Do you know that tires filled with air are a basic type of suspension? Pneumatic tires offer improved wheel traction along with the dampening of shocks and vibrations caused by road irregularities. However, the tires on their own are not capable of absorbing all shock when there is more speed involved and terrains are extremely challenging.
This is where the suspension comes into the picture and its need arises when you require something extra to prevent the bike from jumping up and down, losing control and traction. The answer to this problem is ‘shock absorbers’ and their job is primarily to dampen all the road irregularities and shocks.
In the world of bicycles, there are some common jargons used for bikes with suspension. The bicycles that come with a front-wheel suspension are termed as ‘hardtails’ and those with suspension in both wheels are called full-suspension or full-sus bikes.
Which Is Better – With Suspension Or Without
We would say that it depends on a lot of factors such as the road you are riding on and your style of riding a bicycle too. There are always ways to make your bike more comfortable without the need for suspension. The wheelbase is critical in impacting the comfort level of your bike.
The longer the chainstay length, the more comfortable your bicycle will be. When you have wider tires, this also works wonders in terms of off-road traction. This is sufficient to make your bicycle comfortable enough to ride on well-paved roads and mountain paths.
If you choose a bike with suspension, you remember to get a regular service done to keep it in good shape. The cheap quality suspension that comes without lockout option or rebound damping is not a very good choice.
When you shift from a suspension to a rigid fork bike, you realize that you had been a lazy rider because a full suspension bike covers up a lot of errors while you ride. So, if you want to improve your skills and challenge yourself to become a better cyclist, you may want to go rigid option now and then.
When you make the switch from suspension to without suspension, you will be able to enjoy the old and boring trails in a new way. Shifting to a rigid bike changes the complete dynamic of a trail and helps you challenge yourself to deliver a better performance.
For a rider, variety in riding conditions is always a good thing and having a mix of suspension travel with a rigid fork system adds more fun to cycling. If you bring more variety to the ride, this will help you become a better rider in the long run and increase your chances of meeting new people.
Besides psychological and performance benefits, going without suspension also helps you correct your riding posture including weight distribution. It enables you to have more control over your ride, thus increasing your technical abilities in many ways.
Another amazing advantage of choosing a rigid bike is that it is super cheap. So, if you want to get a good bike on the budget, we suggest that you choose one without suspension. They can cost you less than 600 dollars and last for long.
Key Characteristics Of A Good Suspension
The role of shock absorbers or suspension is to let the wheels follow carefully the curves of the road without sending the impact to entire vehicle. They basically do the job of flattening out the irregular terrains. Some vibrations are absorbed by the pneumatic tires to give you a safe and comfortable ride
By compressing and expanding, the shock absorber allows wheels to easily move up and down, compared to the rest of the bike frame to ensure that impacts from potholes and bumps are greatly reduced. They also have a good dampening effect which allows them to expand back to original position after compression.
Salient features to look for in a high-quality suspension bicycle
- Preload adjustment: This refers to the level to which a suspension compresses underweight when a static rider sits on the bike.
- Compression adjustment: The ability of a suspension to resist the compression applied to it
- Rebound damping adjustment: This refers to how quickly a suspension is capable of extending back to its original position after being compressed.
- Low weight refers to the actual mass to be more precise
- The type of quality should be strong and durable, plus have spare parts readily available
- There should be a suspension lockout to turn it off when there is a climb (we prefer a remote control lever somewhere on handlebars)
Types Of Suspension
Some people tend to think there’s just one type of suspension, however, there are several suspensions made for different parts of a bike. There are typically three different styles of suspensions that we have mentioned below:
- The most common type is of course the front wheel suspension forks
- The Saddle or seat post may come with an inbuilt shock absorber
- The bars or stem include an in-built shock absorber
There are a few other styles of suspensions but they are not so common and are often questionable when it comes to the comfort factors. Out of the different suspensions, the wheel suspension is the most important and essential for a bike’s comfort and easy handling.
The inbuilt suspension in seat posts is not so common and also slightly more expensive. They do not cause much difference in the distance from the saddle to pedals, where the suspension travels.
Good quality suspension come with strong springs that compress when there is a strong impact or large bumper ahead, making it easier for the bike to move on without being uncomfortable. On the downside, these bikes tend to be on the heavier side so they are not suitable for long distances or difficult climbs.
Pros And Cons Of Bicycle With Suspension Or Without
When talking about the benefits and downsides, let’s discuss about the bicycle with suspension forks or with rigid forks, seat posts, and stems.
Having a suspension on your bike ensures that you get to enjoy a more comfortable ride. You will have better control of the bike, better traction when braking or cornering.
This feature allows users to ride much on rough roads or flat city streets. The seat post or stem suspension usually affects the comfort factor only.
As mentioned above, having a built-in suspension makes your bike heavier. There are super light suspensions too, but they are also extremely expensive than a cheap and rigid one. Even an expensive suspension fork will be heavier than a rigid fork.
To achieve a similar level of quality, the parts that come with suspension are several times more expensive.
The bikes with suspension require regular maintenance work including replacement of rubber seals, oil change, dust wipers, and so on.
Suspension slows down a bike on the climbs, however, you can fix this by getting a high-quality suspension that comes with a lock-out option.
What do you mean by a full-suspension bike
A full-suspension bike comes with a fork out front and the frame comprises two pieces – a front and rear triangle joined by pivots. This enables the two sections to move independently, and the rate of movement is controlled by a shock absorber.
Does a front suspension slow down your speed
Yes, when you install a front suspension on your bike, it technically slows you down as some of your energy is wasted. However, you will be able to climb steep slopes and ride on rough roads more comfortably and conveniently.