Mountain Biking - Front fork lockouts. Novelty?
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Looking at bikes recently I fell in love with the Lefty shock, as you do when you see it. Bike I'm getting has the Rock-Shok Psylo I think which seems to have good reviews. The rear shock Fox Float RL, I think it is, has a sort of lock out (not sure how rigid), but the front shock lets you adjust compression and rebound, but has no lock out, where the Lefty does have. I'm wondering if all round lock outs are still a novelty or if there are design considerations for not having them on the front shocks? It seems most rear shocks have a lock out, but very few front shocks do?
In a sense the rear shock lock out gives you a sort of crossover to a hardtail?
My LBS mentioned that the Lefty has been criticised in some magazines/reviews for not coping with big hits but that's no problem to me as I'm not in that league anyway. They did say, that having a full lock out would be very useful when your'e on the road and you want to have a rigid-like setup as you'd get on a road bike. He explained, that full sussers have a lot of bounce/bob and that under some conditions a fair chunk of your crank effort would be 'lost' to this phenomenon. What's your experience about this?
07-17-02, 06:50 AM
Front lockout - If you get out of the saddle to hammer a hill or sprint you'll find the front end bobbing badly. It's inefficient and annoying. If you rarely get out of the saddle, you probably won't need a front lockout. If you have an air shock you can firm it up with more pressure for road riding. It's basically a permanent lockout for that ride. The more aggressive rider you are, the more you will benefit from front lockout. By aggressive I don't mean big drops or freeriding, but rather your desire to go fast. The faster you ride, the more you will benefit from lockout.
Rear lockout - This depends on the suspension design. Single pivot FS a-la Santa Cruz Superlight or Heckler absolutely demand a rear lockout for climbing as they are prone to bobbing. So, most single pivot FS come with a rear lockout. My Giant NRS does not have a rear lock out, and I don't feel I need it as the suspension design eliminats bobbing. High end NRS' have lock out, though. You'll also find lockouts on Specialized FSRs and other 4-bar designs just to give the ultimate firm climb, though I wonder if it's necessary.
Lockouts are useful in the right conditions, but only necessary for the hammering racer or wanna-be.
07-17-02, 09:25 AM
I've got a Cannondale with the Lefty on it. I've got to say that the lockout is a nice feature, but I don't utilize it as much as I should.
I've got the F2000 model, a hartail, and the bike is pretty firm as it is, and I forget (or don't need) the lockout for 75% of my riding. I usually climb without activating the lockout during my casual rides.
The times I do use the lockout is when there is a long sustained climb and I want to use all my input to get to the top. I also use it when I'm hammering down a long straightaway.
The thing to consider is that the Cannondale lockout does not have a blow-off feature that other forks have. IOW, if you forget to turn it off, and hit a big jump, it won't blow through the lockout feature. The C'Dale lockout is mechanical and it'll feel like you're riding a rigid fork if you forget to turn it off!
As with everything else, the lockout feature is getting better and better with every year. The newer forks are easy to shut off and on and you'll see racers reach down and do so right before a climb. The new RockShox World Cup forks have a cable actuated lockout with a thumbshifter at the handlebar. NICE! but it's also an $800 fork, OUCH!
I agree with Woody, that it really depends on your suspension design as to whether you really need a lockout for the rear shock. The Giant's 4-bar design is good, the new VPP design that Santa Cruz and Intense is now producing claims to eliminate bobbing, as does the Ellesworth design. The Specialized has the new "Epic" that states will automatically lockout, and their FSR-XC design almost doesn't need a lockout except for serious racer types. Almost all single pivot designs will benefit from a lockout, especially when climbing steep stuff because bobbing is inherant in the design when in the granny gear!
To answer your question as to whether it's a novelty kinda depends on the rider. If you're just using the bike for FUN, then you could save some $$$ and skip the lockout feature. If you race then the advantage is worth the extra cha-ching!
07-18-02, 08:24 AM
i agree with the comments here. i ride a '02 Specialized FSR with Fox front anf rear shocks both with Lockout. i race XC and do lots of vertical (i currently live near the Alps). i almost never use the rear lockout - maybe for a long road-only ride.
but the front lockout is great. i twist mine at the beginning of a climb (unless it's rocky and i want travel) and then untwist at the top - it's quick and easy and i can do it at speed.
i would say IF you do lots of climbing, particularly on road or fire-roads (not just singletrack) the front lock-out is really nice. you notice the difference the most when standing out of the saddle.
if you have a 4-bar like the FSR or Giant, i don't think a rear lockout is necessary, but for other designs it's a must for road or climbing b/c of bob.
i don't know much about the Cannondale, but about the blowout: as far as i know the Fox front fork lockout also doesn't have a blowout (maybe it does and i don't know it) and a few times i've forgotten to switch it off for a downhill, but it's really not a problem - you notice quickly and then switch it off. the Fox rear does have a blowout, but like i said, i almost never use the rear lockout.
07-18-02, 08:33 AM
I'm thinking of upgrading the forks on my commuter/off-roader and whilst my budget should stretch to the Marzocchi MXC's I'm not sure whether to try and stretch further for the ECC lockout.
Can air forks be made stiffer simply by running at higher pressure on road?
The coils I've currently got take a fair sized object/pothole to move much, and I don't have any problem climbing with them, and whilst I'm a pounder on the flats I'm a seated climber.
Any views welcome :)
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