Hardtail, Mid-Travel Or Long Travel Full Sus – Which Mountain Bike Is The Fastest For Trail Riding?


– [Neil] As a typical mountain biker, I’m
always searching for that speed. We’re known for throwing loads of
money at super lightweight components, training extra hard or even skipping
a session in the pub sometimes. – [Mark] Neil, I don’t think you’ve
ever skipped a session in the pub. – I think I did once, in 2003 maybe. But
something I’m always looking for is trying to find the fastest way of riding down
a trail, but are we missing the easiest answer? Are we riding the
fastest bikes for the trail? – So, what we have here, three bikes and
we’re going to put them to the test. We’ve got the Scott 99er. As you can see,
no rear suspension, a ruddy great long stem and a really low front end. Cross
country race bike. In the middle here, we have the Scott Genius. It’s a 150 mil,
middle of the road, bit shorter stem, bit more travel, perhaps more of your all
day ride. And then lastly we have the Santa Cruz Nomad, truly gravity
inspired. We’ve got 165 rear travel, 160 up front, big tires. You see the bars
are higher, head angle’s way flatter, so this is for when it really gets rough
and technical. Okay, so as you can see, we’ve got the bikes. We’ve set up
a trail. It has a little bit of climbing, single track undulation and then
a steeper descent at the end. It’s not extreme downhill, and it’s
not a cross-country loop. It’s a good, fair test that has a bit of everything, so
we can really sort of find the weaknesses of these bikes and ultimately, the fastest
trail bike. That’s my warm up done. Hardtail first, cross-country race bike. ♪ [music] ♪ – Well, that was interesting. On the
climbs, it’s so direct. Just everything in the pedals just drives you forward.
Obviously, the single track stuff wasn’t too bad, but I definitely had a few
moments in the last section where it’s fairly steep. I found it hard to get my
weight back as the seat’s so high. I had to really be conscious to push my weight
back but definitely a fun bike to ride. You just have got to be aware of where
you ride it and how difficult a trail you tackle on one. Mid-travel trail bike next. I have got a
secret little weapon here. I’ve got a lock out that I can use on the fly, so
for pedaling stuff, I’ll lock it out. Here we go, what a gear. ♪ [music] ♪ So, mid travel trail bike, still
felt really agile on the climbs, still pretty fast and definitely on the
sort of single track, not up, not down. Felt really, really fast, but on the
descents, I’m starting to feel a little bit under-biked. But also more than that,
feels like your weight is starting to come really far forward onto the bars where the
slacker bikes, more aggressive bikes, more confidence-inspiring. But great
all-around bike, sure. More aggressive, downhill-orientated trail bike, more
travel slacker. Let’s see how it goes. ♪ [music] ♪ – So, the long travel trail bike
definitely feels a bit more sluggish on the climbs, but on the downhill
side of it, it’s definitely more confidence-inspiring. More travel, it
feels like you’re getting more grip, so do I make enough up on the downs than
I lose on the ups? This clock will tell us everything, really. Back in the pub
now, so let’s have a look at the times. Starting with the hardtail, the Scotts
Bark, that comes in at two minutes, five. Moving onto the mid travel Scott Genius,
that is actually quite a lot faster, 1.57, so that’s eight seconds faster on
the mid-travel bike. I guess that’s to be expected. Surprising thing for me is Santa
Cruz Nomad, the longer travel trail bike it’s actually coming in at 2 minutes
03, so it’s not actually that much quicker than the hardtail on that
track which is definitely a surprise, but that trail had a bit of everything.
I guess more flat and underlay than the downhill, but I’d expect that to
be a bit quicker, but the obvious winner is the Genius, the mid travel bike. – Yeah, by quite a long margin,
as well. I think it’s fair to say. The real question is with picking a trail
bike, it’s like you need to match it to, one, the type of rider that you are
and the terrain that you have locally, so basically, you know, it’s finding that
match where you balance perhaps not to your strengths but to your weaknesses. – Yeah, definitely. You do see a lot of
guys, someone who’s maybe really a strong climber riding a really lightweight bike,
or, actually, they might be better off setting their bike up for their
weaknesses, maybe thinking about sticking a high rise bar on
there just so they’re all-around riding abilities are a little bit improved, but
I guess it’s a personal thing. There is not one fastest bike out there, for
sure. It’s all about finding the right bike for you and setting
up for you, as well. – That’s a good point, Neil. You know, not
get too hung up on what bike you have, but kind of focus on engineering the bike
that you choose, be it a hardtail or a bigger travel trail bike, to your needs
and finding the best out for you. – Yeah, you can definitely play around
with tires, bars, things like that and sort of play around with all sorts of
bikes, but I think the biggest thing to remember is actually the equipment does
make a difference to how fast you are, but the rider makes the
biggest difference, so… – Good point, Neil. Talking of skills, why
don’t you watch some of our videos? So, click up here. – Don’t forget bikes, Mark. We just talked
about that. Click down here for those, and you can always click on us if
you want to subscribe to GMBN. – It’s free. Anyway, back to our pint.

Comments 100

  • I'm not surprised seeing how trail bikes are designed to be the best on tracks like that

  • The rider should be same for all bikes to make the test fair.

  • what's your guys view on the voodoo aizan?I'm new to mountain biking and don't want to spend loads of money.

  • forget the speed who cares in the real world…the question is, which one was more FUN TO RIDE?

  • I'd like to see agressive trail hardtail vs full sus bike comparison. Why even compare xc bike to trail bike?

  • someone dropped a clanger, Scott Spark is a full suss. the bike tested was a Scott Scale

  • Which brakes have the santa cruz nomad?

  • Would I be able to use my jack devinci rc wf on that trail

  • There is another factor which is nearly always missed. I currently ride a xc bike with approx. 100mm travel at both ends. I would love to change to a nice trail bike with 140-160 travel as the downhill and technical stuff is where the fun is. The only problem – all my friends are riding hardtails. Some want to climb as fast as possible, for fitness they claim but more probably to show off. Others just can't afford a new bike. You need to factor in what the people you are riding with have otherwise you'll be left standing on that 5 mile fire track.

  • i ride dh and cross country with the hardtail cube ltd, so its awesome for cross country but for dh, i cant jump on jumps quite good cause its a hardtail bike and i find my back tire poping because of it.gmbn what should i do?

  • how would a giant boulder se tgat has rock shock pilot suspention bontager tires and a disc conversion feel

  • I didnt get the secret weapon thing, is it the seatpost or…?

  • Gmbn probably won't see this but what gloves do you guys use

  • dam you guys rly don't like hardtails

  • i think you guys should make it more fair about the trail for fair comparison like elevation, trail map, and other detail

    you said the trail has steeper descent at the end, a little bit climbing and flat singletrack ? and testing the hardtail in wet condition ? i think you'll get slippery all the way even in the climbing section

    Please make it more detail GMBN for fair comparison
    How long for climbing section and it's elevation
    How long for descent section and it's elevation
    How long for flat section and typical track you ride on the track, full of switchback? Rock garden, roots ?

  • Test an Enduro HT against some AM/Enduro Fullys pls 🙂

  • Why would u choose an xc bike to do a trail ride? Why not use a trail hardtail. Short stem, slack head angle and decent travel to see whether a hardtail or full sus are quicker.

  • I raced motocross for 25 years, 8 years pro. I am interested in XC racing. A lot of confidence on rough terrain, jumps, downhills. I am actually a pretty strong climber. What would you recomend?

    I was looking at the BMC Teamlight 1 29' wheels.

    I have a Marin Rift Zone California medium 26' with full suspension. Its pretty heavy and takes a lot of work on climbs and flat out speed. I am 77 kilos, well built like Daniel Craig 177CM tall.

    Oh, and I am 52 and can still hammer!

  • Thank you for this video. I have been wondering if a full suspension bike was worth purchasing. I have been afraid that I would be loosing power due to the rear suspension. You even tested the bike I want. Scott genius it is.

  • riding while wet/muddy…. do they not care about rutting the trails?

  • what's the travel in the forks in the mid?

  • IF UPHILL ???

  • That's some soft XC suspension..

  • I love tests like this. You should do a repeat on a of the same test but on a trail with rocks and roots to deal with. The long travel would do much better. This trail looked pretty smooth. I fine long travel bikes really shine in areas where you can just plow strait over obstacles rather than go around them just to get a better line.

  • Mid travel for the win!

  • honestly its really just what you plan on riding i race xc so i use a hard tail obviously but its really just for whatever you're riding

  • perhaps the hardtail is slower because it was a different rider?

  • neil its a scale Not a spark

  • i would like to buy a firefox sniper D is that good

  • hey i would like to know that is coil suspension is suitable for downhill????

  • Is a specialized stumpjumper 27.5 small frame a good bike sized for someone who is five foot one 105 pounds

  • I have a question. did you stay in first gear on every bike going through that trail. if so, why?

  • I have a hard tail I use for canal paths and a full sus for for the technical trails. Horses for courses. If you ride different types of trails buy the bike that's suitable for terrain.
    We do a 20 mile loop and I'm always faster on hard tail.

  • Awesome video, really liked it!

  • Should have taken as a mid travel bike a bike with 120/130 mm, that would be more of an mid travel 🙂 now it goes from 100/150/160 😀 doesn't really ad up like I would think but you guys know your stuff better so I say, screw it XD

  • I need mtb

  • to increse the fair testing, the rider should stay the same for all tests. the rider shouldn't be a variable that you change as everybody has different levels of ability

  • The middle bike should've had 130-140mm travel

  • I would've liked a long travel hardtail (with a dropper post) in the test as well, I think it would be interesting.

  • The biggest thing to remember. Is enjoy the bike you have and have fun.

  • One thing to do would be to lose those sails you're wearing and use some close-fitting clothes. Sure, being aero is not required for lots of MTB riding, but if you're looking for speed on descents, it's a significant factor. I don't really understand why MTB clothes are supposed to be baggy. Is there a specific, tangible reason? Wearing protectors underneath or something?

  • I think mt next bike will be a hardtail with trail geometry, and a Fox 34 fork. Hardtail will climb great, and the heavy duty fork will cushion arms, shoulders and upper body going down…

  • So, if I get a 140mm with slacker geometry it could be faster.

  • It's like saying what bike is faster on your first or second run

  • Gmbn can I install a rear shock on a hardtail (plz reply)

  • two diffirent riders and they were tired at the end so false of a test

  • Ffs, your tests suck!! No control variables!! 29'' vs 27.5?? Different price points!

  • But what about adding in a more trail oriented hardtail with a dropper post and a short travel full-sus bike with 100-120mm travel?

  • I have more fun on a hardtail honestly. It feels like i'm riding a hot rod. On a full suspension, I feel like i'm in a cushy SUV.

    But then I am the kinda guy that wears vibram five fingers

  • #askgmbn I have a 150/150mm fully, which s great for the local trails. But I also love bikeparks and also I'm on a strrict budget…
    Is it smart to get a bigger fork, 180 or even 200mm, for downhill?

  • This is in no way a fare test, the x country had neither a lockout or a dropout post. Also two different riders were used in different bikes.

  • awesome video thanks for sharing! I am new to your channel. Thanks.

  • Simple question , are there dropper posts for hardtail bikes ? Or is it just a downhill(full suspension) bike thing……..

  • Some ear rape

  • 3:41. Who's that in the woods behind Neal

  • Good vid. Been torn between the YT Jeffsy and the Capra. I ride a bit of everything and a dh park would only be a seldom thing. Jeffsy it is.

  • MARIORODAS

  • Shouldn't the question be which one is most fun? Who cares about fastest, 99,9% of us aren't trying to compete at the highest levels

  • Doesn't locking out the suspension of the mid-travel bike defeat the purpose of this test?

  • Rougher rocky trails would separate the FS from the hard tail I bet. Have ridden only hard- and softtails, started on rigid steel circa 1985; young legs on short rides can do a lot of suspending, but multi-hour to all-day rides we called XC but is now 'trail/enduro' prove FS saves bodies and energy. Too many old favorite trails are now rocky rubblefests due to erosion and exposure of once-covered loose rocks. Sweet spot should be in the middle travel range where light bikes (lighter by 2 lb over my Ti softtail!) still give decent travel without the weight penalty of an enduro/downhill beast, and traction may actually be better going up and over, versus a hard tail. If you only time your descents, and don't mind hiking or driving to the top, your choice is obvious.

  • Love this video. Something you both spoke on that really landed for me and I hope lands with many out there…. not getting hung up on the kind of bike you have but more so on engineering the bike for you. 👍🏼

  • Hey, guys! Thank u for making such awesome videos, man. So good for me to get upto date with MTB currently. So, now, I'm not your target audience (I'm from India) n we don't have trails built for us. So all my riding is done on the streets. I find trails when I can, but it's mainly massively bad roads, footpaths, jumping off stairs, etc. And I ride extreme (home to office n back home, I can shower at the office). Question: enduro or trail for me? I've asked this on other videos of yours, please don't mind (this is just in case yawl miss them). So, it's tar, concrete, railway lines.. haha. Thank you 😎 I need to know more about enduro.

  • What’s the point of this test? The XC bike was faster up hills and the long travel was quicker down the hills. What a surprise.
    I’d love to see a 1k trail orientated, aggressive hardtail vs a similarly priced FS.

  • Ideally you.need two.bikes if you go to different courses of different complexities. I think the best icimpromise s a mid travel trail bike 29er or 27+. I'm.limited on.my hard tail even.though I think it's the best for my trails. My.next bike will be carbon mid travel.full trails 27+ switch dropper and lockouts for something to race xc.

  • It certainly goes to show that different bicycles are built for different things and I have often found this to be true when comparing my bicycles on different trails, it keeps things interesting for me. I have not been satisfied with just one bicycle and have settled on a cross-country bike and a trailbike. But it doesn't mean I wouldn't love to have an enduro bicycle as well. But if I had to choose one all rounder it would have to be the trail bike simply because the grip is so awesome it lets me go faster with more confidence. A true downhill bicycle is one that I would go ahead and rent simply because I don't have access to downhill parks often. Sometimes just for for fun I don't always choose the right bicycle for the conditions thus it mixes things up, challenges me and keeps things interesting! But for me I've had the most fun on the trail bike.

  • I see 120mm/130mm or something like that on different classes. What does it stand for ?

  • you got your maths wrong here, how do you consider extra 10mm(150mm) in the long travel range from mid-travel 140mm? since long travel should be in the 180-200mm standard i think.

  • lol i have a norco storm cross country and went on a 2m gap failed it a buckled my rim rip

  • very slang,,,hahaha i dont know,

  • The GMBN crew needs to take acting classes

  • You guys should go back to using Drum and Bass for your clips. Way cooler and based out of Britain more fitting! Love the video keep up the good work!

  • You guys should go back to using Drum and Bass for your clips. Way cooler and based out of Britain more fitting! Love the video keep up the good work!

  • You guys should go back to using Drum and Bass for your clips. Way cooler and based out of Britain more fitting! Love the video keep up the good work!

  • Some of us can only afford to have one bike so you have to pick one for the type of riding you enjoy most. For that reason I ride a 160mm travel Mega AM on everything from peak District blasts to XC rides. Yes the climbs are tough but the descents are awesome. This works for me based on my style of riding.

  • I miss Marc 🙁

  • I have found that I have the best luck with a trailbike on a mixed trail versus a Hardtail or cross country. The xc bike I found wasn’t grippy enough around the curves and Hard tail bike slowed me down on the really bad choppy sections. But there are so many factors to consider in this type of comparison in specific things such as tire size Or suspension settings and even tire pressures can all make a big difference between bike to bike.

  • fuji nevada 1.0 ltd 2017 buyed it about a week ago, great bike for jumps and street ride(29 wheels and 100 mm fork rock shox 30)

  • hmmm…..that comment section seems to disagree with you're conclusion. this seems odd, considering this is youtube! 😀

  • +Global Mountain Bike Network I bought my first more ''serious'' full suspension Trek EX 5.5 2009 that i got for few hundred a few weeks back and i'm completely hooked on mtb and i ride really aggresive because i always wrote bikes my whole life and i have no fear because of skateboarding/snowboarding. My worry is my bike aint made for the stuff iam doing… How high do u think i can jump with it? and how big off drops can i do?? haha 🙂 next bike is gonna be jeffsy or Capra i think, hard to choose wich suites best!

  • Why wasn’t either of this bikes equipped with dropper post? That would have made the hardtail much faster and took a couple seconds off the mid travel too.

  • these old videos are weird (look at the paint job on the genius) and the quality is off, apparently GMBN has come a long way

  • Best mid travel full suspension trail/enduro bike under or around 5000$, i want a good swiss army knife bike that can do single track, tech, jumps, a little downhill and climbs well. YT Jeffsy, Cabra, Santa Cruz Bronson, Nomad, Kona Process 153, Evil Following MB, Trek Fuel EX 7, 8 , 9 .. Not sure what else right off hand. Any insight or suggestions? Oh and 27.5 or 29 are fine. if its 29 though it needs to be playful.

  • Do a trail bike vs enduro bike plz decause i don't know what to choos tho i know main differences but i don't know witch one will be better for me

  • Could I do small jumps and roots and rocks , maybe small dh sections on a 120 mm travel bike ?

  • In bunch of their videos, i noticed that they never specificy the travel on hard trail xc bike.

  • The next test will be : what color of bike is best? Obviously it's whatever color you DON'T own. Bollocks.

  • It should be 110-120 hardtail 135-145 mid travel and then 170-200

  • who tf rides an xc bike with stem upwards

  • If the HT didn't win this contest then something wasn't equal… especially on THIS simple trail.

  • xc bikes r gey

  • Why do you always use a cross country hardtail in these tests? That bikes not gonna win when put against bikes made for trails. There's loads of examples of hardtail trail bikes with as much as 150 and higher travel. Those bikes have the geometry and set up suited for trails, and yet you always use an xc bike, why?

  • How is the genius mid travel? I would honestly have more preferred xc hardtail vs spark 120mm vs genius/Santa Cruz.

  • I have got a Scott scale

  • Damn, how geometry and whatnot change over a short period of time! That trail bike's stem was damn long!!

  • Hilarious mic placement 😂😂😂

  • Still looking for a trail I won't eat you for lunch in on my 2015 allu Giant anthem 27,5 120mm travel fork 100mm rear.I'll wait.

  • Hardtail all the way speed don't matter

  • Hardtails teach you how to be a faster rider.

  • You Brits only ride bikes to justify the beer at the end of the day. I'm waiting for a GMBN or GCN review of the new cabon fiber keg holder.

  • I think the best challenge is some kind a 140/160 slacked hardtail vs a steeper 100mm FS

    Since you guys love to do experiments I suggest you do this one

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