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Old 01-20-09, 01:20 AM   #1
scottjb
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whats with the rigid forks?

so i had considered a while back (and with the prices of decent touring bikes am still considering it) turning my schwinn sidewinder mountain bike into a touring bike, but noticed that almost everyone that did these 'mountain bike' conversions had rigid forks in the front...is there a reason for everyone going with a rigid fork?
thanks
-scott
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Old 01-20-09, 01:58 AM   #2
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Weight, rack mounts, and the little bit of energy wasted from shock compression I believe.
Durability might play a role also.
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Old 01-20-09, 07:56 AM   #3
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For limited off-road use, a rigid fork with a wider, less-inflated front tire could be OK. For road use, a sus fork is not any more functional than a rigid one and has the drawbacks stated above.
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Old 01-20-09, 09:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by scottjb View Post
so i had considered a while back (and with the prices of decent touring bikes am still considering it) turning my schwinn sidewinder mountain bike into a touring bike, but noticed that almost everyone that did these 'mountain bike' conversions had rigid forks in the front...is there a reason for everyone going with a rigid fork?
thanks
-scott
If I'm going to tour off-road, I'll use a mountain bike with a suspension fork. One with a lock out, preferably. I'll also use a trailer.

On road, you just don't need that kind of suspension. Even a fork with a lock out bobs a little and is much heavier than rigid fork. Stand up on a suspension fork and you can blow through most of the travel with each pedal stroke. That's a lot of energy wasted.

Rigid forks are also better, as others have pointed out, for rack mounts and carrying bags on the front of the bike. I only use a trailer if I have to. I hate using them otherwise.
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Old 01-20-09, 12:44 PM   #5
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I have a touring bike. The hole the fork goes through is too small for a suspension fork. No option there!
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Old 01-20-09, 12:51 PM   #6
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For on-road use, why would anyone want a suspension fork?
Unless of course you want:
-extra weight
-complexity
-trouble with fitting a rack
-wasting your energy through fork travel
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Old 01-20-09, 02:47 PM   #7
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alright well thanks for all the info!
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Old 01-20-09, 02:53 PM   #8
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Biggest reasons I don't like suspension forks?

1. Added weight
2. Added complexity
3. Don't like the bobbing
4. None of the bikes that I use for touring came with one.

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Old 01-20-09, 03:43 PM   #9
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Hey scottjb. Did you give up on the cyclocross option(s)?
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Old 01-20-09, 04:25 PM   #10
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I did a tour using a mountain bike fitted with a Fox Float RLC 100mm fork. I didn't find it too bad on flat surfaces but I could see the fork bobbing during the uphills - even with the fork being locked out.

With that being said, I'll probably use this fork on my cross Canada tour this summer. I'm just too lazy to swap it out and the fork itself is very light.
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Old 01-20-09, 08:58 PM   #11
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and just to mix things up even more... over on crazyguyonabike.com, there are quite a few folks who tour offroad without ANY suspension.
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Old 01-20-09, 10:53 PM   #12
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We convert older mountain bikes from before the suspension era because they are built much like modern touring bikes, with beefy frames, slack geometry, and long chainstays. Modern hardtail mountain bikes are built with a more specialized niche in mind, that being XC racing, and they come with shorter chainstays, less durable frames, etc.. They aren't suitable for conversions, but as cyccommute noted, a modern hardtail with suspension fork and a bob trailer is a fine way to tour off the beaten path or any path.
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Old 01-21-09, 02:08 AM   #13
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Also I don't think anyone mentioned that suspension forks have more maintenance to them over the rigid and with time if not maintained properly lock up.
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Old 01-21-09, 02:17 AM   #14
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Who needs suspension when you can have monster tires?

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Old 01-22-09, 07:36 PM   #15
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Hey scottjb. Did you give up on the cyclocross option(s)?
well yes, BUT it is because i want to explore the world of touring and cyclocross bikes are WAY more expensive vs. an older touring bike
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Old 01-22-09, 07:39 PM   #16
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We convert older mountain bikes from before the suspension era because they are built much like modern touring bikes, with beefy frames, slack geometry, and long chainstays. Modern hardtail mountain bikes are built with a more specialized niche in mind, that being XC racing, and they come with shorter chainstays, less durable frames, etc.. They aren't suitable for conversions, but as cyccommute noted, a modern hardtail with suspension fork and a bob trailer is a fine way to tour off the beaten path or any path.
what about the smaller wheel size? i have heard that 26'' wheels slow you down quite a bit?
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Old 01-22-09, 08:18 PM   #17
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Maybe a tad slower, but then, it's not how fast you go, but what you see. Also, old rigid MTB's can be made to ride soft without the suspension. Just lower the tire pressure in front. Dropping from 80lbs to 50lbs really softens the ride.
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Old 01-22-09, 08:38 PM   #18
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We convert older mountain bikes from before the suspension era because they are built much like modern touring bikes, with beefy frames, slack geometry, and long chainstays. Modern hardtail mountain bikes are built with a more specialized niche in mind, that being XC racing, and they come with shorter chainstays, less durable frames, etc.. They aren't suitable for conversions, but as cyccommute noted, a modern hardtail with suspension fork and a bob trailer is a fine way to tour off the beaten path or any path.
+1 And you can get a high quality older rigid mountain bike cheap, real cheap.
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Old 01-23-09, 02:34 AM   #19
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alright so now you people have got me changing my mind on a bike again...it seems to me my best option for a bike that will meet all my needs is an old rigid fork mountain bike outfitted for touring
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Old 01-23-09, 10:04 AM   #20
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what about the smaller wheel size? i have heard that 26'' wheels slow you down quite a bit?
Mounted with knobby tires, yes. I'd use a knobby if I were doing a mountain bike tour but that's a different beast all together

A 1.5" smooth tread mountain bike tire really isn't much wider than a 37mm touring tire so they roll about the same. A 26" wheel is going to be geared slightly lower than a 700C tire but not by that much. And you can always change gearing.
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Old 01-23-09, 01:44 PM   #21
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Mounted with knobby tires, yes. I'd use a knobby if I were doing a mountain bike tour but that's a different beast all together

A 1.5" smooth tread mountain bike tire really isn't much wider than a 37mm touring tire so they roll about the same. A 26" wheel is going to be geared slightly lower than a 700C tire but not by that much. And you can always change gearing.
yea i see where you're coming from i think a mountain bike would be my best bet, have you ever brought knobby tires with you to trade off for trails? just a thought
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Old 01-23-09, 04:49 PM   #22
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yea i see where you're coming from i think a mountain bike would be my best bet, have you ever brought knobby tires with you to trade off for trails? just a thought
No. If I'm off road touring, I try to pick a route that is maximized for dirt. If I have to ride on pavement, a knobby pumped up to around 80 psi rolls pretty well. Buzzes a lot but it'll move down the road
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Old 01-24-09, 01:00 AM   #23
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No. If I'm off road touring, I try to pick a route that is maximized for dirt. If I have to ride on pavement, a knobby pumped up to around 80 psi rolls pretty well. Buzzes a lot but it'll move down the road
lol well just a thought...something i would do just because im the overprepared type
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Old 01-24-09, 02:27 AM   #24
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No. If I'm off road touring, I try to pick a route that is maximized for dirt. If I have to ride on pavement, a knobby pumped up to around 80 psi rolls pretty well. Buzzes a lot but it'll move down the road
Agreed. I use an old MTB for commuting fitted with 1.5" smooth tyres. I occasionally use another late-model MTB with a lock-out suspension fork fitted with 2.1" agressive knobbies. There is little perceived difference in speed, although the older bike has no computer.

The smooth tyres handle the 2 x 2km of rough gravel road on my commute OK, but the knobbies certainly are much plusher even with the suspension fork still locked.

Ultimately, if you intend to ride off-road, and are prepared to carry the load, and fuss with the changeover, a pair of folding MTB tyres in, say, 2" profile might give you the flexibility you are seeking. Otherwise, there are tyres available that have a smooth centre and knobbies on the outer edges that might compromise.
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Old 01-24-09, 06:50 PM   #25
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Ultimately, if you intend to ride off-road, and are prepared to carry the load, and fuss with the changeover, a pair of folding MTB tyres in, say, 2" profile might give you the flexibility you are seeking. Otherwise, there are tyres available that have a smooth centre and knobbies on the outer edges that might compromise.
There are also a number of semislick tires that would work well on hard pack surfaces. Their usefulness would depend on the area in which you are riding and what kind of conditions you might expect.
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