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Rigid Fork worth it over suspension fork?

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Rigid Fork worth it over suspension fork?

Old 09-08-10, 11:02 AM
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Rigid Fork worth it over suspension fork?

My current beater hardtail has a suspension fork. I recently came across an opportunity to pick up a cheap CrMo rigid fork. Just wondering if it is worth to switch. My route is mostly paved and unpaved (crushed gravel) MUPs.
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Old 09-08-10, 12:04 PM
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It probably is. Cheap suspension forks are heavy and bouncy.
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Old 09-08-10, 12:13 PM
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Yeah, it'll be faster and you won't miss the suspension. You can even go mtb'ing w/ a fully rigid setup.
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Old 09-08-10, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by envane
It probably is. Cheap suspension forks are heavy and bouncy.
+1 Did the switch a few years back(by info gleaned from these very forums...) and was impressed w/how much difference it made in handling and speed.
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Old 09-08-10, 12:29 PM
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Make sure the fork has somewhat close to the same axle to crown race dimension as your sproingy fork does when you're sitting on the bike. Some rigid forks are too short to swap in without drastically changing the steering geometry and greatly increasing pedal strike incidence. I countered this on one bike by running a big 2.1" tire up front, little 1.5" in back, however.
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Old 09-08-10, 12:37 PM
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+2 Make the switch. I got a Chro-Mo fork a couple months ago to replace my cheap suspension fork. Quite happy with the change. The ride quality is much nicer, and I notice more smooth and direct power transfer especially when climbing (no more suspension bobbing up and down...)

Only problem is... the fork I got was a Surly Cross Check fork that I got cheap from a friend of a friend. That nice fork is on my Schwinn hybrid from Tar-zhée, so I take a little ribbing from my friend sometime for having such a good fork on a cheap frame...

Lester makes a good point on the height issue. I can't find the link now, but there are some good guides on measuring to adjust for the suspension travel. If I remember to find the link I have at home, I'll post it here this evening.
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Old 09-08-10, 02:20 PM
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Does it require any special tool to perform the swap?
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Old 09-08-10, 02:25 PM
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That depends. Threaded or Threadless?

For most threaded headsets, you'll need a headset wrench of the appropriate size and a big ol' crescent to properly adjust the bearings.
For threadless, if your new fork doesn't have a starfangled nut or similar device in it, they do make tools for inserting starfangled nuts. Not sure how crucial they are. When I buy threadless headsets, I just get ones with "similar devices" so I don't have to worry about it.

They also make special tools for installing crown races, but I've gotten by with careful use of a screwdriver and hammer. Pipe with the proper ID and hammer would probably be better.

All other tools are pretty standard allen wrenches, etc. hacksaw/pipecutter if cutting needed.

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 09-08-10 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 09-08-10, 02:26 PM
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Make sure the fork is compatiable with your bike's present headset/frame and brakes. If you're not experienced, it can get messy.

Post a picture of your present fork and handlebars, what kind of bike is it?

What kind of rigid fork is it?
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Old 09-08-10, 02:31 PM
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^ good point.

Fork checklist:

1. same diameter steerer
2. threaded / threadless - must match headset
3. same brake mounts
4. long enough steerer tube, and for threaded, enough of a threaded area if you're going to cut fork down.
5. approximate axle to crown race dimension, or deal with possibly wack steering and increased pedal strike OR compensate with differing front/rear tire sizes.

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 09-08-10 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 09-08-10, 03:29 PM
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Just do it. It's worth it. Especially if most of your riding is on the roads/mup's. Personally I have no problem riding a rigid fork even on some technical singletrack trails.
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Old 09-08-10, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets
^ good point.

Fork checklist:

1. same diameter steerer
2. threaded / threadless - must match headset
3. same brake mounts
4. long enough steerer tube, and for threaded, enough of a threaded area if you're going to cut fork down.
Don't forget same or similar axle to crown dimension on fork.

OP, search the forums, tons of info on this.
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Old 09-08-10, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by slcbob
Don't forget same or similar axle to crown dimension on fork.
Oh, yeah, spent a whole post talking about it, better put it on the checklist.
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Old 09-08-10, 05:38 PM
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thanks for the tips guys! I'll try and determine the specs of the rigid fork. My current sproingy fork is Suntour SR M3010.

https://www.srsuntour-cycling.com/SID...detail&tnid=92

I thought the steerer tube diameter is standard. Yes this is for thread-less headset.
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Old 09-08-10, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by wunderkind
I thought the steerer tube diameter is standard. Yes this is for thread-less headset.
Naa, 1" and 1 1/8" are pretty much the two standards. Now they're even trying to change that on some of the latest bikes where the bottom is 1 1/4" and the top 1 1/8" so it takes a bigger crown race but still stays with a standard stem.
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Old 09-09-10, 10:44 AM
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Going rigid is the cheapest way to drop bike weight by a couple pounds. The bike will handle better and climbing out of the saddle will no longer result in needlessly compressing the fork, wasting your effort in moving the bike forward.
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Old 09-10-10, 02:03 PM
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Look for a fork that's billed as "suspension corrected" (Nashbar sells one but I am sure there are others out there) and all will be well with the world.

Originally Posted by jyossarian
...You can even go mtb'ing w/ a fully rigid setup.
Boy, talk about making someone feel old! Having been around for the dawning of the mountain bike age, I sometimes forget that there are folks who've only known suspension. Two years ago, after a frustrating experience with having to bleed the brakes about 5 times, I jettisoned my full suspension, disc braked, 9-speed super bike and built up a rigid steel frame with v-brakes and antique XT thumb 8-speed shifters. Yeah, it's slower but at my age who can notice!
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Old 09-10-10, 04:49 PM
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But, be careful - one thing that no one is telling you, is that by going to rigid fork, you considerably increase strain on your arms from bumps and potholes in the road. Also, descending at speed is much more reliant on your good technique as a rider, if you're doing gravel or bad roads. Every thing has two sides, so far I've gone from rigid to suspended because my arms and hands couldn't handle it anymore. Yes, it does suck up energy up to a point, but the trade off is that now I can ride without much pain. To me, it's more then worth it, rigid fork is simply too harsh for my riding style, roads, and weight. And if I need a rigid fork, a turn of the lockout knob does the same thing. I sometimes activate the lockout when climbing long steep climb where I ain't going fast. It helps some, but would I go back to the rigid fork only because of the climbing ability? No way. This can do all I need, and do it without over stressing me, which counts as fewer overuse injuries over time, because I pile miles on all the time.
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Old 09-10-10, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by whitecat
But, be careful - one thing that no one is telling you, is that by going to rigid fork, you considerably increase strain on your arms from bumps and potholes in the road.
If this were true, no one would be riding bikes with rigid forks (road bikes and non-suspension hybrids), which in my estimation are at least 75% of the commuting bikes out there. If you are overweight and put too much weight on your hands and wrists you may feel the larger bumps more with a rigid fork and develop pain or injury, but this is not an issue for most reasonably fit riders. Under typical commuting conditions on roads and MUPs, the suspension actually does not move much, if at all, except when climbing out of the saddle, which is when you really don't want it to move.

I ride a carbon fiber road bike and commute on an aluminum mountain bike with a rigid steel fork, and there is not much difference in ride comfort on the same roads and MUPs. It most definitely has not increased the strain on my arms, wrists or hands. I changed to a rigid fork last winter, and hung onto the suspension fork for a couple months, but trashed it when I decided there was no going back. BTW, I put in 150 miles a week at max tire pressure.
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Old 09-10-10, 08:16 PM
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I keep a cheap rigid and a 10 year old decent-at-the-time air sprung suspension fork, and I just swap them whenever I get bored. I'm riding the suspension fork now, and I'm loving the smoother ride. In a few months I might want my fenders sitting tighter against my wheel, and I'll switch back. There are plenty of reasons for either, so have the most fun and keep both.
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Old 09-11-10, 03:57 AM
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^ Just_Ryan -- I assume you have a 2nd crown race for your headset so you are not changing those over each time from fork to fork? Swapping forks is super easy EXCEPT for removing and reinstalling the crown race (and maybe changing the brake cable if you're unlucky and need a longer/shorter one). Without the right (and expensive) tools, I'd be a little worried about doing it regularly because the extra help that is usually needed does take a toll on a semi-precision part.
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Old 09-11-10, 04:12 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s
If this were true, no one would be riding bikes with rigid forks (road bikes and non-suspension hybrids), which in my estimation are at least 75% of the commuting bikes out there. If you are overweight and put too much weight on your hands and wrists you may feel the larger bumps more with a rigid fork and develop pain or injury, but this is not an issue for most reasonably fit riders. Under typical commuting conditions on roads and MUPs, the suspension actually does not move much, if at all, except when climbing out of the saddle, which is when you really don't want it to move.

I ride a carbon fiber road bike and commute on an aluminum mountain bike with a rigid steel fork, and there is not much difference in ride comfort on the same roads and MUPs. It most definitely has not increased the strain on my arms, wrists or hands. I changed to a rigid fork last winter, and hung onto the suspension fork for a couple months, but trashed it when I decided there was no going back. BTW, I put in 150 miles a week at max tire pressure.
As I said, it is true for my conditions of riding. I don't know what your roads are like, what is your weight, your fitness, or your bumps and potholes tolerance level. You are right most commuting bikes have rigid forks, but I don't see them all too often riding hard around potholed roads. I tend to ride hard, and keep up with the traffic as much as I can, over potholes, grates, cracked road, bumps etc. There is no time to evade all of that while being boxed in between cars and trucks. I had a few situations earlier when I was rigid rigid forks that some bumps almost whacked me out of balance so far as to fall, and now with a proper quality suspension fork, I can confidently go over all of that with some slight shaking, nothing more. From what I can see - most of the people riding rigid forks do so: - on a much better terrain then me, better roads and all, -weight considerably less, -and do not hold 15 mph average with regular cruising speed of about 23 mph on flat, over hilly terrain with badly broken surface. So considering everything, I definitively cannot agree with your "one-size-fits-all" approach to forks.
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Old 09-11-10, 09:33 AM
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^ Relax a little when going over potholes or cracks. Most if not all XC pro riders will recommend that you bend your arm a bit as to not have it stiffen up so that your arm joints have some movement when being jolted.
I ride my road bike over unpaved MUPs encountering such things. Always worked very well. Last thing you want is resting all a significant portion of your weight on the handlebar and stiffen up your arm making it rigid. Saddle position is important.

Alas, suspension or rigid forks is really a choice. For me, I feel I can live without the suspension bits. My 26x1.5" tires probably do most of the shock absorption anyway.
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Old 09-11-10, 12:19 PM
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I have two bikes that I've commuted on in the last couple weeks. One is an old steel mountain bike with a rigid steel fork. The other is an new aluminum mountain bike with a plush suspension fork. I like the ride of both, but do prefer the bike with the rigid fork, just because my commute has some wicked hills. If it weren't for the hills, I'll probably use the bike with the suspension fork, just because the ride is smoother over potholes and such.
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Old 09-11-10, 09:53 PM
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Surly 1x1 or Instigator front fork for the win. The 1x1 is about perfect if you're a bigger guy and compress the suspension when sitting, the Instigator is a dead match dimensionally to your Suntour fork at rest. I did the same replacement you're pondering on a Gary Fisher and loved it I went with the Instigator fork since my Suntour had no give to it at all.
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