Upgrading from a hardtail to full suspension


Q: I’m in the market for a new bike. I’m relatively new to mountain biking, but I’ve fallen in love with it. I currently ride an old Gary Fisher 29-inch hardtail that has served me quite well, but I want to upgrade. I don’t ride a lot of crazy technical trails, but I’d like to have the option, but I still want it to climb well. My price range is negotiable, but I’d like to find something less than $6000. What are your suggestions?

Mike Hodges

Thousand Oaks, California

A: Bikes have come a long way in capability, even with shorter-travel bikes not meant for speedy rock garden descents or big jumps. There are a lot of bikes that come to mind when you say these things, but we’re going to focus on two for now. Santa Cruz just came out with an updated version of the Hightower V3, and we’ve been testing it. Look for a full review in a future issue, but what we can say is it climbs effortlessly and descends comfortably. With 145mm of travel in the rear and 150mm up front, it works well for just about everything. The Hightower V3 starts at $5499 and only has carbon options as of now. It’s a great bike, and we can recommend it.

Canyon Spectral 125 top of the line CF 9 build.

We’ve also tested the Canyon Spectral 125 recently, which is a more aggressive, short-travel trail bike. It has a 140mm-travel fork and 125mm of rear travel, but don’t let that fool you. See our last issue for the full review. If you’re looking for alloy instead of carbon, the Canyon Spectral 125 has you covered there, too. The alloy version starts at $3499 and is loaded with features, including Fox suspension and all Shimano components. This is a bike we can stand behind as a good all-arounder that climbs well and descends exceptionally. We have chosen just two bikes in an endless lineup, but they are great places to start to get you going on a capable new rig.

Shawn Rinella

Austin, TX

Have a question for the MBA crew? You can send your brain busters to [email protected].

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