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.
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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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    Fork ?, Rock Shox or Marzocchi

    I have an entry level bike ($650) with a suntour fork and would like to upgrade. I have been riding my bike quite a bit and really enjoy everytime I get to hit the trails. I have upgraded my pedals and while I don't want to spend a ton of money upgrading item by item, I was thinking of upgrading the fork to help reduce the weight of my bike and also the handling. I have also read plenty of posts about not upgrading items and saving that money for a new bike. However, I just bought my bike about 45 days ago and it will be quite a while before I am able to save enough to buy a new "upgraded" bike...I sold a few things recently therefore I have the money to buy the forks if I chose. I'm about 5'7" & weigh about 145 lbs...I am thinking of buying either a Rock Shox Recon silver TK (which seems to be a pretty decent fork from what I have read on here)...or a Marzocchi Marathon LR. The price seems to be about the same +/- $10 (in the $240 area). I was just wondering if you all had any suggestion or opinions...

  2. #2
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    What about a Manitou Match Comp it sounds like a good fork from some of the reports I've read here on the forum, you could get one of them for about $240.

  3. #3
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    I went with the marathon LR, for $20 less I could have chosen the R version. I have yet to use the lockout, and not really sure I ever will.

    BlueSkyCycling.com - 2012 Marzocchi Marathon LR Fork
    They call me non-sequitur

  4. #4
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    I am in a similar situation with my hardrock. After a bunch of research on here, I've decided on either the rockshox reba (last years version,cheaper) or manitou tower expert (leaning towards this). I'm just waiting for sale before I pull the trigger.

  5. #5
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    Look for a Manitou fork. The performance to price ratio in unmatched by any other brand(by a long shot). You can find a Minute Expert for 250-280ish. Its a little more than you want to spend, but its a fork you can have for years. Even if you upgrade bikes down the road, there is a good chance you would want to take the fork with you to the new bike(its that good)

    You can also go with a Manitou Match(like stated above). Its a little heavier from the steel stanchion tubes, but the performance would be the same at the Minute and you might be able to find one under 240 if you look around.

    Edit:
    Manitou Match Comp Suspension Fork 100mm Black QR w/Bosses

  6. #6
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    I would keep my eye on the used market. Putting $250 into an entry level bike that is still pretty new is kind of a "meh" expenditure. Would have been better off buying a $900 bike to begin with.

    But since you are where you are now, I'd rather spend on a set of quality tires and save the rest for something that might come up later. A good set of tires will cut nearly as much weight from the bike, make the bike feel faster, and provide better handling. Entry level bikes come with heavy, cheap rubber and it's a good upgrade spot.

    I rocked an elastomer fork with less than 80mm travel on my last mtb for 10 years.

  7. #7
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    Even 900 bikes come with low end forks.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mullen119 View Post
    Even 900 bikes come with low end forks.

    Yes, because a quality fork is a fairly expensive item. which is why I suggest looking at the used market.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Yes, because a quality fork is a fairly expensive item. which is why I suggest looking at the used market.
    Personally, I think beginners buying used suspension products is a bad idea. You never know what you are going to get when you buy used and a lot of times, used suspension has been neglected and is need of service that adds to to price.

    This is why I suggest getting a good quality new fork. Get something that you grow into rather than out of, and you can take with you from bike to bike if desired. The Manitou Minute series is the lowest price fork that fits that description. While upgrading tires can have the same effect on weight, a fork with good damping and a stiff chassis is going to be a bigger difference maker. Tires cant give you traction if your fork cant keep your wheel in contact with the ground.

  10. #10
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    maybe your argument about beginners getting more benefit from a new fork than new tires would hold if beginners were pushing the limits of their equipment.

    while some beginners under-buy for their skill level, a lot of them will never exceed the potential of their equipment.

    tires are a very high bang-for-the-buck item and should be the first thing "upgraded" on an entry level bike.

  11. #11
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    Thanks everyone...I really appreciate all the advice. I wish I would have had more to spend on a bike when I bought mine but with life-wife, kids, mortgage & car payments-I was trying to get myself a decent bike for the money. LIke I said, I have been riding every chance I get & now I'd like to upgrade a few things...but it does start to add up & quite honestly I'm not sure if I really need to. Although I have noticed that even in the short amount of time that I've had my bike I am riding with more confidence and some more aggression. It's been quite eye opening to learn how much all of these things can add up to...I'd just like to add a few things and then eventually move onto a new/better bike...but I'm afraid that will probably be a year or two.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    maybe your argument about beginners getting more benefit from a new fork than new tires would hold if beginners were pushing the limits of their equipment.

    while some beginners under-buy for their skill level, a lot of them will never exceed the potential of their equipment.

    tires are a very high bang-for-the-buck item and should be the first thing "upgraded" on an entry level bike.
    I wouldnt disagree that tires are a good bang for your buck, But riders of any skill level would notice a huge difference between a quality fork and a low end piece of junk.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mullen119 View Post
    Look for a Manitou fork. The performance to price ratio in unmatched by any other brand(by a long shot). You can find a Minute Expert for 250-280ish. Its a little more than you want to spend, but its a fork you can have for years. Even if you upgrade bikes down the road, there is a good chance you would want to take the fork with you to the new bike(its that good)

    You can also go with a Manitou Match(like stated above). Its a little heavier from the steel stanchion tubes, but the performance would be the same at the Minute and you might be able to find one under 240 if you look around.

    Edit:
    Manitou Match Comp Suspension Fork 100mm Black QR w/Bosses
    I see this fork can be set at 80mm, 100mm & 130mm...since my current fork is a 100mm would it be best for me to keep that setting & would it be difficult for my LBS to install & set it to 100mm? This may seem like an elementary question but I'm trying to learn as I go.

    Thanks

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mullen119 View Post
    I wouldnt disagree that tires are a good bang for your buck, But riders of any skill level would notice a huge difference between a quality fork and a low end piece of junk.
    and on an entry level bike, most riders will see improvements from upgrading any part that moves, and some that don't.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecfritts View Post
    I see this fork can be set at 80mm, 100mm & 130mm...since my current fork is a 100mm would it be best for me to keep that setting & would it be difficult for my LBS to install & set it to 100mm? This may seem like an elementary question but I'm trying to learn as I go.

    Thanks
    It comes set at 100mm. Its only internally adjustable down to 80mm. The 130mm is a separate version that is not internally adjustable to any other travel.

    Side note: This is a better performing fork then you will find on most bikes up to $1500.00.(unless you find a closeout somewhere) It has one of the best damping systems available at any price range. It is on the heavy side at around 5lbs though. Keep that mind if you are seriously considering the purchase.

  16. #16
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    mullen 119...I am considering the fork...however I found it @$286. I have found the Rock Shox Recon silver for $209 & the Marzocchi Marathon for $189. Just wondering which is the best bang for my buck.

  17. #17
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    In terms of perfomance. The manitou would be the best, the Recon silver would be second, and the Marzocchi would be third. They all would be an upgrade over what you have.

    If it was me(I am a suspension junkie) I would would get the Manitou because it has a shimmed damper. I would assume you dont know what that means, but to put it in perspective, you would have to get a Rock Shox fork with the XX damper or Mission Control damper to get the same performance(those forks start at $600 and go up from there.) I would especially go that route if you found a 100mm Minute expert for that price. The Manitou forks will be the most adjustable of the bunch.

    If you're looking to save money, The Recon is still a solid fork that will give you good performance and satisfy your needs. Its a worthy upgrade.

    I would shy away from the Marzocchi. The lower end Marzocchi forks use suntour damper cartridges, so the only real performance gains will be from the stiffer chassis. Not a horrible fork, but not the best bang for your bike.

  18. #18
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    Man, this is a never ending thing...I figure if I do upgrade my forks that I may as well get some bars...and if I get new handlebars I should get a new stem...

  19. #19
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    If you have V-brakes, you will need bosses. The silver TK has bosses, the Marathon LR does not. I did not realize that the Marathon used suntour damper, but I'm not sure that is a deal breaker as the fork is much much better than the suntour I replaced it with. The damper seems to work quite adequate for my skill level/trailes I ride (lots of roots on my trail). Besides, you are light like me, I am not so sure a damper really needs to be that great anyway. I am very happy with my Marathon and I am sure it will work quite well for at least a year until I can buy a better bike with a Reba or similar fork. In the meantime, I agree with Nate, it is senseless buying a component that costs half of what your bike is worth. Stick with the two sub $200 forks you are looking at. Either one will do you just fine. I just think it comes down to what brake system you have. I have disk and did not want bosses sticking out being an eyesore, so that is why I chose the Marathon. I know it doesn't sound like a winning reason, but I would be willing to bet $20 that those two forks are too similar in performance to worry about which is best. You get what you pay for, and both have good reviews.
    They call me non-sequitur

  20. #20
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    Gypsymage thanks! I have disk brakes...I have a Raleigh Talus 5.0. I know what you are saying about spending half of what my bike costs on a set of forks but the Rock Shox are $249 (the 29er version was $209)...so now I'm thinking I could just spend $30 more and get the best of the 3. On the other hand I could go less expensive & use some of that money on handlebars, stem or tires. Decisions, decisions...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecfritts View Post
    I see this fork can be set at 80mm, 100mm & 130mm...since my current fork is a 100mm would it be best for me to keep that setting & would it be difficult for my LBS to install & set it to 100mm? This may seem like an elementary question but I'm trying to learn as I go.

    Thanks
    My LBS installed my fork for $30. The Marathon LR comes 100mm, but can be adjusted to 80mm or 120mm with spacers. My LBS quoted $60 for a rebuild to install or remove spacers. I replaced it with a Suntour 80mm, and was thinking about making the Marathon the same, but not for $60, and the height difference is too minimal to worry about. The geometry still feels the same to me.

    Also, watch out on that Manitou, I saw one for $289, but it looks like a very old version. If you decide to go that route, I would ask what year it is, and see how much it weighs. I think the older versions are a lot heavier. And that reminds me, I also think the Silver is almost a pound heavier than the Marathon? I'm not sure how that should be considered, but hey, a pound is a pound...
    They call me non-sequitur

  22. #22
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    I think pricepoint had the newer Manitou expert, that is light for like $314. Still, that is almost twice as much as the Marathon at either $169 or $189 at bluesky. I wish I would have just gotten the R as I mentioned before, I'm too light to worry about lockout, and it is manual so I always forget to switch it anyway. $169 is a steal for an air adjustable fork.
    They call me non-sequitur

  23. #23
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    I never upgrade something without making it a worthwhile upgrade. Wait for a sale on the minute or a rs with motion control (not turnkey).

    You may want to consider this one. Others have bought there, but I've never ordered from them.

    Manitou Minute Expert Forks 2012 | Buy Online | ChainReactionCycles.com

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlouder View Post
    I never upgrade something without making it a worthwhile upgrade. Wait for a sale on the minute or a rs with motion control (not turnkey).

    You may want to consider this one. Others have bought there, but I've never ordered from them.

    Manitou Minute Expert Forks 2012 | Buy Online | ChainReactionCycles.com
    Wow...thanks, that seems to be a pretty good price on that fork.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlouder View Post
    I never upgrade something without making it a worthwhile upgrade. Wait for a sale on the minute or a rs with motion control (not turnkey).

    You may want to consider this one. Others have bought there, but I've never ordered from them.

    Manitou Minute Expert Forks 2012 | Buy Online | ChainReactionCycles.com
    My question about this website is are these all the same forks? I mean, there is $120 difference between matte black & gloss black? Plus they have them listed in 80mm, 100mm & 130mm-which I thought each one was capable of? Just want to make sure before I pull the trigger...Thanks.

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