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    Suspension Fork Recommendations?

    Howdy All,

    I'm new to the forums and in the process of building an offroad tandem for my wife and I to ride. I'm looking for some recommendations on suspension forks for 360-370 lb ride team for Florida trail riding, fire roads, etc. (i.e. nothing extreme, no downhill, etc).

    I read through the forks on mtbtandems.com and have always had good luck with Marzocchi in the past on singles, but I wanted to get some Tandem specific feedback. So here's some questions for the group:

    Has anyone ridden off road with any relatively current Marz forks (past 5 years, lets say)?
    For the team weight and usage, is something like their Dirt Jumper 3 a solid fork?
    I like the idea of the triple clamp forks for strength, is that a better way to go?

    Many Thanks in advance!
    Steve

    ... is there a 12 step process for bike addiction?
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  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1SandMan
    Howdy All,

    I'm new to the forums and in the process of building an offroad tandem for my wife and I to ride. I'm looking for some recommendations on suspension forks for 360-370 lb ride team for Florida trail riding, fire roads, etc. (i.e. nothing extreme, no downhill, etc).

    I read through the forks on mtbtandems.com and have always had good luck with Marzocchi in the past on singles, but I wanted to get some Tandem specific feedback. So here's some questions for the group:

    Has anyone ridden off road with any relatively current Marz forks (past 5 years, lets say)?
    For the team weight and usage, is something like their Dirt Jumper 3 a solid fork?
    I like the idea of the triple clamp forks for strength, is that a better way to go?

    Many Thanks in advance!
    Steve

    ... is there a 12 step process for bike addiction?
    Mine:
    Lightspeed Vela
    Cannondale M800
    Fetish Discipline Single Speed
    UberUrban Cross/Commuter
    Hers:
    Aluminum Custom Road
    GT XC Mtn
    Ours:
    Early 80's Santana
    Weight of our team is 400lbs on a Dale MT that is set up for aggressive offroading.It depends on how aggressive you want to be on the Brake/Wheel and fork recommendations.

    To start offwith we had Rigid forks- V Brakes and Sun Rhino Lite rims to XT Hubs. Soon discovered that we needed Suspension Forks and I went to Marzochi Freeride Forks that were set up for Disc and Rim Brakes. 135mm travel but they were a bit soft still so Modified with the Heaviest weight springs and changed the oil to 20 grade and set the rebound to slow. This was fine for most of the offroading and only caused a problem if we were honking uphill. The Forks took everything we threw at them and worked. We got a bit faster and they still worked, but a Full downhill Wheel set was purchased to enable the next upgrade of Hope Mono M4 brakes to go on. That was where a bit of problem came in. With this quality of brake- the forks started Moving a lot. Flexing back and forward and sideways under severe braking. On top of that they were Quick release and for Peace of mind- if not safety- we had to change to 20mm bolt through axle. Got a set of Boxer Triple forks with 150/160 mm travel and the extra travel did not cause a problem. Once again the Heaviest weight springs were fitted and To take up the Sag- Maximum height of the sag adjustment spacers were fitted. These forks have made a difference. No fork movement whatsoever- firmer uphills and although we not "Honk" still- we do not get any bobbing under pressure either. As to suspension- we get full movement on the downhills and sufficient to take all the sting out of hitting lumps in the trail at speed. (Another reason why we went to the full downhill spec wheel)

    Please do not get me wrong as this Tandem is Used aggressively. It has a superb set of brakes that put a lot of strain on the forks and it is built to take punishment. I do not have any problems at all. Until the Disc brakes went on- I was happy with the Marzochi Freerides. They worked well but at the same time- we were not pushing them as hard as we are now. Only fault is that the M's could have been a bit stiffer on springing. Many people will Frown on the Boxers as they are not a Tandem specific fork but for our use- they suit us down to the ground. The Tandem specific forks I looked at were a lot more expensive- or did not give the travel I wanted- or were not suitable for Disc and V brakes while I was upgrading, and to be honest-I did not know if they would take the punishment that I was going to give them. And I would not be able to get spares at my local LBS off the shelf either.

    Then again- If you want to take Downhills at 50+mph offroad- then I think I have a fork that works. Others may have better.
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  3. #3
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Give MTB Tandems a call; Alex should be able to give you a recommendation on what's currently available as off-road tandem fork offerings are very fluid.

    Given your team weight, I'd be inclined to suggest a dual crown (aka, triple clamp) fork... primarily for the more positive steering control vise travel for aggressive terrain.

  4. #4
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    Our loaded team weight is similar to yours. We've been using a Marzocchi DJ3 for moderate offroading. Our tendancy is to trail ride. The DJ3 stays smooth in all temperatures. It butters small drops plus it stays planted on spider webbed root sections. There isn't any noticable stiction on off camber sections or when exiting ruts. The fork has exceeded my expectations.

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    Thanks to all for their replies. I had been going back and forth between single crown and dual crown, and since I've already got a set of XTR Hydraulic discs for it added to all the other factors, it looks like dual crown is the way to go.

    Tandemonium, are you running discs?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Finally, I get a chance to throw my 2 cents in. We had Dean from ATC Racing build up one of his forks for us, and it has performed flawlessly. While a bit low-tech, it's 100% user serviceable, and you can reach the manufacturer by phone or email easily.

    Alex at MTBTandems can hook you up with the fork, in any configuration you need. We went with the 20mm thru-axle, and about 380lbs worth of springs. For a single rider, you would just use 1 spring. For tandem use, he puts 2 in. We also run 8 inch discs.

    Since coming back to the US, we swapped it out for a Marzocchi DJ. While the travel is as smooth as Tandemonium's, we do find that it flexes a bit more than we'd like.

  7. #7
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    I can't say that I observe any traumatic flexing from the DJ3. My single has a Talas so I'm used to a stiff fork. We have an Avid BB7 on the front and the oem 'dale V brake on back. The V brake is soon to disappear. PM me if anybody has a good used rear disk wheel to sell.

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    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    What size disc are you running up front?

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    If the disc size question is for me, the stock xtr discs I have for the bike are 160mm, though I've found a very good deal on a new Marz 888 RC, which I understand is setup for 8" (203mm) disc. Seems like (at least on the single mtb reviews I've read) the 888RC is a fantastically smooth dual crown shock with plenty of adjustability. I would definitely need to upgrade the springs to x-firm for the team weight.

    Anyone used one of these on a tandem before? any thoughts on strength and flex? I would guess if it's built to use a 8" rotor it should be pretty stiff, flex-wise.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I don't think the 888 RC is approved for tandem use, is it?

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    What makes a suspension fork "approved for tandem use"? Is it something that Marzocchi would say, is it specified by the tandem manufacturer?

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    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1SandMan
    What makes a suspension fork "approved for tandem use"? Is it something that Marzocchi would say, is it specified by the tandem manufacturer?
    You really should go spend some time at this site. Alex has spent a lot of time working with manufacturers, and testing components to see if they will hold up to tandem use. The 66 VF is the 888 without the upper crown, so as long as the springs are available, it may do the trick. But Alex will know for sure, and he's not afraid of being perfectly honest with you.

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    Thanks for the heads up... I have spent some time on his site and was surprised to see only single-crown forks listed for Marz, while the rest have dual-crowns all listed. Based on his description of the VF66, I would agree with you...

  14. #14
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    The ATC fork really is the go if you're on a budget.

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    The WheelWorld.com coupon you posted is part of the problem ... it's hard to resist a 888 RC brand new for less than $400 shipped...

  16. #16
    Junior Member TandemNut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1SandMan
    Howdy All,

    I'm new to the forums and in the process of building an offroad tandem for my wife and I to ride. I'm looking for some recommendations on suspension forks for 360-370 lb ride team for Florida trail riding, fire roads, etc. (i.e. nothing extreme, no downhill, etc).

    I read through the forks on mtbtandems.com and have always had good luck with Marzocchi in the past on singles, but I wanted to get some Tandem specific feedback. So here's some questions for the group:

    Has anyone ridden off road with any relatively current Marz forks (past 5 years, lets say)?
    For the team weight and usage, is something like their Dirt Jumper 3 a solid fork?
    I like the idea of the triple clamp forks for strength, is that a better way to go?

    Many Thanks in advance!
    Steve

    ... is there a 12 step process for bike addiction?
    Mine:
    Lightspeed Vela
    Cannondale M800
    Fetish Discipline Single Speed
    UberUrban Cross/Commuter
    Hers:
    Aluminum Custom Road
    GT XC Mtn
    Ours:
    Early 80's Santana
    You don't mention what frame you're building up, and that has a lot to do with which fork you use. Based on the information you have provided so far, namely team weight, I'd agree with TandemGeek and steer you towards a double-crown fork such as the ATC or White Bros. Teams over 300lbs should most likely be on dc forks, if they're riding off-road at all.
    We have demo tandems with both single- and double-crown forks, and beleive me, when I get on the bike (260 sans stoker) there's a noticeable difference!
    There is, of course, one exception you might consider: Marzocchi's '07 66SL. It has adjustable travel on an air spring, and can be adjusted down to 135mm, which is at the upper limit for most tandem frames. There's no weight savings, as it weighs in the 7.5 - 8lb range, but if you're looking for more maneuverability, it might help. I've ridden one on our Ellsworth Witness, and it did very well, even with my considerable weight on it. It is a long fork, though.
    I also had Marzocchi build us a few JrT's with 150mm travel. They're not the shortest choice, but work okay on some frames.
    On 888's, Boxxer's etc:
    What you've got to be careful of with most off-the-shelf forks is the spring weight, and crown-to-axle length of the fork, and what that will do to the tandem's handling and standover. Most DH or FR forks now are a minimum of 150mm travel, and usually more. Tandem frames such as Ventana, Ellsworth, Fandango are set up for forks in the 18-20" C2A length, which usually equates to a 100 - 125mm travel fork.
    Most other tandem frames, such as Cannondale or Santana, are designed around shorter forks than that, which doesn't leave much in the way of selection. (Believe me, if there were more choices out there approved by their respective manufacturer, we'd be selling them)!
    ATC and White Bros have the shortest C2A, even when compared to a Marzocchi DJ single-crown fork.
    And of course, there will be replys that folks are running this or that fork/frame combo with great results. All I can say to that is that until you've ridden a tandem with a correct fork length for the frame, you don't realize how much difference it can make. Doesn't mean a long fork on a Cannondale doesn't ride well, but compared to more appropriate combinations, the handling and performance are not as good. The more off-road your riding, the more difference this will make.
    The three areas on off-road tandems that I wouldn't take chances with are fork, brakes, and wheels. It's not worth the potential damage to save a few dollars or ounces...
    Good luck. If we can help, give us a call.

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    TandemNut, thanks for the reply. You've raised the issues I was looking for -- hadn't considered what a long travel fork would do to the front end geometry and standover height. We're not going to be bouncing off boulders downhill with our hair fire, and with the 888's 170mm of travel, that is definitely overkill when you factor in the geometry changes and weight.
    The ATC and White are out of my price range at this point, but I'm in no hurry to get it finished, and can stand to wait for a little while to find a strong shorter travel shock that is more inline with a standard height front end.
    Thanks again for the reply ... it was an eye opener.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1SandMan
    The WheelWorld.com coupon you posted is part of the problem ... it's hard to resist a 888 RC brand new for less than $400 shipped...
    My bad. I hope you can forgive me.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1SandMan
    TandemNut, thanks for the reply. You've raised the issues I was looking for -- hadn't considered what a long travel fork would do to the front end geometry and standover height. We're not going to be bouncing off boulders downhill with our hair fire, and with the 888's 170mm of travel, that is definitely overkill when you factor in the geometry changes and weight.
    The ATC and White are out of my price range at this point, but I'm in no hurry to get it finished, and can stand to wait for a little while to find a strong shorter travel shock that is more inline with a standard height front end.
    Thanks again for the reply ... it was an eye opener.
    I'm not ready to part with my ATC fork...

  20. #20
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    Of course! Hadn't found that site in my travels, and even without the discount, the prices in general are very good.

  21. #21
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemNut
    On 888's, Boxxer's etc:
    What you've got to be careful of with most off-the-shelf forks is the spring weight, and crown-to-axle length of the fork, and what that will do to the tandem's handling and standover. Most DH or FR forks now are a minimum of 150mm travel, and usually more. Tandem frames such as Ventana, Ellsworth, Fandango are set up for forks in the 18-20" C2A length, which usually equates to a 100 - 125mm travel fork.

    The three areas on off-road tandems that I wouldn't take chances with are fork, brakes, and wheels. It's not worth the potential damage to save a few dollars or ounces...
    Good luck. If we can help, give us a call.
    Cannondale- at one time- Were fitting the Boxer to their MT Tandems. Unfortunately- They only did it for a couple of years and I never got to ride one that had this fork fitted as standard. A standard Off the shelf Boxer is not suitable for a Tandem however. The spring rate is not strong enough and to adjust the sag on the fork- you have to fit spacers to take it up. So add a further lot of $$$$'s to the price to get it suitable.
    Have to agree completely about the Brakes and wheels aswell. Once you become more confident offroad- you become faster. And you start hitting the trail harder. Wheels do not last that long and I went over the top and got Full Downhill spec wheels. Hope Bigun hubs with Maveic EX729 rims. May be heavy but they are still intact after 4 years abuse. Same on the brakes- Hope Mono m4's with 200mm discs.

    An offroad Tandem may not be cheap- but The fun that can be had slaughtering the solos on all aspects of a ride-except uphills- is unbelievable.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  22. #22
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    Thanks to all for their replies. Looks like I'm going to end up going with an ATC T-5, tho I'm gonna have to wait a bit since that is about $250 more than I wanted to spend off the bat...

    Any Mtn Tandems in the Tampa Bay/West Central Florida area?

    Thanks again,
    Steve

  23. #23
    Junior Member TandemNut's Avatar
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    Post to Double Forte; I know there are several tandem teams in central Fla, and they ride a good bit too.
    http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/double_forte/

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    Slightly off topic --- Question to TandemNut / M1SandMan: Are XTR brakes (even with 203 mm discs) really up to the task? I have no issues with the DJ3 on my KHS - frame flexes before the fork does - but I have Mugura Gustavs mounted for binders. I get going way too fast, way too easy on fire roads and the extra insurance of the DH brakes is worth the weight pushing uphill.

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  25. #25
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I don't think the XTR's are tandem rated.

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