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Front Suspension on Hybrid? Yea or Nay?

Old 05-05-11, 05:25 PM
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qmsdc15
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Front Suspension on Hybrid? Yea or Nay?

I don't want a suspension fork on a bike that I ride primarily on road. I don't think the improved ride quality is worth the extra weight.
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Old 05-05-11, 06:29 PM
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Agreed. I bought a Schwinn hybrid a few years ago. It had a heavy suspension fork, suspension seatpost, web-sprung saddle, adjustable stem, riser bars, cheap trigger shifters, plastic pedals, and flat-prone 38 mm tires. I bought it because it looked comfortable, and at the time that's what I thought I wanted. The bike still sports the suspension fork, but all of the listed components have been upgraded or changed. The forks are the next thing to go. For me the suspension fork is a heavy, power-robbing eyesore that is just begging for an upgrade to a nice set of rigid chromoly forks. The bike has a lot of sentimental value to me since it served as my re-introduction to cycling. I now have 4 bikes and I'm always on the lookout for a nice used bike that I can fix up to either keep or pass on to friends/family. None of my other bikes have suspension, but I would consider a nice hard-tail MTB with a quality front shocks for some local trails if my fitness level continues to improve.
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Old 05-05-11, 06:29 PM
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neither. some people need a suspension fork, some don't. to me a suspension fork belongs more in the comfort bike category.
I don't like suspension forks for my particular riding.
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Old 05-06-11, 09:30 AM
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A matter of riding style, but rigid forks do look so much better!
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Old 05-06-11, 10:32 AM
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For any bike I ride primarily for pavment riding will never have a shocks at the front again. The gains in handling and weight loss are to much to ignore, sure there's more jarring though the bars but who cares.
Over larger bumps I just slightly loft the front to unweight the front wheel, if you know what I mean. Works for me.
That said I can understand some people prefer the comfort of shocks.
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Old 05-06-11, 10:41 AM
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When swapping out the suspension fork for a rigid one, I notice that most rigid forks are about a couple of inches shorter than a fork with suspension. Would that have any negative impact on the bike's characteristic? Do they make longer forks or can we use spacers?
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Old 05-06-11, 01:44 PM
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nine9six, the lower rigid fork will make your position slightly more forward and so more aero and thus it will give you less drag and make you faster. The fork itself will be more aero and faster aswell.

For my hybrid, I like the suspension fork for those occasions where I really hit the woods and go riding over stony paths and rocky riverbeds.
For hybrid bikes that are for roads only there is no need although it helps on bad roads.

Do not overestimate the negative impact of the weight and the aerodrag of a suspension fork ... I did 40+ km/h on average ... WITH a cheap and heavy suspension fork
For people who do not care about their speed and are willing to sacrifice a few percents on that to gain more comfort ... I'd say: go for the suspension fork
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Old 05-06-11, 02:11 PM
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996, if you change your fork, get a fork that is designed to be a replacement for a suspension fork. You don't want to change the geometry of your bike, unless you know more about bike geometry than the guy who designed your bike.
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Old 05-06-11, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by AdelaaR View Post
Do not overestimate the negative impact of the weight and the aerodrag of a suspension fork ... I did 40+ km/h on average ... WITH a cheap and heavy suspension fork
Was the suspension active, or locked out?
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Old 05-06-11, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
Was the suspension active, or locked out?
It was locked but that shouldn't make much difference on semi-flat terrain.
Remember you were the one who taught me that if you use the right pedalling technique an unlocked suspension fork shouldn't wobble
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Old 05-06-11, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
996, if you change your fork, get a fork that is designed to be a replacement for a suspension fork. You don't want to change the geometry of your bike, unless you know more about bike geometry than the guy who designed your bike.
qmsdc15 is correct; essentially, though, you're just noticing the effect of 'sag.' A sus fork is designed to have a 'normal ride height' with the suspension compressed by your weight on the bike a certain amount; typically, around 20 to 25% of its stated travel. If it didn't, it wouldn't work properly-- it would just be a silly bouncy-device (which is what many of the cheap/toy suspension forks on inexpensive bicycles are, in effect, and why in many cases it's such a good idea to get rid of them!).

So, e.g., a 100 mm fork is meant to ride with about 25 mm 'sag' (give or take); the geometry of the bike (head/seat angle) is (properly) designed around that 'sagged' measurement.

A rigid fork that correctly fits a given bike will therefore be a little shorter (measured axle to crown) than its suspension counterpart (when measured statically). Staying with the 100 mm suspension fork, for example, on a 26"-wheeled bike, these typically have a static (unsagged) axle to crown measure of around 470 mm (give or take); a proper replacement rigid fork will measure roughly 440 to 450 for the same dimension. That preserves the bike's intended geometry, and therefore handling qualities, provided the fork rake is about the same (they usually are).

Last edited by badger1; 05-06-11 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 05-06-11, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by AdelaaR View Post
It was locked but that shouldn't make much difference on semi-flat terrain.
Remember you were the one who taught me that if you use the right pedalling technique an unlocked suspension fork shouldn't wobble
Yes, but I don't see the upside of a locked out suspension fork vs. a rigid fork. If the suspension is not being used, it's only added weight.
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Old 05-06-11, 02:53 PM
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badger, interesting info about "sag". I've heard about sag in reference rear suspension, but I did not know suspension forks were intended to sag. I don't have a lot of experiernce with suspension forks. I had a first generation Cannondale Headshock, that definitely did not sag, and what you'd probably describe as a silly/bouncy cheap toy fork (which does seem to sag a little bit) on my newest bike.
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Old 05-06-11, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
badger, interesting info about "sag". I've heard about sag in reference rear suspension, but I did not know suspension forks were intended to sag. I don't have a lot of experiernce with suspension forks. I had a first generation Cannondale Headshock, that definitely did not sag, and what you'd probably describe as a silly/bouncy cheap toy fork (which does seem to sag a little bit) on my newest bike.
Hi, qmsdc15 ... yep, they is! I'm certainly no expert by any means, but I did learn a little about this the past few years. Kind of from necessity; until this past year my main/only bike has been a 'hybridized' hardtail, that I liked and still like very much using on-road, and I was always looking for ways to make it more efficient.

The idea, really, is that like any active suspension the fork (just like a rear suspension) will be more responsive if it 'sits' a little ways into its travel (all bicycle sus forks suffer from some degree of 'stiction' from their seals/bushings), and can 'extend' into depressions in the surface as well as compress in response to bump forces, thus increasing continuous contact with the surface and hence handling/steering.

'Silly bouncy things'?? I certainly didn't/don't have any particular brand or model in mind, but it is fair to say I think that good bicycle suspension is inevitably expensive. Consequently, the forks often supplied on relatively inexpensive bicycles are necessarily not especially good, and are almost always heavy -- there's just not enough margin to allow something decent even at OEM pricing. Weight apart, the usual most obvious failing is inadequate rebound control -- hence 'silly bouncy'! That in particular is what many people not familiar with really good bicycle suspension quite rightly are thinking of when they say that on-road suspension is unnecessary.

And that is to some extent true, although ... I think to be more accurate one might say that 'active' suspension is arguably not necessary; the fact is of course that all modern bicycles have and depend on 'suspension' -- pneumatic tires. The real question is not whether suspension is necessary, but rather how much suspension travel is necessary when riding on-road. Most cyclists who stick to relatively smooth surfaces find that tires are sufficient -- I now include myself in that group -- but some do prefer a little bit of additional suspension, especially re. bumps/cracks/potholes. And I have to confess that I do sometimes wish I could afford something like a Moulton -- I once had the pleasure of being able to take a beautiful Moulton road bike out for an hour or so ... the combination of light weight, quickness, and 'cush' was really quite something! Oh well!
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Old 05-06-11, 05:34 PM
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Indeed, the tires provide the suspension!
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Old 05-07-11, 12:07 AM
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When a suspension fork is locked it still has a bit of hard suspension for heavy bumps.
At least mine does but I'm sure most do.
This is handy for obstacles like railway tracks or sudden potholes.
I've never ridden with a carbon fork yet (but soon will) so I cannot comment on the qualities of those but I know that rigid metal forks are very harsh on cobblestones or railway tracks.
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Old 05-07-11, 12:18 AM
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Expensive $1000 suspension forks are build for people who have the strange idea that they need to jump several meters into the air with their bikes while going downhill at insane speed.
They are complete overkill for normal riding.
Semi-cheap $100 suspension forks are fine for light offroad like driving through forests or fields.

I had never heard of those "moultons" ... they look funny and cool at the same time
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Old 05-07-11, 06:32 AM
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When I lock out the fork on my MTB, it doesn't have any travel. In don't know how much 'hard suspension' (?) it has when locked out, but I suspect it's less than the rigid forks on my hybrids which are curved to allow flex.

I haven't ridden off-road with my MTB, but I suspect the inexpensive suspension fork would be an asset even though it's not the best quality or design. I rode and raced mountain bikes before Paul Turner developed RockShox. Suspension was a great improvement for mountain bikes.

I wonder how the stock forks on my $700 2010 MTB compare to those early designs?

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Old 05-07-11, 09:36 AM
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The "hard suspension" I speak of is intentionally incorporated in the design of these forks.
When not locked out they use springs or some more advanced ones even air for suspension with about 30 to 100 mm of travel.
When locked out they seem rigid but they still have a very slight and much less flexible absorbing ability which i think is either compressed oil or some kind of polymer ... probably depending on the type of fork ... they hardly have any travel then ... just a few millimeters.
Try it on your fork by hitting it really hard like a sudden pothole would do and it should have a slight dampening of the impact or maybe yours doesn't.
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Old 05-08-11, 04:37 PM
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I am trying to decide between aluminum frame w/ suspension fork or cromo w/ rigid fork on an entry level hybrid, want to start some casual recreational riding after decades, on pavement or smooth paths, nothing very rough. I am more concerned with easy of pedaling than with speed, I just want a basic bike that's fun to ride around the block or in a park. I have been advised that on low end bikes, the cromo frame bikes are probably not much, if any, heavier than the alum ones, and to go with the cromo and rigid fork because it rides better and doesn't have the added weight of the cheap suspension fork. Those in the know, please comment.

Specifically, I'm trying to decide between a Giant Cypress (or maybe a Sedona) "ST" (steel cromo, rigid) and the Cypress or Sedona regular model (alum w suspension fork) in the women's models. I am leaning toward the steel cromo with the rigid fork, but am confused as to why most all models and brands in this price range ($330-440) are alum w suspension forks, if the steel and rigid forks are better? That just doesn't make sense to me. I have emailed a bike shop and they are pushing the alum one. ??? I know I need to try them, but that will be only a short ride probably in the parking lot and won't really tell a newbie much. Please advise! Thanks-
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Old 05-08-11, 05:02 PM
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Steel frame with rigid fork > aluminum frame with suspension fork (unless you ride rough terrain).

Suspension forks don't pull their weight on paved surfaces or smooth dirt. Fatigue from the extra weight of a suspension fork will outweigh increased comfort from the shock absorption on all but the shortest rides.

Last edited by qmsdc15; 05-08-11 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 05-08-11, 05:40 PM
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Thanks! That concurs with what I've been told. There sure are a lot of alum ones with susp forks out there, though.
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Old 05-08-11, 05:58 PM
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I'd look for an aluminum frame with steel fork, but many riders prefer steel frames.
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Old 05-08-11, 06:50 PM
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Thanks! I don't recall seeing one of those in the price range I'm searching.
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Old 05-09-11, 12:26 PM
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Fatigue from the extra weight of a suspension fork will outweigh increased comfort from the shock absorption on all but the shortest rides.
Depends on the terrain and surface, of course, but I've concluded the opposite. Perhaps it is because I define "comfort" as reduced shock to my testi***s...
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