i've had experience with few forks, and my primary ride is a long travel 29er. i'm about 210 geared up and live in BC riding typical AM terrain. sometimes i wonder how fork flex is felt and how a stiffer fork improves ride and handling. the new Pike 35 looks like a great high performance option that is more in line with my riding and size not to mention 29er. given one can't just slap these forks on for a test ride to see if it's all that, i'm doing the interweb shuffle and seeking input from those in the know. please do offer your esteemed, informed and educated opinion on the matter.
What are you riding now? What travel? You can get a way with a 32 up to 120mm on a 29'r, over that you should go to a 34.
Yes, going from a 32 to a 36 is noticeable. Some people feel having a bit of fork flex makes for a more comfortable ride...just throwing that in there to confuse you more.
Any flex I feel has a few effects. most noticeable is a vague feeling to the steering. It's less accurate.Makes it hard to commit to a line in to corners and you also loose traction earlier, as the flex induces the tire to break early. Also noticeable when changing direction quickly in technical descents. Slows the steering a bit. In deep loose stuff and rocks, the terrain starts steering the wheel.
If your not feeling any of these then you haven't got a problem, enough experience,pushing it hard enough, the right terrain or you haven't got a stiff bike to compare it too.
People almost always notice fork flex when they get a new fork. It's either stiffer or it's not.
There's torsion and deflection with forks. Grab your front wheel between your legs. Turn your handlebars and you'll feel the flex in the fork in torsion.
Put your front wheel up against a wall. Push on the handlebars toward the wall. That's deflection.
Forks that are stiffer in both of these measures will ride better for you. You can change direction earlier, hit stuff harder and go faster with more control. I've found stiffer forks help me descend better AND climb better.
For your weight, I would go with a Pike. 34-35mm stanchions, thru-axle for sure.
And get the stiffest set of wheels you can. I know the I9s are some of the stiffest out there. If my buddy @165lbs feels a benefit on his 29 hardtail, you'll LOVE it as well.
Of course, if you are riding slow, picking your way down the mountain and generally scared out of your mind while going downhill, you won't notice a difference. Riding style has SOOO much to do with how people perceive various 'upgrades' on their bikes.
Good luck! Pike availability looks to be a few weeks out still. Let us know what you do and how you feel about it. It's all about you after all!
TrailWerks Suspension Service
you bet i will, especially after laying down that kinda coin, i'll be letting others on this forum know my experience. i do both general trail riding with long rooty descents, and full on ride or shuttle up the hill (to the top of the Forbidden Plateau- it's actually quite inviting...) and hit the chundery descent trails with ledges drops and some manmade jumps. some technical, others just steep, loose committing. it will be an interesting and expensive experiment and hopefully expand the bike's capabilities and extend the love affair for another couple years.
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