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  1. #1
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    Vintage MTB: What were some of the best suspension forks?

    I'm looking to upgrade my 94 Giant Yukon with a suspension fork. I'm probably going to post this in the MTB section too, but most of them are younger and don't seem to really know anything about older MTBs. What forks should I be scanning E-bay, etc for?

  2. #2
    Knows Bigfoot's Momma
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    For that era, I think Rock Shox Mag 21 SL-Ti.
    nice lugs baby!

  3. #3
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    Lugged Unicrown

    How's that for "suspension?"

    *Recipient of the 2006 Time Magazine "Man Of The Year" Award*
    You are not one of us. Your pipes are leaking. You are an ocelot. What are you seeking?

  4. #4
    N+1 redxj's Avatar
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    None of them. Early suspension sucked compared to today's stuff. Is the Giant 1" or 1 1/8"? Threaded or threadless? One inch suspension forks can be tough to find.

  5. #5
    Student of Hybrid Gearing BluesDaddy's Avatar
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    - Manitou 4 or EFC - I have both of these - Plan on replacing elastomers with steel springs (ebay: "Mr Wings" Springs)
    - RockShox Judy came out just a year or two after your bike
    - My personal favorite although a little newer: Marzocchi Z.2 Bomber: http://cgi.ebay.com/Marzocchi-Bomber...item3cb6b78b04

  6. #6
    Senior Member ColonelJLloyd's Avatar
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    Slightly off topic. Does anyone know anything about a Rock Shox Judy 700?
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    Senior Member Roger M's Avatar
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    It's not the best, but the AMP Research fork was light and it looked like nothing else at the time. I like mine.

    BTW, this is a 94 model.


  8. #8
    Student of Hybrid Gearing BluesDaddy's Avatar
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    You mean 700C? That was the "Ruby" as in "Roubaix".

  9. #9
    Is a real super guy. Henry III's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheOtherGuy View Post
    For that era, I think Rock Shox Mag 21 SL-Ti.
    Ooh la la. I always loved those shiny gold fork legs. I also liked the Rock Shox Judy FSX fork. I've got a unknown Mag 21 on my Paramount MTB. All I know is that it's got air cartridges in it instead of elastomers or oil. The Marzocchi XC600 or XC500 were right up there also. I thought the cutouts on the legs were a really nice touch too.
    Last edited by Henry III; 04-04-11 at 09:33 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ColonelJLloyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDaddy View Post
    You mean 700C? That was the "Ruby" as in "Roubaix".
    Yes. I know nothing of suspension forks. I just got a road bike with one on it. I don't plain on riding Paris-Roubaix, though.

    Roger, that bike is awesome looking.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Roger M's Avatar
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    Thanks Justin. It's the last bike that I purchased new. Istill have it, but it doesn't get ridden much.

    I don't know anything about your 700 fork, but here is a scan out of a book that I have. A small bit of info.


  12. #12
    Knows Bigfoot's Momma
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    Pretty sure the Girvin forks were around then too, and probably one of the lightest available. Some say they had a strange "endo" feeling on downhill bumps..
    nice lugs baby!

  13. #13
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDaddy View Post
    Marzocchi Z.2
    +1000. Marzocchi Z2 Atom Bomb, Z2 Atom Race, etc. Coil springs, oil bath, with oil damping. Bombproof.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Roger M's Avatar
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    There were better MTBs, but Horst Leitner was really ahead of the times with the AMP stuff.


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    Thanks, guys! I knew you'd be more help than the MTB forum! My bike is 1 1/8" threaded, though I figure the fork will require me to go threadless, which I'm not opposed to. I just don't want anything too new or with too much travel because everything I've read says that it'll make the geometry too slack for quick turns on downhill single track, which is what I ride around here.

    I actually really like the AMP fork. I saw a guy riding one at the trails one day and looked into them then. They have a pretty bad reliability reputation for actual hard trail use, though, which is what I plan on doing. Otherwise I'd totally track one down.

  16. #16
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    3speed, I feel it was the later '90s that the suspension forks improved by a major leap. Rock Shox Judy SL, T2 and SID, Marzocchi Z2 and Answer Manitu Spyder were at the top of the heap and would be an expected performance replacement, IMHO.

    Brad

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    Thanks, Brad. That gives me a good list of stuff to look into and search for. Pretty much exactly what I was hoping to get.

  18. #18
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    Anyone know of anywhere to get the Englund Total Air rebuild kits? There's a Judy that's been upgraded with them but says the air cartridges don't hold air and need to be rebuilt. I can't find anyone online who has the kits. From what I've read, it sounds like it would be a great fork, though.

  19. #19
    Senior Member toytech's Avatar
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    They don't make the Englund air kits anymore. Marzocchi coil/oil shocks were so good that a lot of people are still using them. My wifes Marin has one.
    "Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day."--Harry S. Truman

  20. #20
    Senior Member GrayJay's Avatar
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    Forks have definitly come a long way but I am still routienly using and abusing the same rockshock Mag21 that I bought new in 1994, 17 years ago. It has needed very little maintanance over the years. I have changed the oil and adjusted the tuning a bit but it has never needed the seals replaced. At only 2.8#s it is still a comparativly lightweight fork. Stock travel was 46mm so will not raise your front end up too much and you can easily convert to 60mm "long travel" by taking a hacksaw to the innards.

    In response to HenryIII comment, the mag21 does not use a airspring "cartrige", the compressed air responsible for the spring action is contained directly within the fork tubes, not is a separate cartrige. By adjusting the volume of oil, you can thus also adjust the volume of the air spring. Smaller volume for the air = more progressive spring rate as the fork compresses, larger air chamber = more linear travel.

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    I know they don't make the air cartridges themselves anymore. The fork already has the cartridges but needs a rebuild. Were you referring to their not being any cartridges made anymore or that there are no rebuild kits available? The guy with the fork says you can still get the rebuild kits in his ad, but I couldn't find any online.

    The Judy with the Englund is supposed to be about the best you can get for a fork of it's day, and lighter than a coil/oil set-up, so if I can find a rebuild kit I want to try it.

    I guess I'll just have to look into the stock forks you guy suggested more and find the best balance of performance and weight. I can't stand to add too much simply due to the fact that this bike already feels like a boat anchor compared to my other bikes(vintage road bikes).

  22. #22
    Rolling along fas2c's Avatar
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    I discovered there was more than just finding a shock that would fit when replacing my broken fork on my 95 GT. Finding a fork that didn't require having new threads cut for the quill was way harder than I imagined. So I ended up changing over from Quill to the modern headset/stem combo, and because the newer fork was set-up for V-brakes out went the old cantis. These required new brake handles too. But because my brake handles were intigrated w/ my shifters...Yeah, way more than just finding a fork that would fit.

    I got lucky and found a donor that had a stripped crank arm and converted the GT to a more modern 8 speed system, moving all the parts over including the Rock Shox fork. I bought new brakes from Tekro for cheap. All in all it has been great. The donor was a better bike, Trek 4300, but I have a great sentimental attachment to the GT and that was my driving force. The new fork raised my front end but to no real disadvantage. It did bring the top tube higher than previously but no danger of getting hurt from it.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Elev12k's Avatar
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    The best early 90s fork I've tried is a Rond. Never tried anything from 95-96 onwards, as I totally lost interest by than.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    When I bought my RockHopper in 97, I couldn't see spending the extra bucks. I found a Marathon SL a couple of months ago for ~$100. One of the reasons was that I needed a 9" steerer and most were cut. I was really lucky as this was just overhauled.
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    Early in the game Rock Shox were at the top of the heap early, then Marzocchi, and now Fox. You can pick-up a short travel Fox for a couple hundred bucks on E-Bay/CL, make sure it has studs for rim brakes, and be done with it.

    The Girvin fork was great, as long as you had ridden nothing else. Yep, felt like it would pitch you over the bars, though maybe that was the crummy rear end reaction to bumps....

    Horst had everything right geometrically, but his fork was under-built.

    I had them all, except the Horst set-up (saw them fail). If I was setting up a vintage MtB it would still have a Fox fork for go and a vintage for show. Easy to swap, maybe ten minutes.

    JW

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