I have a Diamondback Outlook DX (non-suspension) from about the '97-'98 whereabouts. It's been a dependable bike since I was in middle school, but recently I've been hitting some rougher trails. As a result, I've noticed that the front fork has been bending a bit. I've since stopped my trail riding in fear of it failing. Being a non-suspension bike, it can't quite handle the stress from drops and jumps, I was kind of stupid to push it that far.
I was wondering if I would be able to replace the fork with one with suspension. I've noticed that some of the newer models have suspension built into the front forks. Are the newer DB outlook parts compatible with mine? How would I go about acquiring a new fork, preferably one with suspension?
too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter
Yes, you probably can replace the fork with a suspension fork, but may not want to for two reasons.
1- Suspension forks are taller than standard rigid forks to provide room for the travel. So, unless your current fork is a longer "suspension ready" model, the suspension fork will raise the front of your bike by 2-4 inches which will change it's handling characteristics.
2- Many low to mid-priced rigid mtn bikes weren't made for the kind of riding you're now doing, which is partly why your old fork isn't surviving. While a suspension fork might help, odds are that you'll ride that much more aggressively, and likely trash the frame next.
Consider taking advantage of the slow season, and dealers needs to clear out leftover 2010 bikes to shop for a new suspension bike suited to how you're now riding. It will cost you more than a fork, but then everything will be new, and quality coordinated for best performance. Later on you can find a replacement fork for your old wheels and keep it as a "B" bike, or commuter/utility wheels, or sell it used.
Thanks for the advice. I managed to bang my original fork back into its right place, so it still functions as a road bike. In the mean time, I'll start looking around for a good quality full suspension bike for my trail riding.