Buying a Full Suspension E-Bike – Everything to Know
Basics of Full Suspension E-Bike.The suspension is a mechanism on a bike which allows the bike to absorb the impact of various uneven terrain, allowing the rider a smoother riding experience, and the ability to ride over various terrain with ease.
Suspension in a bike is given by a spring mechanism that bounces the air back once it is compressed because of the bike hitting certain terrain. The spring will “bounce” the bike back into position after being compressed, and is made up of either air pressure or an actual coil of spring. Typically, the more expensive the bike, the more advanced the spring and suspension system.
The full suspension refers to a bike that offers suspension from both the front and rear of the bike.
The front of the bike contains the suspension fork, which is the part of the bike that supports the front wheel. The suspension in the fork braces the rider from impact when the front wheel hits uneven terrain or any sudden drops.
In the rear of the bike, the type of suspension can vary, but it all serves the purpose of bracing the rear of the bike from impact. The suspension is meant to brace the impact which is located in the rear bike triangle, which holds the back wheel of the bike.
Benefits of Full Suspension E-Bike– Why You Might Require It
So, now that we have gone over the basics and the mechanics of mountain bike design, let’s jump into why this might be relevant to your buying decision. In this section, we’re going over the top benefits to choosing a full suspension bike, and how to determine whether it’s most suitable for your type of riding.
A full-suspension mountain bike is best suited to downhill and enduro.
Downhill and enduro riding are timed. Therefore, the objective is to get the lowest time possible, to finish the designated circuit as fast as possible.
The advantages that full suspension e-bike has over a hardtail are:
It absorbs impacts more
The tail stays close to the ground
The ride is smoother
Full suspension e-bike absorbs impacts more in more bumpy trails
The suspension makes the bike give as it lands. This causes less impact on the arms, legs, and seat when you get some air (source). In downhill riding, you are going very fast, and often need to jump obstacles.
As well as, get air when going over bumps.
A softer landing is much more comfortable, and also gives more room for error if you make a mistake, or don’t see a particular jump. It also allows you to go faster because the impact from the landing isn’t a limiting factor.
And you can make higher jumps, and go over bumpy terrain at higher speeds.
With trail riding and country riding the main objective is to enjoy nature, and have a nice relaxing ride. A full-suspension bike is typically more expensive and not necessary to get for trail and country riding.
It’s nice to have but not a necessity like it is for enduro or downhill riding.
The tail stays close to the ground for better control
The rear of a front suspension bike bounces around on downhill and enduro riding.
Whereas with a full-suspension bike the frame of the bike moves as it absorbs the impact, and the rear wheel stays much closer to the ground or on the ground.
More comfortable riding
This isn’t much of a concern when riding leisurely on trails, or cross country. But, the high speeds, tight maneuvers, and jumps involved in downhill and enduro helps get a better time, because you can steer better.
The ride is smoother and puts less impact on the arms and feet
Doing a downhill ride with a hardtail (single suspension) bike begins to cause a bit of soreness in the butt, arms, ankles, and knees.
With a full suspension, the ride is incredibly smooth. The frame moves around but you stay attached to the bike without impacting the ground (source).
It’s almost like you’re floating on air. With a bit of practice, your landing becomes smoother as you adjust your body weight to create even less impact. This means you can ride for much longer before stopping.
A full-suspension e-bike is right for you if:
You’re willing to spend a bit more: High-quality, entry-level full-suspension mountain bikes start at about $1,500. If you’re OK with spending that amount (or more) and full-suspension makes sense for the type of terrain you want to ride, then it’s likely a good choice.
You mostly ride technical trails: If pedaling through rock gardens, up and over roots and off of drops is your idea of a fun ride, then a full-suspension mountain bike is for you. This is the type of terrain that full-suspension bikes are built for; the combination of front and rear suspension creates a smoother ride with better traction and handling, which can translate to more fun on rough terrain.
You want a more comfortable ride: A full-suspension mountain bike will soak up most of the jarring bumps that would otherwise be sent to your body (and in some cases, buck you off your bike). This can help reduce fatigue, which in turn can allow you to ride faster, for longer, with greater comfort.
You have a need for speed: Front and rear suspension do such a good job of absorbing bumps that you can typically carry more speed through technical sections of trail than you would be able to with a hardtail.
Full-suspension mountain bikes
Mountain bikers carrying some injury tension will always be more comfortable on a full-suspension bike on any terrain. For those riders who are healthier, wish to develop their skills, and explore more demanding trails, the full-suspension mountain bike is a much safer passage to progression.
Going over the bars (OTB) is a nightmare scenario for any rider, and with hardtails, that risk is significantly heightened in steep technical terrain. Once you run out of front fork travel, there is no suspension action in the rear to defuse the balance point momentum of a potential OTB moment. Full-suspension bikes are more forgiving and less likely to buck a rider over the bars.
Rocky and rooty trails can become a bit more of a challenge on any hardtail, however. This is where even a short-travel full-suspension bike gives much better confidence and control. While you will probably develop more ‘correct’ jumping and drop-off techniques learning on smooth skills tracks on a hardtail, for repetitive hits, a full-suspension bike is going to be kinder on your body.
Alternative: The Hardtail Bike
Hopefully, at this point, you know whether a full-suspension bike will fit your riding style or not. It is certainly a bike for experienced mountain bikers and those that like to hit the trails with energy and intensity.
But what if you still have an interest in mountain biking, but don’t need all the extra functionality of a full-suspension? This is where the hardtail bike comes into play.
The hardtail bike is the alternative to a full-suspension, and it is perhaps the most popular type of MTB among beginner, intermediate, and even some advanced riders! While a full-suspension bike has front and rear suspension, the hardtail has only front suspension (thus making the tail “hard”).
Hardtails are very capable mountain bikes on their own, and more than adept at handling anything from beginner to very difficult trails. They are more than enough for almost all mountain bike riders. And some riders even prefer hardtails because they lack the “bounciness” of a full-suspension.
A hardtail mountain bike is right for you if:
You’re on a budget: You can almost always get more bike for your buck with a hardtail, especially if your budget is set at about $1,500 or less. This is because hardtails have a simpler design that’s less expensive to manufacture, which allows bike makers to include higher-end components (like derailleurs, shifters, brakes, etc.) than are typically featured on similarly priced full-suspension bikes.
You mostly ride smooth trails: If you spend the majority of your time on fairly smooth trails, then a hardtail bike can offer you a fast and fun ride that will soak up moderate bumps with its front suspension fork.
You like low-maintenance: With fewer moving parts, hardtail bikes are simpler and less-expensive to maintain than full-suspension bikes. Of course, a certain amount of basic maintenance is still required.
You want a light bike: Hardtail bikes generally weigh less than full-suspension bikes because their simpler design has fewer parts. Less weight can be a good thing if your ride will include lots of climbing or covering long distances. With that said, higher-end full-suspension bikes can be quite light, so if you’re willing to spend the money, the weight difference can be minimal.
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