Full suspension mountain bikes are an excellent choice whether you want maximum suspension for racing downhill at top speed, or just enough suspension to make your cross country journeys and trail expeditions more comfortable. The suspension built into both the rear and front of the frame absorbs shocks and bumps, giving you a smoother ride.
One of the most important decisions you have to make when buying a mountain bike is the type of suspension. Three main categories exist:
As Bike Exchange is the marketplace for everything bike, we sell a complete range of all options, including full suspension mountain bikes. Why should you choose a full suspension mountain bike though, why is it a better option than the other types of suspension available, and what do you need to look out for? This guide has the answers.
Full suspension mountain bikes have suspension on both the front and rear of the frame. As a result the bike absorbs much of the shock when you ride over obstacles and bumps. You can get full suspension bikes from a vast range of brands, including Specialized, Cannondale, Giant, Trek, S-Works, and more. They vary greatly in terms of price, frame material, and technical features.
Full suspension mountain bikes come in a range of sizes, frame material options (carbon, composite, steel and more), brake options, and gearing mechanisms.
A unique consideration for bikes with suspension, however, is the type of suspension. One of the key measurements is suspension travel. Typically it ranges from 100mm (just under four inches) to 220mm (almost nine inches).
The difference is important as it affects the performance of the bike. If you want a combination of speed, pedal efficiency and climbing ability, a full suspension mountain bike with a shorter travel suspension is best. If, however, you want maximum speed (and comfort) when going downhill, bikes with longer travel suspensions are the better option.
The main advantage of full suspension mountain bikes over their rivals is that they make riding smoother as the bike absorbs much of the shock from bumps. In addition, your tires are less likely to puncture, and you will have more grip as the tires keep better contact with the surface.
Why would all mountain bikes not have full suspension then? There are two main disadvantages to full suspension bikes. The first is price. You can get full suspension mountain bikes in all price ranges, but when you compare like for like, they are more expensive. This is because more components are required to build the suspension. The second disadvantage is loss of pedal energy. When you pedal on a mountain bike, particularly when climbing, some of the energy you generate is lost as the suspension moves up and down.
The most important thing to consider when looking at full suspension mountain bikes is how you plan to ride. This will determine the type of suspension you get. Whatever you choose, the bike will be more comfortable when going over rocks, jumps and other obstacles, which is ideal as that is what mountain bikes are built for.