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Old 06-01-11, 01:13 PM
cranky velocist
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If you love the woods and don't want to drive out to the trail, I think its safe to say the right fork/wheel combo hasn't been invented yet. I have high hopes for these new "dual sport" bikes trek is pushing.

Its weird to ride 16 miles out to a trail you've done before and have to walk the bike over the very most fun parts....but avoiding having to replace a front wheel twice in a year has taught me to be a better off-road rider even with my front suspension Cannondale. I used to just roll over things, now I'm aiming for 2 1/2 inch gaps and throwing my body weight to 'twist' the rear wheel into position.

The Gila Pro shock that came *stock* on my sub-$500 2007 Cannondale F7 will lock out almost all the way even when I lean over the bars though, so I'm increasingly convinced that off-road wheels, not suspension-bobbing, causes the most difficulty.

The on road difference between my f7 with 26" wheels and my wife's 700cc wheel Trek 7100 is night and day - but they both have front suspension.

My chromo-forked 7.2 FX is faster over a couple miles of soft trail than my mountain bike, too....

So I'd say beginning riders should base a fork decision on their comfort level and where they think they will ride, but I'd always try to convince them on bigger wheels to make up the difference - unless they'll be doing dedicated off roading.

I dream of the day I will be able to snap in a quick-release front suspension if and when I need it. Carry it in my panniers like an extra inner-tube or something.
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