1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Comparing forks before upgrade..?

    I'm looking to upgrade my fork (currently a sun tour that I've "grown out of"), but I really don't know how to evaluate which one I should purchase. How do I compare across brands? How do I know what I really need in a fork?

    I ride single track on Long Island (primarily), so the terrain is pretty flat. I don't think I need anything too crazy and I'd like to spend under $150 on the fork if possible (I have some wiggle room on that price though).

  2. #2
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    Well, for starters, what do you mean by you've "grown out of" the fork? First and foremost, I recommend doing some reading about suspension and learn some of the terminology so you can understand what you're getting. You'll be very hard pressed to find something better than your current fork for less than $150. Suspension can get pricey really quick. If you primarily ride on flat, mellow terrain...it might be a better option for you to just buy a rigid fork since they can be had for cheaper.

  3. #3
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    on flat terrain (few rocks, no logs, no drops) I'd vote rigid with larger tires (2.3"). I notice from you're profile, you have a motobecane 300ht, which uses v-brakes. A lot more options open up if you either get a new front wheel that uses disc brakes, or sell that bike and get one with disc brakes. I'd recommend selling it, and finding a bike off bikeisland.com (bikedirects scratch & dent site) where the front fork is damaged. You'll get an additional amount knocked off the price, which you can apply towards a fork.

    Assuming you'll get disc brakes: At the $150 or less price range, you're stuck going used off ebay or sales online. The only fork I know that's available for that price range right now is the rockshox XC28, which really isn't all that great of a fork, although a huge upgrade over an XCT. I would only recommend it if you weigh less than 170lbs because the 28mm stanchions will have as much flex as the XCT fork. It just has a much better damping system though.

    In the fall is when you can get your best deals on forks because they are trying to get rid of last years models. I bought a rockshox XC32 last year for $130, but that price is pretty rare. Normally can be had for about $180, which is still a decent fork for the price, but at that range, it's worth it to go to $250 for a good manitou if you're looking for a 29er (link below). If you have a 26", bikewagon.com has a suntour raidon for $55 plus tax, which is a good deal and would be a huge upgrade over an XCT. It has a shorter travel, so you'd really want to check it against your bike to make sure it'll work.

    Manitou Tower Pro 29er Fork | Manitou | Brand | www.PricePoint.com

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    +1 for rigid. It'll track better than what you've got, and what suspension helps with is rock gardens and root beds. You'd be surprised how little you miss it.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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