Why do full suspension bikes rail?

Hey Lee,

This may be a dumb question, 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.



Sweet! I love this kind of question. Let me fling out two generalizations:

1. Traction

Suspension keeps your tires on rough/loose ground, and it insulates you from the earthen violence. Where hardtails chatter, suspension bikes gobble.

2. Loading

Here’s where things get double-extra nerdy. One of the keys to railing a turn is loading your tires. This increases the down force, which improves traction and — in the case of a berm — gives you an extra bit of pump.

When you load a hardtail, the energy expresses very quickly — POP!

When you load a suspension bike, the energy spreads out — BRAAAAP!

This timing helps you stick to a long berm. While a hardtail tends to hit it hard then rebound, the suspension bike prefers to settle in and rail.

Have I said BRAAAAP!!!?

— Lee

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