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Hybrid - Front Suspension Or Not?

Old 10-17-19, 07:34 AM
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1saxman
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Hybrid - Front Suspension Or Not?

The idea of the hybrid 'gravel-bike' type is beginning to make sense to me as a second bike to a vintage trek 930 Single Track for road and paved/easy trails. What do you think about having the front suspension? Is it worth the extra weight/expense/maintenance for my purpose? Of course the 930 doesn't have it and I don't feel like I need it on the 'medium'-difficulty trails I frequent. So, it is looking to me like the main reason to have it on the 'comfort' bike is to get that 'rake' in the geometry that raises the handlebar for a more rearward shift in body weight and more upright position.
The other wants on my list are 700C wheels with 32 to 40mm tires, disc brakes, indexed shifting, flat pedals, etc.
I'm currently shopping the $500 bikes but might be willing to go $750.
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Old 10-17-19, 08:57 AM
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Well, what’s your intended ride surface?
Unless seriously lumpy and bumpy, or a pre-existing medical condition making it reasonable, go for a rigid fork. There are other ways of getting that upright position that will cost less in weight and overall performance.
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Old 10-17-19, 09:31 AM
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In what ways does your 930 fall short? What are you trying to gain with the second bike?
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Old 10-17-19, 11:39 AM
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I have a few bikes with a suspension fork...an entry level hardtail MTB with a cheap Suntour XCT 80mm fork and a dual sport hybrid with a cheap Suntour NEX 63mm fork. All of my other bikes are fully rigid. I like the fork on the MTB, and I ride it on a lot of rooty trails where it helps. Frankly, it IS nice on gravel as well, because it does offer more damping and isolation. It doesn't help with "road buzz", though (on roads or most gravel surfaces), because the fork just has too much "stiction" -- that internal friction that needs to be overcome before the stanchions will move. To combat that sort of vibration, a fork without moving/sliding parts is really more effective -- a rigid fork with some compliance like a carbon fork or high quality chrome-molybdenum steel fork. And, of course, large volume tires are effective at that, too.

I go back and forth on the 63mm hybrid fork. Sometimes I like having it, and sometimes I ride with it locked and could do without the extra weight. A locked suspension fork is very uncomfortable, so the ride really suffers with it locked. I have some classic bikes with steel forks with a lot of rake/offset, and those are really comfortable to ride. In fact, I'm riding my old steel bikes more often than my newer ones lately. The rest of the frame, besides the fork, has a lot to do with ride quality and comfort, too, and I think steel is at least as comfortable as aluminum, at least with the bikes I have.
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Old 10-17-19, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
Well, what’s your intended ride surface?
Unless seriously lumpy and bumpy, or a pre-existing medical condition making it reasonable, go for a rigid fork. There are other ways of getting that upright position that will cost less in weight and overall performance.
I said 'road and paved trails'. Otherwise, good points. I have to admit I just like the idea of having it.
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Old 10-17-19, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by AU Tiger View Post
In what ways does your 930 fall short? What are you trying to gain with the second bike?
The 930 is in beautiful shape and although I've had it since around 2000, I never really rode it much. I had other bikes. Now, it is the only one so I had it overhauled but I wasn't riding during that time. I had the shop put on narrower tires because I was just going to ride it around the local streets. Then I went on my first trail ride and realized I needed the fat knobbies. Now its working great for trails (although in the shop to get the gears indexed) but I want a bike with different geometry for road. I could just use the Trek for road/paved/hard trail, but I would want the narrower tires. I like those soft Michelins on it now for dirt but I think they will wear fast on pavement plus take more energy. If I were to invest in a set of wheels and tires for it, not only would I be spending a significant portion of the cost of the second bike, I would have to do some work before changing where I was riding. Plus, it would still have the same geometry as opposed to a new bike made for exactly what I want to use it for.
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Old 10-17-19, 02:46 PM
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strictly paved rides? I'd think a rigid fork would be adequate & the suspension wouldn't be useful. rent one & see!

for the other issue: "geometry that raises the handlebar for a more rearward shift in body weight and more upright position" there must be a bike that offers that w/o the fork
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Old 10-17-19, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 1saxman View Post
for road and paved/easy trails. What do you think about having the front suspension? ... the 930 doesn't have it and I don't feel like I need it on the 'medium'-difficulty trails I frequent.
What type of trails are you referring to when you say medium-difficulty? Trails through rougher terrain and/or singletrack downhill?

I'm asking because it's a little unusual to want a front suspension for roads and easy trails but not for rougher trails. That's the reverse of what I would expect. For instance, I have a gravel bike (drop bar, rigid fork) for roads and easy trails, and a mountain bike (flat bar, front suspension) for trails that are bumpy with rougher terrain.
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Old 10-17-19, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by 1saxman View Post
The 930 is in beautiful shape and although I've had it since around 2000, I never really rode it much. I had other bikes. Now, it is the only one so I had it overhauled but I wasn't riding during that time. I had the shop put on narrower tires because I was just going to ride it around the local streets. Then I went on my first trail ride and realized I needed the fat knobbies. Now its working great for trails (although in the shop to get the gears indexed) but I want a bike with different geometry for road. I could just use the Trek for road/paved/hard trail, but I would want the narrower tires. I like those soft Michelins on it now for dirt but I think they will wear fast on pavement plus take more energy. If I were to invest in a set of wheels and tires for it, not only would I be spending a significant portion of the cost of the second bike, I would have to do some work before changing where I was riding. Plus, it would still have the same geometry as opposed to a new bike made for exactly what I want to use it for.
Yes, it definitely makes sense to have two different bikes in that situation... for both the tires and the geometry. In my opinion, though, if you're happy with a rigid fork on the trail bike, you would be happier with a rigid fork on the new bike also. I'm not in the "cheap suspensions are junk" camp, but I do think lighter is better unless you have a compelling reason to need a suspension fork. Like others have said, though, ride 'em and see what you like better.
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Old 10-17-19, 06:42 PM
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Op....leave the knobbies on the 930 and get a non-shock hybrid to save some weight & maintenance. The $$ saved (not buying a front shock) could be used to buy a better spec'd rigid.
Which one?......I'm still pushing the Jamis Coda Comp. Hard to beat the silky ride of a chrome-moly steel frame.
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Old 10-17-19, 08:03 PM
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I have a +/-2005 Gary Fisher Nirvana(700x35 tires) that came with a suspension fork. I ride mostly paved surfaces with an occasional hard pack path. I wasn't enjoying the bike but when I replaced the fork with a steel rigid Surly fork (I don't remember the model), it was like a new bike. I rode faster and the ride was smoother and took less effort. I probably reduced the bike weight by three pounds.
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Old 10-17-19, 10:43 PM
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I was in the same boat this last week and depending on your off-road needs, you can go with a quality rigid form and let your lowered pressure tires and proper riding technique do the work of smoothing the trail. Also as mentioned, good gloves help.

Ive been somewhat converted to the idea of rigid forks
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Old 10-18-19, 02:30 AM
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If you are fine without suspension on your current bike, I don't see why you would need it on a new bike which will see the same type of riding.

That said, I'm not opposed to having a suspension fork on a hybrid; I have one myself, and am quite happy with it. If you still decide to have a suspension fork, see that it has at least hydraulic damping, and a hydraulic lockout.
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