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Old 01-18-11, 12:28 PM   #1
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Just bought two used MTBs (pics)

I'm primarily a road rider but we've been having a pretty wet winter here and I decided to buy a mountain bike since I hate riding on the road when it's wet out. I bought a 1998 Gary Fisher Joshua on CL and once my girlfriend saw it she decided she wanted to go mountain biking with me. So I wound up buying this 2000 Jamis Exile as well and I gave her the full suspension bike because she likes the soft ride of it. I paid $250 for both bikes.

Anyway, I have plenty of experience building up road bikes. I often buy them cheap on CL then fix them up and resell them for a profit. I have no experience with MTBs though. I know most of the mechanicals carry over but suspension in particular is foreign to me. I have no idea what the shocks should feel like or how long they last but I'm assuming at the very least the ones on the Fisher are toast since they're well-worn on the outside and I'm assuming they've never been rebuilt. The guy I bought the Jamis from said the Manitou on it has been serviced but I don't know to what extent.

The girlfriend and I have already gone on a few rides together in the Oakland Hills and we both like our bikes. Money is tight right now so assuming the shocks are safe to ride on I'd rather just go with it until I can afford to get a new fork for each and upgrade to front disc brakes (rim brakes just aren't cutting it in mud).

Is my plan reasonable or should I be worried about the forks exploding and sending me and/or my girlfriend face-first into a rock?



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Old 01-18-11, 01:26 PM   #2
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If you're that worried about it, send the rear shock to Push Industries for a rebuild. To see if it needs rebuilt, remove shock from frame, remove coil spring from shock, push/pull shock to see if dampening is still working. If not, rebuild. If so, reassemble and ride the snot out of it.

Basic coil spring forks are cheap. If yours don't dampen then replacements are usually available on ebay cheaper than the forks can be rebuilt. However, rebuilding forks isn't that expensive unless you have to replace stanchions/lowers.

You can get dampening rebuild kits for just about every fork ever made. Google is your friend for price comparisons.
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Old 01-18-11, 04:52 PM   #3
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Okay. It feels like the Manitou is pretty well dampened. The Rockshox on the Fisher are like pogo sticks. I see a range of Dart forks for less than a hundred bucks on ebay so I'll probably just go for one of those. I'll try and get around to checking the rear shock soon.
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Old 01-18-11, 05:23 PM   #4
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Don't put any money into the suspension...especially on the Fisher. They are both old technology, but given the fact that the Fisher is a URT and a pig'beast...just keep it limping along enough that your girlfriend is happy with it. The Jamis has old geometry, but since you're a roadie that pedals all "bent over"...you will probably be more comfortable on it than a modern / slacker design. If you decide to get more serious about the sport...you will want to keep those as beater-commuter-beer'getters and get something with good suspension and modern geometry.


That said...it wasn't a terrible deal. I can say that after riding hardtails and duallies from different year models from the mid-nineties to current...I can say with confidence that the old days of long stems, low A2C, skinny tires, etc...are dead and buried. I love the feel of todays rigs 1000% more.
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Old 01-18-11, 05:35 PM   #5
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Not much to add to what the group has said. Welcome to the world of dirt trails. I bet you end up liking it a ton.
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Old 01-18-11, 05:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
Don't put any money into the suspension...especially on the Fisher. They are both old technology, but given the fact that the Fisher is a URT and a pig'beast...just keep it limping along enough that your girlfriend is happy with it. The Jamis has old geometry, but since you're a roadie that pedals all "bent over"...you will probably be more comfortable on it than a modern / slacker design. If you decide to get more serious about the sport...you will want to keep those as beater-commuter-beer'getters and get something with good suspension and modern geometry.


That said...it wasn't a terrible deal. I can say that after riding hardtails and duallies from different year models from the mid-nineties to current...I can say with confidence that the old days of long stems, low A2C, skinny tires, etc...are dead and buried. I love the feel of todays rigs 1000% more.
Thanks for the advice. Obviously my girlfriend and I are not trying to win any races or anything. I actually really like the Jamis. The geometry feels perfect to me (maybe because of my roadie background) and I really like the feel of a good quality steel frame (Reynolds 525 isn't the best but it's not crap either).

I think what I'll do is replace the fork on the Jamis with a Dart just so I can get a front disc going partly because I think it'll give me superior braking in mud but also because I just want to learn how to install and service discs. Then I'll put the Manitou on the Fisher to get rid of the pogo sticks and leave the rest of it as it is since my girlfriend doesn't really give a crap anyway.
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Old 01-18-11, 06:11 PM   #7
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I was going to suggest putting the Manitou on the Fisher, but refrained. Check the A2C and travel to make sure it'll feel okay. Regarding the Dart...don't bother. If you're going to go that cheap, get a Kona P2 rigid steel fork. You'll lose some weight and gain some stand'n'honk climbability. If you want a cheap fork, spend $150 on a Rockshox Tora 289. It's kinda heavy, but probably the cheapest suspension fork that actually works.

My suggestions aren't based on winning races or shredding the gnar...just trying to get you the most bang for your buck w/o digging yourself a hole with regards to sinking $$ into a sinking ship.

The Jamis is nice. I like Jamis hardtails. I have two Jamis Komodo's. One is a 2005 Freeride Hardtail frame and the other is a 1998 that is similar to your Exile in geo and build...except that it is made from Easton RAD tubing instead of Reynolds steel. A little more harsh, but not a bad frame. That said...to support my prior statement...I get more enjoyment riding my 2005 with a 140mm travel fork than I do with my old skool, leaned over 1998 with a rigid (P2) fork. The reason you're riding a MTB is for fun...and if you ever feel like upping the fun factor...don't get your suspension rebuilt and sink a ton of $$ into the Exile'asaurus. Keep it as a beater / cruddy weather bike...and think about a modern toy.


Even a bottom-feeder Hardrock or Rockhopper would be a real eye-opener to you after you spend some time on your rigs. The "feel" of a modern ride is just more enjoyable.


Enjoy what ya got though man...and I really do like the Exile.
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Old 01-18-11, 06:33 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by chelboed View Post
I was going to suggest putting the Manitou on the Fisher, but refrained. Check the A2C and travel to make sure it'll feel okay. Regarding the Dart...don't bother. If you're going to go that cheap, get a Kona P2 rigid steel fork. You'll lose some weight and gain some stand'n'honk climbability. If you want a cheap fork, spend $150 on a Rockshox Tora 289. It's kinda heavy, but probably the cheapest suspension fork that actually works.

My suggestions aren't based on winning races or shredding the gnar...just trying to get you the most bang for your buck w/o digging yourself a hole with regards to sinking $$ into a sinking ship.

The Jamis is nice. I like Jamis hardtails. I have two Jamis Komodo's. One is a 2005 Freeride Hardtail frame and the other is a 1998 that is similar to your Exile in geo and build...except that it is made from Easton RAD tubing instead of Reynolds steel. A little more harsh, but not a bad frame. That said...to support my prior statement...I get more enjoyment riding my 2005 with a 140mm travel fork than I do with my old skool, leaned over 1998 with a rigid (P2) fork. The reason you're riding a MTB is for fun...and if you ever feel like upping the fun factor...don't get your suspension rebuilt and sink a ton of $$ into the Exile'asaurus. Keep it as a beater / cruddy weather bike...and think about a modern toy.


Even a bottom-feeder Hardrock or Rockhopper would be a real eye-opener to you after you spend some time on your rigs. The "feel" of a modern ride is just more enjoyable.


Enjoy what ya got though man...and I really do like the Exile.
I did the whole rigid thing in the 90's when I was a kid. Rode Northstar on my Trek 800 and I can say I never want to do that again. I like being able to use my hands at the end of the day. I'll check out that Tora fork.

Hopefully later this year I will move up to a more modern ride. I've been looking at a new Jamis Dragon 29 or a Santa Cruz Superlight/Chameleon.
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Old 01-18-11, 06:39 PM   #9
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Also, re: A2C. I've gathered that means axle-to-crown length. That measurement needs to be similar between the two forks in order to maintain the correct geometry of the bike, right?
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Old 01-18-11, 06:58 PM   #10
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Yeah...according to the popular response, you can go approx 20-30mm over what you got if you need too...but it will feel a little squirrelly on the climbs with the benefit of more stability on descents. Also...remember that there should be approx. 25% suspension sag when sitting on the bike, so if you have a 60mm fork with 420mm, your preloaded A2C will be 405mm b/c the fork should sag 15mm.

If you have a 100mm travel fork that has an A2C of 479mm...the preloaded A2C will be 454 because of the 25mm sag. Those older Rockshox Indy's had a pretty short A2C.

If you can find an 80mm Tora, that'd be about perfect, but you can also entertain the thought of running a 100mm Tora and run a little more sag. Not too much though or you'll blow through it quickly.


Myself personally...I'd just snag a 100mm Tora, set it at 25%, and be done with it. I don't always follow the popular school of thought...and I like a relaxed bike.
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Old 01-18-11, 08:25 PM   #11
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Just a comment about the price you paid. If I understood you correctly you paid roughly $125 each or there about. I'd say that's a pretty decent price for those bikes. They usually sell for more around here.
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Old 01-18-11, 10:44 PM   #12
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Yes, it was $100 for the Fisher and $150 for the Jamis. The Fisher is all original but the Jamis has new shifters, wheels, brake pads, cables and housing.
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Old 01-25-11, 03:57 PM   #13
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Okay, here's the plan. I found this bottom-of-the-line commuter MTB for sale. The guy wants around $200 for it. At some point in it's life he had a SID put on it with what looks like a nice Chris King headset from what I can see in the crappy photo. My plan is to buy this bike, swap forks and headsets with the Jamis then hopefully resell the commuter for $200 and break even.

I figure at the very least I'll get slightly worn out but much better fork for basically nothing. If I'm lucky the SID will be tip-top.

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Old 01-25-11, 04:05 PM   #14
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I love that Jamis. Something about steel hardtails. Should be a whole lot nicer with a SID on there.

Kinda looks like the Jamis has a little BB drop as it sits. A taller fork will likely be a good thing.

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Old 01-25-11, 04:12 PM   #15
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On a side note, does anyone have a link to some kind of listing of all the previous models of rockshox so I can look up exactly what year this one is and get the specs on it? I tried bikepedia but it's all newer models.
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