When I bought my first mountain bike, fully rigid was the only option. I remember the early days of full-suspension bikesâ€”there was a lot of trial-and-error involved in sorting out what worked and what didn’t. I found those early full-suspension bikes inefficient, heavy, sloppy and prone to mechanical troubles (other than that, they worked just fine, heh, heh). In full-suspension’s “formative years” I gladly stepped aside and let other product testers sign up for the dual-boingers. My legs and back were strong, and there were plenty of hardtails to catch a young man’s fancy. In those days, I’d have argued that “full-suspension race bike” was an oxymoron.
My, how things have changed. Now I’m older, perhaps wiser, and the aging back just ain’t what it used to be. And full-suspension race bikes are no jokeâ€”they’re a serious reality. Bikes like Trek’s Top Fuel are efficient, lightweight, well-mannered steedsâ€”with amazing suspensions that allow me to ride faster and with more control than I could ever dream of riding on a hardtail. If I’m going to race, especially at “endurance” distances, it’s full-suspension or nothing at all.
I know, I know, there are plenty of studs and studettes ripping up the endurance race circuit on dual-rigid singlespeeds. But that’s their personal choice. I’m telling you what works for a 52-year-old guy who likes to sit and spin, and has to get by on guile. I’m all about conserving energy where possible, making up time in the technical sections and letting ‘er rip on the downhills. I also love a snappy-handling bike. Without spilling the beans on my upcoming Dirt Rag product review, suffice it to say that the Top Fuel was my cup of sweet tea.