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Whether you are new to mountain biking or a pro on the trail, suspension is key to your riding comfort and enjoyment. Understanding the different types and features of bike suspension will help in your search for your first mountain bike or finding that perfect upgrade. Christy Sports has four full-service bike shops with an impressive inventory of mountain bikes and knowledgeable bike techs to assist you in finding the ride that’s best for you.

What is Bike Suspension?

By definition, bike suspension is the system or systems used to suspend the rider and bicycle in order to insulate the rider from the roughness of the terrain. Suspension provides improved control, traction, and comfort on rooty, rocky single-track or potholed roads. Suspension is used primarily on mountain bikes and some hybrid bicycles – a blend of characteristics of road bikes and touring bikes with mountain bikes that can tolerate a wide range of riding conditions and applications.

Full Suspension or Hardtail?

Whether you are purchasing a new mountain bike or looking into upgrading your current bike, you will need to choose between bikes with front suspension only – hardtail  – or full suspension (front and rear). Almost all mountain bikes are equipped with front suspension.

Hardtail – Front Suspension

The most common type of front “hardtail” suspension is the “fork,” which is comprised of two struts that connect the front wheel to the frame’s head tube. Hardtail suspension is best suited for novice cyclists, casual riders, commuters, and children.

Full Suspension – Front & Rear

Rear suspension is only found on full-suspension mountain bikes. It is commonly referred to as the rear shock or “shock” for short. The shock allows the rear wheel to soak up impacts, helping to keep the tire in contact with the ground, and increasing rider control while decreasing rider fatigue.

The rear frame triangle, which holds the rear wheel, will have one or more pivot points to enable the wheel to travel through a range of motion. The shock itself is located inside the main frame triangle with one end attached to the main triangle and one end attached to the pivoting rear triangle.

Various pivot designs and configurations are available. Each has its pros and cons on how it affects a bike’s ride quality. All work equally well and the average recreational rider is unlikely to notice significant differences in suspension performance. The three basic rear / full suspension types include:

  • Single Pivot – Simplest suspension design common among entry-level bikes. Requires less maintenance.
  • Linkage-Driven Single Pivot – Better suited for more aggressive riding.
  • Four-Bar (Horst Link) – Allows the suspension to operate mostly independent of braking, as well as allowing designers the most control over leverage ratios.

A full suspension bike also offers a more comfortable ride as it will soak up most of the jarring bumps that would otherwise upset your body with a hardtail. As a result, rider fatigue is reduced, allowing you to ride faster, longer, and with greater comfort. Full suspension mountain bikes are a smart choice for all types of racing. For the beginner rider, it’s an instant confidence boost to have that stability and comfort of full suspension.

​No matter which bike you ride, how much you spend on it, or what the manufacturers try to tell you, a suspension system is often a compromise. Suspension systems great in one area (such as absorbing impacts) may suffer in another (increase in rider fatigue), but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a design that feels perfect for your individual needs.

The key to finding that perfect bike? Shop. Ride. Experience. And let the experts at Christy Sports help get you fitted properly. Visit any of our four locations in Frisco, Crested Butte, and Winter Park. Our West Vail location is also a full-service bike shop but is currently closed for remodel.

So, log out of emails and social media, put away your computer, and ride!

Colorado Mountain Biking Lifts

Ski lifts aren’t just for skiing. When the warm sun melts the snow blanketing towns at higher elevation, ski resorts serve as a mountain biker’s haven. If you’ve ever dreamed of flying down a hill without having to make the taxing climb up, you’ve got to try this! Check out some of our favorite lift-served mountain bike trails in Colorado to get your summer adrenaline fix.

Lift-Served Mountain Biking Trails in Colorado

Crested Butte Mountain Bike Park (formerly Evolution Bike Park)

Crested Butte is a mountain biker’s dream. A mix of technical and smooth routes, the bike park boasts over 30 miles of can’t-miss terrain. Take the lift up for a breathtaking view of the wildflowers. Just make sure to watch where you’re going on the way down, as the brightly-colored wildflowers can be distracting in this mountain bike mecca.

Bike Granby Ranch

Granby is a small town with a big biking population. Still, you probably won’t have to dodge crowds when you explore this ski area in the summer, as it’s tucked away between Winter Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Loved for its relatively ungroomed terrain catering to all levels of mountain biker, this best-kept secret won’t be a secret for long!

Trestle Bike Park at Winter Park

Trestle is a legendary park in the mountain biking community. Named for its wooden trestles, the lift-served bike park offers slightly more manicured trails than Bike Granby Ranch just 20 miles away. Take lessons at the Trestle Bike Park School or hop of the lift and directly down a double black diamond- there is something for everyone!

Steamboat Bike Park

Making your way to Steamboat with a bike rack in tow? Say hello to 2,200 vertical feet of lift-served trails. The Boat used to be known more for its cross-country biking trails. Now, you may require a soak in the nearby Strawberry Park Hot Springs to soothe sore legs after a day mountain biking in Steamboat.

Snowmass Bike Park

Choose from classic cross-country trails or feel the wind in your hair as you wind down epic singletrack. Snowmass bike park is all about versatility on two wheels. The park features a few new intermediate/ expert trails so be the first to give em a try! Riding down from the top of Elk Camp Chairlift to Snowmass Village takes you on a 2,897 vertical foot decent.

Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain is a family-friendly destination all year, offering sought-after skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. The Eagle Lift serves all levels of biker, from challenging single-track trails to less aggressive routes. If catching a lift up isn’t your jam, wide service roads offer the ability to ride up after hours.

Mountain Village Bike Park at Telluride Ski Resort

Telluride has an ALL NEW bike park scheduled to open this summer and will offer day and season-long passes. Access XC, FREERIDE and TECHNICAL trails with the help of Village Express to make your way up. Then, enjoy the epic ride down!

Don’t have your own wheels? You can still experience all of the amazing mountain biking Colorado has to offer. Rent bikes from Christy Sports before you try out some of these awesome trails. Flying down without sweating the uphill is sure not to bring you down.

Then 10 Best Mountain Bike Trails in Colorado to See the Aspens.

Don’t put that bike away just yet!! Quaking aspens combined with pleasant Colorado temperatures and mountainous landscapes soaked in fiery reds, oranges, and yellows offer one more reason to keep your bike tuned up this fall. Aspen trees have a unique interconnected root system, causing each cluster to turn the same brilliant hue and in turn, results in the beautiful colors we all “ooh and ahh” at. Colorado’s magnificent Aspens shift to their more intense shades from mid-September to Mid-October. And what better way to experience the changing of fall colors than on two wheels?

Check out these top 10 all-color spectacular biking trails to see Colorado at its season’s best . . .

  1. Vail Mountain

Both a summer and autumn hot spot for mountain biking, Vail’s single-track trails weave, intersect, and zig-zag the mountain just like ski runs in the winter. Simply jump on the gondola with bike in hand and ride to the top of Vail Mountain to witness Mother Earth spreading her golden yellow leaves across the landscape. With more than 15 on-mountain trails, you can choose from beginner, intermediate, or expert terrain.

  1. Summit County

Summit County overall has recently been named the Number 1 mountain biking destination in Colorado by With 812 miles of trails within a 25-mile radius, here are some of our favorite Summit County mountain biking trails:

Aspen Alley

Appropriately named, Aspen Alley in Breckenridge is a favorite for both its swooping layout and its mesmerizing aspen forest. While most cyclists prefer to descend this trail, it can be ridden both uphill and downhill. Come fall, the tread takes on more traffic than most trails in town – and for good reason. True to its name, tall aspen trunks line this single track, making you feel like you are riding through a tunnel of red, gold, and orange. Just try to keep your eyes on the trail ahead because Aspen Alley is also known for its tight, bermed corners.

Ptarmigan Trail

An out-and-back trail with a handful of spurs to explore, Ptarmigan Trail out of Silverthorne climbs into a wilderness valley just below the 12,498-foot Ptarmigan Mountain. Here, you can witness magnificent views of the Gore Range as you pass through colorful aspen and pine forests.

Ute Pass

A popular ride among locals, Ute Pass is a winding 5.3-mile climb – gaining a lung taxing 2,000 feet in elevation – from Highway 9, North of Silverthorne. This trail also offers some of the bests autumn views of the Gore Range in Summit County. Head up early in the morning when the sun bathes on the Gore in spectacular light.

  1. Kebler Pass

Considered the crown jewel of fall biking trails, Kebler Pass has some of the largest aspen trees in the state.The radiant yellow and red leaves on Kebler Pass create a textured denseness unlike anywhere in the state. Kebler Pass is located just west of Crested Butte, yet another home to awesome fall biking trails. While in the area, some of these trails to check out include Kebler Wagon Trail #606, Dyke Trail #838, Kebler Pass itself on CO 12, and the 401 Trail in Crested Butte.

  1. Steamboat Springs

In an area as beautiful and large as Steamboat Springs, the best and most efficient way to see as much of the fall colors as possible is via two wheels. With one-of-a-kind biking terrain on the mountain, you can choose uphill and downhill trails that are intimately exposed to aspens, scrub oaks, pines, rocky terrain, and rustic wooden bridges. For an even bigger, better treat, Steamboat’s partnership with the Routt National Forest allows you to explore trails deep into pristine public land and gives you that “one-with-nature” experience that’s not always easy to come by. While in town, make sure to visit The Nature Den inside the lobby of the Gondola Plaza for information on these trail recommendations.

  1. Colorado Trail – Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge

From Denver to Durango, from Kokomo Pass to Tennessee Pass and beyond, the Colorado Trail is a 486-mile route full of options. Specifically, the section from Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge has become a must-see fall classic as it snakes its way from east to west through Summit County. With wide open landscapes full of stunning foliage and golden aspen groves, this 33-mile route of the Colorado Trail in autumn is considered one of the best. You’ll drop into Breckenridge with the gnawing urge to ride it again!

  1. Aspen / Snowmass

Of course! Aspen is well known for its . . . well . . . scenic stands of aspen trees. Two particular trails, Deaf Camp and Monastery, will take you out of town and into the old Snowmass area, where you will discover unmatched scenery and less crowded trails. Both these rides offer gentle uphill riding on refreshingly remote roads.

  1. Winter Park

With over 600 miles of easy-to-access trails, Winter Park is known as “Mountain Bike Capital USA.” According to Winter Park’s Chamber of Commerce, Rogers Pass is best noted for peak fall foliage peeping on two wheels. This 5-mile route is a classic mountain bike ride offering panoramic views that are well worth the ascent. Considered “Difficult” in terrain level, the out-and-back trail is located along the Continental Divide with amazing views of James Peak, Perry Peak, Heart Lake, Winter Park Resort, Mary Jane, and Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. Starting as an easy climb, Rogers Pass rapidly rises above tree line with an elevation gain of 1,076 feet, allowing riders an aerial view of the towns of Winter Park and Fraser. Plus, the view of fall colors in the Jim Creek Valley below will take your breath away.

  1. Sheep Creek Trail, Fairplay

Looking for a fun fall ride off the beaten path?  Check out Sheep Creek Trail, along Weston Pass near Fariplay. This Aspen-lined single track offers several creek crossings and open meadows, making this mountain bike adventure well worth it for intermediate and advanced riders. You’ll cover approximately 17 miles and over 5,000 feet of elevation change.

  1. Fruita

If you head towards the western slope of Colorado, you will find a unique, laid back little community considered one of the best biking locales around, especially in the fall. Besides its “banana belt” climate, Fruita also offers high-desert mountain biking terrain with beginner to expert trails that wind atop amazing mesas, uncovering views of valleys speckled with luminous yellow trees. The golden views from rocky red vistas will make you feel as though you’re on top of the world and the adventurous dirt trails are sure to make you feel like a pro. The Kokopeli Loops are recommended as a must for the first-time Fruita rider.

  1. Monarch Pass

Another Colorado classic, the Monarch Crest Trail starts on the east side of Monarch Pass. You will need to grab a shuttle to the top, but don’t be fooled on the way back down, as this is not a purely downhill trail. While the route begins relatively flat and curves its way through pine trees and aspen groves, it does have some short climbs and descents, and alternates between doubletrack and single-track terrain. Enjoy spectacular views of valleys and mountains as you make your way around Greene’s Creek, Chipeta Peak, and Fooses Creek, which leads to yet another section of the above-mentioned Colorado Trail.

Mountain biking not quite your style? You don’t have to miss out on the autumn awesomeness! If you’re looking for uncrowded Colorado road biking, make your way over to the Maroon Creek Trail, located 10 miles southwest of Aspen on Maroon Creek Road. This ride is considered one of the area’s legendary, “must-do” rides, especially when the aspens change during fall. You can’t beat the impressive views of Colorado’s Maroon Bells! Plus, the access road isn’t open to cars, giving cyclists 11 miles of paved road to enjoy.

So, what are you waiting for? Hop on your bike and enjoy these last few months of riding before the snow flies and you swap out your pedals for skis and snowboards! Don’t have your own mountain bike on which to take in the amazing autumn scenery? Christy Sports offers a large fleet of mountain bike rentals in select mountain towns.

Tips for Biking in the Rain

Inclement weather, especially rain, can be rough both on you and your bike. Moisture can corrode components, causing them to rust or seize. Here in Colorado, because of our diverse elevation and climate, the weather can be unpredictable and change on a dime. With some simple preparation, a little knowledge, and all the right gear, you and your bike can be ready for all weather conditions. Christy Sports Bike Rentals is here to help with some handy tips below for being prepared if caught while riding in the rain.

Tips for Biking in the Rain

Before You Go – Preparation is Key

The key to cycling in any weather condition, especially here in Colorado, is to prepare yourself and your bike ahead of time. Here are some things to consider before you go:

  1. Weatherproof Your Ride

To prepare for rain while riding, start by lubricating your bike parts properly. Use a heavier lube on your chain to keep moisture out – make sure to apply it when the chain is completely dry. Protect your cables even more by running full cable housing. You can do this yourself if you feel confident or stop by one of our Christy Sports bike rental locations and have our professional bike techs do it for you.Prepare your bike for inclement weather.

Adding a few extra gear items will also make a world of difference to your riding comfort, including fenders and wider tires. Fenders are a must to both protect your bike and to keep nasty water and debris from splattering your clothes. Wider winter tires add much needed traction on slick wet roads, and their extra durability helps protect against potential punctures.

TIP:  Decreasing tire pressure a bit also increases traction.

  1. Prep Your Pack

Waterproof panniers (side bags/saddlebags for storing gear while biking), frame bags, and backpacks are all great options for protecting gear from the elements. You can also make your pack waterproof by lining it with a trash bag. Simply make sure you secure the top of the bag to keep moisture out.

TIP:  Backpacks can also provide a surprising amount of additional warmth for your back.

  1. Protect Your Fingers, Toes, and Head

It is extremely important to keep your hands and feet warm and dry in cold, wet weather. Insulated, full-fingered water and wind resistant gloves (a gel biking glove is recommended) and waterproof shoes or booties will keep fingers and toes toasty and dexterous. If you’re going to be riding for more than two hours, it’s a good idea to pack an extra pair of gloves in a plastic zip loc bag to swap out. Cover your shoes with lightweight neoprene shoe covers or booties to insulate them should they get soaked. Wearing merino or smart wool micro socks will help keep feet dry as well. Helmet covers are also recommended to keep your head dry in a rainstorm.

  1. Bring on the Layers

As with any outdoor activity in Colorado – no matter what time of year – dressing in layers is key. For cycling, this is even more important since you are on the road. The wetter you get, the colder you are going to be, so keep your core warm! Soft merino wool base layers help regulate your temperature even if you get wet, and unlike synthetics, the natural fibers resist smelling funky. Always pack a waterproof vest or jacket, and a neck gaiter to protect your neck and chin from wind and rain.

TIP:  Always remember to factor in temperature when choosing layers – you don’t want to end up soaked from the inside out because you didn’t wear breathable rain gear. Your body sweats rain or shine, so your rain gear and base layers must be able to breathe. Gore-Tex fabrics or ventilated outer layers are highly recommended.

  1. Proper Eyewear – To See or Not to See

Staying aware of your surroundings while riding is critical, but it can be difficult with rain flying in your face. In low light, clear or yellow lensed biking glasses are highly recommended. When riding in the rain, regular sunglasses cut out too much light, making road obstacles difficult to see.

Using an anti-fog product such as Rain-X will also help keep glasses from fogging over. However, biking glasses can also become a hinderance when rain droplets start falling on the lenses. This is just as bad as not wearing glasses at all. Try wearing a brimmed cap underneath your helmet or add an extended visor to your helmet for more coverage. Whether you wear glasses or not, these tips will help keep vision clearer.

While on the Road – Safety is Key

Now that you are prepped and packed, consider these tips while on the road:

  1. Ride Smart

    Road biking

The friendly roads, bike paths, or off-road trails you’re used to riding on beautiful sunny days might not be so welcoming when the weather takes a turn. Whether you are riding in town on city streets, out for a leisurely ride along a bike path, or hitting back country mountain bike trails, rain can quickly transform any terrain into a slippery hazard. Road surfaces are the slickest and most dangerous just after the rain begins. Iridescent oil patches (rainbow-edged spots) in the road from motor vehicles lurk where you least expect them. Deep puddles can disguise wheel-snagging obstacles, and dirt trails soften and become mud, often creating deceiving sink holes with tree stumps and debris. Always be extra cautious and aware of your surroundings, particularly when cornering and riding unfamiliar streets or trails. Allow yourself twice as much breaking time as usual and keep an eye out for such obstacles as manhole covers, steel-grid bridge decks, or wet leaves, mud and other debris. All these become extremely slick when wet.

TIP:  When cornering in the rain, shift as much of your weight on the outside pedal as possible. To keep your bike upright, lean your body more than the bike. By doing this, you will be able to corner with a reasonable amount of speed, your body tending to remain balanced over the bike should your tires hit a slippery patch.

  1. Watch Those Brake Pads

A mix of road grit and water is the fastest way to erode rubber brake pads. Pads that last a full season in dry weather will run metal to metal on the rims in a month of consistent riding in wet weather. Most rims also require a full revolution before the brake pads squeegee the water from the braking surface and are able to brake properly again. Cycling your tires by hand through at least one full revolution after a ride in the rain will certainly help save your brake pads.

TIP:  Again, plan ahead while riding and brake early.

  1. Be Seen – Light it Up

It’s important to be as visible as possible when cycling during bad weather – let everyone know you are there! Keep front and rear lights on, and reflectors clear of dirt any time you are riding. Heavy rain and glare from motor vehicle headlights reduce motorists’ vision, so it’s a good idea to ride with a bright LED lamp on the seat post and handle bar. LED lights are relatively inexpensive and work reasonably well. A good rechargeable lighting system will also provide more light than LEDs – something to consider if you are riding during early morning hours or evening. If you do use rechargeable lights, don’t forget to charge them overnight prior to your ride so you won’t run out of battery life in the middle of your route.

If you choose to ride with only one light, a flashing red LED rear lamp is highly recommended for stormy cycling. Again, these LEDs are also inexpensive and most have clips to attach them to your bike, backpack, or helmet. For bike lighting and accessories, Christy Sports can help you chose the right light for your ride.

  1. Two Choices: Ride it Out or Wait it Out

Sunset biking When a severe storm hits while cycling, you have only two choices – ride it out or wait it out. If a little rain and getting wet is the only threat, and you choose to ride it out, then simply keep moving. This will keep the blood flowing and keep you warm. If it is an all-out down pour, then seek shelter before you get completely soaked. Deciding whether or not to ride it out or wait it out is not something you want to do when you are already soaked and cold. Instead, pull over and take shelter when the heavy rain starts and assess your situation from there.

TIP:  Use a weather app on your phone like Weather Tracker or NOAA Weather Radar to see what you are up against and to determine how long you will need to wait out the storm.

If there is a threat of lightning, find the closest shelter possible and stay as low as you can. If you are riding with a group, seek shelter separately – if one person is struck by lightning, others can still provide aid verses everyone being hurt and in danger. Once the lightening has passed, keep moving to get out of the storm as quickly as you can. If you are riding back country trails and caught in storm, retreat to lower ground as soon as possible.

Wet, slick terrain likely won’t kill you, but rain is often accompanied by wind, lightning, and even hail. Consider the risks of these conditions and decide for yourself if riding out a storm is the right course of action. Most often, the best thing to do when severe weather hits, is to wait it out instead.

The challenge of the climb and the thrill of the downhill are not lost on the savvy mountain-biker. But for those who want to get in on the action, starting out can seem a little daunting. Mountain biking is a great way to stay active while exploring the beauty of nature. It can also be logistically dangerous, especially for beginners who are not adequately prepared. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Mountain Biking Basic Tips

  1. Know Your Limits

Trust us, mountain biking is a valid excuse to skip that daily trip to the gym. The outdoor activity may touch muscle groups you didn’t know existed, and it will certainly make your lungs do a little heavy lifting. The lifting is heavier if you are mountain biking at altitude, like in Colorado. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits. It’s ok to take breaks! While challenging, this should also be an enjoyable summer activity.

  1. Respect the Terrain

Along with knowing your limits comes being aware when terrain throws you too far out of your comfort zone. Much like ski runs, mountain bike trails are rated for difficulty based on width, surface, grade, and technical features. (see below) Don’t go straight for a black diamond, and if you hit a section that is too steep or technical on a green circle, don’t be afraid to walk it. Just make sure to steer clear of other bikers heading down the trail.

Mountain bike difficulty rating.

  1. Rent FirstRenting for first time mountain biking.

The urge to splurge on a shiny new mountain bike can be hard to fight, especially if you aren’t aware you have options. Rent a bike first! Decide what style of riding you enjoy and what type of bicycle is best for that venture before you call one your own. Your rental expert will be able to point you in the direction of the right fit for starting out, and bike demos will allow you to try before you buy.

  1. Wear a Helmet

At the risk of sounding like your mother, this is still the most tried and true bike safety tip in the book. The need for head protection is magnified on rocky, uneven mountain trails.

Wear a helmet mountain biking for beginners.

  1. Use Your Gears

Gears are designed to create a more comfortable ride so make sure to learn how the specific gears on the bike you’re riding operate. Your rental tech can demonstrate how to shift gears on the bike you choose to accompany you on the trails. As a rule of thumb, take the downhills at a higher gear and shift to a lower gear when climbing to take some of the workload off of your legs.

  1. Position Your Body

Correct body positioning leads to optimal balance. When climbing, lean forward into the handlebars and slide your body to the front of the seat. This will place the pressure on your front wheel and help stabilize your bike. When going downhill, either slow your pedaling or stop it completely as you float above your seat and loosen your body to comfortably absorb impact.

Mountain biking downhill for beginners. Mountain biking uphill for beginners.

  1. Enjoy Yourself

Mountain biking is a blast, so don’t let the logistics keep you from exploring the trails on two wheels. Remember to enjoy the scenery and have fun! While mountain biking is a technical sport, start slow on the easier trails and you’ll be amazed how quickly you get the hang of it. (And the size of the smile on your face on those quick downhills.)

Check out Christy Sports’ mountain bike rentals in the premier mountain towns of Colorado and Utah. With a variety of bikes and gear and a knowledgeable staff, we cover riders from novice to advanced. When renting a bike, ask your Christy Sports bike expert for their tips and tricks, as well as their favorite spots to start shredding in the area.