Pump track bike: Hardtail or suspension?


Do you recommend that pump track bikes should have front and back suspension?

– Robbie

Hey Robbie,


Hardtails are much more efficient than suspension bikes. You can ride them faster with less effort. Over the past week I’ve done a couple 100-lap pump enduros:

P.1 hardtail: 23 minutes

SX suspension: 25 minutes, with much higher effort; and that’s with a rock-hard shock

If your technique is clean, you’ll get more pop out of a hardtail. But a suspension bike is still super fun. You can carve turns harder, and the suspension erases some of your mistakes. As a matter of fact, if you know your business you can RAIL a suspension bike on a pump track.

As always, it comes down to style. I’ve seen great riders rip on both types of bikes:

Hardtails: Brian Lopes, Jon Watt, Ross Milan, Elliot Hoover

Suspension: Steve Wentz, Chris Herndon, Curtis Keene, Bobbi Watt

I’m all about guidelines, so here’s one:

For pure pump track action, rock a hardtail for sure.

For a mix of pump track, dirt jump, 4X, slalom and whatever, rock whichever you prefer.

Pump Track Nation!

— Lee

8 replies
  1. Robbie says:

    the track that i am making will be a mix between a pump track and a bmx track. Do you still recommend a hard tail?

  2. Steve C says:

    I’ll second Lee’s motion as far as both the hardtail and dual suspension goes.
    I had some guys over last weekend on my track and one who has a Santa Cruz Heckler struggled until I set him up on my Brass Monkey. To see the difference in his learning curve with the hardtail was very evident. He was much smoother and his speed increased immediately. I think the size ( height and wheel base both play a role).
    With the Monkey I also set the front end at 80 as opposed to 100 and stiffen it up.
    I’ll grab one of my hardtails for the pump track any day. I have a few 20″ and 24″ BMX bikes that work well too. A 20″ is just downright scary. Can barely keep the thing on the track.
    I’ve mentioned before some time ago that I planned on building a downhill course. Well, it’s done ( still tweaking it here and there) It’s .48 mile long and getting faster every day.
    My twelve year old daughter drives the truck so I can do shuttles, and visa versa. Once I can get her to handle the truck with the large flatbed trailer, it will me shuttles en masse.
    Life is Good here is Southern Arizona. gettin’ hot, but good!

  3. Jason C says:

    Hey Lee,
    This may be a dumb questions but what’s the physics behind why a full suspension rails better than a hardtail? It intuitively makes sense but I was wondering why it works better. Thanks.


  4. leelikesbikes says:

    Rail (v) To ride through a corner with great speed and a smooth, controlled path. From “rail” in the train sense.

    Not sure how the conservation of momentum principle limits us here. The system contains much more than your bike. There’s your body, the ground, lateral forces, etc.

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