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  1. #1
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    160mm TRAVEL: Anyone using all of it?

    I'm debating between 140mm of travel and 160mm on my next full suspension.

    140mm opens up many more options, most of them pedaling very well. Take for example, the 2014 Norco Sight Carbon 7.2. At $3545, it's cheapest full-carbon full-suspension trail bike on the market. It also includes a dropper post, 142x12 rear axle, shock with climb switch, and at 25lbs is probably the lightest 140mm full suspension bike for its price.

    20mm isn't really noticeable in the grand scheme of things, and Steve Smith winning the Air DH on the 140mm Devinci Troy proves that you don't need lots of travel to rip.

    That being said:

    Do you guys who are running 160mm use all of your travel on anything but a DH course or the biggest of jumps?

    Even if you do or don't, can you also list the type of terrain and state that you ride?
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  2. #2
    undercover brother
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    I use about 90-95% of my travel on pretty much every ride. Thats with 152mm of rear travel on my SB66. You pay for it, why not use it. Bottoming out and using all your travel are two different things. My lyrik on the other hand, I cannot get the last 20mm of travel out of it, but that seems to be a common thing.

  3. #3
    Creepy tooth fairy
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    Geometry, grsshopper...

    ...geometry is way more important than travel. All of of the AM, Enduro, Rally bikes or whatever they are profitably called these days have moved to variations of the slack head angle (68-66 degrees), steep seat angle (73-74 degrees). This set up allows you to mow over everything and climb well to get there in the first place. Having 10-20 mm more of travel is not going to make a huge difference. However, bikes generally with more travel are going to be beefier and be able to take more of beating. Only you can decide if this important in your routine riding efforts or where you hope to ride.

    Personally, I ride a bike with 160/150 travel front and rear. I use all of that travel nearly every ride as I am bigger rider (195 lbs with gear) and I ride aggressively. I could likely get something that weighs less, but my bike never holds me back. I may not win most KOM's, but I also don't give a sh*t and even though I can climb just fine I am there for descending payoff.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHeller View Post
    20mm isn't really noticeable in the grand scheme of things, and Steve Smith winning the Air DH on the 140mm Devinci Troy proves that you don't need lots of travel to rip.

    Even if you do or don't, can you also list the type of terrain and state that you ride?
    I ride a 160/150mm Rocket, now, my old Prophet started as 140/140 then grew to 160/160 with a couple of mods. On all three builds I've had the suspension bouncing off the stops. Even across 'small' rock gardens you can use all the travel and wish for more, you just need to be going fast enough.

    On balance I prefer 160/160, all other factors being similar (like with the Prophet) it makes a small but noticeable difference. Mainly you notice it when you get it wrong and the extra travel gives you more leeway before spitting you over the bars. Over a day's riding I find the extra travel less tiring too, the weight is more than counter balanced by extra control.

    Having said that, tyres, damping, geometry and fit make a much bigger difference to how a bike feels on steep/technical trails. If it's between a 140mm bike that feels 'right' when you're on it and a 160mm bike that doesn't the 140 wins easy, no amount of travel or tech can make a bike that feels skittish or doesn't fit you work.

  5. #5
    Huffy Rider
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    My hubby rides a 150/170 and uses all of it on every ride. We ride in Sedona and Phoenix, very chunky rock and technical stuff. I ride a 150/150 and wish I had a little more, but not enough to take the weight penalty, as I am a weakling. He had the option to build up any bike he wanted and his setup works amazing for the terrain we ride. We do a lot of pedaling, both long sustained climbs and steep technical climbs. Geometry is key, IMO.

  6. #6
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    Geometry is important, I agree. That said, my bike has pretty slack geo for an am bike, and I still manage to use most or all of the 160 mm on the majority of my rides, whether at the bike park or on the trails.
    '11 Specialized Enduro Expert for the trails
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  7. #7
    EDR
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    160/146mm. Riding mix of chunky/technical to bumpy/rocky desert xc here in Phoenix. I can easily use most all of my travel on my Lyrik coil on even simple 2ft drop. It just depends on if I land like hack or not. Even on quick G-outs I can use most of my travel. I suspect if I had a 140mm Lyrik (no such thing) it would be the same.

    FWIW I went to the 160 fork on my 575 not so much b/c I felt I needed extra travel but b/c I wanted the slightly higher bottom bracket and slacker H/A. Like others have said, geo is key. FWI I ride in ~140mm mode much of the time. Only crank it out to 160 for sustained downs and/or slow techie d/h stuff.

  8. #8
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    I think that the industry marketing guru's have convinced everyone that more travel is better and we all need to ride 160mm AM bikes. I think that there are some areas of the country/world where it's called for on your average rides (as stated above) but in many parts of the US 160mm AM bikes are overkill. I wonder if people would really misss the extra travel if they rode the same trails on similar geometry frames but with 130/140mm rear travel. I will admit that I love my 35mm Lyrik and notice the difference dropping down to a 32.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHeller View Post

    Do you guys who are running 160mm use all of your travel... ?
    Seriously!?!? YES! even on my xc rides there is usually a G-out or small drop that gets me pretty dang close

    IMO 10mm of fork travel makes a pretty noticeable difference, so for me 20mm is huge.

    Assuming you are riding technical trails at pretty quick speed in PA, I suspect if youre not getting full travel it could be a fork setup/tuning issue. it really took me a lot of years to connect up all the things i thought i knew about how suspension should operate and how to actually tune it to get that....and I'm a bit of a tinkerer.

    having said that those carbon sights do look pretty slick. I wouldn't be able to ride how I currently ride on the more aggressive trails I have around, but im sure it would rip on 3/4 of the trails I ride (southeast/western NC)

  10. #10
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    Regarding rear travel...
    what about the tendency for many frames to blow through the mid stroke? What about the spring curve and how bikes are designed to ramp up at the end of the stroke? Does no one think that these two variables effect how much travel you really need?

    I'd hedge a guess that a shorter travel bike would handle nearly as well in many situations.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHeller View Post
    Do you guys who are running 160mm use all of your travel on anything but a DH course or the biggest of jumps?
    Sure.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnigro View Post
    Regarding rear travel...
    what about the tendency for many frames to blow through the mid stroke?
    True: Avoid bikes that do that. good for climbing but rob you of confidence on the way down... I assume youre referring to some of the mini-link models, but I wonder if some of the newer models have tuned this out. I guess I could agree that if you have crappy performing suspension, less of it is better

    Quote Originally Posted by mnigro View Post
    What about the spring curve and how bikes are designed to ramp up at the end of the stroke?
    the last bit of curve is to prevent bottom out, and it is better to not be in that zone for most of your ride. its really pretty simple physics if you have well tuned suspension. the goal is to have the least amount of force impacting the rider's center of gravity and wheels' contact on ground without having so much travel that the bike wallows or reacts slowly to rider inputs....and IMO for hard trail riding, that magic number is closer 150-160.

    I think a lot of these guys that are downsizing in short travel bikes are doing it for the fun factor...understandable; im interested but not convinced. However, it seems pretty clear that nobody is riding hard terrain as fast on their TRC than on their nomadc (I'm sure someone that JUST bought a TRC will come in and say otherwise)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnigro View Post
    I think that the industry marketing guru's have convinced everyone that more travel is better and we all need to ride 160mm AM bikes. I think that there are some areas of the country/world where it's called for on your average rides (as stated above) but in many parts of the US 160mm AM bikes are overkill. I wonder if people would really misss the extra travel if they rode the same trails on similar geometry frames but with 130/140mm rear travel. I will admit that I love my 35mm Lyrik and notice the difference dropping down to a 32.
    I couldn't agree more. And unfortunately it is pretty easy to get swept up in all that especially when its being rammed down your throat multiple times a day lol

    FYI I ride a 140mm frame with 150mm forks with a 66 head angle and a 71.5 seatpost angle

  14. #14
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    RTB, I ride an el guapo and an ASR5. Honestly, for most of my riding the asr5 is plenty of bike. I never bottom out that bike unless its a 3 to flat drop, etc. The El G is nicer with the Lyrik but if I can source a 140mm Pike at some point, fingers crossed, then my ASR5 would be my only bike. I'm in Atlanta but if I was in Phoenix or the NW it would be a different story.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnigro View Post
    what about the tendency for many frames to blow through the mid stroke?
    Yes no.

    Blowing through the travel is primarily because the shock isn't valved correctly (or as correctly as it could be), usually because whoever set up the OE contract picked a pre-set tune out of a book rather than thrashing out a custom set up with the manufacturer (although many brands do).

    In that case talking to a suspension tuner can get a bike feeling like it has 'more' travel than it did before, certainly more stable travel.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnigro View Post
    RTB, I ride an el guapo and an ASR5. Honestly, for most of my riding the asr5 is plenty of bike. I never bottom out that bike unless its a 3 to flat drop, etc. The El G is nicer with the Lyrik but if I can source a 140mm Pike at some point, fingers crossed, then my ASR5 would be my only bike. I'm in Atlanta but if I was in Phoenix or the NW it would be a different story.
    I'm with you on all that (I know an EG can be built light but that's besides the point).

    What I was trying to get at in my first post is that the main reason I ride a very overbuilt bike is that it is near perfect for the most aggressive riding that makes up for about 30% of my ride time and is also the stuff I tend to enjoy the most

    If I never wanted to goto bike park or do some burly point to point shuttles, I would be the same.

    Im actually planning to eventually swap the build on my am hard tail over to a carbon trail bike with 120/130 rear travel. Now I will also admit that I rode a bike park with a guy on a killer B and he was faster but he's also a former dh racer and I'm just a "soul rider" haha

  17. #17
    LCW
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    Like eatdrinkride I'm running a 160mm fork in my 575. I wouldn't go back to anything less. And I do you most all of it. Fox has been making their fork air springs more linear and the benefit is being able to use all the travel without running ridiculously low pressure as was once the case.
    2011 Yeti 575 - 2015 Fox Float 36 RC2 160 / Fox Float X - 30.6 lbs

  18. #18
    Team Chilidog!
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    160mm TRAVEL: Anyone using all of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by mnigro View Post
    Regarding rear travel...
    what about the tendency for many frames to blow through the mid stroke? What about the spring curve and how bikes are designed to ramp up at the end of the stroke? Does no one think that these two variables effect how much travel you really need?

    I'd hedge a guess that a shorter travel bike would handle nearly as well in many situations.
    That's more a function of a shock than the bike itself. Had a Fox CTD on two very different frames (Ventana Ciclon and Ibis Mojo HD). Guess what? It's md-stroke support sucks on both bikes. There is nothing wrong with either bike: the shock itself just sucks. The CCDB has been an awesome shock and didn't have any issues midstroke, nor does the Monarch Plus.

    As for as much travel as you have, it just depends what you like: I've had 100mm bikes than I've liked more than the Ciclon, but I also like my Mojo HD even more. You have to go with what you like as the overall feel and what you ride. I bottom out my 160mm fork and rear suspension when I'm riding hard and jumping or being aggressive on a DH section. I may not if I'm not riding as confortably or aggressively.
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  19. #19
    Big Gulps, Alright!
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    A good shock tune can make a 140mm bike feel like a 160mm bike.

  20. #20
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    Yes, I run a 160/170 bike and yes I use all of the travel. I would agree that "most" people don't need this much travel, but the pedaling penalty is almost zero these days. Unless you are racing XC the difference in getting up a hill with 160 vs 140 travel is essentially nothing. With that in mind why wouldn't you run a 160 bike?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkley View Post
    A good shock tune can make a 140mm bike feel like a 160mm bike.
    Very true. I have ridden many 120mm bikes that felt like they had much more travel than other bikes with 140+ travel. Quality not quantity. Try a bike. Buy a bike. Do not by a bike by the type of suspension and do not buy a bike just based upon the amount of rear travel. Heller, you have couple post about dw links - which is full of the typical dribble and this post, which is also kinda stupid. So what are you trying to get at?

  22. #22
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    You should always use your suspension full travel.

    Basically what I mean, is that ideally, your suspension setting must me adjusted so you use all the travel on the gnarliest point of your ride.
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  23. #23
    Formerly PaintPeelinPbody
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trajan View Post
    Heller, you have couple post about dw links - which is full of the typical dribble and this post, which is also kinda stupid. So what are you trying to get at?
    I'm trying to determine which bikes I should search out to try and ride.

    I guess where you're from you can walk into any bike shop and test ride a bike from any manufacturer on the planet. Where I'm from, I can't do that. I have 4 local bike shops, 3 of which don't even know what 650b is, and most don't carry any bikes over 100mm.

    To make matters worse, you usually don't have the ability to ride the bike you can afford. I've ridden a Intense Carbine 275 for a whole day, unfortunately as much as I liked that bike, I can't really afford it.

    I am really tired of the very common American consumerist response of "stop talking about it and just buy one." That my friend, is retarded. I like doing my research. I like asking my stupid questions, and I like to sort through the "dribble" that is internet discussions. No matter how relevant or pointless it may be.

    You obviously do as well, considering you've got 1,200 some odd posts.
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  24. #24
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    This is terrible advice, and it gets at the heart of this question (the OP's).

    Even with a fork or shock that has infinite spring rate tuning (many do) AND infinite spring curve tuning (few do), the idea that you should set your suspension up to use all travel on "the gnarliest point of you ride" is dumb. Here's why: Your fork/shock wasn't made for you.
    Your fork/shock wasn't made for your ride (today), which may very likely differ from your ride (tomorrow), which will almost certainly differ from his and her rides.

    Today you are hopping a curb on the way to the market. Tomorrow riding an "all mountain" loop with rocks and roots but no drops >1 m, next week a beginner jump line with all well made landings. You shouldn't bottom out a 160 mm bike any of these places unless you fall off a bridge.

    Set your suspension to feel great as you land to flat in a creekbed, but how does it feel for the rest of your ride?

    All travel is not made the same. Other posters here have said something like "more is not always better", and they are right. More is different.

    With a short (say 80 mm) travel you get basically two behaviors, the travel before the sag point and the travel after. And a rubber bumper at the end.

    The huge benefit of long travel (say 160 mm), is that you can get distinct behaviors in the zero-to-sag, the sag-to-mid, the mid-to 80-90%, and the last 10-20%.

    If you go into your ride (which we always, always have to point out is not as gnar as you think it is) insisting on getting into the last 20% of your travel no matter the terrain, you are sacrificing the performance of the middle (the part you paid so much for in $ and weight) that so many F-ing people complain isn't "supportive" enough.

    See the pattern emerging here? You are buying the same forks that top pros are riding twice as fast as you and jumping four? ten? times as far on. But top pros aren't setting their springs so stiff that they get 3% sag. They like 20ish just as you do. And they weigh about the same, give or take a few beers with supper.

    I gather a lot of you are totally happy w/ your setups and proud of the chunk you ride. Good. But another lot of you are coming back to the trailhead w/ your o-ring or dust line showing 20% clean stanchion and feeling bad about it. You might be very smooth, you might be a bad shopper, you might have rather tame trails, your suspension might be set up right and maybe, just maybe, it is set up wrong. You'll need some different evidence. Until you've gathered that, I wouldn't sweat it.

  25. #25
    EDR
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    Re: 160mm TRAVEL: Anyone using all of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by PHeller View Post
    .

    I am really tired of the very common American consumerist response of "stop talking about it and just buy one." That my friend, is retarded. .
    He's from Canada. Those folks really toss around their money.

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