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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 11-24-08, 08:42 PM   #1
adamant
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suspension fork vs. Trek 7200 rigid fork

i see posts referring to the replacement of the suspension fork on the bike to a rigid fork on a commuter bike.
why is that?
i thought the suspension fork would be better.
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Old 11-24-08, 09:09 PM   #2
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It's a tradeoff. The suspension fork smooths the ride, but takes efficiency in exchange. Do you want increased comfort or speed? It seems to take more energy to get up a hill with a suspension fork because it absorbs pedaling in addition to the road imperfections. It's also a matter of relativity, some suspension forks can be adjusted to be rather stiff, while others are squishy and lack the ability to set the pre-load.

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Old 11-24-08, 09:30 PM   #3
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thanks.. i am looking for speed. and they are adjustable..(trek 7200). the Lbs said because of my weight i would be better off with the suspension fork. but i been reading about efficiency loss in suspension forks on long hauls..
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Old 11-24-08, 10:29 PM   #4
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You would likely be better off with a rigid fork from the beginning unless you intend to go off-road.

I can get up to about 25 MPH with inverted tread tires and the suspension fork stock on my Hardrock, but I start bouncing the suspension with the high cadence required due to the gearing on the bike. I'm fine with that because it's way too much effort for me to sustain that sort of speed, but I fully intend on buying a road bike down the line when I've met my weight loss goal.

I don't see, although my experience is limited, how a suspension fork would be a good thing if you're especially heavy... it would just be even more prone to bottoming out and sap more energy from the rider already likely suffering from an energy deficit. That is to say, if I were to do it again, I'd probably have skipped the mountain bike with front suspension... since I end up riding almost exclusively on the road.
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Old 11-25-08, 06:32 AM   #5
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I used to have a Klein hardtail MTB that I rode with slicks on the road at times. It had a suspension fork with lock-out. On the road, it was amazing how much the fork would slow me down if I didn't lock it out. It was as if someone had put the brakes on. But even with a fork with lock-out, you are still hauling around an extra 2lbs with a suspension fork. So go with the rigid if you are going to be riding it mainly on the road. At present, I even have a rigid fork on my MTB. As long as I keep the tire pressure on the low side, it rides fine without suspension, though I don't do any rough trail riding, mostly railtrails and unpaved roads.
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Old 11-25-08, 07:03 AM   #6
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I don't really see how you would be better off with the suspension fork vs. rigid unless the LBS was setting you up to be comfortable. Squishy forks do help to take a good part of the road buzz away. They are also much more forgiving while you learn to be light in the saddle. Sure, slamming a good pothole and unintentional curb hopping is bad but your more likly to get away with it on a suspended fork vs. say rigid 700 X 23s. What does matter is your comfort. If your happy with the bike as is then enjoy it. If your looking to squeeze some more speed out of it then start with slicks before you go and replace the fork.

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Old 11-25-08, 08:10 AM   #7
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I will give you my experience. I have a Trek 7300 which had a suspension fork, but mine could not be locked out and all the roads I ride on are smooth paved road. At the time, I did all my riding on it, I was well in excess of 325 lbs and the front end would dive forward on me a lot and especially if I had to come out of the saddle to speed up and get through an intersection a little faster or as I went around corners. I almost dumped it a couple of times and did not like that. Avg speed was never a concern at the time.

When I changed out my fork to a rigid, I immediately felt more control of the bike and a side effect was that I did gain avg speed on the bike. I find the bike much more comfortable with the rigid than I ever did with the suspension fork. My biggest issue was finding a rigid fork with the V-Brake bosses in a 1" steer tube. Luckily, they had a guy buy a FX series that wanted a carbon fork and they sold me the Steel fork for next to nothing. If you decide to do this, a carbon fork will set you back about $200 and then the headset more than likely will need to be changed, but the headset cost was fairly minor. All in all, mine cost me $140 to replace. I now have over 3800 miles on it and 2800 on this fork and I consider it the best upgrade to this bike.
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Old 11-25-08, 08:27 AM   #8
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I have a front suspension fork on my hybrid. Mine does have the lock-out. I have the pre-load set as high as it goes so that I experience no "bobbing" while riding, even if I am pedaling hard. I've check to see if there was a difference with the lock-out engaged. On flat terrain I can't tell any speed difference. On hills, the lock-out however can be VERY helpful. I have a whole series of speed bumps to go over close to my house, and the suspension does work nicely to help smooth them out a bit. I do get out of the saddle and know how to move my weight around, but the suspension helps make it a little smoother. The roads here also get pretty bad during the Winter and Fall, so having the suspension is kind of nice. If I were to get an other bike I would not care if it did or didn't have a suspension. On some days I like having some of the road roughness smoothed out. Other days I figure I could use a bike that weighted 2 Lbs less. Then I look at my panniers that are stuffed with various foul weather gear, lunch, extra water bottles, etc and realized that I carry at least 15 Lbs of stuff with me to and from work, so what is an other 2Lbs... I should just watch a little better what I eat and I'd loose the 2 Lbs off my body in no time.

Some people have very strong oppinions on this subject. I'd say that comfort can be nice. I did get rid of the suspension seat post, THAT caused a lot of bobbing and was driving me mad. The front fork however has relatively little effect on my cycling as long as I am on flat ground. Having the lock-out would be very important to anyone that has to climb a lot of hills. If you do have a lot of hills, then you'd also be much more inclinded to worry about every additional pound of weight.

Happy riding,
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Old 11-25-08, 10:17 AM   #9
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Unless you are trail riding I don't see any reason to have a suspension fork. By trail riding I mean single track mounting bike trail riding where your riding over dirt trails with logs and rocks, etc. I would stick to a rigid fork on the road and rails to trails type of trails.
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Old 11-25-08, 11:00 AM   #10
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I really like the improved ride of a suspension fork, on MUPs. Mine also has an easy to use lockout feature, which is also nice.

To each his own.
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Old 11-25-08, 11:40 AM   #11
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The park where I usually ride has two paths: One smoothly paved; and one that's mostly dirt and gravel. On a bike with a suspension fork, I ride both paths. On a bike without a suspension fork, the vibration on the dirt and gravel path is so unpleasant that I won't ride more than very short distances there. There are no big bumps...those wouldn't be a problem...it's the constant shaking that makes it annoying.
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Old 11-25-08, 12:14 PM   #12
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If you are riding primarily on smoother trails or roads then suspension is unecessary, IMHO. Most suspension forks on mid-quality bikes are either waaaay too soft for big riders (bottomed out everywhere you go) or are poorly made and will only activate on harder hits, doing nothing for the majority of road vibration and smaller bumps. Plus they make you feel slower on hard surfaces when trying to ride fast.

Rigid is generally not as comfortable on really rough surfaces, but you can adapt your riding style to compensate. You can also let some air out of your tires (if they are wide enough) to add a little more suspension.

If you are riding very rough trails (rocks and roots) then suspension is an advantage for most people.
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Old 11-25-08, 02:37 PM   #13
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I tend to think that reducing vibration to the hands is actually fairly important and is likely more important than having huge amounts of travel.

In a more educated world, we'd perhaps have lightweight suspension forks optimized for hand comfort, but I don't see that as a huge design point.
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Old 11-25-08, 02:49 PM   #14
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I tend to think that reducing vibration to the hands is actually fairly important and is likely more important than having huge amounts of travel.

In a more educated world, we'd perhaps have lightweight suspension forks optimized for hand comfort, but I don't see that as a huge design point.
There's already 2 materials which do a great job of reducing road vibration without the use of travel mechanisms:

Steel, and carbon fiber. I ride a lot of chattery MUP miles, as well as roads that are under construction and diamond chipped, awaiting their new asphalt. My steel fork does a great job soaking up enough vibration that my arms, shoulders and neck don't feel sore. I did a couple century rides this summer where we rode 30+ miles of chip-seal, and between having good gloves and good bar tape, I was fine.

I don't have one myself, but from an engineering perspective I understand that carbon forks are designed to absorb even more road chatter than steel.
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Old 11-25-08, 03:02 PM   #15
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It sorts sounds like to me the shop needed to move a particular bike. The shop should be asking you about the type of riding you plan to do. For most normal street/sidewalk/bike path riding a suspension folk is unnecessary.

Another thing to consider - suspension forks requires maintenance. Some forks have weight limits. Be very carefuly about any fork you buy if there are plans to go off road or jump curbs. Make sure the fork is a spring load vs. air shock. A cheap fork is just added weight that doesn't even add all that much comfort.

Personally if the bike is for commuting I would get a rigid frame set especially if you plan on adding a rack and bags. Any suspension in a bike, although it adds comfort, also adds weight and drags down speed and efficiency.

BTW why did the shop believe because of your weight a suspension fork would help? That's a weirdest thing to say if you ask me.
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Old 11-25-08, 03:04 PM   #16
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I tend to think that reducing vibration to the hands is actually fairly important and is likely more important than having huge amounts of travel.

In a more educated world, we'd perhaps have lightweight suspension forks optimized for hand comfort, but I don't see that as a huge design point.
A good steel frame will do that. I would stay away from Aluminum. I have done many centuries and many week long treks on my steel frame road bike (with a carbon fork). My hands are the least of my problems, even on nasty chip seal!
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Old 11-25-08, 04:05 PM   #17
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It sorts sounds like to me the shop needed to move a particularly bike.
That.
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Old 11-25-08, 04:37 PM   #18
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If you ride offroad...get a suspension fork and be glad you did.....if you ride on the road exclusively I would skip it altogether and if you sometimes do a bit of both make sure you get a fork with a lockout.
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Old 11-26-08, 09:07 PM   #19
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Surly 1x1 fork. The best improvement Ive done to my bike, even whel I rode it on the trails!
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Old 11-27-08, 05:51 AM   #20
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if i want to change the suspension on my mtb to ridgid what do i measure to make sure i get the right size?
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Old 11-27-08, 08:07 AM   #21
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I would talk to your LBS. They should make sure you get the correct part.
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Old 11-28-08, 09:03 PM   #22
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Most of the better forks are suspension corrected. My Surly 1x1 is for a fork in the 80-100mm suspension travel if I recall correct. I love it and wouldnt trade it for the world!

As stated before, your LBS should be able to get the correct fork for you. If your in doubt, have you bike there so they can have a looksee and get you in the correct ballpark!
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Old 11-29-08, 12:23 PM   #23
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The club I cycle with has a large number of cyclocross riders and on our off road rides you'll usually find the group split like this.

6 x 'cross bikes - no suspension
2 x rigid MTBs - no suspension
4 x hard tails - suspension
1 x double bouncer - suspension

These aren't technical trails with rock gardens and 60+cm drop offs, but they do have 30 cm drop offs, logs to bunny hop and are generally rough singletrack. I'm really not convinced that you need suspension unless you're looking at techincal riding where you'll need MTB skills as well as suspension. On a hybrid it's daft, but they're a bike which is inadequate at everything.

Also I can't think of any reason why being a heavier rider would make suspension a more sensible idea. I'm a heavy rider and I haven't noticed any issues with my carbon forks even off road (they'll now explode as I ride down the road).
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Old 12-02-08, 09:24 PM   #24
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suspension fork vs. rigid fork. trek 7200

i been reading about the amount of energy lost riding a road bike like the trek 7200 with the suspension forks verse a bike with rigid forks.
do you feel that the difference is enough to warrant a fork switch?
the forks are adjustable on the 7200 to the point that they still compress when i am off the saddle and peddling but wish i could lock them out. i am new to riding and weight 270
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Old 12-02-08, 09:39 PM   #25
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depends on what you wanting out of your riding? if you can feel the fork give when your pedaling, all of that give is wasted energy that is going into the bike instead of the pedals.
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