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  1. #1
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    Front Shocks on the commuter: Pro's and Cons

    I know this has probably come up before. But I have a commuter that came stock with front suspension. I am thinking of dumping them for a set of Bontrager disk forks. I am trying to eliminate costs of maintaining the shock. I never even ride this off road. So I can't help but wonder if I should. This should also drop some weight as well. Any drawbacks to this besides losing a little comfort?

  2. #2
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    Well I'll tell you what, for the first mile or so of my commute I love the fork on my Fire Mountain (dart 1) compared to the rigid steel fork of last winter. But after it cools off, it ain't worth a damn... That and I have to keep the stachions well oiled both to help keep it from locking out and to keep them from corroding.

    I better fork would solve these issues, but then again so would a nice raked out steel fork... And with a 26x2.1 front tire, I can drop the pressure love enough so that it helps smooth out the icey ruts enough anyhow. My summer bike has 110psi 700x32c tires on a very raked out tange chromoly fork with tapered walls and I have no complaints!
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  3. #3
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    Lose the shock. Keep it rigid and lean, less to break and less to repair (it's also easier to do wheelies, very important stuff for the dedicated commuter,) I agree with Buck, throw some fat tires on your ride and drop the pressure a bit.

  4. #4
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    I agree, ditch the sus fork and go rigid. Or better yet, sell it and buy some fat slicks. One less thing to maintain plus, who needs them?

    I use 29er Big Apples. They are better suspension than any small travel fork.

  5. #5
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    I don't even use suspension off road...

  6. #6
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    You already mentioned the con. Maintenance. A decent rigid fork will absorb enough of the shock for most roads, plus it'll be lighter, and give you more precise handling.

    I find it strange that after almost a century of evolution leading to flexible shock absorbing fork blades combined with resilient wheels, we've moved in the opposite direction over the last decade, with overly rigid forks and wheels. It's almost is if the intent was to create a market for suspension road bikes
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  7. #7
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    Only cons so far. Here are some pros. The ride. Why punish yourself? When I was younger I rode all rigid. What a man I was! Now that I'm an old fart I prefer a non kidney crunching, bone shaking, noggin rattler. Don't have to worry about breaking those light weight fork with drops off curbs, stairs, etc. Hands/wrists take less of a beating. Call me a wuss, but I prefer comfort over speed.

  8. #8
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    My doc mandated use of a suspension fork for commuting during the early part of my shoulder surgery recovery. Now that I'm feeling better, that bike is back in storage, and I'm on my rigid fork beater.

  9. #9
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    As we all know front suspension for commuting is very inefficient. I first started out commuting with a mountain bike. It had a non lockable front shock. The ride was very comfortable but it was really hard to maintain a nice cruising speed.

    I now ride a hybrid Trek 7.3 fx and compared to the mountain bike its alot faster and more efficient. Its easier to maintain a good speed without burning yourself out too early in the commute. Its much lighter and just more ideal for commuting in the city.

    If your a weight weenie then I would go with a rigid fork. But if your front suspension has a lockout then I would keep your current bike. You never know when you will like to try it offroad. If you want more speed try a road bike or hyrid.

  10. #10
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    I use the dart 2 that came on my RMB fusion for commuting. I was looking at a rigid but a suspension fork has saved me many rims and is alot more comfortable that a rigid that i rode for 2 weeks and I havent noticed any effect on preformance either. Maybe its becuase of the roads in my area are full of pot holes and dip and the side walks are worse. The sidewalks can sometimes be as bad as some offroad tracks(4-8in curbs, uneven brick, suddden drops, and almost no curb cuts on on street).

  11. #11
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    I was riding a 1989 Fisher AL-1 which is as stiff as all getout. I ran high pressure tires for increased efficiency because I do 28 miles a day. I could ride over rough patches in the road and look down at my front axle and could detect ZERO fork deflection. This was translated directly through the 1.25" headset and into my hands. I put on thick Oury grips and a carbon bar but it was still pretty punishing.

    Well, in a quest to build a nice dirt bike from some older ones...I ended up with an idle Trek 4900 frame. I built it up into my current commuter. It came with Rock Shox Pilot forks (bleh) but another parts bike came with a 2001 Judy SL that I wasn't using. I put the Judy on the 4900 and have been riding it. The fork is a little too springy because it is in disrepair and needs a busted cap replaced. I can't adjust the preload any more and it sags about an inch. However, the ride quality is much better than my old bike. I don't feel any handlebar vibration and it's a lot more pleasant. Also, the Judy (unlike the Pilot) has aluminum tubes so it won't rust.

    If you are going to a rigid fork on a frame designed for suspension, make sure you don't drop the front end substantially in the process. I've never tried it but I have a feeling your handling would be altered significantly. I think this is how a lot of bikes with 29" front wheels and 26" rears are born. Also, see if you can't find a road fork that will be a bit more compliant than an uber-beefy MTB fork.

  12. #12
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    So why did you use an apostrophe in "pro's" but not "cons"?
    "Donuts. Is there anything they can't do?"

  13. #13
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    That's why the Cannondale Bad Boy is such a great bike. The headshok can be locked on rigid or run just like a regular fork.

    And the 700c wheels keep you from being late.

  14. #14
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    I got a C'dale bad boy eight years ago when they first came out. That was a nice bike with the 2x9 drivetrain and the lockout. A really fast commuter at the time.

    Five years ago I rediscovered steel road frames with longer stays. I've converted a cyclocross and a touring frame to riser and flat bar and would never go back to what I had.

    For a 14 mile commute twice a day in any weather. . .

    1) The longer chainstays allow for full fenders and both of the frames have braze on rack mounts that free me from the backpack. I personally can't stand even a hydration pack.

    2) Steel just rides a lot better than aluminum. The poprad frame has a carbon cross fork and 25.4 mm easton carbon riser with those cushy thick grips, nice and comfy.

    3) Both frames have clearance for larger lower pressure 700c tires even with fenders.

    4) When I rode my 20 lb XC racer to work it took a LOT longer to get there so even with a SID locked out, the little wheels and fat tires aren't worth the extra time to me.

    Hope this helps

  15. #15
    Zach Kowalchuk
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    Dump the shock.I use rigid for all of my riding, I don't need shocks, I use my body. Plus, I find it much easier to do longer commuting to stores and such without shocks. Only downside is when I do agressive trail riding is when that 4 foot drop comes out of no where, hurts like a f***er when you land.

  16. #16
    One Colorful Rider
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    go Rigid lighter no bongy bongy

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Normbilt
    go Rigid lighter no bongy bongy
    It may be lighter but does that offset the discomfort of having your arms take alll the bumps in the road.

  18. #18
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    I just switched out my 100mm travel suspension forks for a set of eXotic rigid forks a couple of weeks ago and I'm glad that I made the change. I was skeptical about the loss of comfort, but there isn't much (if any) difference at all while road riding. Gravel, dirt, and cobblestone roads are a little rougher than before, but not enough for me to want to go back to my suspension fork. You'll be perfectly fine as long as your tires don't have lots of knobs down the middle (I ride on Kenda Kross Plus tires). I'll take pics of my bike with the new forks and post before and after photos when I get a chance.

  19. #19
    One Colorful Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by harry2110
    It may be lighter but does that offset the discomfort of having your arms take alll the bumps in the road.
    I live in northwest chicago suburbs. where in the last week we had zero dergree day with 12" of snow, three days later it was 60 with 1.25" of rain, then temps in the single digits, with these extreme temp changes we have pot holes that swallow SUV's
    Which really is not a bad thing.

    I've been comuting in Chicago burbs for 10 years.

    rigid in the rain,snow,mud,dirt sun,moon

  20. #20
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    delete

  21. #21
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    For a while I was actually looking for a carbon fork replacement for my uber-rigid Fisher fork. Since a 29er is the same as 700c, you can probably swap the fork and drop in a 700c front wheel and keep about the same geometry as your bike has with suspension. That way you'd have a "rigid" fork with some flex to soak up the little stuff. However, you may sacrifice wet weather braking performance because you'll likely have to go with cantilever/V-brakes.

  22. #22
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    If you commute in the dark, keep the suspension fork. It helps keep you from crashing when you hit potholes and other nasty things.
    If you live where the roads are rough, keep the suspension.
    If you commute in Europe, keep the suspension. In Germany, commuting bikes have either front suspension or a very long, soft frame.
    If you ride on ice, suspension helps with control.
    Commuting bikes should be practical. Since you likely have lights, fenders, and a rack, you don't need to think like a "weight wienie".

  23. #23
    I Ride for Donuts
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    My last crash would not have happened if I had been running a suspension fork.

    I hit a hunk of asphalt in the dark and went over the bars...probably would have been able to maintain control if I had had some suspension. Also probably wouldn't have tweaked my wheel.

    That said, my commuter is still rigid, and my mtb is fully sprung. I just have a better headlight now. If you make the switch, stay alert...suspension can make you lazy.
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  24. #24
    sonoranbiker
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    29er steel frame, rigid fork, Titec H-Bars with double-wrapped road bike bar tape; dulls the vibrations and smooths out the road chatter. 29x2.0 Serfas slicks; roll great and smooth out the cracks and such. We're talking about commuting on roads here, not trail riding with drops and rocks. No need for suspension. Plus, suspension makes your bike look fancier, more attractive to thieves.

  25. #25
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    on the other hand, I started commuting oh a road bike with a rigid fork. One evening I hit a rut moving along at a nice clip. I failed to see it and the hit that really hurt. it shook my bush. I later changed to a mt. bike and found i could keep a pretty good pace and the suspension would take the ruts. The mt. bike frame is sturdier and took the abuse of the rear carrier and loaded bag.

    I keep the rigid fork for day rides.

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