A fully rigid classic mountain bike is one that does not feature a suspension system -- or a specialized system used to insulate both rider and bike from rough trails. While fully rigid classic mountain bikes were once considered the norm, many riders have now turned to full-suspension bikes. It is important to note, however, that there are still a number of benefits associated with the use of fully rigid classic mountain bikes. Lower cost, improved feedback and fewer breakdowns and repairs are just a few of the benefits of a fully rigid classic mountain bike.
In "The Mountain Biker's Training Bible," Joe Friel reports that lower cost is perhaps one of the most important benefits associated with the purchase of a fully rigid classic mountain bike when compared to bikes that feature suspension systems. In fact, some higher-end fully rigid class mountain bikes may be less expensive than entry-level cycles with suspension. Cyclists who are on a limited budget can save significant amounts of money -- and still obtain a quality product -- by purchasing a fully rigid classic mountain bike.
Though suspension systems may make a mountain bike more comfortable, they can significantly impair the ability of the rider to "read" his or her terrain. This not only can result in a slower ride time and decreased performance, but could actually lead to serious accidents and potential injuries, notes Friel. In contrast, fully rigid classic mountain bikes allow the rider to appreciate their environment and recognize trail changes. Cyclists who use fully rigid classic mountain bikes, for example, may be more likely to recognize slippery or dangerous riding surfaces than their counterparts who rely on suspension systems.
Breakdowns and Repairs
Despite one's best efforts, mountain bikes do break, and in most cases, more parts means a greater potential for breakdown. In "The Mountain Biker's Training Guide," Friel notes that suspension bikes do possess more parts than fully rigid models and may be especially susceptible to cracks and breaks in the suspension system. While some cyclists may be able to perform these repairs on their own, others will likely require assistance from bicycle mechanics in a professional bike shop. In addition to the cost of labor, the price of repairs for suspension bikes can be quite high.
For many cyclists, performance is everything. And when it comes to performance, the weight of a bike can make or break the outcome of a race or ride. Since fully rigid classic mountain bikes have less equipment, they can be lighter than suspension machines, which can make them faster on both flat terrain and climbs. Some cyclists also believe that fully rigid classic mountain bikes promote improvements in riding dexterity, as the machines cannot ride "full throttle" over anything in their path. Over time, Friel believes that this increase in dexterity can also lead to improvements in athletic performance.
- The Mountain Biker's Training Bible; Joe Friel