Freeride hardtail for my wife?

I was thinking of building a long travel hardtail up for my wife. As I am generally full of bad gift ideas, I thought your opinion might be helpful on this….
Some back story here…my wife never got into mt. biking until I got her a 6″ travel AM bike. Then suddenly she could relax over the rough stuff, start getting some speed, and then was able to develop some riding skills (with the help of the Mastering Mt. Bike Skills book of course). Unfortunately she has really bad asthma and had a very tough time on her bike (an earlier AM model) that was heavy and didn’t pedal well. Ultimately we sold that and got her a used DH bike which she loves ragging on at Highland’s every weekend.

She wants to get back into doing some more trail riding. I thought a “free-ride” hardtail would be a good idea for three reasons: 1) having learned on plush big travel bike she doesn’t really get line choice and smoothness. A hartail might help her learn this. 2) A hardtail would be lighter and more efficient than most (non-XC race oriented) bikes. That might help her with the asthma. 3) A long travel hard tail would be fairly slack and handle more like the DH bike that she is used to. It would also let her do some fairly gnarly stuff occasionally, while taking the “sting” out of hardtailing. 3a) long travel hard tails are rad.

Of course I could think of many reasons why this is a dumb idea…but I would love to know your thoughts. Thanks for your time-Jake.


I dunno man:

Has your wife asked you to give her a less capable tool so she can truly savor high-speed vibration and blunt-force trauma? Unless she rides like this,

she’s gonna be bummed.

As someone with asthma, I know pedaling hard is pedaling hard. It does not matter what kind of bike you’re on. I don’t know how her asthma is, but I always feel better after I let a minor attack happen, then I let the muscles relax. That used to be part of my DH/Super D warmup.

(Don’t you dare suggest this to her, but she could always work on her fitness and pedaling technique.)

If you’re riding rough trails, I think a suspension bike climbs more easily than a hardtail. When I traded Captain America for an Ibis Mojo HD on one long climb, I swear the HD felt easier.

If you’re gonna do a hardtail — oh man am I saying this? — why not a 29er? It’s gonna be light and quick, and it’s gonna ride smoother than a 26er. Some will tell you a hardtail 29er is as smooth as a short-travel 26er.

How about a nice modern trail bike, like a Stumpjumper or equivalent? Modern trail bikes climb great, and they sure rip the downhills. You can’t go wrong here.

I’ve been riding a hardail on trail a bit lately and I gotta admit: It kind of sucks. I mean it’s a challenge when I’m going slow, and it’s hardcore, and it feels great in the smooth sections, but I don’t particualarly enjoy getting the s*** beaten out of me. Naw, if I’m gonna ride a real trail at my speed, I’ll pick the Stumpy or Enduro.

Get your wife the bike that will help her have the most fun (probably a suspended trail bike). As someone with a wife, I know that will help you have the most fun.

Marital Braaap!


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9 replies
  1. leelikesbikes says:

    That’s a great looking bike, as is the On-One 456; carbon frames are only about $500!

    It really comes down to the wife. What are her skills? What sort of riding experience does she want?

  2. max says:

    I think if shes looking for something for all around riding some form of 5-6″ travel full suspension trail/all mountain bike is the way to go. I think some of the new stumpjumpers seem like sweet bikes.
    If she is bored by her local trails, wants a different ride experience, wants to feel the beat down on the descents, sharpen her skills as a compliment to her dh bike than go for the hardtail. I have a 29er fully rigid “freeride” hardtail that I “enjoy” getting beat to a pulp on in the rough. Gives old trails a fresh face. It always makes me feel faster on and thankful for my Ibis Mojo HD.

  3. Jiz says:

    gnarly bike #1: Santa Cruz Chameleon – can build this to your liking from XC to FR; can fit forks 100mm to 180mm and will take 8″ rotors.
    (very) gnarly bike #2: Banshee Morphine – toughest hardtail on the planet, heavy and overbuilt in the areas that count; can be built with the most serious FR goodies; mine has triple crown fork and it is still XC rideable(though it’s a bit like wrestling a bear going up hill.

  4. Jonathan says:

    This part worries me: “…she doesn’t really get line choice and smoothness. A hartail might help her learn this.”

    IMHO, don’t approach the decision from the standpoint of what you believe your wife needs to learn. Don’t patronize her like that. Buy her a fun bike. Let her worry about the rest.

  5. James says:

    It’s pretty clear to me: she’ll hate a hard tail. She’d be right back where she was before the 6″ travel AM bike. She would compare it to her full suspension downhill experience, and it won’t measure up. On the other hand, a light long travel trail bike would be perfect. Something like a Santa Cruz TRc or a Mojo SL. Those are light and pedal beautifully. (I have the Mojo SL; a buddy of mine has the TRc). I haven’t tried any of the carbon fiber 29er’s, but they could be possibilities too. (My brother in law has one). It sounds to me like you are the one who wants the hard tail; you should get one for yourself.

  6. karmen says:

    On something like this it seems that you should just ask her. Just b/c you are excited about it doesn’t mean she will be.

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