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  1. #1
    Give it a crank
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    Rigid forks on AZ trails

    I started out riding in AZ some 20 years ago on a cheap rigid bike. A lot has been improved today, and something just keeps ringing a bell these days to give it a try again with today's improvements.

    Things like lightweight graphite forks and frames, big tubeless tires, 29" wheels...

    Any experiences on riding rigid forks on our chunky trails?

  2. #2
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    I've been running a Vassago ODIS (Chro-Moly) fork on an Al hardtail frame with tubeless Panaracer Rampage (29er) for about a year.

    Riding on chunk? Well...the chunkiest trail I've ridden it on might be Javelina (SoMo) or some of the stuff out at Gold Canyon. It's all doable but I'm much more tired than if I were to do the same ride on a bike with suspension.

    The rigid bike is a single-speed too but I really feel the difference in my upper body and not the legs.

    When carrying speed through chunky sections your handling will suffer a bit too as the front will skip a bit more than with a suspension fork.

    All this said, it's a fun change but I'm considering replacing the fork with some suspension when I can scrape some bike funds together.

  3. #3
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    Don't, and there is no carrying speed through chunk w/ that sh~t. There is arthritis, however .
    Nice KOM, sorry about your penis.

  4. #4
    Ahhh the pain....
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    I too remember back in the day, riding my rigid 1995 Stumpjumper Comp all over Somo and PMP. Then I scraped together enough cash to buy a Rock Shox Judy with all of 1" of travel...WOW...what a difference. About a year ago I borrowed a friends bike that had a rigid fork and rode some stuff up in Flag. I quickly decided it was not for me...sketchy around turns, rough as hell. However, I think on the right trails (ie, Sonoran, T100, DC), it might be the right choice... I could not imagine descending Bell Pass to the west with a rigid fork... Or Windgate to the west...
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  5. #5
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    My singlespeed has a rigid carbon fork, it is what I ride 95% of the time.
    I love it, it actually does not transfer as much vibration as you would think. You can ride everything you can on a suspended bike, just not as quickly. It handles great in corners and is a rocket uphill.
    Trails like T100, Papago, Desert Classic, all are way more fun rigid.

  6. #6
    My other ride is your mom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    Or Windgate to the west...
    Descending Windgate to the west on my Pivot 429 still hurts my hands...can't imagine rigid.

  7. #7
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    Don't miss the sore wrists.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtn-Rider View Post
    I started out riding in AZ some 20 years ago on a cheap rigid bike. A lot has been improved today, and something just keeps ringing a bell these days to give it a try again with today's improvements.

    Things like lightweight graphite forks and frames, big tubeless tires, 29" wheels...

    Any experiences on riding rigid forks on our chunky trails?
    there are folks out there riding rigid all around the area. I tried it for a while. Loved the way it made my bike handle on smoothish stuff. Didn't love the way the front end would "push" on rocky downhill turns. Just couldn't keep the front end on the trail. Plus, I'm old and it tended to be painful after a few hours.

    One side benefit of a rigid fork is that you learn to pick better lines.

  9. #9
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    I took a rigid for the first time on North Sonoran Preserve last weekend and loved it. It was perfect for it.
    Not sure about McDowells Preserve, it's hard enough on my HT with 80 mm Front shock.

    However I live right next to Sonoran so I will probably get to use it a lot, I doubt I will get rid off my other HT with a shock.

  10. #10
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    Rockychrysler having his way with Hangover fully rigid. I don't much get the rigid fork thing myself but it didn't seem to bother me when that was the only option. But that was 20+ years ago.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Rigid forks on AZ trails-ho1.jpg  

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    Rigid forks on AZ trails-ho7.jpg  

    "Fart in a paper bag, after eating the #17 plate from filibertos. STRAVA!" M77Ranger.

  11. #11
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    I've been slowing down my riding this year, which is what has me wondering if rigid might be my next mtb treat. I simply don't bomb downhills anymore, seek no KOM's at all, don't race, and am usually riding along looking out for good photo angles. A lighter bike with no suspension kind of makes sense for the way I'm riding now.

    There's also another angle to where I'm coming from in considering a rigid bike. I've been riding my "goofer", a rigid '92 Trek 820 Antelope mostly on the streets and easy dirt trails. I've taken it on some rough stuff like to the white house on trail 8A. At slow speeds it's plently capable of handling the terrain, it's just that riding fast is not an option. So I keep wondering what kinds of improvements it would need to make it better though not necessarily faster.

  12. #12
    Ahhh the pain....
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    Gill, you need a cross bike with mustache bars... that's the only logical evolution!
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  13. #13
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    Go for it. As long as you pick your lines well you'll be fine on even the rockiest of trails. 29in wheels and a high volume tubeless front tire go a long ways toward making it an enjoyable experience. To me the best part of a rigid fork is not having to maintain a suspension fork.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtn-Rider View Post
    I've been slowing down my riding this year, which is what has me wondering if rigid might be my next mtb treat. I simply don't bomb downhills anymore, seek no KOM's at all, don't race, and am usually riding along looking out for good photo angles.
    That must be nice, not to be obsessed with incessant suffering.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by azmtbkr81 View Post
    To me the best part of a rigid fork is not having to maintain a suspension fork.
    Having it rebuilt once a year is that big of an inconvenience?

  16. #16
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    Been riding rigid MonoCog 29er with ardent 2.4 up front for 2 years now. I've done just about everything from SoMo, Hawes, BCT, Sedona, Flag. Its definitly doable, but you will need to compromise a bit on some trails. I find the middle of the monsoon season is the worst because there are so many unexpected rocks and ruts and not much smooth trails.

    I still love the looks I get on many trails as I pass >$4K FS bikes through the chunk on a $300 bike. Obviously not the best riders or I would have no chance...
    26FS & 29Rigid... best of both worlds

  17. #17
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    A couple of weeks ago up in Pinetop at ToWM, 2nd place overall in the 50 miler was on a Rigid SS! Crazy good!
    -boom

  18. #18
    Ahhh the pain....
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    Quote Originally Posted by metalaficionado View Post
    That must be nice, not to be obsessed with incessant suffering.
    some of us actually enjoy incessant suffering....
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  19. #19
    SamuraiBunnyGuy
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    i like my cartilage

  20. #20
    Got a suspension fork
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtn-Rider View Post
    I started out riding in AZ some 20 years ago on a cheap rigid bike. A lot has been improved today, and something just keeps ringing a bell these days to give it a try again with today's improvements.

    Things like lightweight graphite forks and frames, big tubeless tires, 29" wheels...

    Any experiences on riding rigid forks on our chunky trails?
    I rode a Niner Carbon fork on my Kona Unit for many miles. I love how it feels and how easy it is to pull the front end up over rocks and obstacles on technical climbs. I used to run a big 2.4" front tire at around 20psi. The McDowell passes were what finally did me in though, I was getting too beat up on those super rough rides of 3+ hours. Eventually I put on a suspension fork, but I'm riding rigid recently and I just like the feel better.
    ONE SHOX, ONE GEAR, LOTS of FUN! www.TrailFu.com My Rides

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtn-Rider View Post
    I've been slowing down my riding this year, which is what has me wondering if rigid might be my next mtb treat. I simply don't bomb downhills anymore, seek no KOM's at all, don't race, and am usually riding along looking out for good photo angles.
    My .02, it sounds to me like comfort would be more important for the way you've been riding than lighter weight. Keep up the good work on the photos!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by randyharris View Post
    I rode a Niner Carbon fork on my Kona Unit for many miles. I love how it feels and how easy it is to pull the front end up over rocks and obstacles on technical climbs. I used to run a big 2.4" front tire at around 20psi. The McDowell passes were what finally did me in though, I was getting too beat up on those super rough rides of 3+ hours. Eventually I put on a suspension fork, but I'm riding rigid recently and I just like the feel better.
    That's the kind of setup I had in mind, it makes a lot of sense on climbs and smooth trails but it's the chunky downhills you have to pay for.

    Quote Originally Posted by stevland View Post
    My .02, it sounds to me like comfort would be more important for the way you've been riding than lighter weight. Keep up the good work on the photos!
    Will do, thanks. I think you're right about ride comfort vs. weight, rigid forks seem to have their place.

  23. #23
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    I've been riding a rigid 29" fork for about the last four years. I love the way the bike tracks and how it makes me pick better lines. I've ridden it on National, Mormon and even on DJ's crazy SSAZ ride down Milagrosa :-) Fruita, Salida, Durango, CO trail.

    Run an Ardent 2.4 tubeless at 18 psi and really enjoy it. It's on my Ti SS, which is the only mountain bike I own.

    A couple weeks ago I put my Reba on and while the cush was nice, I missed the responsiveness.
    If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains,
    you're lucky enough.

  24. #24
    slower than you
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockman View Post
    Rockychrysler having his way with Hangover fully rigid. I don't much get the rigid fork thing myself but it didn't seem to bother me when that was the only option. But that was 20+ years ago.
    ain't nothing wrong with rigid.
    "May your trails be winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." - Ed Abbey
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockychrysler View Post
    ain't nothing wrong with rigid.
    Truer words were never spoken.
    "Fart in a paper bag, after eating the #17 plate from filibertos. STRAVA!" M77Ranger.

  26. #26
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Rigid forks make me swear.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  27. #27
    slower than you
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    if you're gonna go rigid, don't be a weenie: go rigid, one gear, with drops

    (pics circa 1902, iirc)

    Rigid forks on AZ trails-334_25275398122_6146_n.jpg

    Rigid forks on AZ trails-334_25156598122_6324_n.jpg

    Rigid forks on AZ trails-359_34522258122_4086_n.jpg

    riding rigid bikes has always made me smile

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    "May your trails be winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." - Ed Abbey
    http://rockychrysler.com/

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockychrysler View Post
    if you're gonna go rigid, don't be a weenie: go rigid, one gear, with drops

    (llama trail circa 1902, iirc)
    Damn, I had no idea you were such a dinosaur. Way to keep it real.

    Besides, that's Little Horse and not Llama trail anyway. Everyone knows Llama wasn't built until 1997.
    "Fart in a paper bag, after eating the #17 plate from filibertos. STRAVA!" M77Ranger.

  29. #29
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    Pretty cool, rockychrysler, I bet you meant 1992 though, 1902 would have to be your granpa.

    I do Paradise Trail just fine on my goofer bike, that's what's got me thinking so much about a decent rigid bike with big wheels and all the goodies available today.

    20130301_145359-1

  30. #30
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    After 2.5 years of riding rigid I recently put a squish fork back on. I think the rigid fork made me a better rider as I navigated my southern AZ trails, particularly the AZTrail south of Patagonia. Rides like the Whiskey and AES Kentucky Camp ride were painful but tolerable. Ultimately the buzzing in my wrists wouldn't stop with the ride despite multiple bar/grip/tire setups.
    I miss the rigid fork and look forward to the day that my body and my trails call it back to my bike.
    Cheers,
    M

  31. #31
    SamuraiBunnyGuy
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockychrysler View Post
    if you're gonna go rigid, don't be a weenie: go rigid, one gear, with drops

    (pics circa 1902, iirc)
    Click image for larger version. 

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    a rare glimpse of the go-pro helmet cam ver. 0.00.01

  32. #32
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    I have both a squish and a Rigid SS Niner. Each with it's pros & cons.

    Having moved from N. Texas to Chunky AZ trails, I have learned a few things that have helped.

    1. Big Volume FR Tire -- currently ride an Ardent 2.4. with low PSI. Looks like a motocross tire but it definitely helps provide some cush.
    2. Bend Elbows. Amazing a how body english can go a long way to improve the quality of the ride.
    3. Motrin. Riding rigid kicks your ass, a little motrin helps ease the pain. Somehow, it's still worth it to me.

    Rigid forks on AZ trails-photo-2.jpg

  33. #33
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    both of my hardtails have both a rigid and soft front end.... it's called a lock out...

    sorry for being a smart ass .... but dude, it's so simple

    that lock out comes in handy when climbing out of the saddle on (less steep) flat grades...

  34. #34
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    I usually replace the seals and oil 2-3 times per year, have the damper rebuilt every year and still have to deal with unexpected seal leaks and failures, wiping down stanchions after every ride, and adjusting air pressure every few rides. So yeah it is kind of an inconvenience.

    My full suspension all-mountain bike with hydraulic brakes seems to spend as much time in the repair stand as it does on the trail whereas my rigid hardtail with mechanical brakes is always ready.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by azmtbkr81 View Post
    I usually replace the seals and oil 2-3 times per year, have the damper rebuilt every year and still have to deal with unexpected seal leaks and failures, wiping down stanchions after every ride, and adjusting air pressure every few rides. So yeah it is kind of an inconvenience.

    My full suspension all-mountain bike with hydraulic brakes seems to spend as much time in the repair stand as it does on the trail whereas my rigid hardtail with mechanical brakes is always ready.
    My horse and buggy doesn't require much maintenance either, other than hay. Try getting rid of that FOX fork and getting something that works
    "Fart in a paper bag, after eating the #17 plate from filibertos. STRAVA!" M77Ranger.

  36. #36
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    My Fox fork works great, just has a maintenance schedule like a Ferrari. I haven't owned a modern fork from any manufacturer that doesn't. Horse and buggy > broken-down Ferrari every time!

  37. #37
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    [QUOTE=quelocotony;10760190]I have both a squish and a Rigid SS Niner. Each with it's pros & cons.

    Having moved from N. Texas to Chunky AZ trails, I have learned a few things that have helped.

    1. Big Volume FR Tire -- currently ride an Ardent 2.4. with low PSI. Looks like a motocross tire but it definitely helps provide some cush.
    2. Bend Elbows. Amazing a how body english can go a long way to improve the quality of the ride.
    3. Motrin. Riding rigid kicks your ass, a little motrin helps ease the pain. Somehow, it's still worth it to me.



    Nice rig!

    I too have a few Niner SIR's - one full rigid and one front squish. Love them both and grab the one that fits my mood or the trail that day. I find I choose the full rigid more times than not.

    Rigid forks on AZ trails-photo-64-.jpg
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    Marty

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    both of my hardtails have both a rigid and soft front end.... it's called a lock out...

    sorry for being a smart ass .... but dude, it's so simple

    that lock out comes in handy when climbing out of the saddle on (less steep) flat grades...
    My Reba shock still compresses even when locked out.
    Plus it's heavier...

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by metalaficionado View Post
    My Reba shock still compresses even when locked out.
    Plus it's heavier...
    The floodgate setting is supposed to set the point where it pops out of lockout, you might have to give it a few turns.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by metalaficionado View Post
    My Reba shock still compresses even when locked out.
    Plus it's heavier...
    yes I agree, they are heavier... good point as far as the compression, not enough to make a difference for me... and yes, I have ridden a full rigid. My first bike was a full rigid trek 930 1992 model... damn that was a heavy bike... but yes I know they make the rigids much lighter these days... my stumpjumper with a reba is only 25 lbs so weight is not an issue..

  41. #41
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    Been riding rigid SS for about a year and a half. The only thing that I have upgraded on my bike is grips and pedals. Its the Gravity G29SS and it has taken some brutal punishment and haven't had one single problem with it.

  42. #42
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    [QUOTE=mcoplea;10760985]
    Quote Originally Posted by quelocotony View Post
    I have both a squish and a Rigid SS Niner. Each with it's pros & cons.

    Having moved from N. Texas to Chunky AZ trails, I have learned a few things that have helped.

    1. Big Volume FR Tire -- currently ride an Ardent 2.4. with low PSI. Looks like a motocross tire but it definitely helps provide some cush.
    2. Bend Elbows. Amazing a how body english can go a long way to improve the quality of the ride.
    3. Motrin. Riding rigid kicks your ass, a little motrin helps ease the pain. Somehow, it's still worth it to me.



    Nice rig!

    I too have a few Niner SIR's - one full rigid and one front squish. Love them both and grab the one that fits my mood or the trail that day. I find I choose the full rigid more times than not.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks! Your set up looks very similar. I like the Moondust Grey SIR -- fun ride.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by metalaficionado View Post
    My Reba shock still compresses even when locked out.
    Plus it's heavier...
    My thoughts exactly. The front suspension does compress even when locked out and adds some weight.

    My SS rig with a Niner Carbon fork weighs just under 20# and climbs like a billy goat.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by quelocotony View Post
    My thoughts exactly. The front suspension does compress even when locked out and adds some weight.

    My SS rig with a Niner Carbon fork weighs just under 20# and climbs like a billy goat.
    Buddy and I just built a SS rigid on Kona Big Unit frame he picked on ebay for $300.
    We put a bunch of left over parts on it, bike came out to 23lbs without any carbon.
    I heard of SS rigid carbon builds that come out around 17lbs !

  45. #45
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    If my bike weighted between 20-25 pounds, I think I would be in nirvana

  46. #46
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    A carbon frame/carbon fork rigid SS with decent aluminum wheels and crankset should come in around 18+. Could be less with carbon wheels and race weight tires.
    Honestly though a bit more weight from steel or Ti on a rigid bike is welcomed on chunky trails after about mile 15.

  47. #47
    Give it a crank
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    Lots of good info here, it really helps in figuring out bike choices. While nosebrowsing around mtbr, I found a couple of awesome threads with many more bike pictures. They're definitely worth a look to see what else is out there:

    The All Mountain Hardtail Thread. Post up yours.
    Post your light-weight bikes!

  48. #48
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    Rigid forks on AZ trails-1399593_10201742678080934_1183949116_o.jpg

    Rigid forks on AZ trails-1377044_10201742678240938_1653320562_n.jpg

    I built up this bike using a 1999 Klein Attitude Race frame and a 550-gram Trigon carbon rigid fork. It rides beautifully and climbs incredibly. With Continental Speed King RaceSport 2.2 tires, it weighs 18 1/2 pounds.

    Rigid forks on AZ trails-812631_10200128074796861_1952411230_o.jpg

    Here's an identical fork on my other Klein, which has Continental Race King Supersonic 26 x 2.2 tires.

    The Trigon carbon rigid fork soaks up small bumps better than the RockShox SID XX World Cup fork on my carbon full-suspension bike.

  49. #49
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    Gone rigid for awhile. Never again. Hand blisters, crashes and overall un-fun experience. Most people who ride rigid are not normal. They're either in denial about it slowing them down, or they are mutants and nothing can slow them down. Personally, I prefer fun, speed and carelessness over bike-induced pain.
    John

  50. #50
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    Rigid forks on AZ trails-3198_1000x793.jpg

    Here's the 21 1/2-pound Ruegamer carbon Titus Racer X that I built. I call it my "lazy bike" because I tend to choose it when I don't feel like getting the workout you get from riding a full-rigid bike. I currently have four bikes, and the other three are all full-rigid.

    I will consider this bike to be finished once I mount a TV set on the bars and add a padded sissy bar.

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