My first full suspension bike was and 90 mm XC bike, when I decided to upgrade I was really confused if a 150 mm bike is really better than a 130 mm one, and for good reasons, finding which one of these two bikes is for you is not an easy task.
If you are an aggressive rider always looking to test your limits and you always smash hard on every trail you ride then a 150 mm bike will be the obvious choice for you but if you want a bike with better climbing capabilities and you mainly ride on flowy trails the 130 mm bike will be the better choice.
Of course, this is the short answer but there is more to the subject than meets the eye, so in this article, we will examine what are the major differences between these two types of mountain bikes and we will discuss which is better for your riding style.
By the end of this article, you will know which one better suits your riding style and can make an informed decision.
The Major Differences Between a 130 mm and 150 mm Bike?
For average riders, more travel means increased safety, longer travel forks will make your bike slacker (slacker head angle), which makes descending steep descents easier and gives you an extra bust of confidence.
The major difference between a 130 mm and a 150 mm bike is how it feels on the trails, the 130 mm bike will feel flowier while the 150 mm will feel plusher and more stable and this will allow you to ride it more aggressively if you have the necessary skills.
Let us examine all the notable advantages of a 150 mm bike compared to a 130 mm bike:
- Slacker: the 150 mm is more slacker due to the longer travel fork, this makes it safer on technical descents,
- Confidence builder: the 150 mm bike will give you more confidence riding over bigger obstacles with speed,
- More adrenaline: if you really want to push your skills to the limits then a 150 mm bike will allow you to ride more aggressively and you can smash the more aggressive parts of the trail at higher speeds,
- More capable on descents: the most important advantage of a 150 mm bike will be how compact and how stable it feels on steep descents, here a 150 mm bike truly shines compared to a 130 mm.
Now that we got the advantages of 150 mm bikes out of the way let’s talk about the advantages of 130 mm bikes:
- Better at stiff climbs: a 130 mm bike will be better at climbing stiff hills because it has a less slack head tube angle,
- Better for trail riding: you won’t be underbiked on a 130mm on more than 90% of trails because most of the obstacles you need to overcome aren’t bigger than 2 “, and smaller suspension will make the bike faster and flowier (more fun and easier to ride on trails),
- More suited for longer rides: because they are better at climbing and have a flowy feeling they are more suited for longer rides, 150 mm bikes are more suited for shorter rides with longer downhill portions, if you like to ride all day a 130 mm bike will give you a more enjoyable experience,
- More than enough for average riders: most riders won’t have the necessary skills to really take advantage of the benefits of a 150 mm bike ( a 130mm bike will be more than enough for most casual riders) if you aren’t a veteran of the sport a 130 mm bike most likely is enough for you.
Keep in mind that bike geometry is more important than suspension travel, a bike designed for enduro will have totally a different level of performance on steep descends than one designed for trail riding.
But usually, if you aren’t riding like a pro, a 130 mm bike will be more than enough to satisfy your needs but if you are a veteran of the sport a 150 mm bike will allow you to smash into obstacles on the trails on a higher speed and so you will be faster on trails with a lot of technical descends and fewer steep climbs.
As you can see it all comes down to your riding experience, style, and how technical terrain you are riding on.
Is 130 mm Travel Enough for Trail Riding?
In regards to trail riding, a 130 mm travel MTB is going to be a good choice for the majority of people. This is going to be a very good all-around bike that will not feel too sluggish on the flat portions of your ride and will offer decent climbing capabilities.
Practically it will allow you to really enjoy your rides, you don’t have to suffer until you reach the downhill portions.
Yes, a 130 mm travel bike will be good enough to ride on trails and it kinda is the sweet spot when it comes to trail riding, the only riders that may want to get a bigger travel bike are veterans that ride like a pro (and many of them still chose 130 mm bikes).
The average mountain biker will not be able to push a 130 mm bike to its limits, instead of being so focused on the suspension travel you will be better off getting a bike with better geometry.
Is 150 mm Travel Enough for Enduro?
150 mm travel is enough for enduro but keep in mind that more suspension travel is always a big plus for an enduro bike.
If you want to compete in enduro events with a 150 mm enduro MTB you will not be underbiked but you will not have an advantage over your opponents’ eider.
A bigger suspension travel may compensate for a less than perfect drop and will allow you to ride over bigger obstacles faster, so it comes to how big of obstacles you need to ride over.
Even if you lose some speed here to there, you can still compensate for it if you are a good enduro rider.
One more thing to consider is that shorter travel bikes will fatigue you much faster because less energy will be absorbed by the suspension and more energy will be absorbed by your joints. In enduro the more suspension travel you have the better!
Is 150 mm Travel Enough to Ride in a Bike Park?
A 150 mm travel bike will allow you to have a ton of fun in a bike park.
There are many riders that shred the trails from bike parks with far less suspension travel than this. If you get a 150 mm travel bike to ride in bike parks your main focus should be the bike’s geometry and suspension quality because you will have more than enough travel to have a pleasant experience.
If you are the kind of rider that always wants to push themselves on technical descents you can opt for a longer travel bike but a 150 mm bike will have more than enough travel for most riders on a bike park.
Can I Put 150 mm Forks on a 140 mm Mountain Bike?
Yes, you can, upgrading your fork travel by 10 mm will usually work fine and your bike’s geometry will not change by much. The good part is that your bike will become slacker and it will perform better downhill.
Usually, most manufacturers will declare that 150 mm is the maximum travel on bikes equipped with 140 mm forks, practically this means that the bike frame was designed to work fine if you upgrade your fork to 150 mm travel and you won’t end up with a bike with worse geometry.
So you will be fine upgrading to a 150 mm fork on a bike that was equipped with a 140 mm fork, no downsides here.
I hope that by now you know which of the two bikes is for you.
To make it very simple if you are a very aggressive rider that is very focused on technical downhill rides then a 150 mm bike will be the far better choice for you.
If you are an average rider and you don’t ride as a pro then a 130 mm bike is more than enough for you. Keep in mind that a 150 mm bike will feel more sluggish on flat trails and you will practically push trow all the portions of the trail only to enjoy the downhill sections.
If your rides are longer and you want to have a good time on every part of your ride (not only downhill) then a 130 mm bike is for you.
I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.