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I just turned 46, have ridden the Shore for 36 years (yes, I predate mountain bikes) and I have a Surface Ti almost paid for. You ask about a hardtail for older types.
My riding history taught me body english skills and finesse long ago. This is essential to longevity on a hardtail. I have not been on one since 1998, and I know there will be a learning curve, but your body will remember. Moreover, I think the people going back into hardtails, good ones especially, have "sophisticated palettes".
The old adage "it is not the bike but the rider" is only true to a point. Put a modern, 14 year old kid on a fully rigid bike with canti brakes (of which I know well) you might find a lack of refinement, bike placement and line decision. I think this is why Chromag succeeds so well in its high end niche: it attracts older riders, whom know what to expect and bring a history to the table to maximize what the bike can offer. Anyone can ride a trail on a fully 6" cush bike and allow the suspension to take the learning curve. But the learning curve is what makes a rider, and if the basics are not built, then what happens when you need them?
And if you look at music, with vinyl becoming more popular, if retro is where it is at, then how could you not like, and learn to love, a hardtail. Hell, even with a high end frame, the shock rebuild every season (or so) is savings in the pocket. Moreover, the lack of stress with pivots, bearings......
I made my decision. Getting a fully suspended bike is easy. Committing to a hardtail is a full investment. In every way.
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