How much suspension travel do you need?
How much suspension travel do you need?
Deciding on the correct amount of travel can make or break a ride. Too much and your bike makes your bike feel lethargic and uninspiring on the flat stuff. Too little travel and it may result in a bike that isn’t up to the level of your riding. In this blog we are talking about travel and how it will affect your ride.
What is Travel?
Suspension travel refers to how much a wheel moves up and down over rough terrain. On mountain bikes travel can range from 80mm on an xc bike to 200mm on a big downhill speed machine. Less travel usually means a bike is more efficient on the climbs and the suspension doesn’t suck up the pedal power as much. More travel often leads to increased traction and confidence when travelling down hill through crazy terrain at the speed of sound. In this blog we are going to look at how much travel you need for your riding.
For riders looking for maximum efficiency, an agile ride and a bike that translates rider input to the trail, less travel is the ticket. With 80-110 mm of travel the bike feels less like a magic carpet over roots and rocks. It requires more rider input to be ridden fast on technical trails. The flipside is, if you are a rider that likes to jump around and play around on the bike, less travel can help. On flatter, smoother trails, smaller travel bikes can hold speed easier and react more to pumping through rollers. If you want to get on a small travel fun efficient bike, click on the link here.
Mid travel bikes have 120-140mm of travel and are perfect for riders looking to ride a bit of everything. They aren’t the most efficient on the climbs, they require a bike of extra skill and rider input for the downs but they will ride everything well. While they are still agile compared to a big travel bike, the extra 20mm of travel compared to an XC bike can help a rider in the “uh oh” moments. 120-140mm travel bikes absorb the rough stuff a lot better but also give riders a playful bike to jump around on. Check out our range of mid travel bikes here.
Long travel bikes with 160-180mm of travel are the pinnacle of going downhill fast, while still being able to climb up a mountain. With tonnes of traction, travel to take the big hits and plenty of cushion to cover up over ambitious lines, a rider's confidence goes through the roof. The faster a bike hits a rock, root or whatever is in front of the bike, the more travel the bike will use. More travel allows the wheel to move over bigger obstacles without rider input.
Riders will experience less fatigue as there is less rider input to go fast. The downside to more travel is the bikes can feel lethargic under power or rider input. Cornering and pumping requires more body language to gain speed. Climbing is a challenge due to extra weight and the suspension absorbing pedal power. All of this is made up for when you point down a hill and can't wipe the smile off your face. Get on your big travel bike now by clicking here.
190-200mm of travel is for pure downhill speed. Pedaling efficiency is terrible for getting up a hill. The wheels move up and over obstacles easily and the rider can push harder on the downs. There is tonnes of traction for braking and changing direction even on the craziest trails. If you have shuttles or chair lifts in your area and want to go as fast as possible back down, this amount of travel is perfect for you. Pure race bikes have this much travel as they provide maximum confidence at speed down a hill. As they are a specialist bike there are a limited number of riders that actually require these bikes.
If you are focused on efficiency, agility and ride with a lot of rider input, smaller travel bikes are for you. If you are charging hard and racing down hills then long travel or dh bikes are for you. Riders with more skill and abilities can often benefit from the efficiency of a mid travel bike down hill but fatigue is increased due to more rider input. Bigger travel bikes require more input to change direction or maneuver so it benefits a relaxed riding style. More travel can also mask mistakes and inspire confidence for beginner riders going downhill. Just remember that more travel isn't always better, here at Bikes Online we find that choosing a bike with the least amount of travel for your required terrain will often lead to the best all round package. If you want to learn more about what bike suits you, reach out to our team or read through our educational blog posts.