Spoke Magazine

HardTales: That’s It, No More!

Posted by Mark Dangerfield on Thursday March 6 2014

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Am I really doing this? I think I am…if you’re reading this I certainly am. I’m going cold turkey. I’m getting back on the wagon. I’m giving up something I love to make myself a better person.

I’m giving up rear suspension…

…for 12 months.

So why would I make such a decision? It’s certainly not very Enduro. I’m sure I’ll be OTA (out the arse) on every ride for the next 12 months and I may no longer be cool enough to roll with the Wellington regulars.

I’ve used the following to justify it to myself.

  • I want to simplify. I still love the gear, but the truth is I buy more when I ride less and I’m hoping this will simplify my habit.
  • Over 90% of the time I ride the same trails. Wellington has great trail diversity, but apart from the odd section it should all still be achievable on a hardtail, but different enough to make it interesting.
  • I’m getting lazy. I’m not sure if I’m getting faster with each new bike, but my skills aren’t developing. So I’m taking it back to basics.
  • I still enjoy the ride of a good hardtail. It’s springing and poppy. Lumpy and slidy.
  • With everybody complaining about the dumbing down of trails I’m going to dumb down some of the technology to keep it even.

The decision hasn’t been easy. It has filled me with trepidation. I’m sure I agonised about having children less.  Riding is such a central part of my life and my mental sanity.

Do I run the risk of ruining everything for a lack of rear suspension? I certainly hope not.

I haven’t even told my partner yet. You know she’s going to have an opinion on it.  I can see it now:

Her. Are you going to sell your full suspension bike?

Me. Well, yeah…

Her. But you just bought that bike!

Me. It was more like 6 months ago….

Her. And didn’t you just buy some new carbon wheels for it a couple of weeks ago?

Me. That’s true. I did. But they we’re a bargain. And they’ll work on my hardtail anyway…

The conversation will continue and will end in her exasperation, a statement akin to “Do whatever you want!” (which, for uninitiated, actually means the opposite), and me taking it at face value and continuing on my merry way.

So, I’m going from one of these (my current Cannondale Trigger 2 – soon up for sale!)

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The rooster with the booster – Cannondale Trigger 2

To this: My Ragley Big Wig.  British designed, Asian built. Cromo long travel 29er (there’s 140 up front.)

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The stallion with err… no rear suspension? – Ragley Big Wig

Funny thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this.  I did it about 13 years ago. The decision was easier back then; the majority of riders still rode hardtails and no one gave a shit about rim weight, let alone wheel size. Riding was simpler. Trails were fewer. I’m not sure we were slower but we were certainly younger. And braver.

I rode hardtails exclusively for the next 5 years. I began a bike love affair. A frame I’ll never sell, but may never ride again (but I’ll save that story for another time).

As of right now, this is simply my declaration.

I will only ride hardtails until the end of next summer. I’m sure there’ll be a few things to learn (or relearn) along the way. I’ll be sure to pass these learnings on.

For a bit of inspiration, here is nice Chromag edit that I’ve enjoyed a few times.

Categories: Exclusives, HardTales

  • Carl Smith

    Hard tail all the way!
    Taupo tracks are fine for HT’s, though most now have full sus rigs

  • Chris W

    I’ve done the same, going from a Trance to a Ragley mmmBop. More fun, by way of extra challenge!

  • Christian

    As we speak my new Niner hardtail is being built up. Thought it was time to go back to a hardtail but this time making it a single speed… I might end up killing myself in the transition but banking it making my riding better, and liking the whole simpler riding idea … but not throwing out the full suss… I like that bike way too much ;-)

  • jonoc

    They’re coming back! I’ve been loving my TransAm that I just built up

  • soft arse

    you are all so dull . oh, i know, im going to put crossply’s on my corvette. its going to be mint. Dangerfield…you are seriously not riding with me anymore. jonoc….i regret the care package i just sent you. and for the rest of you…. i dont know you but check out my ass as you eat my roost.oh, and hello pinch flats…….%$#$^%&)*&(^%*^%$$%#

  • Cameron Robertson

    I ride wellington trails. jump parks and everything else all on my hard tail jump bike with 100mm on the front and only a back brake, and i LOVE it, i love being able to kick out the back right around corners, having to hop over roots and rocks. Hard tail all the way

  • Joel

    Mark, how you finding the ragley? any issues with the QR back end or the weight?

    • Mark

      Hi Joel, Don’t notice the weight at all. Would prefer a bolt through rear end, only because I think they’re better – never had an issue with the QR though.

  • http://www.inspiring-riding.com/ InspiringRiding

    I struggle to think of any trail around Wellington that has ever made me think “I’d ride that, if only I had full suspension”. Or even front suspension for that matter. I’ll rule out Trickle Falls and some of the steeper Mt Vic stuff – not because of the bike, more because of my inability to ride big drops or jumps regardless of the bike underneath me.

  • Dave Mitchell

    I have a Mk 2 Ragley Blue Pig (steel 150mm) as a winter bike and it will do anything my AM bike will do. It feels a bit ordinary at middling speeds but just gets better and better the harder its ridden. Great fun.

  • anon

    Due to a combination of lack of money and lack of motivation, my fully has been in the pieces in the bike cupboard all summer. I’ve been on a 4″ front travel 29er, riding with all my friends on their 5″-6″ travel fullys.

    It certainly is slower on the downhills, but it takes a seriously rough downhill to make it less fun (think Mt Lowry). I will be back on the fully shortly, but the hardtail is going to get more use than I ever had planned for it.

    Do keep us updated Mark!