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Pls. explain why suspension forks are "bad" for "road riding"??

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Pls. explain why suspension forks are "bad" for "road riding"??

Old 12-13-09, 07:14 PM
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bjjoondo 
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Question Pls. explain why suspension forks are "bad" for "road riding"??

I guess I really don't understand the "dislike" of suspension forks for riding on paths (non dirt) and roads Maybe most places have better, smoother roads than I do here in Southern CO. but I don't feel the 80mm suspension fork is hinderance but I'm just a utility/rec rider at the moment that is thinking of "starting" to do overnight/weekend road tours, then one day build up to multi-day tours. I'd appreciate being, "enlightend" on the fork issue, thanks!
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Old 12-13-09, 07:18 PM
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Because cheap ones are 4 pounds heavier than rigid and they make your bike steer like a cow. If you're ridin' hardtail, you still gotta lift your butt before hitting the pothole, might as well lift your front wheel too. Then there's the maintenance issue.
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Old 12-14-09, 12:56 AM
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I ride with a 80mm suspension fork. The only thing I think about is how much pedal energy that thing is absorbing. When sprinting across intersections, I can feel it compressing. Even locked out, there is still one inch of travel.
The roads here been ripped up so much that I almost need a suspension fork. So I live with it.
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Old 12-14-09, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by CuRed View Post
I ride with a 80mm suspension fork. The only thing I think about is how much pedal energy that thing is absorbing. When sprinting across intersections, I can feel it compressing. Even locked out, there is still one inch of travel.
The roads here been ripped up so much that I almost need a suspension fork. So I live with it.
You hit the nail on the head!
Absorbing effect is exactly why no road bikers like them. You dont get all the power from the energy your putting out
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Old 12-14-09, 01:35 AM
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I visited NY earlier this year and hired a cheap mtb-type bike with suspension. The guy at the hire shop was excited to see I was a 'real cyclist doing 4000 miles/year'. All I gotta say was when I got on that bike (I knew it'd be slow) was how comfortable it was. The hiring dude was surprised that I had locked the forks out, it still had some travel, but sure went over the bumps and off the kerbs with comfort.

Ultimately I wanna go without suspension only because i want the bike to be as light as possible.
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Old 12-14-09, 05:11 PM
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Very possible and very worth your while to develop a smooth style such that your fork does not bob even while sprinting. The main drawback to using suspension forks on the road is that the added weight does not justify the increase in efficiency that a suspension fork offers the rider who knows how to use one.
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Old 12-14-09, 08:11 PM
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you ride what works for you....end of story, and eff'em if no one likes it.
they did not pay for it. i had a bike with a suspension fork, and had no problems reaching any speed i needed to for my use. it was kinda nice not having too much road buzz on long trips.
i sold that bike to a good friend who wanted to start riding with his son, and i bought another cheapie, without a suspension. i am no faster, or slower, but i do notice some additional buzz. hard to say, my commute route has changed. this bike is a P.O.S. tho, with cassette//RD problems and a shot bottom bracket after only 3 months....yay....the last part is not relevent, just *****ing out loud to some sympathetic souls.....lol
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Old 12-26-09, 05:56 AM
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Alex Moulton has just begun production of a dual suspended road bike that comes in at just under 20 lbs (with the pedals). I have a Moulton Dual Pylon and GT. They are unbelievably comfortable and they are fast (in fact a fared Moulton still holds the world HPV speed record for an upright bicycle at 51.29 mph!) and they handle very well. Moulton has been making dual suspended road bikes since 1960 and the current line reflects almost 50 years of refining the design so that it works very, very well. The TSR line is a bit heavier but meets the definition of a hybrid bike, at least they describe it as "Ideal for the leisure cyclist and those who often leave the tarmac behind, the TSR is a true 'go anywhere bicycle'. An all round performer, travel in true Moulton comfort on a variety of terrains." What is the catch? Even the lower end models are very pricey. According to the Moulton web site the least expensive Moulton is currently going for 900 (about $1,500) but I think you would have to pay well over $2,000 for a TSR 27 in the USA. My advice, dump the car, then you can afford it.
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Old 12-26-09, 10:29 AM
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I'm no physicist, but I believe that when I'm riding on the road I'm trying to convert the energy exerted by my body into forward motion. If some of that energy is lost in vertical motion (the forks compressing downward) it stands to reason that it's a trade-off; in other words the efficiency of my forward motion has been reduced. I suppose the same could be said for energy lost due to frame flex, compression of air-filled tires, frictional force created by rubber meeting the road, etc., but that's an argument for another day (or thread).
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Old 12-26-09, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by bjjoondo View Post
I guess I really don't understand the "dislike" of suspension forks for riding on paths (non dirt) and roads Maybe most places have better, smoother roads than I do here in Southern CO. but I don't feel the 80mm suspension fork is hinderance but I'm just a utility/rec rider at the moment that is thinking of "starting" to do overnight/weekend road tours, then one day build up to multi-day tours. I'd appreciate being, "enlightend" on the fork issue, thanks!
Some of the "dislike" might be related to the average speed. If your average speed is on the low side, it probably doesn't matter. If your riding technique is good, suspension just isn't necessary for road riding but is it still expensive and heavy.

There isn't any reason that what you have would not work for what you are planning to do.

Last edited by njkayaker; 12-26-09 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 12-26-09, 01:20 PM
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Thanks for all the comments, opinions, suggestions, etc. I guess it's all in the type of cyclist you want to be, I'm not looking for every bit of speed I'll at best be a "touring cyclist" one day but I'm a pure, "Smell the Rose's" type, you won't catch me doing "Century, Randour (sp?) or other "time limit type rides", just NO interest, just want to get out and see some of the sights one day. So I think I'll just leave me suspension fork on the bike and not switch to a traditional fork in steel or carbon fibre as my bicycle has to do some "urban" duty, (paths, trails and tow a utility trailer for food and larger objects) and the suspension fork probably helps my arthritic hands, elbows, etc. with a bit of comfort. Although I might look into a suspension fork with "Lock Out" capability, kinda the best of both world's, since my "frankenbrid" will never be a "light" touring bike, again thanks!
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Old 12-26-09, 02:46 PM
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I like mine, and it is a godsend for some physical problems. In addition, it rides smoother.
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Old 12-27-09, 10:29 AM
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[The Beast" - 1990 Schwinn Airdyne (in the basement for winter torture"]

Wanderer, I love that quote about your exersize bike, I've just rebuilt a 1993 Weslo Pursuit 650 Adjustable Resistance Cycle and was thinking, I wish I knew how to write in "Kilgon" as I'd lable it the "Kligon Torture Device", LOL!!
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Old 12-27-09, 11:11 AM
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I have a cheap suspension fork on my hybrid. I have no feeling of power loss with the fork. I use the hybrid for neighborhood and path riding, and a road bike for the road.
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Old 12-27-09, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by irclean View Post
I'm no physicist, but I believe that when I'm riding on the road I'm trying to convert the energy exerted by my body into forward motion. If some of that energy is lost in vertical motion (the forks compressing downward) it stands to reason that it's a trade-off; in other words the efficiency of my forward motion has been reduced. I suppose the same could be said for energy lost due to frame flex, compression of air-filled tires, frictional force created by rubber meeting the road, etc., but that's an argument for another day (or thread).
What if absorbing a bump prevents your forward momentum from being deflected upwards as it would with a rigid fork? If suspension allows your center of mass to continue in a forward direction instead of upward, isn't efficiency increased?
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Old 12-27-09, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
What if absorbing a bump prevents your forward momentum from being deflected upwards as it would with a rigid fork? If suspension allows your center of mass to continue in a forward direction instead of upward, isn't efficiency increased?
As I said, I'm no physicist. I imagine it's a trade-off; it just seems to me that more energy would be lost through the fork's vertical motion than would be gained by its ability to absorb bumps. As posters here are fond of saying, your mileage may vary.
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Old 12-27-09, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
What if absorbing a bump prevents your forward momentum from being deflected upwards as it would with a rigid fork? If suspension allows your center of mass to continue in a forward direction instead of upward, isn't efficiency increased?
If the bump is big enough that the front of your bike is momentarily up in the air then you'll lose efficiency even with a rigid fork and you may as well gain the comfort advantages of suspension (and comfort can also be an efficiency benefit for your body). But typical bumps on the road are ones that you roll up and over, so you lose some momentum on the way up but gain most of that back again on the way down (or vice versa when going down into a pothole and up the other side). With a shock absorber you still lose the momentum when you hit the bump since some of your energy now goes into compressing the shock, but you don't get as much back since you haven't raised your mass as high and therefore don't get the little boost coming down the other side of the bump. (You do get some back as the shock uncompresses, but not as much as otherwise due to hysteresis losses).

So for typical on-road conditions you have better efficiency without a shock absorber. That changes when the bumps become much more severe.
But if you're not racing and are comfortable with your current bike with suspension then I don't see any reason to change it for on-road commuting.
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Old 12-27-09, 08:06 PM
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I see how forward momentum is lost when a bump redirects you upwards but fail to see how forward momentum is regained when you come back down.

I agree that most paved roads are smooth enough that the added weight of most suspension forks will offset any gains from shock absorption on most typical paved roads. Perhaps something like the shock Cannondale used to feature on some of their road bikes might make sense on a cobblestone road. Fatigue of rider's arms and hands will come into play at some point as well.

Akohekohe's Moulton with it's small wheels will be affected more by uneven road surfaces than a large wheeled bike, so will benefit more from a suspension fork.
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Old 12-27-09, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
I see how forward momentum is lost when a bump redirects you upwards but fail to see how forward momentum is regained when you come back down.

I agree that most paved roads are smooth enough that the added weight of most suspension forks will offset any gains from shock absorption on most typical paved roads. Perhaps something like the shock Cannondale used to feature on some of their road bikes might make sense on a cobblestone road.
Consider the cobblestone road. You lose forward momentum as you climb up one of the cobblestones and the front of your bike is lifted up a bit. But then the front tire rolls over the cobblestone and drops down the other side. Now gravity pulling down lets the front wheel gain a little forward momentum as it rolls forward and down off the stone.

And yes, a little suspension might well be a good tradeoff if your riding is done on such a rough surface, but most roads are quite a bit smoother and Cannondale's SilkRoad didn't seem to find that much of a following.
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Old 12-28-09, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
So for typical on-road conditions you have better efficiency without a shock absorber.
For experienced road riders, their technique does what the front shock would do. It becomes automatic.
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Old 12-30-09, 10:36 AM
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It is kinda funny hearing about efficiency concerns in the hybrid area over forks. The hybrid bike at itself is at best a compromise between efficiency and comfort. If efficiency is your main concern then a hybrid is probably not the bike you should be on. An upright riding position and wider tires are not at all efficient. Let's not forget that there are many riders out there that are very fast with a hardtail MTB and can keep up with a lot of club riders on more efficient road bikes.

Ride what you like. Build it for your usage.
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Old 12-30-09, 04:52 PM
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^^^^^
x2
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Old 12-30-09, 05:42 PM
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amen
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Old 01-05-10, 10:11 PM
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Even with the suspension fork, my aluminum-framed bike is a lot lighter than the steel road bike I used to ride. I'm not very performance-oriented, so I don't think I'd notice any loss of efficiency from the fork. For my purposes, its all theoretical. But I do notice more comfort -- less vibration and jackhammering -- on my typical ride, which frequently takes me off the smooth pavement and onto frost-heaved, crumbling roads, and gravel, dirt and rocky paths and trails. If you rarely leave well-maintained pavement, you have no need for a suspension fork, I guess, but I wouldn't want to be without it.
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Old 01-06-10, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bidaci View Post
It is kinda funny hearing about efficiency concerns in the hybrid area over forks. The hybrid bike at itself is at best a compromise between efficiency and comfort. If efficiency is your main concern then a hybrid is probably not the bike you should be on. An upright riding position and wider tires are not at all efficient. Let's not forget that there are many riders out there that are very fast with a hardtail MTB and can keep up with a lot of club riders on more efficient road bikes.

Ride what you like. Build it for your usage.
Your hybrids may feature upright riding position and wide tires, but mine don't.
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