What is a Dual Suspension Mountain Bike?

Mountain Bike

Mountain biking is a sport that calls on your physical resources for climbing steep mountain terrain. The type of suspension affects bike performance and the ease or difficulty of the climb. If you’re just getting into mountain biking and don’t have a lot of experience with the different types, now is a good time to learn. Finding the type of mountain bike that works best for you is key to your success and enjoyment of the activity. We’re going to talk about the two kinds of mountain bike suspensions with an emphasis on dual suspension. You’ll learn what it is and how it can be beneficial when mountain biking.

What is a dual-suspension mountain bike?

When you’re shopping for a new mountain bike you’ll have a choice between a hardtail, a rigid, or a dual suspension type. The hardtail has a single front suspension. A dual suspension bike has a front and rear suspension and that is the difference. Both types have a front suspension fork. The rigid mountain bike has no suspension. Bike Exchange explains that rigid mountain bikes are going by the wayside as more modern versions are equipped with some type of suspension to help create a smoother riding experience that gives you more control of the mountain bike while helping to compensate for rough terrain. We explain how the front suspension works and how bikes with rear suspension differ from hardtails.

Front suspension

The front suspension of a mountain bike consists of the adjustable fork with inner tubes sliding in and out of outer tubes with a lower arch to brace them. The motions help to defray the impact and roughness of the terrain and provide give. The system bears the bulk of the rider’s weight. It’s a complex system but it works in a simple manner of displacing the weight and providing movement in the frame to compensate for bumps in the pathways and to allow for greater control of the bike. The front suspension provides flex resistance, tying into the steering. The front suspension fork is built around a spring and damper and may feature a metal coil spring or an air spring, the latter being the more expensive, yet a higher-quality option. An air spring offers faster responsiveness. Seasoned mountain bike riders know the value of responsiveness when tackling challenging trails.

Rear suspension

Only dual mountain bikes are made with a dual-suspension feature. The rear suspension adds more shock absorption for challenging mountain trails. It provides riders with greater control and stability. You can apply most of the features of the front suspension to the rear with the adjustability of air pressure and damping features, but there are some differences in how it works. It features a shock usually placed in a pivot system under the rider, distributing the shock of trail impacts throughout the frame. The configurations vary from one brand and style of mountain bike to another, but you get a general idea. Rear shocks are made up of two telescopic tubes that slide in and out, as in the front suspension, compressing under the weight of the rider. They may be metal coil sprung or air and are offered in various sizes. Some offer adjustability for more experienced riders to tune the rear suspension to suit their needs and preferences.

Air versus coil suspensions

The differences between coil and air suspensions. The coil type features a steel spring with oil that lubricates all of the parts to help the forks maintain longevity and reliability. The benefit of coil springs is that they require little to no maintenance, but the additional weight on the forks versus air forks, is a downside, along with the inability to adjust them. Air suspension forks are lighters and you can adjust them to suit your weight. The downside is that they need to be checked to ensure they remain sealed and are in running order. The greatest benefit of air shocks is that they’re lighter, distribute less weight to the front of the mountain bike and they make the bike easier to steer and handle. It’s a tradeoff for increased maintenance requirements. It comes down to a matter of personal preference.

Pros and cons of a dual-suspension mountain bike

Dual-suspension mountain bikes come with advantages and disadvantages. When choosing the type of suspension there are a few things to consider. Cycle Baron points out that it’s wise for a biker to consider the type of riding they plan to engage in. Dual-suspension bikes provide advanced handling on difficult terrains with drops, jumps, rocks, hills, and so forth. If you’re a technical rider and prefer challenging trails, the benefits of dual-suspension are evident. Greater control, better distribution of the weight load, and enhanced confidence in knowing what your equipment will handle are a plus. If you don’t plan to ride advanced trails, the features may not be useful. The rear suspension offers increased comfort over rocky terrain, smoothing the ride with advanced protection from the impacts of the trail.n The increased weight of dual-suspension mountain bikes is a consideration. They’re heavier and they’re not as fast when you hit the straightaways. When it comes to speed, dualies can slow you down. They’re also more expensive than hardtail bikes, so you will pay for the additional riding advantages if you’re a hard trail rider.

Final thoughts

Seasoned mountain bikers often prefer Dual-suspension mountain bikes and enjoy tackling tough trails. You get an added element of confidence with superior agility and handling of the mountain bike. Dual-suspension mountain bikes can make challenging trails more fun and they can enhance your safety through the advanced control you gain over the setting and handling of the bike, but they’re heavier and can’t achieve the speed of lighter bikes. They may not be the best choice for casual riders who prefer to stay on less challenging trails, but advanced riders understand the benefits.

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