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Front shocks?

Old 01-03-12, 12:44 PM
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2Tim215
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Front shocks?

Hi

Tim from South Africa.

New to touring and have noticed that very few touring bikes have front shocks, even those that often go dirt track. Any reason for this?
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Old 01-03-12, 12:50 PM
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phughes
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Basically because there is usually little need for them and they add weight. Many say they reduce efficiency as well.
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Old 01-03-12, 01:57 PM
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+1 for weight and efficiency. On a long ride you want each pedal stroke to be as efficient as possibile. When you have shocks, energy that could go into propelling you forward is just absorbed into the springs. Conservation of energy at its finest.
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Old 01-03-12, 02:43 PM
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2Tim215
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Thanks guys - makes perfect sense - so shocks on a bike are only good for downhill dirt but no good uphill if I understand correctly.
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Old 01-03-12, 04:58 PM
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People doing all or mostly off-road tours, if they intend to ride on rough terrain, often put shocks on the front. For example, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in the US. It's a judgment call. As with everything, it's a tradeoff - speed/pedaling efficiency/weight vs. comfort. Given that tourists often gladly sacrifice weight for stability and comfort, I'm not sure why not few people are open to the idea of front suspension.
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Old 01-03-12, 05:34 PM
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In the US 'Touring bikes' tend to be 622-35 ish tire,
few reliable forks made for that wheel size.
and have ready fittings for front pannier rack mounting..

The KISS principle tends to kick in, on long un supported tours.
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Old 01-03-12, 05:45 PM
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I can see shocks for gonzo downhills but not much else. I rode a rigid MTB for years...still do, but I don't race. Tried a couple of shock bikes and went back to my rigid, guess I don't ride hard enough I don't see any point in having shocks on a road or even gentle off road bike, complicated and heavy.

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Old 01-03-12, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by 2Tim215 View Post
Thanks guys - makes perfect sense - so shocks on a bike are only good for downhill dirt but no good uphill if I understand correctly.
Not necessarily. There's more to it then just absorbing energy. As you ride up hill, a rigid bike will hit objects and the tire will bounce in an uncontrolled manner. The direction is going to have some component that goes rearward in reaction to the impact. Each rearward bounce is reducing your forward momentum.

A front shock will allow the wheel to conform to the terrain and roll over it...just as the tire does but the effect is greater. The shock will also convert that rearward bounce into an upward bounce which doesn't reduce your forward momentum. In other words, the rebound of the impact is controlled and redirected.

If the road you are riding is smooth, the magnitude of the rebound is very small and the tires can do most of the work. As the road gets rougher, a shock can help with control issues. If you are going to ride on this kind of road



No shock is needed and is just dead weight. If you ride on this kind of trail,



a shock is mostly unnecessary.

If you ride this kind of road



a shock starts becoming more helpful and perhaps even necessary while this road



almost requires one.

Depending on the mix of road surfaces you might be riding, a shock can be helpful but make sure you get one that can be locked out for those times when you are riding pavement and may not need it all the time. Those shocks, however, are more expensive and more sophisticated than a simple spring shock. For the kinds of roads where things get really interesting, I use a bike like this

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Old 01-03-12, 07:53 PM
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Cycocommute sums it up. Not that I have experience with suspension - I have a rigid mountain bike and haven't yet taken it to places where I really wished I had shocks.
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Old 01-04-12, 05:37 AM
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Thanks Cyccommute - advice appreciated. I have bought a 2nd hand silverback oakland to start training with. Will be upgrading the front to ones that can lock out later. Notice you only have disc brakes on the front and not the rear - reason for this?
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Old 01-04-12, 06:21 AM
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The reason there's a disc up front and a v-brake on the rear is because the frame is old (built before disc brakes were the golden standard on mountain bikes) and the Fox fork is new and disc-specific.
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Old 01-04-12, 06:26 AM
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Thought that might be the case. I used to have a pro MTB that had discs, but stupidly sold it - didn't feel much difference between the two on the trails I did.
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Old 01-04-12, 07:39 AM
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Tim, I have an older hardtail without the lock out and I can't say I ever felt I needed the feature. That said it is a higher end fork of it's era and well dialed in. If I'd kept the OEM fork I'd have a very different opinion.

Brad
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Old 01-04-12, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by 2Tim215 View Post
Thought that might be the case. I used to have a pro MTB that had discs, but stupidly sold it - didn't feel much difference between the two on the trails I did.
ollyisk beat me to it. That picture is a little out of date too. I found an old Fox with cantilever bosses and less travel that has replaced the fork in the picture. Still has a lock out, however.
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Old 01-04-12, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by 2Tim215 View Post
Thanks Cyccommute - advice appreciated. I have bought a 2nd hand silverback oakland to start training with. Will be upgrading the front to ones that can lock out later. Notice you only have disc brakes on the front and not the rear - reason for this?
The reason why the disc brake is on the front is because the majority of your stopping power comes from the front. Think about it, when you stop the inertia of the bike will put more weight on the front end of the bike. Hence, you would want the more reliable brake on the front end. I believe I read on Sheldon Brown once that you should almost exclusively use your front brake and use the rear only in 'emergency situations'.

The same thing happens with cars, front pads wear faster than the rear. As a matter of fact, old cars have disc brakes in the front and drums in the rear. Its the same idea.

edit: I see what you mean about the replaced fork in that picture, but I have seen lower end new bikes with a front disk and v-brakes on the rear. Saves a bit on cost.
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Old 01-09-12, 01:05 AM
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I always have front shocks, mostly because with out them one of my elbows will start to act up over longer distances. Also always have lockouts so its a little easier going up hills than without.
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