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Drawbacks to front fork shocks

Old 04-24-21, 02:31 PM
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Connguy1956
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Drawbacks to front fork shocks

Is it true that front shocks work against you? By this I mean when you are really bearing down, pedaling hard is some of the energy put forth taken away by the compression of the shocks?
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Old 04-24-21, 02:44 PM
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Yes. It is true.
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Old 04-24-21, 02:51 PM
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Yes, they suck away some pedalling energy. That's why some can be locked-out or adjusted while riding, so that inefficiency can be reduced when you don't need the suspension.
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Old 04-24-21, 02:56 PM
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I believe that this is true which is why the road racers are always looking for the most rigid frame possible so that all of their pedaling energy goes into moving them forward. However, I don't know how significant or marginal that loss of energy is.

I'm not opposed to suspension (either front or rear) and I believe it has its place in cycling but I believe that there are many (maybe even most) cyclists who purchase suspension when they don't actually need it. I think that the terrain needs to be pretty rough and/or technical to warrant suspension. IMO there are 2 other disadvantages to suspension that are more significant than the loss in energy:
  1. Cost. These days it seems like a suspension for of reasonable quality is going to cost at least $800 and maybe even more. So if you factor that into the cost of a complete bicycle, you're going to shell out quite a bit for your bike.
  2. Maintenance. This is one of the reasons why I got rid of my full suspension mountain bike and now ride a rigid frame. It seemed like I was getting my suspension serviced at least once per year and sometimes more. The bike shops in my area are all always backed up at least 3 weeks and sometimes even longer. So if I had to get my suspension serviced twice a year, my bike would be sitting idle at the shop for a total of 6 to 8 weeks. This was a bitter pill to swallow for a bike that cost me $2,600 back in 2011.
Obviously just my opinion but after having owned both a full suspension mountain bike and a rigid frame mountain bike, I prefer the lower cost and lower maintenance of my rigid frame. Again, I'm not against suspension and if you already have a bike with suspension, you should keep riding it but I just think that suspension is over-sold by the bike industry.
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Old 04-24-21, 03:00 PM
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For paved (and unpaved) road bike riding, I've tried a Lauf fork, lock-out XC shocks, whatever it is that Canondale called their headshock, and a few other options. The only one I can recommend is Redshift's StopShox stem (and seatpost). They do the right thing, and without a huge weight penalty.

For more technical mountain biking, shocks can really help, and full-suspension can help with handling, not just protecting your rear end and back. (Standing up on the pedals on a hard-tail or road-bike going over bumps can significantly reduce their impact.)

Last edited by Cyclist0108; 04-24-21 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 04-24-21, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by fettsvenska View Post
I believe that this is true which is why the road racers are always looking for the most rigid frame possible so that all of their pedaling energy goes into moving them forward. However, I don't know how significant or marginal that loss of energy is.

I'm not opposed to suspension (either front or rear) and I believe it has its place in cycling but I believe that there are many (maybe even most) cyclists who purchase suspension when they don't actually need it. I think that the terrain needs to be pretty rough and/or technical to warrant suspension. IMO there are 2 other disadvantages to suspension that are more significant than the loss in energy:
  1. Cost. These days it seems like a suspension for of reasonable quality is going to cost at least $800 and maybe even more. So if you factor that into the cost of a complete bicycle, you're going to shell out quite a bit for your bike.
  2. Maintenance. This is one of the reasons why I got rid of my full suspension mountain bike and now ride a rigid frame. It seemed like I was getting my suspension serviced at least once per year and sometimes more. The bike shops in my area are all always backed up at least 3 weeks and sometimes even longer. So if I had to get my suspension serviced twice a year, my bike would be sitting idle at the shop for a total of 6 to 8 weeks. This was a bitter pill to swallow for a bike that cost me $2,600 back in 2011.
Obviously just my opinion but after having owned both a full suspension mountain bike and a rigid frame mountain bike, I prefer the lower cost and lower maintenance of my rigid frame. Again, I'm not against suspension and if you already have a bike with suspension, you should keep riding it but I just think that suspension is over-sold by the bike industry.
We have these things called 'appointments'...you should have asked your shop about them. We make every effort to never have a customer's bike in the shop for more than a day or 2.
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Old 04-24-21, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
We have these things called 'appointments'...you should have asked your shop about them. We make every effort to never have a customer's bike in the shop for more than a day or 2.
That's great that your shop has appointments, but I've been to several different shops in the different locations where I've lived (Oregon, Washington, Minnesota) to have my bikes serviced and an appointment has never been suggested or offered as an option, not even a single time. Also, while the availability of appointments may reduce the inconvenience of maintenance it doesn't reduce the need or additional cost. Then to have a forum member such as yourself respond with "We have these things called 'appointments'..." feels somewhat condescending and gives me even more incentive to reduce the need for maintenance.
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Old 04-24-21, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by fettsvenska View Post
I believe that this is true which is why the road racers are always looking for the most rigid frame possible so that all of their pedaling energy goes into moving them forward. However, I don't know how significant or marginal that loss of energy is.

I'm not opposed to suspension (either front or rear) and I believe it has its place in cycling but I believe that there are many (maybe even most) cyclists who purchase suspension when they don't actually need it. I think that the terrain needs to be pretty rough and/or technical to warrant suspension. IMO there are 2 other disadvantages to suspension that are more significant than the loss in energy:
  1. Cost. These days it seems like a suspension for of reasonable quality is going to cost at least $800 and maybe even more. So if you factor that into the cost of a complete bicycle, you're going to shell out quite a bit for your bike.
  2. Maintenance. This is one of the reasons why I got rid of my full suspension mountain bike and now ride a rigid frame. It seemed like I was getting my suspension serviced at least once per year and sometimes more. The bike shops in my area are all always backed up at least 3 weeks and sometimes even longer. So if I had to get my suspension serviced twice a year, my bike would be sitting idle at the shop for a total of 6 to 8 weeks. This was a bitter pill to swallow for a bike that cost me $2,600 back in 2011.
Obviously just my opinion but after having owned both a full suspension mountain bike and a rigid frame mountain bike, I prefer the lower cost and lower maintenance of my rigid frame. Again, I'm not against suspension and if you already have a bike with suspension, you should keep riding it but I just think that suspension is over-sold by the bike industry.
Very well said!
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Old 04-24-21, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Connguy1956 View Post
Is it true that front shocks work against you? By this I mean when you are really bearing down, pedaling hard is some of the energy put forth taken away by the compression of the shocks?
Yes, you can lose some energy to the fork bobbing if you are hammering out of the saddle, or otherwise have some uneven pedaling technique. (if you do not have the fork locked out).

But for actual mountain biking, the benefits (including being faster overall) far outweigh that drawback in most situations.

For pavement and gravel.... that's a different calculation.

It would help if you said what sort of riding and bike you are talking about to get a more meaningful answer.

Last edited by Kapusta; 04-24-21 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 04-24-21, 06:17 PM
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No.

John
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Old 04-24-21, 07:37 PM
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Thanks for the input from everyone.
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Old 04-24-21, 07:44 PM
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I have them but keep them locked out most of the time. I got my bike used for a deal and when I get another/new bike I'll go with carbon forks for my riding purposes and save the weight.
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Old 04-24-21, 08:08 PM
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The only form of cycling that would benefit from suspension is downhill mountain biking...You don't need suspension unless you're doing extreme downhill mountain biking.
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Old 04-24-21, 08:09 PM
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It is known.
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Old 04-24-21, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
The only form of cycling that would benefit from suspension is downhill mountain biking...You don't need suspension unless you're doing extreme downhill mountain biking.
That's your opinion, and not one shared by very many mountain bike riders.
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Old 04-25-21, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
The only form of cycling that would benefit from suspension is downhill mountain biking...You don't need suspension unless you're doing extreme downhill mountain biking.
Go watch a pro XC MTB race (a far cry from “extreme DH”) and tell me how many are not running front suspension.
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Old 04-25-21, 07:48 AM
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I don't think the lockout on your suspension fork is very strong.

It's mostly designed for cruising the road when the trail ends, usually at the start or end of the main ride. Hitting big bumps, catching air, and generally mountain biking will destroy that lockout. It might also damage other components in the process.

I ride a hardtail but a simple 120mm fork is an absolute game changer. I only ride cross country, in response to the goofball who thinks it's only for downhill.
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Old 04-25-21, 08:31 AM
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I don't do any serious off road stuff, mostly paved and hardpack FL trails. My Suntour SR NEX forks only have 63mm travel and aren't meant for serious offroad, just for some light trail duty and rough pavement. The lockout definitely handles that type of riding well when needed. Again, when I get another bike, I'll target one with carbon rigid forks for my riding purposes to save weight.
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Old 04-25-21, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by fettsvenska View Post
I believe that this is true which is why the road racers are always looking for the most rigid frame possible so that all of their pedaling energy goes into moving them forward. However, I don't know how significant or marginal that loss of energy is.

I'm not opposed to suspension (either front or rear) and I believe it has its place in cycling but I believe that there are many (maybe even most) cyclists who purchase suspension when they don't actually need it. I think that the terrain needs to be pretty rough and/or technical to warrant suspension. IMO there are 2 other disadvantages to suspension that are more significant than the loss in energy:
  1. Cost. These days it seems like a suspension for of reasonable quality is going to cost at least $800 and maybe even more. So if you factor that into the cost of a complete bicycle, you're going to shell out quite a bit for your bike.
  2. Maintenance. This is one of the reasons why I got rid of my full suspension mountain bike and now ride a rigid frame. It seemed like I was getting my suspension serviced at least once per year and sometimes more. The bike shops in my area are all always backed up at least 3 weeks and sometimes even longer. So if I had to get my suspension serviced twice a year, my bike would be sitting idle at the shop for a total of 6 to 8 weeks. This was a bitter pill to swallow for a bike that cost me $2,600 back in 2011.
Obviously just my opinion but after having owned both a full suspension mountain bike and a rigid frame mountain bike, I prefer the lower cost and lower maintenance of my rigid frame. Again, I'm not against suspension and if you already have a bike with suspension, you should keep riding it but I just think that suspension is over-sold by the bike industry.
Sounds like you have made an informed decision, and I totally respect that.

While I agree that cost and maintenance are in fact the two potential downsides, I would like to clarify those points a little.

Cost: HIGH END forks start around $800, but there are many good, reliable, user serviceable forks for $500 or less. And for a lot of riders out there that don’t spend time fine tuning their fork, or who are not pushing the forks really hard, they would likely not even notice the difference in performance.

Maintenance: very fair point IF you do not do it yourself. But almost all decent forks are user serviceable, at least for the 1-2 per year routine maintenance. Changing the oil in the lowers on most decent forks is very simple.

Its really only when you get to full rebuild time that you might need to send it off (once every 3-5 years, if ever). But for many shocks, this is also totally doable at home. All of the Rock Shox forks I own (2005 Pike, 2007 Reba, 2013 Lyrik) are fairly easy to completely rebuild to a like-new state for about $70 in parts. The only two specialized tools I need are the right sized snap ring pliers, and for some newer style flangeless wiper seals I bought a $40 press tool. For the flanged wipers you just need a large socket.

The only thing that would be pretty hard for most folks would be if they needed to replace bushings, but with even 1x per year lower oil changed, that will likely never need to happen.

All that said, that is still a lot more money and maintenance than a rigid fork. And while larger tires are NOT the same thing as suspension, They have reduced the need for suspension for some kinds of riding. I have a FS mtb and a rigid fat bike. And I will say that the near maintenance-free nature of the latter makes it my first choice in the mud and slop season.
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Old 04-25-21, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Connguy1956 View Post
Is it true that front shocks work against you? By this I mean when you are really bearing down, pedaling hard is some of the energy put forth taken away by the compression of the shocks?
If you're doing sprints on the road, then, yeah, there's no benefit to suspension. If you're climbing on a trail with rocks, roots, or otherwise uneven ground, then suspension can 'round off the corners' of obstacles like that, allowing you do direct more of your energy in to moving the bike forward, rather than up and down.
You shouldn't be 'bearing down' on the bars anyway, proper climbing / out-of-saddle technique, you pull up/back on the bars, the front wheel should be trying to come off the ground if you're really honking on it.

Plus, like how most people have their tire pressure too high, they also typically have the suspension set too soft.

Are you seeking confirmation of bias, or actual information? BikeForums is primarily a road bike group, and Dirty Heathens (tm) like me don't conform to their truth.

Last edited by Ironfish653; 04-25-21 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 04-25-21, 09:56 AM
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Unstable feeling at ~45mph

I converted a bike with front shocks to a rear hub drive ebike. When cruising a lot at 18-23mph, the shocks seem to take the edge off, and when on potholed gravel at 10 mph they definitely help. I'm running them at maximum pre-load, as I didn't like the handling at high speed downhill on pavement when I tried a mid-level setting. If not on a heavy-ish ebike, I'd prefer plain old carbon front forks.
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Old 04-25-21, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
Where do people get this kind of nonsense from?

Or did I just miss the joke and this is some kind of parody account?
Nope, for a lot of BikeForums, there are only three mountain bikes; full-jounce 29ers, department store Huffy's and the '85 Schwinn High Sierra. Suspension development started and ended with the Scott Unishock.
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Old 04-25-21, 06:06 PM
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I have a bike with them and no lockout provision. While the bike is comfortable for the most part, and the gearing would suggest it should climb easily, it kills me to go uphill because everything seems to get eaten up by these shocks.
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Old 04-25-21, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Sounds like you have made an informed decision, and I totally respect that.

While I agree that cost and maintenance are in fact the two potential downsides, I would like to clarify those points a little.

Cost: HIGH END forks start around $800, but there are many good, reliable, user serviceable forks for $500 or less. And for a lot of riders out there that don’t spend time fine tuning their fork, or who are not pushing the forks really hard, they would likely not even notice the difference in performance.

Maintenance: very fair point IF you do not do it yourself. But almost all decent forks are user serviceable, at least for the 1-2 per year routine maintenance. Changing the oil in the lowers on most decent forks is very simple.

Its really only when you get to full rebuild time that you might need to send it off (once every 3-5 years, if ever). But for many shocks, this is also totally doable at home. All of the Rock Shox forks I own (2005 Pike, 2007 Reba, 2013 Lyrik) are fairly easy to completely rebuild to a like-new state for about $70 in parts. The only two specialized tools I need are the right sized snap ring pliers, and for some newer style flangeless wiper seals I bought a $40 press tool. For the flanged wipers you just need a large socket.

The only thing that would be pretty hard for most folks would be if they needed to replace bushings, but with even 1x per year lower oil changed, that will likely never need to happen.

All that said, that is still a lot more money and maintenance than a rigid fork. And while larger tires are NOT the same thing as suspension, They have reduced the need for suspension for some kinds of riding. I have a FS mtb and a rigid fat bike. And I will say that the near maintenance-free nature of the latter makes it my first choice in the mud and slop season.
Valid points. And maybe what I'm trying to state is that for more sophisticated and informed cyclists, suspension could very well meet their wants and needs. As previously stated by a couple of other forum members, suspension isn't just for downhill riders and racers. On the other hand, I think that there are a lot of people who go off and buy a bike with suspension and then learn about the disadvantages the hard way. I frequently get the "What bike should I buy?" question from my family, friends, relatives, etc. and most of the time I steer them away from bikes with suspension (but not always). I do this not because I have anything against suspension but because after talking with them about the ways they intend to use a bicycle it would appear that the disadvantages would outweigh the advantages and most of the time no one has had the conversation with them about the disadvantages. Often this results in a forlorn look, like I just kicked a puppy and crushed their dreams of winning Red Bull Rampage. It just seems that suspension is over-hyped.
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Old 04-25-21, 08:29 PM
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I remember those long curved forks on the Motobecane Touring Bikes... Wow, what a comfortable bicycle.

I don't think I would want shocks on my touring bike.
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