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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    Forks for dummies

    As a newbie who is in the process of building up a 29er the most daunting and most different aspect vs road bikes is clearly the fork.

    Are there any resources or does anyone have any links to threads where I can find out the basics and/or a glossary of terms?

    For example I keep hearing talk about "setting the sag" and "dampers" and "rebound rate" and about the only thing that I know for certain is what a lockout does! Ultimately just trying to get more educated as I know that at 250lbs I'm going to need to be really specific in what fork I ultimately go with.

  2. #2
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    Bikepedia ,google ,online back issues of mags like Mountain Bike Action.

  3. #3
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    I think some of the best literature you'll find is direct from the manufacturer. I know Fox has a fairly lengthy FAQ for fork setup as well as settings charts.

    In the end though, just understand the basic terminologies and fool with the settings yourself.

    Rebound: how fast the fork returns to the uncompressed state

    Compression Damping: how easily the shock can be compressed

    Lockout: locks out the fork. (Technically I think this setting just increases the damping to the max but I may be wrong on that, also depends on if you have an air shock or spring coils).

    Hopefully someone will add and critique this, I'm not an expert.

  4. #4
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    youtube was a good source on examples on how to set suspension, manufacturer website and google was a good source for understanding concepts. i grew up racing moto so i understood concepts but youtube helped show how it translates from moto to mtb.

  5. #5
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    good post..... thx guys

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    As a newbie who is in the process of building up a 29er the most daunting and most different aspect vs road bikes is clearly the fork.

    Are there any resources or does anyone have any links to threads where I can find out the basics and/or a glossary of terms?

    For example I keep hearing talk about "setting the sag" and "dampers" and "rebound rate" and about the only thing that I know for certain is what a lockout does! Ultimately just trying to get more educated as I know that at 250lbs I'm going to need to be really specific in what fork I ultimately go with.
    This would get you point in the right direction. Mountain Bike Suspension 101 from Cycle Monkey
    The most important is setting te sag or neg travel. It's what keeps your wheel tracking when you are riding over bumps or dips. Many noobs make the mistake of setting too little sag thinking that would yield more travel unfortunately it's not the case.

    Next is rebound, the simple way to explain is if your are setting it too slow while it feels nice over a bump but if you go over series of bumps think brake ruts or stairs your suspension can not return fast enough and start "packing", not good. If you set it too fast it would feel like a pogo stick or worse an ejection device not sending you over the bar, not good either. The rule of thumb is to set it as fast as you can while having good control, on the given trail( you can change it back and forth), but most riders just have one main set up and not mess with it.

    Lock out is not really a big thing, I don't use it, why buy a suspension, not to mention lugging more weight, and not use it. It takes some transitional period but once you're transitioned you should not feel any ineffiency.

    At for your weight, it may help to post this on a Clyde's forum. Stiffer and more beefy fork would reduce or eliminate the flexes. I like Magura's stiffness as well as their dampening, check them out.

  7. #7
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    Well here's a bit of Edumacation you might have already guessed, but just in case.....@250lbs you are WAY over the weight that most cheap/low end coil forks are sprung for, they are sprung for riders in the 160-180lb range, so if you buy something cheap, it will not hold your weight up and will dive like crazy.

    Your best bet at your weight if you are looking under $400 and coil is to see if you can replace/change out the spring to a much firmer one to handle your weight. Best bet though I think is to try to find the best deal you can on an air sprung fork, which will give you the ease of setting the spring rate with just a shock pump and no need to go into the fork. Take a look at X-Fusion for inexpensive, good air forks in the $400 price range or Manitou if you can find a deal, finding Fox or RS of decent quality in that range, air sprung can be hard to impossible.

    IMHO, at your weight you'd also be advised to go for a fork that uses some fork of TA (through axle), whether it be 15mm or 20mm and get the appropriate wheels to match. ON the rear getting a TA or bolt on hub would be better.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
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  8. #8
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    Fwiw, i dont have a budget at this point. Im more interesred in buying the right thing instead of something cheap just to say i have a suspension. Im even cinsidering a non suspended dork in place of the cheap one i have now

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  9. #9
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    What would really help beyond reading up (which is good to do so you know what the lingo is) is go into a shop and talk to someone and actually try out a few different forks..even if it is just to push them up and down and make adjustments to see what changes. Sometimes you can ride the bikes, drop off a curb etc. This way, you will be able to feel the difference. Too many people on here read about stuff until they are blue in the face but haven't actually experienced it. Some of the fork adjustments, IMHO, are a bit overly complicated..this is a bike for God's sake! My Fox has air pressure (for sag..the amount it settles under your weight when you sit on it) and rebound (sets how fast the fork comes back after you compress it). Some forks also have compression settings and other adjustments that set the sensitivity to small vs. large bumps.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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    Can't go wrong with Rock Shox Reba's if budget is no issue and you are not going to be DH / dirt jumping or something. Robust enough to take your weight and pretty easy to set up. The mission control settings are a bit less esoteric than the various compression settings on my Fox F32 RLC FITs - although they are easy enough once used to them.
    Just remember to set
    Sag,
    Rebound,
    Mission control (compression damping settings)
    in that order; with the rebound and mission control; just make 1 adjustment at a time and test ride until you get it how you like it. You can't really damage anything by fiddling with fork settings.

    SRAM website has all the information you need on Rock Shox forks:
    Service Resources - RockShox | SRAM
    Last edited by SimpleJon; 11-25-2012 at 05:45 AM.

  11. #11
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    cp,

    Speaking from experience, reading the definitions of those terms online won't tell you squat. Go to your LBS and ask to look at bikes that have adjustable compression and rebound settings, and sit on some bikes and ask the salesperson to adjust the sag on front forks so you can see how it changes. These don't have to be forks that are rated for your size, just any old fork will do so you understand what each setting does. I could spout off the definitions of all of those terms you asked about, but actually seeing how cranking the rebound up can make the fork literally take a second to rebound instead of instantly will show you a lot more than reading about it, for example.

    Of course, seeing how all of those settings work, and then making the adjustments that suit you once you purchase a bike and go ride it, THAT is another story. It's part of the fun and learning experience.

    Andy B.
    Main Ride: '03 Cannondale Jekyll 600
    Other bikes in the stable: '11 Pugsley, '97 C'dale F700, '97 Uber V conversion

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy b. View Post
    cp,

    Speaking from experience, reading the definitions of those terms online won't tell you squat. Go to your LBS and ask to look at bikes that have adjustable compression and rebound settings, and sit on some bikes and ask the salesperson to adjust the sag on front forks so you can see how it changes. These don't have to be forks that are rated for your size, just any old fork will do so you understand what each setting does. I could spout off the definitions of all of those terms you asked about, but actually seeing how cranking the rebound up can make the fork literally take a second to rebound instead of instantly will show you a lot more than reading about it, for example.

    Of course, seeing how all of those settings work, and then making the adjustments that suit you once you purchase a bike and go ride it, THAT is another story. It's part of the fun and learning experience.

    Andy B.
    I thoroughly disagree with the first part of your statement. Reading and knowing the definitions and understanding them will then help me understand what I'm feeling when I go and try something out in person which is the part of your statement that I agree with. Living in NYC the bike shops are all road dominant and lets face it, we've all been to LBS' where the people working there know far less than what we know so unless you are talking to the owner of the shop who is usually an expert, I find that gleaning info from forums like this is far more informative.

    FWIW, that link with the glossary above was fantastic and I did find a couple of good youtube vids that explained things. IT makes a lot more sense to me now. Ultimately the issue is still going to be one of "what forks have the capabilities to be setup for a rider of my size" But I'm definately moving on the right track. Thanks guys!

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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    yep, Ive come across that thread, haven't read through the whole thing yet, there is a lot there. the tower pro is one of the forks I've been looking at, I've seen some decent pricing on it as well and seen great reviews but of course, all from lighter weight riders.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    yep, Ive come across that thread, haven't read through the whole thing yet, there is a lot there. the tower pro is one of the forks I've been looking at, I've seen some decent pricing on it as well and seen great reviews but of course, all from lighter weight riders.
    The guys reviewing in that thread will not be lightweights.

  16. #16
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    My $0.02

    I (who hasn't been below 250lbs for more than ten years) spent a couple months on a Tower Pro this summer. It's at the top of the class at this time, and when you consider that it can be had for less than $400 (currently at pricepoint), it's a no-brainer IMHO. I have had the opportunity to ride several forks from various brands, and the Tower Pro for less than $400 is more than just the best bang for the buck, it's excellent at any price. If you can swing the price, go for it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    I (who hasn't been below 250lbs for more than ten years) spent a couple months on a Tower Pro this summer. It's at the top of the class at this time, and when you consider that it can be had for less than $400 (currently at pricepoint), it's a no-brainer IMHO. I have had the opportunity to ride several forks from various brands, and the Tower Pro for less than $400 is more than just the best bang for the buck, it's excellent at any price. If you can swing the price, go for it.
    I must say, I've learned a TON about forks in the 24 hours since I posted this! IT seems like if your 250lbs there are no good options for suspension forks period but if you have to have one, the tower pro is a very viable option. the price definately seems right but I want to understand the total cost of ownership, seems like a lot of tinkering is being done to make them desireable and getting the proper parts for them is an issue.

  18. #18
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    Whether it's true the manufacturers think of you as a bit of a niche market. So they don't do the setup work for you. It will be a good effort because you develop maintenance skills you need anyway as you do the work. Everyone goes through it for that fork. Welcome to high performance.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    I must say, I've learned a TON about forks in the 24 hours since I posted this! IT seems like if your 250lbs there are no good options for suspension forks period but if you have to have one, the tower pro is a very viable option. the price definately seems right but I want to understand the total cost of ownership, seems like a lot of tinkering is being done to make them desireable and getting the proper parts for them is an issue.
    From what I understand, the Tower Pro comes with a firm, or extra firm spring? Somebody correct me if I am wrong. The one I rode this past summer was a demo bike from Niner and as far as I know it was stock with no mods. I got to ride it after another tester (that weighs about 185lbs) had it for a month. He also loved it. All we did to tune it for me was to add a little air (it is a hybrid coil/air spring system) and it was good to go for me. Contrary to what you are suggesting, the Tower Pro took less than ten minutes to dial in, and it felt great right away although I did lower the air spring pressure by about 5psi or so after the first ride. Maybe I just got lucky.

    I rode with him last night and we were talking about the Tower Pro. His comment was that he wished every bike he rode came with the Tower Pro. He rides even more/different bikes/forks than I do.

    I would inquire as to what spring comes with the fork you would be purchasing before pulling the trigger. If it already comes with a firm or extra firm spring, you should be good to go. If not, plan on purchasing one and having it installed. Hopefully, the thread about clydes makes it clear. As far as I am concerned, that would be the only possible mod that it could need, and there is a good chance you won't need to even do that. Take anything else suggested with a grain of salt IMHO.

    As an alternative, if you can find a 2011 Marzocchi 44 Micro Ti for a good price, that would be my other suggestion. The Fox F29 and Rock Shox Reba are very good, but they cost more and I don't think they ride as good as the Tower Pro or the Marz Micro Ti by a noticeable margin. Everything else (besides what I have mentioned above), is just everything else.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    From what I understand, the Tower Pro comes with a firm, or extra firm spring? Somebody correct me if I am wrong. The one I rode this past summer was a demo bike from Niner and as far as I know it was stock with no mods. I got to ride it after another tester (that weighs about 185lbs) had it for a month. He also loved it. All we did to tune it for me was to add a little air (it is a hybrid coil/air spring system) and it was good to go for me. Contrary to what you are suggesting, the Tower Pro took less than ten minutes to dial in, and it felt great right away although I did lower the air spring pressure by about 5psi or so after the first ride. Maybe I just got lucky.

    I rode with him last night and we were talking about the Tower Pro. His comment was that he wished every bike he rode came with the Tower Pro. He rides even more/different bikes/forks than I do.

    I would inquire as to what spring comes with the fork you would be purchasing before pulling the trigger. If it already comes with a firm or extra firm spring, you should be good to go. If not, plan on purchasing one and having it installed. Hopefully, the thread about clydes makes it clear. As far as I am concerned, that would be the only possible mod that it could need, and there is a good chance you won't need to even do that. Take anything else suggested with a grain of salt IMHO.

    As an alternative, if you can find a 2011 Marzocchi 44 Micro Ti for a good price, that would be my other suggestion. The Fox F29 and Rock Shox Reba are very good, but they cost more and I don't think they ride as good as the Tower Pro or the Marz Micro Ti by a noticeable margin. Everything else (besides what I have mentioned above), is just everything else.
    It seems that it comes with a firm spring and they have a readily available x firm spring. There is a XX Firm spring that is apparently missing in action. I have heard nothing but good things about this fork both in quality and price point. Everyone says it would still be a great fork at double the price. that says a lot.

  21. #21
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    You've got about 80lbs on me, but I have to say, I've had nothing but excellent service out of my Minute 120mm for the last 4 years, really happy with it. Only thing I wish I had was the Absolute+ damper, but that's standard on them all now right

    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    It seems that it comes with a firm spring and they have a readily available x firm spring. There is a XX Firm spring that is apparently missing in action. I have heard nothing but good things about this fork both in quality and price point. Everyone says it would still be a great fork at double the price. that says a lot.
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  22. #22
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    seems to be 50/50 with some guys my size saying they like the fork but don't love it and really want more out of it while others are quite happy with it out of the box

  23. #23
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    I was 250lbs when i got my 29er, and i really really liked my marzocchi 44 (wish they had been micros). they always felt plush and smooth, where easy to keep in good running shape and being an air sprung shock i was able to easily and quickly adjust the air pressure as i lost weight.

    i have been told by a few people that the marzocchi run better with lower psi, was running 60 when i was 250+ when i hit 225lbs i dropped down to 45/50psi and they felt even better. The lock out on the TST2 where not great, a wasted feature. I think i used the lock out maybe half a dozen time and then it stopped working. I think i forgot it locked on a descent and killed it, or it could have been hitting that tree, or that stump, or the other tree... no wait i think it was the log..lol

    The rockshox reba was the other option i had been looking at, they felt great and where very very comparable to the marzocchi 44. the benefit with the rockshox is when the time comes you can send them into PUSH and get them beefed up and fitted for your weight.
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