Lets start off today with a video someone posted in the comments of a recent post. The Post was Old School in the New School about riding an old bike and trying to hang with guys on new full suspension bikes.
The video is well made and I was initially very interested in the premise. Putting the three major types of mountain bikes up against each other in a shoot off. A XC hardtail, a mid travel full suspension race bike, and a longer travel all mountain trail bike. The test commences with the rider pedaling some single track and then talking a bit about the ride at the end of each section. Nice.
Then the stupidity kicks in. Back at the pub they lay out the results. The Hardtail was the slowest bike, the Mid Travel the fastest, and the long travel in the middle. These results are on a course that took a 2 MINUTES to ride. Those times have no statistical value whatsoever. They claim the course has a “good mix” of all the terrain and features you would encounter on a typical mountain bike ride, but how is that possible on a 2 minute trail.
The major advantages of a hardtrail are weight and power transfer, these advantages are going to become apparent on longer rides and especially long climbs. The truth is that there is no type of mountain bike that is better then any other, there may be one that is better for the type of riding you do. If you like to bomb and let it all hang out and your trails offer some opportunities for that then you want the longer travel. If your trails have longer climbs, double track or road sections, and you want to maximize your pedaling efficiency you want the hardtail. Middle of the road? Choose the mid travel. It’s not that complicated.
Here’s a much better video comparison on wheelsize.
Over on the road side of things I’d like to shout out to the Sunny King Criterium. The race in Anniston Georgia produces a Livestream video each year that you can watch on their website. They use 5 cameras and the announcer provides excellent commentary. It’s a very slick and professional presentation and a great way to watch critierium style racing. I especially like that they have video of most of the various categories. If you have 9 hours to kill watch it all, or maybe just fast forward to the race you want to watch.