I recently bought my first full suspension mtb which I’m happy to say is a kona process 135 27.5. The bike is just amazing and nothing I dont like about it. After alot of reading and some testing the kona was the fit. Having been riding a plus tire hardtail for the last two and half years its was time for something fresh. What I didnt realize was how well I got it done on a my hardtail, which I still love to ride as much as the full sus kona. I wanted a full sus to take the hit out of the knarly stuff and to be able to take some drops and it did just that. What it also did was put me back in school of learning to ride a completely different bike. The geometry, tire size , suspension just are so playfull and so much feedback comes from this bike. After testing a giant trance x I was almost thinking of not getting a full sus. That bike took every bit of play fullness Ive loved about mtb riding and made it predictable , almost like you couldn’t make a mistake. everything about the bike was easy but that wasn’t what I was looking for. I was looking for some radicalness, some character, spunk and 30 ft into riding the process I was on the back wheel just like I was riding my trusty hardtail. Not to bash the trance as it would crush the kona in heavy downhill and make it easy no doubt but now have I a new type of bike that will take some time to get acquainted with and that was exactly the feeling I got the first time I road my hardtail
For me, the best reason to ride full-sus is for the comfort. That full-sus also provides more capability and control is just a bonus. You don’t need much rear travel. Just 100mm of rear travel makes a huge improvement over a hardtail.
I like that hardtails are lighter and I like the way a hardtail delivers all your pedaling power directly to the rear wheel. I also like the way a hardtail descends. I’m mostly standing when descending so I don’t get too beat up. However, I hate seated pedaling on a hardtail. Every bump sends a jolt straight to your butt and spine. Choppy, rough, but not very steep climbs where your need to keep your butt in the saddle are just brutal on a hardtail.
I just end up feeling more physically sore and tired after riding a hardtail compared to a full-sus. Hardtails are fun for short rides on smooth trail. But on longer, rougher rides, I prefer full-sus.
Mini-Enduro Trailbikes like the Trance X are great descenders. However, they can be heavy, slow-rolling, and wooden everywhere else and especially so if you ride the more-affordable but heavier builds that often come with heavy slow-rolling Enduro-ish tires. The Trance X comes with some seriously beefcake tires. I’m guessing that was what you were feeling when you tested the Trance X.
I have a Kona Coilair and a Gary Fisher hardtail. I probably ride my Kona a bit more than the hardtail mostly because of the jump and drop features I ride. The Gary Fisher is more like a sports car on the twisting hilly trails while the Kona is my trusted bike to do or try any feature with.
I have 2 fs bikes. An older xc Specialized Epic and a 2020 Trek Slash. When I first went to FS I couldn’t believe how much more comfortable I was especially flying over brake bumps. The slash does so much work it’s incredible. It is so much more forgiving. It’s been in the shop almost two months and I am eating it all the time and not even riding the gnarliest stuff.
I just have so much more fun on a full squish. The bikes are clearly more comfortable – and forgiving – than a HT for rowdier trails. That inspires additional confidence to take on more tech and bigger drops. With that said, I have the utmost respect for those that ride with less, esp. those on a rigid singlespeed, where line choice, balance and skill become paramount.
I have an Evil Insurgent for most riding, and a Giant Stance (for gravel/pavement/easy trails) I ride Full Squish because it is more forgiving, easier on my knees and back, and in general I think more fun to ride.