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Old 04-22-14, 05:48 AM   #1
Familygal
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Is a rigid fork better than suspension on a hybrid bike?

I am trying to get an opinion about rigid forks vs suspension on hybrid bikes. Is there any true advantage to one over the other? I will be riding on a mix of paved trails, towpaths, dirt trails,etc.
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Old 04-22-14, 06:30 AM   #2
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I have a hybrid with a suspension fork that can be locked. I ride the same type of surfaces that you mentioned - paved trails, limestone dust trails on the GAP Trail, some street riding on smooth and cratered asphalt and cobblestones, etc. Initially, I rode it with the suspension open. But over the last year, I've learned that riding on paved trails is better in the locked position. You waste less energy that way. On dirt trails and rough streets, I had left it unlocked, but even there I'm learning to go with it locked and adjust my comfort by adjusting the air pressure.

Here's what I think you should take away from all of this - if I were buying now, with the knowledge that I have now, I would buy a rigid fork and moderate the "suspension" by adjusting the air pressure in the front tire. I have come to believe that you can get most, if not all, of the comfort of a suspension fork by simply reducing the front tire pressure (being careful, of course, not to go so low that you risk a snake bite flat). Plus you get the advantage of the fork weighing less. My comments apply to the surfaces you mention, not to more challenging surfaces. But then, a hybrid probably wouldn't be up to more difficult conditions in general.

Last edited by Altair 4; 04-22-14 at 06:34 AM.
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Old 04-22-14, 07:24 AM   #3
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There could be physical reasons for the need for suspension. If so, it could keep you on the bike. That's a good thing.

However, if you don't really need it for technical trail riding, you are better off without it!

Less to go wrong, less to carry around, less to clean and maintain, cleaner lines, etc, etc,etc.
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Old 04-22-14, 07:43 AM   #4
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The rougher the terrain, the more you should lean towards a suspended fork. However, IMHO, if you're not mtbiking, you don't really need a suspended fork.
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Old 04-22-14, 08:05 AM   #5
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...if you're not mtbiking, you don't really need a suspended fork.
Exactly. And the suspension fork on many hybrids aren't up to the task of technical trail riding. Different horses for different courses.
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Old 04-22-14, 08:49 AM   #6
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+1, better in the long run as a cheap suspension fork lacks lockout , so bobbing up and down will happen pedaling..

and a front basket will fit easier , rigid fork will let a support under the basket, go to the fork tip.

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-22-14 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 04-22-14, 08:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
The rougher the terrain, the more you should lean towards a suspended fork. However, IMHO, if you're not mtbiking, you don't really need a suspended fork.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
Exactly...
Nail on head

If for any reason you use it on the odd occasion on a rough trail, just let the air down to it's minimum and HTFU.
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Old 04-22-14, 10:08 AM   #8
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For a hybrid I would not even consider suspension forks unless they have lockout.

The cross trail bikes made by Specialized, Kona, andy Trek all have lockout forks.

Having a suspension you can turn on is not just useful for off road it also is great for old/rough roads with bumps and cracks.
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Old 04-22-14, 12:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
The rougher the terrain, the more you should lean towards a suspended fork. However, IMHO, if you're not mtbiking, you don't really need a suspended fork.
This...
And keeping front and rear tires inflated to the proper pressures will allow riding on a variety of surfaces.
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Old 04-22-14, 12:38 PM   #10
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I think you have received super answers. Suspension on a high end mountain bike and a hybrid bike are two DIFFERENT critters. The ones found on low to medium priced hybrids are mostly....pure junk IMHO. Work poorly, add a lot of weight and add to maintenance issues. Stay away... really away. I good suspension system on a MTB will most likely cost more the entire hybrid in the first place.
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Old 04-22-14, 12:46 PM   #11
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I am trying to get an opinion about rigid forks vs suspension on hybrid bikes. Is there any true advantage to one over the other? I will be riding on a mix of paved trails, towpaths, dirt trails,etc.
It just depends. If you're buying a hybrid as a light duty mountain bike, you want a suspension fork. If you're buying it as a comfortable, heavy duty road bike, you don't need suspension.

FWIW, my Hybrid (Giant Roam XR2) has lockout front suspension. The forks stay locked in rigid position 95% of the time, but when I do ride it on the occasional singletrack or especially rough trail, I'm happy to have the suspension.

Either way, you'll adjust your riding style to suit.

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Old 04-22-14, 12:46 PM   #12
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I think you have received super answers. Suspension on a high end mountain bike and a hybrid bike are two DIFFERENT critters. The ones found on low to medium priced hybrids are mostly....pure junk IMHO. Work poorly, add a lot of weight and add to maintenance issues. Stay away... really away. I good suspension system on a MTB will most likely cost more the entire hybrid in the first place.
+1. There's a big difference between a high end and a cheap suspension fork. The cheap ones are heavy, flex a lot and are sluggish. The good ones are very expensive and not suited for an hybrid IMO.
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Old 04-22-14, 03:11 PM   #13
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A few years back I swapped my suspension fork for a rigid fork, and was surprised at how much better the bike handled on pavement, and how little I missed it on crushed stone or gravel rail trails.

So, I definitely lean heavily toward non-suspension on a hybrid.

I think the manufacturers build what sells, and there are a lot of uninformed people that think suspension makes riding better... Heck, I see a lot of people riding the cheap full suspension bikes from big box stores, and I would guess that most of them never even see gravel. And they probably only ride them long enough to find out that the suspension isn't a magical fix.
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Old 04-22-14, 03:42 PM   #14
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I have a vintage full-rigid MTB that I use on road, gravel, and light trails. I have ridden my wife's front-suspension Fuji adventure bike from time to time and the first thing I do is lock out the fork. Maybe I'm just used to the rigid fork, but I find the suspension annoying and sluggish feeling. Unless I was going to go serious singletrack riding, I don't think I'd go in for a suspension bike.
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Old 04-22-14, 04:16 PM   #15
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No. IMO, suspension forks on hybrids are not needed unless you ride a lot of really rough terrain, in which case you should consider buying a mountain bike.
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Old 04-22-14, 06:06 PM   #16
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Thank you all for such good information. I knew I came to the right place for answers! This helps me make an informed decision. Now I know exactly what I need.
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Old 04-23-14, 03:10 PM   #17
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If you look at the manuals for hybrids, they'll tell you that they are not for off-road use. The suspension fork adds a lot of weight for no really good reason. Given that, I'd say you might be better served by a good alloy or carbon front fork and a little wider set of tires rather than the Rock Shock imitation on most low-to-mid-priced hybrids or comfort bikes.

My Fuji Absolute2 has 700x28 where the rubber meets the road. I have a nice carbon fork. The rider comfort is great since I replaced the factory furnished seat (made by Vlad the Impaler).
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Old 04-29-14, 10:36 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DowneasTTer View Post
I think you have received super answers. Suspension on a high end mountain bike and a hybrid bike are two DIFFERENT critters. The ones found on low to medium priced hybrids are mostly....pure junk IMHO. Work poorly, add a lot of weight and add to maintenance issues. Stay away... really away. I good suspension system on a MTB will most likely cost more the entire hybrid in the first place.
Well said! I had a real cheapo Manitou South on my Gary Fisher Montare. I rode it mostly on paths and fairly smooth roads. It was heavy and wasted energy with every stroke of the pedal. I replaced it with a Salsa Cromo fork. It was around $120.00 at my LBS. It improved the overall ride quality and lightened the bike by a few pounds. I personally believe that suspension forks on most hybrids are selected as a compramise item to keep the cost lower but really dosent add any meaningful value to the ownership experience. That being said I realize that for some folks can and do benefit from the softening effect some can provide. I say rode instead of ride as I eventually gravitated to a road bike.

Last edited by Ghazmh; 04-29-14 at 10:42 AM. Reason: spelling and grammer
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Old 04-29-14, 10:54 AM   #19
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Frustrating thing is, sometimes even when you advise friends to stay away from cheap suspension forks, they don't believe you and buy them anyway.
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Old 04-30-14, 05:26 AM   #20
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There have been dozens of threads on this subject, and while the pros/cons points are almost universal, often things are painted with too wide a brush.

For starters, the OP might have been better to ask "Is a rigid fork better than suspension for ME?" as oppose to is one or the other better on a hybrid. All comes down to the individual and their riding, nothing else.

Yes, its true you can ABSOLUTELY bomb down this trail without a suspension fork:


In fact I believe the dude out front has a rigid. HOWEVER I personally would want my suspension, as meager as its 60mm is, for such outings, especial on the downward slopes. I'm just more comfortable and confident as such and it annoys me a little when people berate riders like me with the whole "get a real mountain bike or else learn how to ride a rigid" diatribe.

Yes I concur there is junk out there. No one would argue the front end on a $300 department store bike is anything other than junk (and will probably seize up in 3 months making it rigid anyway). If we take a $1000 median price point though, its not so black and white. Even a novice can appreciate the difference between the suspension forks found on the kilobuck hybrids compared to the ones on even bike-store brands at the entry level. At very least you have to concede they are not as crazy heavy, wont fall apart just looking at them, and in my estimation at least work consistently over time. As someone pointed out they still have that telltale sticker on the back which reads "Leisure Cross country only". Guess what: that EXACT same sticker is found on the "real" mountain bikes at that same price point.

A guy at my LBS put it well when he said (of hybrids with suspensions) "its what the 'sport' mountain bike SHOULD have been all along".

Last edited by Sunsanvil; 04-30-14 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 04-30-14, 07:30 AM   #21
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How would you rate the front suspension on the Trek DS 8.4? It's the following: RST Nova ML w/coil spring, preload, lockout, 60mm travel

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Old 04-30-14, 09:12 AM   #22
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There have been dozens of threads on this subject, and while the pros/cons points are almost universal, often things are painted with too wide a brush.

For starters, the OP might have been better to ask "Is a rigid fork better than suspension for ME?" as oppose to is one or the other better on a hybrid. All comes down to the individual and their riding, nothing else.

Yes, its true you can ABSOLUTELY bomb down this trail without a suspension fork:


In fact I believe the dude out front has a rigid. HOWEVER I personally would want my suspension, as meager as its 60mm is, for such outings, especial on the downward slopes. I'm just more comfortable and confident as such and it annoys me a little when people berate riders like me with the whole "get a real mountain bike or else learn how to ride a rigid" diatribe.

Yes I concur there is junk out there. No one would argue the front end on a $300 department store bike is anything other than junk (and will probably seize up in 3 months making it rigid anyway). If we take a $1000 median prince point though, its not so black and white. Even a novice can appreciate the difference between the suspension forks found on the kilobuck hybrids compared to the ones on even bike-store brands at the entry level. At very least you have to concede they are not as crazy heavy, wont fall apart just looking at them, and in my estimation at least work consistently over time. As someone pointed out they still have that telltale sticker on the back which reads "Leisure Cross country only". Guess what: that EXACT same sticker is found on the "real" mountain bikes at that same price point.

A guy at my LBS put it well when he said (of hybrids with suspensions) "its what the 'sport' mountain bike SHOULD have been all along".
I couldn't agree more, Sunsanvil, on all counts.
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Old 04-30-14, 09:52 AM   #23
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How would you rate the front suspension on the Trek DS 8.4? It's the following: RST Nova ML w/coil spring, preload, lockout, 60mm travel
I'm sure someone will tell us its junk but I'll be a little more practical and say it isnt horrible. I believe its in the same overall category and weight as the XCM they use on their XCAL7 (albeit with 2/3 the travel) and of course it has the lockout. I've ridden mine for a year and the action feels the same as the day I bought it. Something I and many others have noticed though is that it doesn't matter if you are 120 or 200lb, or if the preload is all the way in or out, it compresses about 10mm just sitting on it. No idea if thats a defect or a design, but it seems to create a small zone in which its fairly compliant. My wife's Neko SL has the same fork, with allegedly a lighter spring "for women", and it does the exact same thing.

That said, if I keep this bike beyond the summer I will seriously consider that new airsprung SRAM fork. Should shave a pound off and make for a plushier action.
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Old 04-30-14, 10:23 PM   #24
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Rigid fork all the way. The tires and butt cheeks are more than enough suspension.
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Old 05-02-14, 10:30 PM   #25
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You might want to read the thread I started on this topic a year ago:
Is a Mechanical Suspension Lockout Fork a "Gimmick" on a Hybrid?

I've had a the suspension fork for over a year now and I don't regret it. Undoubtedly it has its "ups and downs" (no pun intended).

If you are mainly on-road, the suspension is pointless.

Even with a non-suspended fork, more of the bumps of the road/trail will be absorbed by your muscles, tendons, joints, rather than the fork itself. So energy is still lost, but it's your BODY that acts as the suspension. The suspension fork makes makes things a lot easier on your hands and other joints. It does a better job at keeping the front wheel on the ground during heavy breaking rather than having it skip. Even if you are going uphill, the loss of energy from the fork deflection is partially because most people's pedaling technique is not completely circular and thus they are wasting energy. With perfect pedaling technique, you won't be bobbing up and down.

Downside is the weight and additional maintenance considerations. Mine takes stanchion oil, which is still only a few bucks. The manual calls for regular dis-assembly and maintenance by the manufacturer.

Last edited by SPiN 360; 05-03-14 at 11:31 AM.
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