“Riding street” is the term used to describe any kind of off-trail riding. For example: practicing wheelies at your local park, or launching off a little bump somewhere. When I intend on riding street, I leave my house with a hardtail. Hardtails are great for hopping, and navigating technical obstacles, so they’re better than full suspension bikes when it comes to street riding, or are they? I guess it all depends on what you plan on doing.
I have an errand to run across town, so I’m going to bring out my monster 6 inch all mountain bike and get into some trouble.
First of all, getting around town is easier on a road bike, period. Pedaling anything with suspension is more work, as if the knobby tires weren’t bad enough. Still, mountain bikers are used to pedaling their bikes, and most could ride a full suspension around town all day. To me it didn’t feel like a big deal, even when holding a decent pace. While you could just lock out the suspension, this is only good for long stretches of road. The whole point of taking your mountain bike street riding, is to jump stuff.
When it comes to sudden movements, the the full suspension is tough to handle. I started off my ride treating it like a hardtail, and although I made it work, I felt hindered.
Bunnyhopping in particular is pretty tough. On a positive note, it seems like full suspension bikes are more forgiving when you land nose heavy. I know that sounds weird considering your suspension fork would have more to do with that, but it feels smoother when your back end comes crashing down.
Hopping up this thing and bumping the handle at the end was kind of tough to pull off since it required two quick moves in succession. For anything BMX or trials influenced, the squishiness is a negative. It’s hard to be accurate when everything is delayed by a fraction of a second. But we’re talking about highly precise movements. What happens if we go big?
Now we’re talking. It seems like the key to riding street on a full suspension bike is going big. Big drops, big gaps, big jumps. My bike feels like a 747 in the air, and when landing.
This revelation got me into trouble a couple of times. This bumpy muddy trench might be out of the question on a BMX, and even on a hardtail it would suck up your speed. Not today. I had more than enough speed for this wallride even with a 7 pound hydration pack.
All that travel was fueling my confidence, and that’s when the old me started to rear his ugly head. This looks rideable, right?
I decided not to try that again. On a hardtail I may have gotten more speed. I may have hopped higher and cleared the gap. Or, it could have ended a lot worse. Surprisingly I didn’t get hurt at all, which speaks to how forgiving full suspension bikes are.
After that canal gap, I took it pretty easy for the rest of the day.
Today was the first time I really went out and challenged myself in the street on a full suspension bike. Although I still maintain that it’s not as good as a hardtail for most things, it’s definitely better for going big. To land in the street is to land hard, and although people land way harder on rigid BMX bikes, it seems like the gaps and drops I could do on this thing are limitless.
People have mixed feelings about street riding in general. Is there really any way to do it respectfully? That’s a conversation for another day. For now, I think we’ve only reinforced what hardtails and full suspension bikes are best for, so we’ll leave it at that. Do any of you guys ride street on mountain bikes? What style do you prefer?
Thanks for riding with me today and I’ll see you next time.