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  1. #1
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    Front suspension

    Conventional wisdom calls for a rigid front fork, but I hear occaisonal accounts of front suspension being beneficial on tour. I'd be interested in hearing in personal experiences with specific kinds of shocks.
    I'm curious how the head shox compare with longer travel shocks.

  2. #2
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    There really isn't that much difference between touring bikes and any other bikes on this issue, except that touring bikes when loaded are slower, so less shock generally, and if they have front panniers, those can damp out a lot vibe etc...

    If you consider normal front end shocks, those basically work best when the shocks are able to move in line with loads applied to them, otherwise they are passive. So if you think of a dowhnill racing MTB the shocks can deflect significantly and do a lot of good. In the case of riding globably smooth, but rough roads, like HWYs with broken surfaces, shocks will do some good but really aren't worth the overall weight and loss of clean power transfer. Tires are actually quite good at dealing with micro bumps, because they will deform over them where the loads or angles of the loads may not really get the shocks working that well. When I got back into touring after an accident, I had so many aches and pains I figured that I would need to use at least a high performance seat post shock, and stem shock, but in the end the normal stuff like wheels and proper gloves proved sufficient.

    I do have a fully suspended touring bike, so I have experienced the effects I am refering to.

  3. #3
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    I toured for quite a while on a MTB with front suspension but I usually kept the front fork in Lock-out mode so it had very little travel. I then changed out the fork to a rigid fork, saved over 3 lbs of weight and really haven't noticed that much of a difference in comfort even on crushed limestone rails to trails. YMMV

  4. #4
    Senior Member slowjoe66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robow View Post
    I toured for quite a while on a MTB with front suspension but I usually kept the front fork in Lock-out mode so it had very little travel. I then changed out the fork to a rigid fork, saved over 3 lbs of weight and really haven't noticed that much of a difference in comfort even on crushed limestone rails to trails. YMMV

    Same with me. I changed out my front suspension shock on the hybrid I use for an all purpose bike and saved 3-4 pounds. I would suggest to you that you get all the suspension that you would ordinarily need on tour from having fattish tires, as in 35-38 mm wide. That's what I run and I really just don't need the suspension. Now if I was rolling 28's or something and spending 6 or more hours in the saddle and didn't have any relief, I probably wouldn't do as much touring.
    I don't have a solution but I admire the problem!

  5. #5
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    I have toured with a cheap fork (RST) on an MTB converted for the role. It carried front panniers thanks to some U-bolts that I jemmied up to work.

    Peterpan is right about not needing suspension for touring if the rest of your bike is reasonably well thought out.

    Having said that, lock-out, minimal travel (85mm seems to be the normal minimum these days) and good engineering are critical to having something that works long term. I have just opted for the German-made Magura Odur which seems to have positive reviews just about everywhere I look in terms of touring; it's to be fitted to an MTB for MTB cross-country and Audax event duty. it does seem to me to be a well-assembled, relatively light suspension fork that relies on a spring for it spring as opposed to air.

    It's worth remembering that a suspension fork with air and/or oil as its main operating components has to have seals, and they are the most vulnerable parts in terms of wear and tear.

    Check also the possibilities of servicing with whatever fork you choose, if you go that route. IIRC, some well-known brands just say: If it's broke, we don't care... buy a new one. Whereas others have service kits that you can buy.

    As to the headshox question... can't tell you. Are you referring specifically to the Cannondale type?

    There were flexible stems with an elastopolymer insert to reduce road shock transfer. A friend had one, and it was OK, but it had more to do with inadequate bike fit than anything else.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  6. #6
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    I've noticed that most people recommend a suspension fork for off-road tours like the Great Divide, but not for road tours or expeditions. I like to ride off road as often as possible while on tour, so I think it would be really nice to have at times, but not a necessity.

    While I agree the standard, dual piston, heavy fork is overkill, I've looked at some of the light weight forks:
    1. the Headshox from Cannondale, but you can only use one with a C-Dale bike.
    2. the Actiontec fork, with suspension in the head tube, but has no lock-out so forget it.
    3. then in one thread someone mentioned this: http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l3...mini_stahl.jpg

    what I like about it, it weighs a lot less than a heavy dual piston fork, and the suspension is replaceable if it breaks.or I think one could carry a steel rod to put in it's place, so you could keep on riding. But it's expensive and only available in Europe, so I might look for one to try the next time I'm there.

  7. #7
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    The Magura Odur looks good. I assume it is only for use with a 26" wheel ?

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    When I purchased my all-purpose Jamis Coda, the first thing I did was install a Girvin FlexStem, which turned out to be one of my wisest purchases ever. It has a small elastomer bushing the size of a quarter that squishes when you roll over bumpy roads. It feels absolutely wonderful because it's very stiff over smooth roads, but flexes on bumpy ones. The only problems?

    1) They're not made any more.
    2) Elastomers are hard to find, although some folks have said that skateboard elastomers will work.
    3) When going over BIG bumps, the handlebars flex up and down TOO much, thus sacrificing a bit of stability/safety.

    Other than that, I wish Girvin was still in business.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bokes View Post
    I like to ride off road as often as possible while on tour, so I think it would be really nice to have at times, but not a necessity.
    All of my tours have been done on 23 mm, 25 mm, 28 mm and 32 mm tires, and were planned for paved roads. Yet on almost every tour, I have found myself spending significant time on rough and nasty roads. There are a lot of bad roads out there! On one trip I took a very hilly logging road to avoid mountain pass traffic, and on another the only available route was a 20 km stretch of switchbacking cobblestones (with no guardrails to speak of to prevent a fall).

    A little suspension would have been nice in these situations, but in each case I was fine without.

    The bottom line is that no bicycle is ideal for all riding conditions. If my goal was to be "off road as often as possible while on tour, " I would want my touring bicycle to have some of the characteristics of a mountain bicycle, which would likely include suspension.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1-track-mind View Post
    The Magura Odur looks good. I assume it is only for use with a 26" wheel ?
    Well... bear in mind that if you use disc brakes on the front, you can use 26" or 700C RIMS. I've just slotted a 700c rim and deflated tyre into the Odur dropouts and there is clearance under the bridge. But it's only a 25C tyre, and if you went to say 40C, I would say there likely would be clearance issues because of the extra diameter. If you go cantilever or V brakes, then yes, only 26".
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  11. #11
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    We at tout terrain have designed a special touring fork with an integrated pannier system. the hole design is based on a proven Maverick fork and Arkel panniers. The hole idea is, to bring a premium suspension to the touring bikes and have the masses (panniers) suspended. That results is great comfort and handling at the same time. If you are interested have a look at the website http://www.tout-terrain.de/cms/front....php?idcat=139 ! Best Oliver

  12. #12
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    Don't know about you folks, but that link takes me to a German website and requires me to sign up to use it.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theranman View Post
    Don't know about you folks, but that link takes me to a German website and requires me to sign up to use it.
    Try this.

    Or try changing the language (look at the flags up top -- one of them changes it to English. I'll let you guess which one) and clicking Products in the navigation bar, then forks in the left menu, then the touring fork.

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