.
It taught me some DH techniques I'm still trying to kick, like going slow.
 

5150dhbiker

Turbo Monkey
Nov 5, 2007
1,201
0
Santa Barbara, CA
If you want real cross training, ride moto. Hardtails are good but honestly I don't think will help your speed. Like someone else said on here, learn how to use your suspension properly and that helps way more.

Personally when I ride a HT on a DH trail I'm going a lot slower and usually doing different lines then on my DH bike.

Just ride singletrack moto trails, that helps A LOT....even riding tracks helps quite a bit. I picked up a lot of speed by riding moto tracks for mostly an entire summer when I was not racing.

Just my opinion on things :~
 

JRogers

talks too much
Mar 19, 2002
3,789
1
Claremont, CA
Really? I must've missed something.
Yes, you missed the part where people offered their opinion that one type of riding on one type of bike may not be as helpful as other things for DH training, and specifically as it relates to developing technical skills. It doesn't seem necessary to use such an absurd hyperbole to act as if everyone who gives an opinion that differs from yours is an idiot.
 

descente

Monkey
Jul 30, 2010
430
0
Sandy Eggo
i don't know whether or not it makes you faster to ride a hard tail, but it sure is fun bossing a trail on a hard tail when lots of people can barely ride it on a DH bike...
 

MarkDH

Monkey
Sep 23, 2004
351
0
Scotland
I took a break from the DH bike a while ago and rode a hardtail for a bit, mainly XC but some reasonably rocky and rooty stuff, not just smooth singletrack. Anyway, I half expected/hoped to get on the DH bike and be a load smoother, but as mentioned above I found I'd started to forget how to use the suspension (preloading it, how much there is to pull up on before the wheels leave the ground etc.) so it didn't transfer all that well. I'd also got used to riding at an overall slower pace so it took me a while to get used to going at DH speed again.

Having said all that, I still enjoy riding the HT and if you do then go for it, it'll make you a better rider in some way even if it's just fitness. If you don't enjoy it though I wouldn't bother, just spend more time on the DH bike if you like that more and you'll get faster than if you did 'training' on a HT.
 

Hesh To Steel

Monkey
Dec 12, 2007
661
1
Hell's Kitchen
This thread has all the same things that every "hardtail DH" thread has. The guys espousing the "it'll make you smoother and better at picking lines" philosophy, the allegedly supergnar dudes who "rip lines on a hardtail that some dudes won't touch on a big bike" and the guys who say "OMG hardtail DH is SO MUCH FUN".

While the last category is completely subjective and the second isn't even really an argument, the first point comes with a caveat. I think that training on a hardtail is something that COULD be beneficial to someone wanting to get faster on DH trails, but it'll probably take quite a bit of time. When I first started riding an FS bike it took me a while to get used to the feel of having suspension underneath me. I would imagine that going back and forth between the two types of bike, ASSUMING YOU'RE RIDING THE SAME TRAILS, is going to require some patience every time you make the transition.

If you want to get faster and more comfortable for DH, I think riding XC/DJs/DS/4X might help as cross training aids, but for riding DH trails you're probably better off just putting in practice time on those trails on your actual DH bike. If that's not an option, do other types of riding.

Oh, and Gemini, that was a bad troll job, even for someone with a troll avy.
 
Aug 4, 2008
330
4
Some of you people assume riding XC hardtails...

What I had in mind is riding a DH Hardtail. I did it on an oldschool Kona Roast (it was an awesome miniDH machine).

Riding BMX and XC really won't do anything for your DH ability. Also riding slalom won't do it.

But riding DH on a DH (longer, slacker headangle) or nowadays AM hardtail (Kona Hoss or five-o) certainly will.

Howgh.
 

rigidhack

Turbo Monkey
Aug 16, 2004
1,210
1
In a Van(couver) down by the river
I can't see an XC HT helping all that much - except for straightforward fitness. By virtue of the equipment alone you are forced to ride different trails. With a beefier HT this is not the case. Anybody ever see the video of Jin ripping Goats Gully on his HT? You are going to have a very hard time convincing me that with skills like that, he would not do very well on a bike with 8" of travel.

I can only speak for my own experience, but the time spent on the HT, riding the same trails as I ride on my big bike really helped me get faster, simply because I knew I could get through sections confidently. OF COURSE other lines open up to you once you are on a bike with some suspension, and a HT will not teach you to use your suspension to the greatest advantage, but it will train you well in what I consider to be the core of the discipline - confident bike handling skills. You also learn to stay loose and to use your own body position and movement to soak up hits. That kind of thing transfers perfectly.
 

norbar

Turbo Monkey
Jun 7, 2007
9,914
509
Warsaw :/
Hardtails on dh trails are not really fun but what prohibits you from riding HTs on smooth trails? It trains fluidity and bike controll a lot and you don't have to be slow on them. I've just built a cheap DJ bike to gain some confidence in the air, ride pump tracks, 4x and all that stuff.

And yeah moto also helps but I got my ht for 700$. I doubt you can get a good MX bike for that. Not to mention maitanance costs... Not all bikers have casharrhea...
 

Krzr3000

Monkey
Apr 24, 2005
114
0
Cross train with a hardtail or bmx...but do it in a skatepark, dirtjumps, pump track etc. Riding DH on trails you would normally use a full sus for is not all that fun. Maybe you will gain some arm strength from the bad arm pump you will get?


forget the hardtail, chainless works better
Truth...let go of the brakes too.
 
I ride a Ragley Blue Pig steel HT, which is designed specifically to use a 140-150mm fork to yield a nice AM-slack HA (67-67.5) and low BB (12.4in) with meaty 2.5 tires. The bike is, by far, the most fun HT I've ridden, period.

Am I as fast on it as my 7in AM FS bike, or my 8.5in DH sled? Heck no. But I've found that by riding it -- albeit a bit more slowly -- over much of the same terrain I do with my squish bikes it's definitely taught me to stay looser and more mobile over the bike. I've found that at least that bit of body wisdom sticks with me when I switch to FS.

With a (relative to the usual XC hardtail or choppered DJ HT) geo designed around aggressive riding, it's makes a huge difference in the fit, feel, performance, and overall fun factor compared to most aluminum race, trail, or converted DJ HT's.

Is it the right bike for everything? Absolutely not. Is it a fun alternative that helps jog the ol' muscle memory a bit after pointing-and-plowing becomes just a little too commonplace? For me, yes. YMMV.
 

roel_koel

Monkey
Mar 26, 2003
279
1
London,England
I'd suggest running a quality short-travel fully for "training"

I ride a Banshee Rampant and the quick handling and lack of cushion (compared to a DH rig) has really helped me hone my technique, whilst enjoying the same balanced front / rear "grip" and higher speed control that good quality suspension bikes of all travel categories share, compare to hardtails

I seriously cannot ride a hardtail off-road anymore, I just don't enjoy them on dirt (dirt is rough and I like to go very quick)...I have a fully-rigid 700c road commuter, that's it for me as far as rigid bikes go;)
 

norbar

Turbo Monkey
Jun 7, 2007
9,914
509
Warsaw :/
I'd suggest running a quality short-travel fully for "training"

I ride a Banshee Rampant and the quick handling and lack of cushion (compared to a DH rig) has really helped me hone my technique, whilst enjoying the same balanced front / rear "grip" and higher speed control that good quality suspension bikes of all travel categories share, compare to hardtails

I seriously cannot ride a hardtail off-road anymore, I just don't enjoy them on dirt (dirt is rough and I like to go very quick)...I have a fully-rigid 700c road commuter, that's it for me as far as rigid bikes go;)
If I could afford it I'd jump on the rampart bandwagon right now. Though living in a extra flat place I'm not sure it makes sense.
 

descente

Monkey
Jul 30, 2010
430
0
Sandy Eggo
LOL

yes, if its not fun, you are just doing it wrong. i always thought riding was supposed to be a challenge? DH bikes can make everything pretty boring and easy.
 

norbar

Turbo Monkey
Jun 7, 2007
9,914
509
Warsaw :/
DH bikes can make everything pretty boring and easy.
Yeah last time I visited Maribor I was thinking the same. Roadgap - boring, Rockgarden - boring, Crashing into a tree - boring. I'm pretty sure at least some of the parts of the track would be more exciting. Especialy the ones where it was so rough you were getting buckled even with a fully. Superman downhill is kinda my thing so I must try it with my DJ bike ;)
 

5150dhbiker

Turbo Monkey
Nov 5, 2007
1,201
0
Santa Barbara, CA
I want to ban all DH riding on DH bikes. It's too dangerous to do on a FS bike so I'm switching to a beach cruiser for jumping, a road bike for rocky trails and a bmx for XC riding. Yep...ultimate cross training right there.
 

norbar

Turbo Monkey
Jun 7, 2007
9,914
509
Warsaw :/
I want to ban all DH riding on DH bikes. It's too dangerous to do on a FS bike so I'm switching to a beach cruiser for jumping, a road bike for rocky trails and a bmx for XC riding. Yep...ultimate cross training right there.
Naay you need a trixy fixie. NS bikes and some others already make Fix road bikes designed for tricks... Though I partialy agree with you. It's a silly argument when booth sides are either hardcore pro ht or hardcore anti ;)
 

5150dhbiker

Turbo Monkey
Nov 5, 2007
1,201
0
Santa Barbara, CA
Naay you need a trixy fixie. NS bikes and some others already make Fix road bikes designed for tricks... Though I partialy agree with you. It's a silly argument when booth sides are either hardcore pro ht or hardcore anti ;)
Exactly, it's a pointless argument. Some things work for some people and some things don't, simple as that! I started getting WAY faster when I started timing runs on the same trails and kept track of what times I was pulling. I rode DH every single day before school and work and it helped....and helped FAST! For example, when I started I was riding Tunnel Trail (a local rocky trail) at around 16:30. When I stopped timing myself (was pushing myself too hard and crashing and getting hurt quite often) I had it down to 13:38. Believe me, timing helps A LOT!!