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
    mtbr member
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    Headshok (F4) vs. RockShox (Rockhopper)

    Looking for my first real mountain bike. As with others here, am deciding between the F4 and the Rockhopper Comp Disc. Have ridden both; the F4 seemed oh-so-slightly better -- but I think I wanted it to.

    Here's the deal: I think I like the F4 better because of the Headshok -- seems more stable, more reliable and less maintenance than the RockShox. Am I barking up the wrong tree, or is one fork demonstrably better than the other?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    The Headshok is one of the lightest 2.85lbs and stiffst forks on the market. Because it uses needle bearings to "roll" up and down through the stroke it is also one of the smoothest forks on the market. The Cannondale frames also ride great!
    www.treefortbikes.com Just lauched V2.0 with free shipping and low prices!

  3. #3
    Former Bike Wrench
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    While I agree that the Headshok is a lighter and stiffer fork, it is far from easy to maintain. Headshok forks for one have no seals...none for the needle bearings. So you need to make sure the rubber boot stays intact. They tear occasionally and then open up the bearings to all the elements. Also, the bearings use races that tend to "creep" over time. You will notice this as you lose travel from your fork. It's not a terrible thing to fix, but annoying. Last, you are pretty much stuck with Cannondale (Coda) stems...so make sure you like the bike position when you leave the LBS.

    I say this as both a former Headshok owner and a former LBS mechanic and warranty manager at a couple Cannondale dealers.

    I personally am a bigger fan of Specialized bikes (they were also the best by far to deal with from a warranty standpoint...though Cannondale wasn't bad). So I would take the Rockhopper in a heartbeat. But if you like the F4 better, your not really hurting yourself either. Get the one you like best!

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