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  1. #1
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    Adventure Racing and Bike Parts

    Hey,
    I did a search on "adventure race fork" (I didn't enclose the search in quotes). I didn't get much back. Now, I am looking for some feedback on forks these days, but I am interested in anyone with feedback on general parts used in adventure racing.
    1. Re Forks: I bought a cheapy (Manitou Axel), and now I am willing to shell out cash for the RIGHT fork. But, again, there is a lot of talk about forks on various threads, but not much "these 5 forks do similar things for what you're looking for". That's what I really need.
    So, here's the specs I need to meet. . .
    a. Gotta maintain good steering (so we're looking at 100mm travel or less - probably 80).
    b. Gotta be serviceable - for less money than just buying a new Manitou Axel after each race.
    c. Gotta go through wheel-diameter-deep water - yes, right up to the headset -- I will drop into the lowest gear combo and keep pedaling until I fall in the drink and start wading across rivers/streams with the bike on my back. I would rather not start out fearing for my dear sweet ride and just jump in.
    d. Gotta deal with Georgia clay mud - and deal with it in a way that won't send me back to the lbs after "every 80 hours of service" - again, may as well just buy a dozen Manitou Axels each year and keep them on a shelf (I DON'T want to do that)

    2. Re Other parts: tools are also included. We ARs already carry enough crap around for sometimes 3 days, wearing the same sweaty, muddy, sometimes mildly puked-on clothes full of burrs, thorns, and occasionally, large spiders (that's another story). We amateurs don't have access to a bike tech at transition areas (TAs), so WE NEED STUFF THAT IS LIGHT AND LASTS WITHOUT FAIL. Any suggestions (aside from "stop adventure racing" or "you're too demanding, quit whining") will be dandy.

    Remember, although I might not buy the coolest stuff, ARs, among folks in their 30's and 40's, are mostly middle/upper middle-class boobs like me who need to get their rocks off doing something besides marathons and triathalons -- but we tend to spend A LOT OF MONEY on gear. So, speak up, WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT REALLY REALLY WORKS!

    Oh, and I really do mean to start off by getting past the "fork buyer's guide" and get some direct advice on the right fork for an AR (yes, we go up and down mountains, through waist-deep water, in mud, during thunderstorms and snow and ice, carrying sometimes 25 pounds of climbing/cycling/running gear plus food and water - so we're heavier than what the bathroom scale says). Oh, and there is usually no one around if our equipment screws up, except our teammates, so no bike techs anywhere to be found.

    You guys are the bike experts. I am asking for your direct help. If I could help myself, I wouldn't have posted a thread. Think of it this way, if you're looking for advice on raising a kid - I've been doing that for 7 years and will offer you direct help if you post to a child care advice website. Now, I am turning to you because I have been raising a kid while you've been out riding your bike(s).
    Thanks,
    David

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    Just to give you one example. . . One fork that looked up my alley was the Fox FRLT (80mm). It doesn't mean you all should shout "well, go buy it, dummy". I am really asking for some advice.

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    For goodness sake! 18 views and I am the only idiot to post a reply (now 2)? Oh heavens. There must be someone interested in helping an old fart find the right stuff. Lord knows, I need good equipment to even mildly offset the losses due to my aging body and lack of available training time.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Curtis_Elwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sha_batman
    For goodness sake! 18 views and I am the only idiot to post a reply (now 2)? Oh heavens. There must be someone interested in helping an old fart find the right stuff. Lord knows, I need good equipment to even mildly offset the losses due to my aging body and lack of available training time.
    Give it a break, man. It's been like, what an hour since you originally posted? Surely you're LBS isn't open this time of night. Someone qualifed to answer your question will do so when they have the time to read it. I would if I could. I don't think being pushy will further your cause. BTW, have you read the fork buyer's guide yet?

  5. #5
    Senior Member zx108's Avatar
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    *i am no expert*

    marz are said to be low maintenence forks and they are well made.
    check out a marathon.

    and then there is fox, but some people say they require alot of attention.

  6. #6
    Throw the stick!!!! LowCel's Avatar
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    Give push industries a call or an e-mail. They would probably be your best bet at getting a fork that would be perfect for the abuse you will be putting it thru.
    I may be fat but I'm slow enough to make up for it.

  7. #7
    Custom User never's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sha_batman
    For goodness sake! 18 views and I am the only idiot to post a reply (now 2)? Oh heavens. There must be someone interested in helping an old fart find the right stuff. Lord knows, I need good equipment to even mildly offset the losses due to my aging body and lack of available training time.
    You definitely have to relax and consider that your thread title doesn't accurately indicate the question you want answered; therefore people are viewing to see what the post is, but not responding because they may not have the experience necessary to answer your question.

    As for quality forks, you're on the right track with the Fox FRLT, you can also check out the Fox FX and the Marzocchi Marathon. These are quality, lightweight, air XC forks. Another option is the RockShox SID but it may be a little too lightweight for your application.

    But consider that if you're going through that much water on a regular basis, you'll have to do very regular servicing on any fork you purchase.

  8. #8
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    It sounds more like you need a fork to deal with the elements more so then the rough trails.

    Marzocchi makes good forks as well a Fox. Those would be the companies I would suggest looking at. Also, because you submerge the fork and it also get caked in mud, regular maintenance will be required on any fork you use. What you could consider doing is add some fork protectors. I know Lizard Skin makes some and that will help reduce the amount of grit that gets into your seals. The conditions you are describing will put a lot of wear and tear on any component so you should learn to do the maintenance and do it after each race. It is just part of the sport that needs to be done.

    You will/should need to clean and regrease your headset as well after each race. Since you are asking about forks I will not go into the rest of the work that will need to be done.

    As far as maintaining steering, what bike is it on? What is the OEM fork travel? If the geometry of the bike is designed for it you can out a 120mm or 130mm travel fork on with out losing the handling of the bike.

    Dealing with GA clay, from what I have heard it is the same as we have here in CA. Sticks to everything and is a b**** to get off. The best way to deal with it is get narrow tires, no wider then 1.9 with widely spaced knobs and run a bit of a higher psi.

    If you are running v-brakes or cantilevers I would say switch to a good set of mechanical discs. It will help reduce the chance of the mud clogging up between the fork tubes.

    If I were to buy a fork strictly for AR I would get one of these, in order ;

    Marzocchi MX PRO Race
    " " MX PRO SL
    FOX FX
    FOX FLRT
    FOX Talas

    Only reason I put the 'zocchs before the FOX is personal preference. All of the forks above will do the job and do it well.

    As far as raising a kid, I am raising two and I have been racing while doing it. They enjoy going to the races as much as I do and because of it they are avid cyclists

    All most forgot, as far as carrying tools, there is not much you can carry if you destroy or blow the seals out on the fork. If your fork goes then you just need to ride it how it is until you can get some where that has the required tools which my mean waiting until you get home. A good multi-tool, pump or CO2 and some tubes or patch kit is all that you should need to carry. If anything goes wrong/breaks that you can not fix with that stuff then you just need to suck it up (if you do not have any mech support at the race), finish the race and deal with it when you get home.

    DBD

    p.s. As others have said, you do need to be patient when you ask for advice. Not everyone on here will know or want to give it. I figure since you are new I would give ya a chance.

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    Another vote for Marzocchi. They definately seem to be the most reliable forks out there. I second dirtbikedudes recomendation of the MX Pro line, I have an 03 and it's bombproof. The Marathon XC might be a good choise, but I've heard reports of the oil bladder failing, not something you want to have happen in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps keep an eye on Ebay for an 04 Marathon S, a very tough dual coil fork with Marzocchi's top dampening system. That would be my first choise for a fork to go round the world with.

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    I do Adventure racing over here and to be honest, I giggle all the time as I'm passing all the fools with their flash bikes and suspension forks (needing to pass them since I suck in the Kayak ). The routes they put us over here, suspension is overkill as they aren't nearly as technical as an outright xc mtb race course. My rigid is the perfect tool as it's lighter, and allows me to climb better. Granted your tracks might be rougher, or your bike legs might be longer (usually finish our races in 3 to 4 hours), but for what I do rigid is perfect.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curtis_Elwood
    Give it a break, man. It's been like, what an hour since you originally posted? Surely you're LBS isn't open this time of night. Someone qualifed to answer your question will do so when they have the time to read it. I would if I could. I don't think being pushy will further your cause. BTW, have you read the fork buyer's guide yet?
    Thanks Mr. Elwood. I appreciate your candor. For some strange reason, the internet had me believing that replies would pop up all over the place. However, you've set me straight. While my LBS was certainly closed when I posted, the internet marketplace was not. While it is true that I did not explicitly state, "I read the fork buying guide", I did make reference to it (leading to a possible inference that I read the guide). I thank you just the same. Should I be online in the future, I will be certain to wait a while before expecting any replies. It will also be noted that someone with something negative to write will likely post before someone with something positive. This is only based on experience. My attempts at adding humor to get the discussion rolling were clearly misinterpreted and failed miserably. I will consider my virtual wrists slapped and having been told "how it is" by someone with more experience than I.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Jameson's Avatar
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    I have a relative who enjoys this activity as well. Living in colorado must be swell. I know she uses a rigid fork, she also cyclocrosses with the same fork(bike). I don't recall what brand off the top of my head but if you'd like more rigid fork info, I'm sure there's tons of it on here. She is in her middle fourties and races in CO; I cry thinking about it but she seems to be made of sterner stuff than I.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Curtis_Elwood's Avatar
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    sha_batman, It looks like you're getting some good suggestions now. You just have to have a bit of patience. Remember, this is an important purchase you're making here. Thanks for easing up and I'll do the same now.

    Again, I'm not a fork expert, so I'll hold off on recommending a particular fork for your needs. You might also cross-reference what you're learning here and talk to your LBS staff. Some of them may do 24 hour marathon races that would put similar stress on their gear as you will experience in your adventure races. Also, see if you can talk to some of the more seasoned vets at your races. Or, at least, stop by the bike repair station after a race and see who's stuff is being worked on or in the trash. There's a lot of knowledgeable people around here, but given your strict requirements I'd cross-reference other sources before making your purchase. Good luck in your races.

  14. #14
    Too Much Crazy C Law's Avatar
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    What types of tracks are you looking at?

    I would third the rigid fork suggestions.

    Kelly, Vicious Cycles, or Independent Fabrication.

    I know you didn't ask but I would go with avid mechanical disc brakes also.

    The reason I would suggest the rigid is

    1. maintenance

    2. Weight savings

    3 Durability

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by unsuspended
    What types of tracks are you looking at?

    I would third the rigid fork suggestions.

    Kelly, Vicious Cycles, or Independent Fabrication.

    I know you didn't ask but I would go with avid mechanical disc brakes also.

    The reason I would suggest the rigid is

    1. maintenance

    2. Weight savings

    3 Durability
    Tracks are varied from singletrack, doubletrack, fire roads, stream beds, river crossings.
    Single tracks around here seem to be full of wooden and rock staircases (for hikers).
    No, I am not treading on footpath-only trails, these are the sanctioned routes.
    So, there are really three reasons for wanting suspension: bouncing down these "staircases", handling over tree stumps, and riding over interleaving boulders. I have a '93 Trek 800 (no sus, original SIS...) that was fine until I realized that all my gains on climbs were being wasted when I was being passed by folks on suspension bikes on the downhills. Now, it would be easy to suggest that I become even stronger on the climbs (so there'd be too much distance for anyone to pass me on the DH sections) but that is not possible, given my skill level and time to train.
    Yes, there are the occasional "whoop-de-doos" or whatever the new term is for small jumps that are so close together that you are still in the air when you hit the incline of the next jump - and this may be another reason for wanting sus. Again, my skill level is too low to jump 2 hills in one shot (esp. with a loaded backpack).

    I REALLY REALLY appreciate all of your help - every one of you.
    I am definitely going to take my old 800 out for a cruise, to see how it handles the courses I've been training on with that junky Manitou (on an REI bike, in case that mattered, though its geometry is a lot like Fisher's XC bikes).
    peace,
    David

  16. #16
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sha_batman
    ...until I realized that all my gains on climbs were being wasted when I was being passed by folks on suspension bikes on the downhills. Now, it would be easy to suggest that I become even stronger on the climbs (so there'd be too much distance for anyone to pass me on the DH sections) but that is not possible, given my skill level and time to train...

    peace,
    David
    You could just work on your dh skills. Passing riders, even the pro xc racers on the descents with a full ridged is always fun

    DBD

  17. #17
    ODB to those that know me outdoorboy's Avatar
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    I've been adventure racing for about 6 years and up until this year have riden a hardtail with a relatively cheap fox (I'm not a gearhead so all I know is it worked) I've totally submerged the bike on several occasions. I've riden it in 36 hour races and on 100 mile and 60 mile cross country races through sand, mud and extreme rock gardens. I've never felt like I needed something different for adventure races. I recently got a Giant NRS just cause I'm getting older and needed full suspension. It's already done a couple of adventure races this year and has shown that it will be everything and more than the old Gary Fisher. I would think that any middle of the road 80mm fork would be good.

    As far as a tool kit, I carry a crankbrother kit along with a park tool chain tool (the one on the crankbrothers kit sux). I also use CO2 cartridges and keep a roadmorph pump in my Hydrapak. That's about it.
    Visit ArkansasOutside.com. Lets go play outside in the Natural State!

  18. #18
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    Outdoor Boy, that's what I'm talkin' about. Perhaps the way to go with bike parts is the same way I went with my AR clothing = disposable. I have switched from all the AR gear you might see from the famous makers (goLite, Salomon, TNF, Mtn Hardware, etc.) and moved to Tyvek. Yes, plain, white tyvek. I have torn up nearly a grand in clothing and I refuse to keep doing that. I am beginning to wonder if that's the way to go for equipment that already has a regular service requirement.
    No, I am not talking about a tyvek helmet or rubber bands for rapelling gear.
    I am just wondering if a low end shock like that crappy Manitou should just do its job and wear out and get replaced, now that I am hearing that ALL shocks require service and are gonna cost me close to a grand a year to keep in top condition, given the amount of riding I do. (the fox will cost a grand if it requires 300 in service per year).
    Hmmmmm.....

  19. #19
    ODB to those that know me outdoorboy's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what you're talking about with service. I've never had a front shock serviced. My first one went 6 years and actually still works like it did when it was new. And if you look at the bike you can tell it's been through some major abuse. That's why I'm not even going to bother to try and sell it, I'll just turn it into a single speed!
    Visit ArkansasOutside.com. Lets go play outside in the Natural State!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by outdoorboy
    I'm not sure what you're talking about with service. I've never had a front shock serviced. My first one went 6 years and actually still works like it did when it was new. And if you look at the bike you can tell it's been through some major abuse. That's why I'm not even going to bother to try and sell it, I'll just turn it into a single speed!
    Well, I was reviewing maintenance schedules for Marz, Fox, and RockShox - all of them are recommending various forms of rebuild on a use-hours schedule.

    Is it possible that, just like televisions and various other technological wonders since y2k, these devices are more finicky than older devices with less specialized components. It appears you can "do more" than ever before, but you also have to be willing to buy more stuff or pay for maintenance (look at how many sus forks there were ten years ago compared to now). I know that in my house, we've had to pitch stuff out that still worked, but was so totally not-upgradeable that it was rendered useless except for its intended purpose (which we had "outgrown" because there was more specialized equipment out there that would let me "do more"). Like it or not, statistically speaking, the lifespan of an LCD TV is nowhere near the lifespan of an old tube set.

    That aside, I know my Trek 800 has seen very very little service for any reason - but it is also technologically very simple (3x6 speed, no cassette, canti brakes, no sus, etc.). However, I have a clear picture of my limitations on that bike when riding downhill. It is downright freaking scary for me to be bombing down Currahee Moutain when I cannot even see the trail in front of me because I am bouncing like a jackhammer with an irregular heartbeat. I am sorry adrenaline dudes, that does NOT make me feel all alive and stuff. It just makes me wonder what life would be like trying to operate everything from a mouthpiece on a fully-automated wheelchair..... So.....

    The Marz Marathon XC is looking pretty good compared to Fox, b/c for less money than Fox, it CLAIMS to be as long-lasting between service intervals.

    I am, however, down to 4 forks:
    1. Fox FX
    2. Marz Marathon XC
    3. Manitou Skareb Elite
    4. RockShox Sid Race

    At least I have been doing my homework (well, at least based on what I've learned by reading these forums).

  21. #21
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    haven't done much the last few years (unfortunately not many AR races in Germany) but i used to do lots of AR in western US and Canada.

    i can't recomment a specific fork as i currently do mostly freeride stuff, but i would think you would want something:
    1) relativeyl light-weight but not superlight (as then less durable)
    2) durable -- in my opinion this means coil fork instead of air as even though air forks have gotten better, they are still more subject to problems
    3) probably not a lot of travel as AR tends to not be SO technical or definitely not Freeride/Downhill and also tends to have lots of distance and carrying so you want light weight = 80-100mm, maybe 120mm if you expect lots of technical or are poor on MTB technical skills

    i think an XC coil fork in the 80-100mm travel range is probably the best -- various brands here but i do think Marzocchi is one of the best and most reliable and easy to work on. (Fox forks are good but almost all air forks and you generally have to send them in to do service, so i would not choose Fox for AR unless you really have the budget)

    if you've got a little more to spend, a lockout might not be a bad idea for AR as there tend to be lots of distance on non-technical terrain where a bobing fork could rob you of speed... (but lockout not necessarily required in my opinion)
    why drive when you can ride?
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  22. #22
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sha_batman
    Is it possible that, just like televisions and various other technological wonders since y2k, these devices are more finicky than older devices with less specialized components. It appears you can "do more" than ever before, but you also have to be willing to buy more stuff or pay for maintenance (look at how many sus forks there were ten years ago compared to now). I know that in my house, we've had to pitch stuff out that still worked, but was so totally not-upgradeable that it was rendered useless except for its intended purpose (which we had "outgrown" because there was more specialized equipment out there that would let me "do more"). Like it or not, statistically speaking, the lifespan of an LCD TV is nowhere near the lifespan of an old tube set.
    this is definitely true of Mountain bikes.
    today's Full Suspension bikes (e.g. with disc brakes) perform SO well, but they are complex and have lots of high-wear components. for AR stick with a hardtail, V-brakes and a simple coil/oil fork. sure, discs are better but more trouble (i just ripped my disc brake line last week and it is a MAJOR repair) and with full suspension the bike is so much better, but it costs more to buy and to maintain...
    why drive when you can ride?
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  23. #23
    Too Much Crazy C Law's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nathank
    sure, discs are better but more trouble (i just ripped my disc brake line last week and it is a MAJOR repair)
    I would agree with all of what you say except for this.

    Mechanical disc brakes are less maintenance than linear pull brakes. I would think especially so in adventure racing situations where

    1. Your wheel can easily be 1/8th 1/2 inch out of perfect true, rendering v brakes all but useless

    2. Wet braking can eat up brake pads in one long ride. Easy.

    Just my experiance from long MTB rides. I don't adventure race though.

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    Everyone, thanks for joining in. I believe adventure racing will grow over the years at a faster rate than it's already taken. As for high vs. low wear components, it appears that durability rules the day over luxury. I have finally purchased a fork - a Manitou Black Super Air with SPV Evolve (80 mm). It is considered a marathon XC fork and, according to the dealer and Manitou, should last for at least a few years. I will, however, be carrying around a suspension pump on my races. It was thanks to everyone's help that I believe I made the right choice (while coil sounded good and simple, I took one of these Black super airs apart and I believe I can service it myself).

    That said, perhaps it's time to re-focus this thread to new areas of adventure racing - technique and training for the biking sections. I have a lot to learn and am interested in learning. I also want to learn proper technique so I can teach my six year old how to ride properly (he's already going out on the same trails where I train - as long as that's a running day for me, so I can push him up the tougher hills)....

    I'd definitely like to take this thread into the finer points of XC riding for those of us who will never likely be XC racers. Otherwise, if you care to recommend a particular thread where one might learn tactical information on 1) using shocks to one's advantage, 2) techniques on getting over obstacles (down stairs, over logs, through skree fields), 3) knee-deep water fording/riding -- as well as any other topics that would be really helpful to us silly folks who don't have particularly good skills in any one area, except an ability to keep moving for days at a time, either on foot or some kind of machine or boat.

    Thanks again,
    David

  25. #25
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sha_batman
    E
    . Otherwise, if you care to recommend a particular thread where one might learn tactical information on 1) using shocks to one's advantage, 2) techniques on getting over obstacles (down stairs, over logs, through skree fields), 3) knee-deep water fording/riding -- as well as any other topics that would be really helpful to us silly folks who don't have particularly good skills in any one area, except an ability to keep moving for days at a time, either on foot or some kind of machine or boat.
    Try the Mountain Bike Racing section at the top of the main MTB page

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