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  1. #1
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    At what price point is front suspension a good idea?

    I've been doing some light mountain biking on an old fully rigid specialized that's too small for me and my rigid hybrid with 700x38 tires (obviously not that effective). I've still been enjoying it a lot and considering buying a real mountain bike.

    I'm not looking to race, not looking for an incredible amount of speed. Some kind of technical stuff. Also not planning on paying $1000 (probably a bit less) for a bike.

    I know cheap suspension's often not very good. At what price point would you guess that the front suspension that comes on a hardtail would be better than a fully rigid? $500? 800? 1000? More?

    Thanks for any input.

  2. #2
    In search of moar cowbell dminor's Avatar
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    At whatever price point will get you a fork that has adjustable rebound damping. It doesn't have to be sophisticated circuitry, it just has to work. Rebound damping is the first 'building-block' key to what makes suspension actually work. Most entry-level forks don't have this but I can't tell you any more at what point you'll find it. Been a long while since I've seriously shopped that end of the spectrum.

  3. #3
    Two-Wheeled Aficionado ColinL's Avatar
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    Rockshox Recon is one of the cheapest trail-worthy forks on a lower end bikes. Cheaper than it, and it most likely lacks damping as dminor mentioned, and may as well be a spring. Rockshox XC28/30/32, SunTour XCT, RST Deuce... all junk.

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    Thanks for the info. The bike I was kind of looking at had sountour xct. I'll stick to rigid until I figure out if I'm going to get more serious about it or not.

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    S'toon trail rider! MisterK's Avatar
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    I was under the assumption the rock sshox xc line was their replacement for the dart line. Which were a decent fork lineup (I could be wrong). But if an xc32 really is equal or better than a dart 3 than I'd gladly take that and save the 100bux its less than a recon.

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    How much are you looking to spend, and how much mechanical ability do you have? How is the Specialized other than being too small for you? You might be able to find a decent frame on CL or a NOS frame for cheap, then drop a few hundred on a decent clearance fork from last year(that will get you a totally decent fork). That puts you at ~$400. Swap over all of the parts from the Specialized(assuming they're still performing well) and you're on a totally decent, trail worthy bike with a better fork than you'd get buying a new bike for twice that much. One factor that could play a part in that plan is disk brakes. Then you'd have to get a wheel-set(decent stuff available for ~$100 on Jenson, etc,) and brakes(~$50 for a BB7 with rotor).
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    Quote Originally Posted by scyclops View Post
    Oh yeah, sure, what if everyone thought that way? Then internet forums would merely be places where rational people exchange useful information and ideas - instead of the chaotic, emotionally-charged circuses that they are.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL
    Rockshox XC28/30/32, SunTour XCT, RST Deuce... all junk.

    Quote Originally Posted by ditchbanker View Post
    Thanks for the info. The bike I was kind of looking at had sountour xct.
    Depending on where you live SR-Suntour have an upgrade program where you can upgrade to one of their better quality forks at a reduced price if you have one of their low end forks.

    Details can be found on this thread.

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    The "right" pricepoint is the one where you won't wind up with a Suntour fork.

    The RockShox Recon is a good entry level fork as was previously mentioned. Also keep in mind that components can be replaced, the frame can't. First, you need to find a bicycle which you're comfortable on, then look for a reasonably priced model of that same bicycle. Usually a model will come in different trim levels. Just find one with the specs you're looking for.
    - Dan \m/

  9. #9
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Something to think about. I've had very good luck buying used FOX F-100 shocks off ebay. They can be had for $200 to $300 depending on the year. However, the lower priced units are only available in 26". 29'ers haven't been around long enough to drive the price of some used FOX units down to an affordable price. I like them because in addition to offering excellent control, the F-100 is very light, typically around 2.5 to 3 lbs.
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  10. #10
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    I was looking at $650 or below. I know, that's pretty low, and if I have to wait, I have to wait.

    The specialized is too small. The cassette needs replaced (2nd gear doesn't work). The brakes suck, but that's an issue of wheels being not quite true. Otherwise the bike is OK. Oh, and it's purple. (Still a hoot and a half, though). I've considered looking for an old bike of similar vintage on craigslist, in the right size, buying it for $100 and putting together a final bike with the best components from each and maybe a couple small purchases. Just not sure if I would regret putting more money into a bottom of the line idea. I've also been thinking of putting 29er tires on my Raleigh Misceo and switching tires between commuter duty and dirt duty, but found out on the hybrid forum that I probably can't get a rear tire bigger than 700x45. I guess it's not too small, but ideally I'd have larger. Also have an Old 2000 K2 ZED SE I bought before I went to college. It's never seen an honest to goodness trail as far as I can remember. The fork still went tango union within about a year. That's why I'm leery of cheap suspension. I've considered looking for a rigid fork for it for the time being, but it also needs wheels tuned and a component replacement. And I start to wonder if I'm trying to put lipstick on a pig.

    Choices, choices...

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    For 29ers, the XC 32 TK starts showing up on bikes that retail in the $1000-1100 range. The Trek Mamba, Norco Charger 9.1, and Rocky Mountain Fusion are three that have it. That was my "don't buy anything lower than that" fork when I was looking at hardtail 29ers over the past few weeks. Still haven't bought anything yet though.
    Last edited by Pendergast; 03-09-13 at 02:27 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
    The "right" pricepoint is the one where you won't wind up with a Suntour fork.
    I resemble that remark. Actually, I knew what I was doing when I bought mine with said horrific forks, partly by reading this forum. I plan to upgrade when the time is right, probably this year. But it probably would have been better to get decent forks in the first place.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChasH View Post
    I resemble that remark. Actually, I knew what I was doing when I bought mine with said horrific forks, partly by reading this forum. I plan to upgrade when the time is right, probably this year. But it probably would have been better to get decent forks in the first place.
    For light trails, a Suntour fork is fine, but if you're someone who is serious about getting into MTBing a little deeper than just tackling a few roots and gravel, you're going to want something more. There's nothing wrong with Suntour forks, they're just not made to withstand more than mild terrain. For the guy riding around the county park trails, they'll do the job.
    - Dan \m/

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    Wooden Tiger, can you elaborate on more than trails with rocks and roots? In my area, we don't have lots of roots (mostly ponderosa pines, which don't have tons of roots) but lots of rocks. I haven't done a ton of mountain biking, but I have hiked many of these trails and know that bumps are common from rocks. I'm a little confused at what I would be doing more than trails.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditchbanker View Post
    Wooden Tiger, can you elaborate on more than trails with rocks and roots? In my area, we don't have lots of roots (mostly ponderosa pines, which don't have tons of roots) but lots of rocks. I haven't done a ton of mountain biking, but I have hiked many of these trails and know that bumps are common from rocks. I'm a little confused at what I would be doing more than trails.
    Sure, I'd be glad to.

    Basically, all trails are going to have some rocks and roots. When I say a Suntour fork isn't going to hold up on a trail, I'm talking about trails where the fork is constantly working; quick downhills over rougher terrain, switchbacks, etc; basically, wherever you're really going to be needing to "perform."

    If you're just riding a regular trail and you come across the occasional "bump in the road," so to speak, a Suntour fork will be adequate. For instance, if you were familiar with the C&O Canal, which is a gravel/dirt path with a few trees growing in shallow soil and you run over a few roots or "cobblestone-like" terrain here and there, a Suntour fork will be just fine. It's just that you don't wanna do anything where the fork will need to be constantly working.

    Suntour Fork Friendly:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3127DS6Ap-M

    Suntour Fork Non-Friendly:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&fe...&v=5uslwIp48Bw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcsT26VV0mc

    I hope this clears it up!
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  16. #16
    Tour De French Fries Elduderino2412's Avatar
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    A recon would be better but XC32 is minimum in my opinion. You can find bikes with either of those for under 1k.
    XC32 roughly equals old tora's
    xc28 roughly equal to old dart 3's

  17. #17
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    Thanks, wooden tiger. That last video is probably the most applicable, except that I'd be going slower. Combination of lack of skill and that I can't work if I'm injured.

    Thanks for helping clear it up. I think rigid and slowing down might be a good combination for me until I build up some more skill/confidence/money.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditchbanker View Post
    Thanks, wooden tiger. That last video is probably the most applicable, except that I'd be going slower. Combination of lack of skill and that I can't work if I'm injured.

    Thanks for helping clear it up. I think rigid and slowing down might be a good combination for me until I build up some more skill/confidence/money.
    As long as you're not going to be doing a lot of jumping and stick to terrain like in the last video I posted, a hardtail would serve you well. There wouldn't be a need to go with a full-suspension bike, though it would probably soften the ride a bit. The downside to a FS bike would be on your climbs; even with the shocks locked up you're going to be losing power due to the "flex" of the "swing-arm."

    You don't have to be moving at break-neck speeds to enjoy yourself, though it definitely does add to the "pucker factor," and is very exciting. The thing about MTBing is that even if you're not going all that fast, due to the rough terrain you will feel like you're moving at a really good clip. Think of MTBing as a wooden roller coaster. Wooden roller coasters always feel like they're moving faster than they are just because of the harshness. They're just as much fun as the steel coasters even though they're moving at a slower pace. Also keep in mind the video posted was probably sped up a bit; don't always believe what you see on video.

    As for a component group, most brands are pretty competitive across the board and usually each brand will have one "shining trait." For instance, one brand may have a RockShox Reba fork and SRAM X5 derailleurs, while another brand may have a RockShox Recon and SRAM X7/X9 derailleur. Keep in mind you can always upgrade but sometimes you risk upgrading into another classification of bikes. You may buy a $700 bike and upgrade the fork for $400, and then what you've done is price yourself right into a better level of bikes. Now, while you may have yourself a nice fork, you also have entry level derailleurs. Basically what you've done is "polish a turd," so to speak.

    IMO, if you are really serious about MTBing, save your money and buy something far nicer than a $400 MTB. My wife had a $400 MTB and we upgraded a few things as they broke, but it wasn't worth it. We wound up adding about $125 in derailleurs, then the second chain-ring had a tooth snap off, and that would have had to have been replaced at some point. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the chain-rings separately. Had she just purchased a better bike to begin with, we wouldn't have been replacing parts. FWIW, the rides weren't all that harsh. We were doing cake compared to the third video I posted.

    Sometimes things cost less if you just spend more in the first place. I would look into Sette bikes. While they're "mail order" likes bikes-direct.com, the component packages are very good and in some cases better than what you'd find from large manufacturers like Specialized, Cannondale, Trek, etc. A buddy of mine in our club who is really into MTBing and very experienced has a Sette and he loves it, the only thing missing is a big name on the frame. While Sette bikes aren't cheap by any stretch, they are damned good bikes for the money and if you really get into MTBing, you're going to be wanting some nice equipment. Nice equipment costs money. Good bikes aren't cheap and cheap bikes aren't good.

    http://www.settebikes.com/Bikes.html
    - Dan \m/

  19. #19
    Tour De French Fries Elduderino2412's Avatar
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    besides sette bikes. bikesdirect is another option.

    To go the online option you need to know how to do a little wrenching to set them up.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elduderino2412 View Post
    besides sette bikes. bikesdirect is another option.

    To go the online option you need to know how to do a little wrenching to set them up.
    This is true, you will need a shop to complete the assembly and set-up if you're unfamiliar with bicycle repair and assembly.
    - Dan \m/

  21. #21
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    Wooden Tiger, I think when I'm saying rigid you're hearing hard tail. I'm meaning RIGID all the way.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditchbanker View Post
    Wooden Tiger, I think when I'm saying rigid you're hearing hard tail. I'm meaning RIGID all the way.
    Ah, you're saying rigid fork, too.

    Yeah, I guess I kinda misunderstood you...
    - Dan \m/

  23. #23
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    Yeah, sorry for not specifying. Right now I'm thinking of getting something used of craigslist that's at least in my size ($100 neighborhood) and riding til I get a better feel for what I'm really going to do. A used fully rigid bike shouldn't cost that much more than a set of new tires/tubes for my hybrid.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditchbanker View Post
    Yeah, sorry for not specifying. Right now I'm thinking of getting something used of craigslist that's at least in my size ($100 neighborhood) and riding til I get a better feel for what I'm really going to do. A used fully rigid bike shouldn't cost that much more than a set of new tires/tubes for my hybrid.
    Nothin' wrong with that! If you're not sure what type of riding you're going to be doing, you don't want to go out and wind up spending a lot of cash on the wrong tool for the job. You may find yourself wanting to do one type of riding, then wind up not liking it as much as you thought you would.

    Buying the "wrong tool for the job" kinda "happened" to me except I spent $35,000 to do it. I went out and bought a 2012 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon thinking I'd love the whole off-roading experience, got out there, and really wasn't very fond of all the bouncing around; it kinda made my stomach sick. I figured I'd like the whole "rock crawling" experience; in fact, I just knew I'd like it. So, I got out to Rausch Creek Off-Road Park and was not fond of it at all. That doesn't mean I won't like off-roading, it just means I didn't like that style or type of terrain. I'd much prefer more of a "Jurassic Park" type terrain than rocks, and I probably could have saved myself a lot of money if I didn't get the Rubicon. What can I say, that's what I get for not doing my homework first...but I don't regret getting the Rubicon, it's a great "wrong tool for the job."
    - Dan \m/

  25. #25
    S'toon trail rider! MisterK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elduderino2412 View Post
    A recon would be better but XC32 is minimum in my opinion. You can find bikes with either of those for under 1k.
    XC32 roughly equals old tora's
    xc28 roughly equal to old dart 3's
    Well that helps clarify abit. I'm pretty sure imma still save my pennies for an xc32. I think anything higher and I should just upgrade to a whole new ride. I'm still not sure what the diff between xc32 and recon really is(besides one is coil one is air, unless they make a coil recon) the specs are soo similar its a blurred line to my knowledge of products, which isn't overly much.
    Like is it a servicability thing or soley air vs coil??

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