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Old 05-12-09, 10:48 PM   #1
Bighec
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Rigid or Suspension?

I'm running an SS Santa Cruz Chameleon with a suspension fork. I usually run my fork on the lowest setting (85mm) with the fork locked out. Well on Sunday I broke my fork, and was thinking about maybe going with a rigid front fork. I like the idea of the low maintenance of having a rigid fork, and I hate the way my suspension fork would give at the base of a hill. I just don't want rattle my teeth loose from my gums.

Tech at my lbs also recommended installing the right coil for my weight, but when I mentioned the way that I set my fork he said rigid would probably be a good idea.

I want to make the right decision, but I don't want to regret making it.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-12-09, 11:33 PM   #2
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I don't think my sole source for Outdoor Pleasure could be completely rigid. When I rode around on my "crapper" with a Mag21...I thought it felt pretty harsh b/c I'm accustomed to the Fox Float on my Komodo. I thought to myself, "Self...why not just go rigid? The Mag21 is basically rigid anyways." So then I go out and ride the same trail on my old Raleigh rigid bike and was shocked at how much grating harshness that the little over-sprung / under-sagged 60mm Mag21 was softening for me. I've got enough air in it that I only get 30-40mm of travel on each ride.

Just a thought...you could get something like an Argyle or Marz DJ and spring it heavy with very little-to-no sag. Then you would basically have a nice rigid fork that will take the harsh punishment for you and allow you to ride a little crazy now and then.
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Old 05-13-09, 12:03 AM   #3
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Having ridden a rigid bike in the past, I would never willingly do it again...
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Old 05-13-09, 06:08 AM   #4
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Don't get me wrong, I had fun riding rigid...just not all the time.
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Old 05-13-09, 06:17 AM   #5
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i agree that if i had 1 bike it couldn't be rigid, however it is fun from time, i enjoy xc riding on my cx bike on occasion, but even with the 7lb weight reduction vs my fs bike and the skinny tires and super stiffness, i'm way way slower and can't bike for nearly as long as I can on my fs, i'm also much more limited as to what trail i can ride.

how'd ur bike handle with the fork cranked down? normally that steepens the headtube and will change how the bike rides, i'd get somthin with a solid lockout and plenty of adjustability so you can tune it to your riding style, for example having a highish compression dampening to help reduce the effect of the fork squishyness ect
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Old 05-13-09, 06:31 AM   #6
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Riding rigid is one of those things you either love or hate. It takes a while to get used to it after riding squish for a while. Its a whole different riding style. But if you keep at it, you may end up loving it. Tire pressure plays a big part. I run tubeless so I can go real low, but you still have to pick your line better.

One good thing is a rigid fork is cheap, so it you don't like it, you didn't waste too much money.
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Old 05-13-09, 08:40 AM   #7
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i agree that if i had 1 bike it couldn't be rigid, however it is fun from time, i enjoy xc riding on my cx bike on occasion, but even with the 7lb weight reduction vs my fs bike and the skinny tires and super stiffness, i'm way way slower and can't bike for nearly as long as I can on my fs, i'm also much more limited as to what trail i can ride.

how'd ur bike handle with the fork cranked down? normally that steepens the headtube and will change how the bike rides, i'd get somthin with a solid lockout and plenty of adjustability so you can tune it to your riding style, for example having a highish compression dampening to help reduce the effect of the fork squishyness ect
I like riding with the fork locked out, but I imagine it is still taking some of the roughness out of my ride. I guess I'll just have my suspension fork rebuilt with a stronger spring. I was going to fix it anyway, it's only 4 months old, and I'll see how that works out. If anything a rigid fork can be had later on down the line at a fairly cheap price.
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Old 05-13-09, 08:46 AM   #8
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A good steel or ti rigid fork will take just as much of the small bumps as your fork locked out will.
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Old 05-13-09, 09:01 AM   #9
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A good steel or ti rigid fork will take just as much of the small bumps as your fork locked out will.
You trying to nudge me over to the darkside Chancellor?
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Old 05-13-09, 09:26 AM   #10
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hmm.... Maybe.....
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Old 05-13-09, 09:36 AM   #11
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Well push me in the right direction. All I have been able to find are Carbon or CroMo forks.
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Old 05-14-09, 09:07 PM   #12
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On one of my MTB bikes I just switched from a KONA P2 rigid to a FOX RL 80. Since right now I don't ride where I "need suspension" I do miss the precise/light feel of the rigid. The plushness of the Fox is nice, but even locked out it isn't as quick and light as a true rigid fork.
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Old 05-15-09, 05:46 AM   #13
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Well push me in the right direction. All I have been able to find are Carbon or CroMo forks.
Both will give you a good ride. Cro-Mo (steel) will b heavier, but give a nicer ride IMO. Carbon will take some bumps, but not as "absorbent" as steel will be. Are you using disks or V's, and whats your budget?
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Old 05-15-09, 06:10 AM   #14
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Most rigid Mtb forks are beefy their whole way down. So are most carbon ones. The difference in damping will pale in comparison to what can be achieved through modifying front tire size and inflation pressure.

Buy carbon for weight reduction.
Ti, if you can justify the expense.
Buy steel if you think you might ever crash, or jump, or come in contact with a rock, or branch, or hardened bit of dirt...
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Old 05-15-09, 06:33 AM   #15
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I ride both. With my hardtail, I usually keep my Tora locked out, it's an air spring so there's some shock effect. My rigid is used for XC riding, nothing technical so far....
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Old 05-15-09, 06:35 AM   #16
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Well push me in the right direction....
Salsa Chromoto is my low cost favorite. Lots of sizes too.
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Old 05-15-09, 07:52 AM   #17
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The cromoto, last i checked, came in 2 sizes.

Going from a sprung fork to full-rigid will take some getting used to. Similarly, going from rigid to front squish is kinda weird, too. I like rigid stuff, and when i borrow my fiancee's hardtail, i'm appalled at how heavy/bouncy/$h!tty her ride is, because of the rockshox. To be fair, it is a ghastly, cheap, and weighty thing. Perhaps it isn't fair to compare the rigid to such a terrible fork--the dart with the lockout.

Oh, but wait, a decent taiwanese rigid fork costs $80 or so. The cheapest sprung forks that i'd even dream of buying aftermarket are $300; most appealing forks of the sort run closer to a grand. So, at $80 for a thing that's lighter, more efficient, and won't break in 4 months (as the OP's did) versus a finicky, high-maintenance thing that bobs and bounces and weighs 4 lbs? Maybe it is a fair comparison.... but it's not even close.

While we're on the topic of fairness, most modern riders choose suspension because, comfort and rattling and what have ya aside, an active suspension fork will keep your front tire in contact with mother earth significantly more than a rigid one. More contact=more traction = ultimately better performance. Modern suspension is lightyears ahead of the forks of a few years ago; they're lighter weight, more efficient, stronger, stiffer, better.

So, i can totally see your dilemma. I'm mostly afraid to get a suspension fork because i fear that i'll fuss with it constantly, on the trail and on the stand, and that i'll ride less as a result. But that's due to OCD and other annoying behaviors. My suggestion? Surly instigator @$80. Ride for a few weeks. Rebuild the original fork, with the heaviest spring. swap out the forks again, ride a few weeks. You may decide to keep one over the other, which is what ebay et al are for. Or, more likely, you might wish to keep both, and swap 'em out periodically to rediscover your rig.

hth,
-rob

PS- just saw that your chameleon is currently SS. you *must* try the rigid; the idea of running even a well-tuned and glorious springer on a SS fills me with dread
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Old 05-15-09, 10:24 AM   #18
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The cromoto, last i checked, came in 2 sizes....
3 including 29er. Two sizes for 26" is nice Surly is a nice choice too, I have the KM on a commuter.
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Old 05-15-09, 10:47 AM   #19
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Its a bit subjective this debate...I rode my XtC with a rigid fork for a few months, it wrecked my back and the short length of the fork gave it a much to road bike style front end stance. It turned me away from cycling until i bought my new sprung specialized.

Most people are right though, it wont be an expensive mistake. Buy a cheap rigid steel fork, ride the hell out of it and if you dont like it get the sussers rebuilt.

One point to make, remember to take your suspension forks back from your lbs when you get it changed, as mine kept the forks and sold them on without telling me (manitou axel elites )
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Old 05-15-09, 11:07 AM   #20
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i can't flow the way i normally do with out suspension. i like the little "pop" i get when riding over stuff. i never learned to pump properly when i was running a rigid fork i ditched if after a month.
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Old 05-15-09, 10:08 PM   #21
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I'm running disks, and the the most I would spend on a rigid fork would be $300 and change.
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Old 05-15-09, 10:32 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surreal View Post
-Going from a sprung fork to full-rigid will take some getting used to. Similarly, going from rigid to front squish is kinda weird, too.
-when i borrow my fiancee's hardtail, i'm appalled at how heavy/bouncy/$h!tty her ride is, because of the rockshox.
-To be fair, it is a ghastly, cheap, and weighty thing. Perhaps it isn't fair to compare the rigid to such a terrible fork--the dart with the lockout.
You are correct...comparing a cruddy rigid fork to a Dart is still not fair. A cheap rigid fork is still going to be fairly light and super efficient. The Dart will be neither. I'm glad you realized this comparison to be irrelevant, but why didn't you delete it?

Just sayin'.






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The cheapest sprung forks that i'd even dream of buying aftermarket are $300
The RS Tora is a great fork for the $$$. It's reliable, the damper works as stated, and it can be had for $150'ish range. Dark horse.


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an active suspension fork will keep your front tire in contact with mother earth significantly more than a rigid one.
+1



Quote:
Originally Posted by surreal View Post
-Modern suspension is lightyears ahead of the forks of a few years ago; they're lighter weight, more efficient, stronger, stiffer, better.
-I'm mostly afraid to get a suspension fork because i fear that i'll fuss with it constantly, on the trail and on the stand, and that i'll ride less as a result.
As you stated..."Modern suspension is lightyears ahead of the forks of a few years ago; they're lighter weight, more efficient, stronger, stiffer, better." (nice use of the semicolon BTW) You won't spend as much time off the bike as you think. Ditch the OCD, realize that it's mountain biking, and nothing is gonna be perfect. Buy the right fork and it will perform as advertized. RS Tora...$150...when hits bumps...fork compresses and takes away the bump...when damping knobs are turned...changes can be felt.
If you are a bit OCD or of the mindset that pro level equipment will be all that suffices...Wheelworld.com is selling Fox Float 140RL's for $399. This deal can be had from time to time. I got my '05 Fox Vanilla for $219 from Jensonusa.com in 2006 as an OEM take-off. Keep your eyes peeled.


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PS- just saw that your chameleon is currently SS. you *must* try the rigid; the idea of running even a well-tuned and glorious springer on a SS fills me with dread
That is unless you get a fork with an effective lockout. Say you're hammering out of the saddle on your rigid beast...you get to a rocky, rooted DH or flat section...you slow to a snail's pace so you don't lose your teeth. You could have been hammering on that Float RL or Tora with Motion Control and when you get to the rough crap...flip a knob and reap the benefits. Drop in to that gulley and launch out the far side.

Just a thought. I've used the lockout on the Motion Control damper, Float, and Talas...they all work great.

Last edited by ed; 05-15-09 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 05-15-09, 11:50 PM   #23
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The lock-out, coupled with a spring that wasn't strong enough for my weight is how I broke my fork. Hopefully the new spring will take care of this.
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Old 05-16-09, 09:10 PM   #24
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You are correct...comparing a cruddy rigid fork to a Dart is still not fair. A cheap rigid fork is still going to be fairly light and super efficient. The Dart will be neither. I'm glad you realized this comparison to be irrelevant, but why didn't you delete it?

Just sayin'.

.
Haha, I din't delete it because, in truth, few fork comparisons are relevant until those discussing it define some priorities and factors. If we're talking about price, steel rigid forks will basically blow anything else away in terms of performance/dollar. I can get a surly fork for less than i could get a dart. I don't know who in their right mind would order a dart aftermarket, but plenty of folks are selling them. The dart is heavy and crappy; the surly fork isn't it. Is it a fair comparison? Absolutely, if we're dicussing price. Absolutely not, if we're talking about overall performance or plushness.

Ed, thanks for the tips re: the suspension forks. I think i might pull the trigger on a squishie fork with a future frame, but not with my existing bikes. and, yes, my ocd gets on my nerves, but it is also the thing that enables me to use perfect semicolons.

As for lockout suspension forks on a SS, i guess it'd be pretty cool with a remote lockout, like a poploc, but the whole thing sort of flies in the face of the reason many SS ppl are goign 1x1 to begin with. 1x1 is nice for ppl who want to keep things simple, lightweight, and possibly cheep. To be sure, others do it for other reasons, and a very nicely equipped SS will be the same basic price as a comparably equipped 3x9, but i think most SSers are saving cash, weight, and complexity.

-rob
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Old 05-17-09, 07:32 AM   #25
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Well I got rid of my gears so my fat***** could put some meat on them quads and become an uber rider. I ended up liking it a lot too. A really fun ride. There is lots of good info in this thread. Probably end up getting a rigid fork to slap on there and give a shot just to say I did. We'll see what happens.
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