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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    Why upgrade my cheap fork? Benefits?

    I have had be 29er for about 2 years. It has Suntour XCR front fork. It does the job but I am curious how I could benefit from replacing it with a better fork.

    So what would a better fork actually do for me?
    What are the noticeable differences when riding?



    As a noob, I can think of a few things. Lighter, more adjustable, and stiffer (I don't know why stiffer is preferred though).

  2. #2
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    What type of trails do you ride?

  3. #3
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    Re: Why upgrade my cheap fork? Benefits?

    A suspension fork should do two things.
    1. Cushion your ride
    2. Keep your tire in contact with the ground for better control.

    Cheaper forks don't necessarily do them both well. A good fork will allow you to adjust to optimize both to suit your conditions and terrain.

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

  4. #4
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    The Suntour 'X' series forks are good for bike path types of terrain.
    You don't need an upgrade if that is how you ride. Maybe no more difficult/fun trails are near where you can ride.
    My Manitou Tower Pro has damping qualities I immediately notice bombing down to a curve with roots and rocks past trees and on to more of the same.

  5. #5
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    I ride "intermediate level" single track trails. They mostly flow through wooded areas. They typically don't have long inclines or descents but short ups and downs. I encounter rocks, roots, and a few small logs. There are no huge drop offs.

    I haven't the courage or stamina to hit the advance trails yet but maybe one day.

  6. #6
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    The fork would make the advanced trails doable.

  7. #7
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    If your bike has a cheap fork then it likely has other cheap components as well. Forks are expensive and once you upgrade it you'll likely begin to notice other weak points on the bike. Before you know it you'll sink a ton of money into a mediocre bike. My piece of advice (because I've been there before) is to get a bike that is already equipped with a better fork.

  8. #8
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    The XCR is not that bad of an entry level fork, if you compare to an XCT or XCM. A good rider could more than likely do those andvanced trails you mention with that fork. A better fork like a raidon or a recon would definitely make it easier and more enjoyable. You will be more confident and pick up more speed as you feel you have more control over your bike. Small irregularities in the terrain will be soaked up much better, assuming you have the fork set up right. A better fork would also be lighther and more rigid, thus making the bike feel more responsive. I switched my rockhoppers xcr for a raidon, it was like riding a different bike. The raidon is a cheap ($150 26") entry level air fork.

  9. #9
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    What bike do you have? If it is a good bike that you plan to keep for a while I say go ahead and upgrade the fork. You will notice the difference right away. I know I did on my last bike, Jamis Komodo, when I upgraded the cheap RST T8 to a Rockshox Sektor R. Also, like eb1888 said, you will be able to tackle those more difficult trails and build up your strength and stamina quicker. An upgrade doesn't mean that you have to buy the best, most expensive fork out there. Just get something that is a couple levels above what you have. Maybe like a Rockshox Recon or Reba. I just picked up an old, new Recon 351 on ebay for $192.00 with shipping. It should come in tomorrow and I can't wait to see it. What will your buget be if you do upgrade the fork?

  10. #10
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    Many budget forks don't have great rebound or compression damping. A better fork would act less like a pogo stick and allow more control over the bike and give you a smoother ride.

    If you don't feel like there's a problem with your fork, there's nothing wrong with keeping it. You might just put that money in the bank and put it towards your next bike.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyB. View Post
    If your bike has a cheap fork then it likely has other cheap components as well. Forks are expensive and once you upgrade it you'll likely begin to notice other weak points on the bike. Before you know it you'll sink a ton of money into a mediocre bike. My piece of advice (because I've been there before) is to get a bike that is already equipped with a better fork.
    I hear ya. I really am just a every other weekend warrior. My bike is an entry level 29er Felt Nine Trail. It appears that I would have to spend about double what this bike cost me to get a "step up" bike. I don't think I ride enough to convince myself to spend that amount of money in the near future.

    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus View Post
    Many budget forks don't have great rebound or compression damping. A better fork would act less like a pogo stick and allow more control over the bike and give you a smoother ride.

    If you don't feel like there's a problem with your fork, there's nothing wrong with keeping it. You might just put that money in the bank and put it towards your next bike.
    I don't have anything against my fork and it performs well in my eyes. The only thing is that I haven't ridden any bikes with better forks on trails. So I don't know how they would compare.

  12. #12
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    You're fine. If you're riding for exercise and fun, it won't really do you any good unless you have a burning desire to go faster for racing or excitement.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by joepa150 View Post
    I don't have anything against my fork and it performs well in my eyes. The only thing is that I haven't ridden any bikes with better forks on trails. So I don't know how they would compare.
    Just keep it and enjoy it until you're not happy with it any more.

  14. #14
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    Thanks again everyone for your help. After discussing suspensions with some local riders and a couple local bike stores, I have decided to go with the Rockshox Recon Silver. Locally it seems to be well liked as a decent upgrade to low end coil fork. Also for $199, it seems to be a really good deal. It has been difficult to find a fork for about $199 or less that is better than the Rockshox. I also looked at a few new bikes equiped with Raidons. While I don't know what version of Raidon it was, the Rockshox Recon Silver looked nicer, felt nicer, and every bike shop I spoke with said they are easier to work on. I don't know which one is actually better on the trail but I guess either one would have been better than what I had.

  15. #15
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    The recon is definitely easier to work on.

  16. #16
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    Raidon is air and outperforms the coil Recon. Through the upgrade program, it is $189. If you want to upgrade your Suntour fork

    I would be willing to bet that if we did an experiment similar to the one in the link below, we'd find similar results with suspension.

    Freakonomics Further Evidence That Wine Tasting Is Wildly Subjective
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  17. #17
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    Suspension is tricky. IME, too flexy a fork makes the front wheel track like ass. But I didn't put my finger on the problem, or really even recognize it, until I got a nicer fork for a different reason. Suddenly, my front wheel could hold a line over rocks and roots! Since I do okay on rigid bikes, I blame the fork. But until replacing it, I thought it was just that my skills had eroded in between college and when I decided to pick up mountain biking again.

    My takeaway was that if I couldn't have at least a Recon (or aging Marzocchi, as the decision went when it came up again,) I'd rather just stick a 1x1 on the front and call it a day. Nobody needs a suspension fork to go mountain biking, but in a world of choices, I think the cheap ones are the worst of all.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyB. View Post
    If your bike has a cheap fork then it likely has other cheap components as well. Forks are expensive and once you upgrade it you'll likely begin to notice other weak points on the bike. Before you know it you'll sink a ton of money into a mediocre bike. My piece of advice (because I've been there before) is to get a bike that is already equipped with a better fork.
    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus View Post
    Many budget forks don't have great rebound or compression damping. A better fork would act less like a pogo stick and allow more control over the bike and give you a smoother ride.

    If you don't feel like there's a problem with your fork, there's nothing wrong with keeping it. You might just put that money in the bank and put it towards your next bike.
    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    Raidon is air and outperforms the coil Recon. Through the upgrade program, it is $189. If you want to upgrade your Suntour fork

    I would be willing to bet that if we did an experiment similar to the one in the link below, we'd find similar results with suspension.

    Freakonomics Further Evidence That Wine Tasting Is Wildly Subjective
    The Recon Silver TK is solo air so it is not coil. The Raidon I was going to purchase was air also. On paper I don't know what is better but I liked the Recon Silver better when seeing and feeling it at the LBS

  19. #19
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    That is a REALLY good deal for the solo air version. It's almost a half pound lighter than the Raidon. Good choice.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    That is a REALLY good deal for the solo air version. It's almost a half pound lighter than the Raidon. Good choice.
    Do you happen to know what a 29" Raidon weighs?

    I just hope the Recon Silver Solo Air weighs less than my Suntour XCR.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    The Suntour 'X' series forks are good for bike path types of terrain.
    You don't need an upgrade if that is how you ride. Maybe no more difficult/fun trails are near where you can ride.
    My Manitou Tower Pro has damping qualities I immediately notice bombing down to a curve with roots and rocks past trees and on to more of the same.

    I ride an XCR all over Pisgah and it does fine.
    Is it the best tool for the job? No, but it is more than just a "bike path" fork.
    It is actually a pretty decent fork leaps and bounds above the XCT and XCM.
    Do I plan on upgrading? Sure, but for now it makes me happy.


    Quote Originally Posted by joepa150 View Post
    I ride "intermediate level" single track trails. They mostly flow through wooded areas. They typically don't have long inclines or descents but short ups and downs. I encounter rocks, roots, and a few small logs. There are no huge drop offs.

    I haven't the courage or stamina to hit the advance trails yet but maybe one day.
    Although I ride advanced trails on the XCR, I have another bike with a better fork and full suspension that makes them easier.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    The fork would make the advanced trails doable.
    thats a bold statement considering you have no idea how advanced the trails are or the riders skill level.... Is a change in fork really going to instantly give him abilities he might not have with his current fork?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by joepa150 View Post
    Do you happen to know what a 29" Raidon weighs?

    I just hope the Recon Silver Solo Air weighs less than my Suntour XCR.
    The Recon Silver is definitely lighter than the XCR. I was in a similar situation to you and I ride similar trails to the type you described. I replaced a Suntour XCR with a Reba and immediately noticed a huge improvement in my bikes handling. It was like riding a different bike. I'm sure you will too. Congratulations.

  24. #24
    Just Ride
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    My HT has a low end fork on it. Some kind of spring fork. No air. So no adjustment for anything.

    My SS is a fully rigid steel beast. I'd have to say, my SS is far more comfortable to ride.

    I've not had much experience with a good quality fork, but I'd imagine it would make a world of difference. At least over entry level forks.
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SandSpur View Post
    thats a bold statement considering you have no idea how advanced the trails are or the riders skill level.... Is a change in fork really going to instantly give him abilities he might not have with his current fork?
    He doesn't try the advanced trails now after two years. They are the most fun and are what make all of us ride like we do. I ride almost every day because of advanced trails. He's no different than you or me.
    But you have to try them to get hooked.
    The Raidon is 5lbs. The shop guys don't know anything about it. No working on it. The damping is a sealed unit like a car shock which will still need no service 5 years from now. But there is nothing wrong with the Recon air.
    Yes he will take it slow to be careful.

    Here's two videos before you do try.
    Straight Lines with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Cornering with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Use a grassy hill to work on these cornering tecniques.
    Last edited by eb1888; 07-26-2013 at 09:14 PM.

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