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How to know if you can add suspension to old frame?

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How to know if you can add suspension to old frame?

Old 07-31-22, 01:30 AM
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bikethis
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How to know if you can add suspension to old frame?

Hi there,

I have an old Raleigh Ogre Max and I'm wondering if it's possible to switch out the forks and give it front suspension? How do I go about figuring this out? I can't find much on Google.

The bike:


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Old 07-31-22, 04:35 AM
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First confirm what size headset/steer tube that frame has. It'll either be 1" or 1 1/8". If it's 1" it will be more difficult to find a suspension fork. You have a threaded headset now; most forks will have a threadless steerer so you'll need a new threadless headset, or find a threaded fork.

If it were me, I'd make sure I know what headset the frame takes, look for a fork that fits, and replace the headset with a threadless headset. Other obvious things: make sure steer tube is long enough for the frame, make sure new fork has canti bosses (and figure out some sort of hanger, if not switching to v-brakes).
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Old 07-31-22, 06:55 AM
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The subject bike looks like it has a 1" threaded steerer. It will definitely be difficult to find a suspension fork with a 1" steerer. In addition to the other good advice from tFUnK above, also know that a suspension fork will raise the head tube area of the bike up by a few inches. In the world of ergonomics and geometry, even just a few centimeters can make a big difference, and a suspension fork would be a pretty large change to the bike. The head tube angle will slacken, and you'll want to find a suspension fork that has an offset that will more or less maintain the current front wheel trail so bike handling isn't changed too much. This will also raise the top tube (watch standover clearance!) and will raise the bottom bracket area as well.

I'd personally recommend against it...and instead look for a used bike that has a suspension fork from the factory. Back in the day, when mountain bikes were first transitioning from fully rigid to having a front suspension fork, the frame geometries were often revised and both "versions" sold along side each other. Take the Trek 800 series as an example. You could buy an 830 or an 830 SHX (which had the front suspension fork). The geometry of the diamond of the frame was different between the two bikes to account for the front fork on the SHX.
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Old 07-31-22, 07:31 AM
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Just noting that if the saddle height is correct for the current owner the bike is probably much too big. A suspension fork will make things worse
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Old 07-31-22, 07:40 AM
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As others have said, your only option is if the steerer is 1-1/8”. If it is, then you can convert your front brakes to disc and run an inexpensive SR Suntour or maybe a Rockshox.

I still ride a 26er with a 1” steerer and a Marzocchi Bomber fork. I also have a Trek 970.

Don’t worry about geometry, the shortest travel you get is an 80mm fork, and that might be tough to find these days.

John

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Old 07-31-22, 10:59 AM
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I wouldn't invest money into that bike, fit is part of it but the parts on it are not anything great and not worth much unless maybe sentimental value but that can only go so far. Find a bike that fits you and fits your wants and needs and don't worry about the old bike.
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Old 07-31-22, 11:04 AM
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Suspensions are energy sapping and add weight. I advise against them in general unless you actually do the type of riding that would benefit.
If you want a bit softer ride, consider larger tires at a lower pressure.
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Old 07-31-22, 06:37 PM
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If you want a bit softer ride, consider larger tires at a lower pressure.
Hahahahahaha I love BeikForums! Only here do we automatically suggest bigger tires for a bike that’s already got 1.95s on it.
(Although, TBH, you’ve probably got your tire pressure too high; 40 psi should be plenty on the road, 25-30 for trails, depending on rider weight)

bikethis I'd hold off on sinking a whole bunch of money into that particular bike; what you’ve got is an upright/cruiser dressed as an MTB.
there are still some 1” threaded suspension forks that could fit that bike, they are among the cheapest versions you can find (so they’re heavy and don’t work very well)
Suspension forks are also taller than your existing fork, and that already looks like a pretty large frame so it might get awkward to ride.
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Old 07-31-22, 07:10 PM
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Getting a Schwalbe 2.35" Big Apple tires. The largest that will fit, meaning a 2.15 or 2.35" for the front. Used to have them on my Kona Humu and they were great.
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Old 07-31-22, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Suspensions are energy sapping and add weight. I advise against them in general unless you actually do the type of riding that would benefit.
If you want a bit softer ride, consider larger tires at a lower pressure.
Please explain how a suspension fork is 'energy sapping'. Yes, they add weight, no...they do not 'sap energy'. On the OP's bike it will definitely screw up the front end geometry. Any fork that will fit that bike and be remotely close to the geometry needed will be utter and complete garbage.
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Old 07-31-22, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
On the OP's bike it will definitely screw up the front end geometry. Any fork that will fit that bike and be remotely close to the geometry needed will be utter and complete garbage.
Not necessarily. Early 90’s mtb’s had steep angles, long stems, and narrow bars. Both of my old mtb’s are running 80mm travel forks. The 970 has a 71* head angle and spec’d for 63mm travel. The T-Max has a death defying 72* head angle and spec’d for a 49mm travel fork.

Shorten the stems a bit and wider bars and they are great, (at least for what they are), with a little more slack. I can’t even imagine riding any mtb with a 72* head angle.

John
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Old 07-31-22, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by hokiefyd View Post
I'd personally recommend against it...and instead look for a used bike that has a suspension fork from the factory.
Agreed, except that lots of beginners only THINK they want a suspension fork because their bike is uncomfortable and they think that's what they need, then they get a bike with a suspension fork and don't like it either.

Proper fit and appropriate tires with appropriate pressure is much more important.
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Old 08-01-22, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Not necessarily. Early 90’s mtb’s had steep angles, long stems, and narrow bars. Both of my old mtb’s are running 80mm travel forks. The 970 has a 71* head angle and spec’d for 63mm travel. The T-Max has a death defying 72* head angle and spec’d for a 49mm travel fork.
Early-mid 90’s still have a couple kinds of MTBs, 72* NORBA-pattern “XC” bikes and (generally less expensive model) 68*-70* Marin-style ATBs.
The OP’s bike, with the extra long chain stays, tall head tube and upright stem, is definitely one of the latter.


‘90s XC racing was also less technical than today, and favored bikes that were good climbers and fast on the flats, that’s why you see that aggressive geometry on NORBA era bikes
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Old 08-01-22, 06:48 PM
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OK... Ya gotta find a 1" to 1 1/8" Suspension Fork. Then graft it in for your use. Sure there are going ta be problems but if ya got the money and Didily Gizmology it can be done... fun, Fun, FUN

Come On Guys... We can do Anything!!!

Lately I get just as much enjoyment from tinkering around on my bikes as ridding them... Ha
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Old 08-01-22, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval View Post
OK... Ya gotta find a 1" to 1 1/8" Suspension Fork. Then graft it in for your use. Sure there are going ta be problems but if ya got the money and Didily Gizmology it can be done... fun, Fun, FUN

Come On Guys... We can do Anything!!!

Lately I get just as much enjoyment from tinkering around on my bikes as ridding them... Ha
Totally with you on the tinkering aspect of it, but we gotta be responsible when recommending a newbie to take a flyer at something that has a low chance of success / satisfactory outcome.

Worst case scenario, they believe they’ve discovered something, and run wild-eyed down the correlation-is-causation rabbit hole. Now you’ve created another Moisture or TimTak, and now we have to fight a battle against a campaign of well-intentioned but wholly mis-informed zealotry every time someone comes seeking answers to a legitimate question.


Or is that your evil plan, all along………
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Old 08-01-22, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
...run wild-eyed down the correlation-is-causation rabbit hole.
Certainly not intended. And I must admit getting stuck in a few Rabbit Holes prior to finding this forum... Ha
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Old 08-01-22, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
Totally with you on the tinkering aspect of it, but we gotta be responsible when recommending a newbie to take a flyer at something that has a low chance of success / satisfactory outcome.
Agreed. I'd only embark on this type of project if the frame was really special or had sentimental value.
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Old 08-02-22, 03:11 AM
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ebay for some very old suspension forks with the right steer tube.
I did this for my 1988 Specialized Rockhopper Comp.
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Old 08-03-22, 10:25 AM
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I ignorantly pursued this with my Rockhopper from 1997. IRRC they used the same frame for both suspension and rigid.
I found a M-Bomber with 100mm travel that was air suspension. Adjusting the pressure makes up for the difference. It was tricky but I found the sweet spot after putting my weight on the bike.

When I finished this up with the disk in 2011/12, I was up to about $200 for the fork and all the changes which included AVID brake levers, disk caliper, and front wheel (needed the hub for disk).

Love the disk performance and you don't need one in back.

PA160495w , on Flickr

RockHopper_ Sprung_2012_018 on Flickr

It added a pound to the weight and did not impact commute times. I set it up so only 15min is needed to swap. The key is using a head set that has spare parts available such as an extra crown race for the second fork.
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Old 08-04-22, 05:04 AM
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I'd suggest a suspension seatpost (eg, "ThudBuster"), except it looks like there's no room for one as noted by alcjphil! (Look into proper leg extension.)
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