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  1. #1
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    Suspension Fork Experience - What's Working? What's Not?

    Recently I have had a few converstions about suspension forks on a tandem. I would be interested to hear people's experience with their existing set up.

    1. What fork make/model and what frame make/model?
    1a. single or dual crown
    1b. lock out?
    1c. axle type 20mm thru? 9mm QR?
    2. Team weight?
    3. Type of riding.
    4. Any feedback regarding performance, maintenance etc. (positive or negative).

    I think this type of information on this forum would be extremely valuable.

    Also, feel free to add anything that I missed. And don't be bashfull telling us if you are running a "non-tandem rated" fork. This is an informal poll - you can always hide behind your screen name...

    Thanks!
    Last edited by ds2199; 07-09-2010 at 08:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    I guess I'll start

    1. 2009 Marzochi 55ATA on a Ventana ECDM (full suspension)
    1a. single crown
    1b. has "lock out"
    1c. 20 mm thru axle
    2. aprox 270
    3. we ride jeep roads, twisty singletrack, rocky trails (just about anything that I'd ride on my single bike - but no BIG drop offs).
    4. fork has worked out well so far despite unfavorable reviews on Marz forks. We have about 2500 miles on the fork (seals replaced this past spring). 20mm axle works very well and is actually a form of quick release.

    For as much bad press as I have received on the Marz forks, I have been pleasantly surprised with the performance of the fork. My local shops are all big Fox fans.

  3. #3
    Ride, Rinse, Repeat
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    Fox

    A great Thread Idea. We are definitely in the "non-approved" bunch...

    1- Fox 36 Talas RLC 160mm on Ellsworth Witness
    1a - Single Crown
    1b - Lock out - yes (used SELDOM - Only for LONG road sections)
    1c - 20 mm QR
    1d - 203mm Disc rotors/Hope Mono M6 calipers
    2 - ~300 Team/50 lb bike
    3 - Mostly Colorado Singletrack, up to "moderately" technical, PLENTY of Rocks, lots of tight/twisty.
    4- Performs REALLY well. Stiff and tracks well. Think a 20mm thru axle is a requirement on a tandem. Replaced a Rock Shox Pike 454 (32mm stanchions..) and the Fox was a HUGE improvement in steering response and precision. A huge confidence boost. Good adjustability, the low speed damping adjustment REALLY helps keep the wallowing from the big bike under control. Holding up fine so far. 2 seasons on it, not a huge amount of hours on it, getting due to have seals done, but holding air pressure well, no oil leaks so far.

    Been VERY happy with the Fox, and have NO complaints.

    We have had the chance to ride a Mazzochi 55ATA on a friends Ellsworth Witness back to back with our Witness/Fox setup. The Marzzochi seems a bit stiffer than the Fox, noticeably more tracking precision. A gazzillion adjustments. I'll try to get him to post up...

  4. #4
    PMK
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    I'll post details later about what we ride...

    To help others, why not also add your setup parameters if possible. Compression setting, rebound, spring or or air pressure, type terrain and team weight, chassis would be nice help also.

    Just a thought.

    PK

  5. #5
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    1- Old Marzocchi DJ
    1a - Single Crown
    1b - No lock out (Wish we had it)
    1c - 9mm QR
    1d - 203mm Disc rotors/Hope Enduro 4 pistons
    2 - ~350 Team/50 lb bike
    3 - Mainly just Iowa singletrack right now, we have done a small amount of 1-2 foot drops, stairs etc.
    4- Good fork, much better ride then a rigid fork. Wish it had a lockout though, while standing it bobs like crazy.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaleTR
    4- Performs REALLY well. Stiff and tracks well. Think a 20mm thru axle is a requirement on a tandem. Replaced a Rock Shox Pike 454 (32mm stanchions..) and the Fox was a HUGE improvement in steering response and precision. A huge confidence boost. Good adjustability, the low speed damping adjustment REALLY helps keep the wallowing from the big bike under control. Holding up fine so far. 2 seasons on it, not a huge amount of hours on it, getting due to have seals done, but holding air pressure well, no oil leaks so far.
    I was planning on building a hardtail tandem using a Pike 454 that I already have. Could you explain a little more why the TALAS is better?
    May the air be filled with tires!

  7. #7
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    Im not sure about the talas, but I know the Pike is not "tandem rated"

  8. #8
    Old school BMXer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.SBC
    Im not sure about the talas, but I know the Pike is not "tandem rated"
    I don't believe any Rock Shox or Fox fork is tandem rated. In fact, they specifically say not to use their forks on tandems.

    "FOX bicycle products are not designed or manufactured for use on any motorized bicycle, motorized cycle or motorized vehicle or for use on any vehicles carrying more than one operator/rider. Any such use constitutes misuse, which may result in serious injury, death or property damage, and will void all FOX warranties."
    May the air be filled with tires!

  9. #9
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    I am very interested to continue to hear ALL experiences with suspension tandem forks.

    The whole point of this topic is to hear what is working and what is not. I know for a fact that many people use components that ARE NOT tandem rated. Many of them ARE up to the task. I realize that many component manufacturers do not care enough about the niche that is tandems let alone mountain bike tandems.

    I am not endorsing nor encouraging the use of Non-tandem rated items. I AM interested to real world experience (tandem rated or otherwise).

    Please continue to share - Thanks!!!

    I suppose someone like Alex will chime in at some point and let people know the list of tandem rated forks (I think it may be a pretty short list).

  10. #10
    Ride, Rinse, Repeat
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    Pike

    Quote Originally Posted by Blaster1200
    I was planning on building a hardtail tandem using a Pike 454 that I already have. Could you explain a little more why the TALAS is better?
    Purely Stiffness & steering precision. The Pike (even with the 20mm..), while reasonable, tended to flex and "wander" a LOT more than the 36 TALAS under hard cornering or banging in the rocks. Until I made the switch I was pretty happy with the Pike, but was just looking for a bit less flex, and figured the bigger stanchions and beefier crown would help, and it made even more of a difference than I imagined.

    The TALAS seems to give more tuning options as well. even with an "extra Stiff" spring in the Pike, the sag and low speed compression was more than I liked, probably contributing to the feeling of flex...

    I think the Pike would be fine if your riding tends to the less rocky or less twisty side, but was getting overmatched on tight & rocky stuff.

  11. #11
    MTB Tandem Nut
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    Quote Originally Posted by ds2199

    I suppose someone like Alex will chime in at some point and let people know the list of tandem rated forks (I think it may be a pretty short list).
    I was going to stay out of this one in the hopes that folks would provide more info without fear of the "fork police" making comments about various forks being approved for tandem use. However, since you mention it, here's the (short) list of forks still in production:
    White Brothers Magic 100T (dual crown) and Groove 180 & 200.
    ATC Racing T-5
    Marzocchi 66, 55, DJ and 4X.
    Rockshox had no particular concerns with structural integrity of their Boxxer forks, but would not warrant the internals under tandem loads. Some will recall this fork was spec'd on Cannondale tandems for a couple of years.
    Risse Trixxy & Champ
    Manitou Circus (DJ style) and Dorado.
    Sad, ain't it?
    Last edited by TandemNut; 07-13-2010 at 05:27 AM.
    MTB Tandems Inc.
    678-445-0711
    www.MTBTandems.com

  12. #12
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    1. Cannondale Moto Fork w/red springs
    1a. dual crown
    1b. No lock out
    1c. 9mm QR

    2. Team weight...about 325 LBS
    3. Type of riding....Single-track and forest roads lots of rocky spots
    4. I like this fork but its only one I've tried on on our Cannondale so I don't know any better.
    its gotten us down some very rocky downhills safe and sound
    as far as maintenance its very easy to rebuild although finding parts that's much harder (anyone have brown springs...or feed back on red vs brown springs?)

    ds2199, thanks for this post should be very helpful
    also...could you guys add what forks you used in the past and how they compare to your current setup?

    Thanks
    Darwin was an Optimist

  13. #13
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    1. 2010 Fox TALAS 36 RC2 (FIT cartridge) on a Ventana ECDM

    - Single crown, 1.5" steerer tube (straight not tapered)
    - No lock-out. Not needed for seated climbing, but very hard to coordinate standing climbs because of the fork bob. We do stand individually and find that acceptable.
    - 20mm thru-axle (love it)
    - 203mm disc rotors, Avid BB7 brakes

    2. 270 lb team weight + 50ish lb bike (never weighed the bike)

    3. Aggressive XC, rocky singletrack, desert trails, fireroads. Just about anything without big drops and tight switchbacks (or we'll walk those). Usually long climbs with long descents (average ride has 5000'+ ascent/descent). I'll ride more technical trails on the tandem than I would on my single because of the tandem's stability.

    4. I absolutely love this fork. Travel is adjustable with the turn of a knob between 4", 5", and 6" (100-130-160mm). For almost all riding we'll use the 5" travel. If it's a long smooth climb I'll drop it to 4". If it's really nasty I'll up it to 6" but handling can get a little sluggish like that. Very stiff, confidence-inspiring fork because of the 36mm stanchions, 20mm thru-axle, and 1.5" steerer tube. Maintenance heavy, though, need to service dust wipers every 15-30 hours and change oil every 100 hours (6 months for us).

    Sometimes I'll start to think this fork isn't doing much because I never feel it move. Then I'll ride my single bike (Reba 29er) and it's a world of difference. The TALAS just soaks up everything. Deep ruts, rocks, roots... we just float over them. Very happy with this purchase.

    Thanks for this topic. This is our first suspension tandem so I have no other forks to compare.

  14. #14
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    We are pretty happy with the White Bros Magic 100T. Bike: 50lbs-ish, us: 270lbs, tools,water and etc: 20lbs?
    We are running a Fandango 29er hardtail, fork is at 50-60 psi. I would say we ride pretty aggressively. I like to take chances on the trail, but I am not comfortable doing that AND running non-tandem rated forks..Just my 2 cents.

  15. #15
    Schipperkes are cool.
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    Maverick DUC32 is tandem rated if correctly setup. I have a client that has 2 tandems with DUC on the front; Ventana 26" and Eriksen 29" hardtail. I have a bit of time setting them up and he will not look towards any other fork.
    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Better suited to non-aggressive 125# gals named Russell.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by banks
    Maverick DUC32 is tandem rated if correctly setup. I have a client that has 2 tandems with DUC on the front; Ventana 26" and Eriksen 29" hardtail. I have a bit of time setting them up and he will not look towards any other fork.
    I've heard good things about the DUC 32 - too bad it is out of production for now. There's been rumors of a carbon version but that's going on almost 2 years...

    Damn... Ventana 26 AND Eriksen 29?... is that Chuck and Karla?

  17. #17
    wrench extrodinare
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    My brother and I ride a Scott aluminum hard tail here in CO ( just not enough as we are oppisite sides of the state. We have a Rock Shox Argyle single crown w/ 20 mm. It has only 4" travel but tracks well. It has steel stanchions and special springs. Works well as we are 360# of riders plus gear. we also use Avid code brakes that are amazing. The Fox 36 should be a great fork w/ the big stanchions and air assist, would probably use the Van model w/ coil spring. 20 MM is the only way on mtn tandem unless you are pretty light riders.

  18. #18
    PMK
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    Several bikes to comment about. 380 pound team.

    1998 Cannondale MT 3000. Moto fork, 100mm with 9mm QR axle. Non disc brake version. Fork has oem valving, but has been modified as follows. Fork boots from lefties, Ohlins suspension fluid, coil spring is oem but the elastomer has had a section of Judy elastomer machined to fit the upper spring end.

    Preload run full firm, fork work very well, minimal if any flex is noticed, turning to steering stop allows almost 90 degrees of motion per side.

    Fork requires special tools to work on it easily. Normal stuff gets accomplished, rollers lubed with Phil Wood oil, cartridge fluid replenished as needed. Had one lower triple clamp crack at the bolt hole, no failure, blended away the crack and check it frequently. The clamp is a documented problem from long ago. The on the fly adjustable rebound is sometimes utilized for different terrain.

    Our 2001 MT800, I installed a Manitou Sherman single crown with 20mm axle, travel is adjustable (110mm / 150mm), but we always ran it in 110mm setting, 150 was to slack on the headtube angle. Changes made, swapped spring to extra firm, replaced damper fluid to 10 wt Motorex from oem 5 wt Motorex. Fork worked well but was used only for less than fifty miles of use, some jeep road some technical single track. Not a bad fork, but I would personally like more ramp up or progression for better mid stroke / bottoming control.

    ATC, with 20mm and Avid BB7, 100mm of travel. We have ridden one while installed on our MT3000, double red springs, as delivered it had no amount of spring preload, added 10mm (?) of preload, this held the front up much better. The fork was a bit under damped for us, replaced damper fluid to 20wt. Good turning radius. The lack of external adjustments was acceptable, but made on the trail tweaks tough. Once dialed in, this was an obvious replacement for the Moto when needed. This fork was tested on technical singletrack, hardpack, sand, and other varied terrain.

    We are now re outfitting our "squadron", one of our latest rides is an ECDM, it too has the ATC 100mm fork with a 20mm axle, Louise (210mm?) brake. Like the other ATC we tested, steering precision is very good, turning radius also. I need open this thing up, but speculate it has a pair of red springs (had at least one when I checked the tire to triple clamp clearance with the fork cap removed). Preload currently installed is about 8mm. This fork could use a bit more damping, it will likely also see 20wt fluid as the other fork did.

    Our Fandango 29'r is here and I'm working to get it built, it too will have the ATC fork with 20mm axle and an Avid BB7 203mm disc. We have not ridden at great length any other forks on a tandem.

    I have installed a Fox40 onto the MT3000, planning to shorten the stroke to 100mm, unfortunately the triple clamp / lower leg offsets did not allow ample turning radius for where we ride.

    I also have a Marzocchi drop off triple, modified from 170mm to 110mm of travel. I did install this onto the MT800 but other parts of the bike were not finished, the Manitou was fitted since the forks steerer tube was a more proper length. This fork has decent turning radius, is easy to work on, is spring with air over oil, open style damper with internally adjustable rebound. I believe this fork should work decent, provided the rigidity is ample for good steering precision, but again I have not run it.

    The present focus will be on further dialing in the ATC's, since this is our current setups for the most part.

    In my opinion, one of the greater challenges is finding proper springs for these forks at the loads we run them. Also, some of the forks, based on single bike test, do not have much if any progression to the spring via an air column. Obviously flex is a concern, also, but is always a trade off against weight, unless you run and air spring fork setup.For some teams this may be very important.

    PK

  19. #19
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    We've been using a Rock Shox Argyle 318 (their DJ fork) on our C'dale tandem for about a year and a half with good success. I think for any teams over 300-325 lbs. it might be under sprung even with the extra firm spring in it. We're right at 300 lbs. and it is fine, but I know if it is much more, it won't be without some custom springs.

    The thing about the RS Argyle is it has steel stanchions (stiffer than the alu ones on the Pike/Revelation/etc.) a 20mm Maxxle, and a lock out. If I did it over, I'd probably go with the 409, that is an air sprung fork. for more adjustability.

  20. #20
    Long Live Long Rides
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    Forks

    Clan McKim: Team weight 300lbs

    1998? - The first fork we tried was a "Bad Betty Bombshell". It was on a Da Vinci tandem we demoed. To be fair, it was set up for a different team, but it did not move much at all. It looked massive and cool but not so functional.

    2001 - Next came a 100mm travel Cannondale Moto (tandem version). It had red springsand quick release. I looked for brown ones but was told that not all tandem springs were actually brown...gave up and stuffed some extra elastomers inside the spring to firm it up. The fork worked really well, handling some serious abuse with minimal deflection or flex. We blew up a retaining clip and sprayed little roller bearings all over the inside of the fork. Fortunately we could still get the fork rebuilt by Cannondale. It started with hydraulic rim brakes and survived a conversion to discs. It now is in use by my in-laws and family as a "dirt-road" tandem, and still works well.

    2006 - With our new El Conq we got an ATC fork. It started at 100mm but I ran it most at 125mm. This fork drove me nuts. From day one it had major sticking problems, eventually getting bad enough that it would "lockout" from stiction during a ride. I tried every combination of tightening bots/loosening bolts/lubing/cleaning that I could think of. I even sent it back for a full rebuild by ATC (got a story about the sticking being due to the color of the lower legs, not kidding..). This was a 20mm thru axle and rode very confidently - very stable and solid, it just didn't move right. I fixed it as best I could and sold it since my stoker was tired of hearing me b**ch about it.

    2008 - Marzocchi Jr. T. The first big ride we did with this fork was Monarch Crest in Colorado. I couldn't stop laughing. Every time I hit a bump/drop/roller I broke out in joyful whooping. This fork is huge 170mm travel, 20mm thru axle and very smooth. It was way too soft out of the box, but the addition of the air preload caps quickly fixed that. It could probably use a servicing and maybe a touch heavier oil to increase damping. It is amazingly supple, but will bob quite a bit on hard flat peddling. Honestly I want about a 140mm fork, but in the Tandem rated world there is not much and out here in Grand Junction I would rather use too much fork rather than too little. The folks at White Bros told me they could modify something for me, but I would need a job first.

    2010 - To be fair to ATC, I test road a Ventana at AORTA that was specced with an ATC. I was really curious as to how a different fork would ride. It was much better. Some very slight sticking, but nothing substantial. The Ventana with the ATC felt "zippier" than the one with the Marzocchi.

  21. #21
    Old school BMXer
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    Along the lines of this discussion, what would you all consider as the ideal amount of fork travel on a rigid rear tandem, and why?
    May the air be filled with tires!

  22. #22
    Long Live Long Rides
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    travel

    I think it will vary quite a bit depending on riding style and terrain. For us I really think 140-150mm would be best, but I've never tried a fork with that travel so I'm just guessing. 100mm is the minimum I would try.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trails4Two
    I think it will vary quite a bit depending on riding style and terrain. For us I really think 140-150mm would be best, but I've never tried a fork with that travel so I'm just guessing. 100mm is the minimum I would try.
    Oh, yeah...riding style...It really depends on what my wife will tolerate. We don't have a tandem yet, but I'm working on that, so we don't have any experience on a tandem. I race DH and BMX at an expert level (even at age 41), but my wife is a little more conservative, although she does ride BMX and DH (yes, even at Whistler!). So that means her comfort level will be the limit of technical terrain and speed. We may later move to a full-suspension frame. For her comfort, I already did pick up a Thudbuster seatpost.

    As mentioned above, I was planning on using a Pike, but set at 125. I also have a Fox 36 Float I can use. The reason I need to pick the travel is that I want to design the frame around a particular travel. Of course, I can deviate from that a bit, but I want to at least have a target in mind.

    This has been an informative thread! Thanks to all who've replied!
    May the air be filled with tires!

  24. #24
    Long Live Long Rides
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    I'd pick a general 125mm travel to build the frame around. If you need more travel, remember that with a longer wheelbase more travel has less effect on head angle than on a short bike.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaster1200
    Oh, yeah...riding style...It really depends on what my wife will tolerate. We don't have a tandem yet, but I'm working on that, so we don't have any experience on a tandem. I race DH and BMX at an expert level (even at age 41), but my wife is a little more conservative, although she does ride BMX and DH (yes, even at Whistler!). So that means her comfort level will be the limit of technical terrain and speed. We may later move to a full-suspension frame. For her comfort, I already did pick up a Thudbuster seatpost.

    As mentioned above, I was planning on using a Pike, but set at 125. I also have a Fox 36 Float I can use. The reason I need to pick the travel is that I want to design the frame around a particular travel. Of course, I can deviate from that a bit, but I want to at least have a target in mind.

    This has been an informative thread! Thanks to all who've replied!
    I'd use the 36 Float, and probably all of the travel or reduced to 130-140mm. I am not sure how much tandem experience you have, but with your background and a trusting wife you could really have some fun with the stability of the tandem.

    We run a 36 TALAS, 100mm = quicker handling, not as plush, 130mm = happy medium, 160mm = sluggish steering, but float over everything. Other than steering, I don't notice any difference in overall bike geometry, compared to a single bike where an adjustable fork can totally change how the bike feels.

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