Fork Length for Trail Riding
I have a 2007 Moto-Lite (large) with the Fox Talus 32 R fork (140mm, 120mm & 100mm adjustable) and RP23 shock.
I run the frame on 5" travel and am typically riding singletrack here in North Georgia US. Not very technical but lots of roots and rocks.
I seem to like the feel of the bike with the fork at 140mm for general riding but have been dialing it down to 120 or 100 for climbing hills. Normally only the 100 if I am going into granny gear and longer climb.
Last night I was playing around with running 120mm for most of the ride (vs 140 std). It handles about the same cornering but is noticably less plush on the rocks and roots compared to the 140 setting. The advantage is that is climbs better and I don't have to switch it back and forth.
What fork length setting do others run for general trail riding?
I still find it amazing what a difference the fork length makes on the bike. If anyone can explain exactly why it climbs better with the shorter fork (I like technical explanations) that would be great also.
I found, and that's what Chris Cocalis confirmed on the board at some point in time, that the Motolite is neutral around 120mm. I have an older Talas (85-125), and I usually ride around 120-125. I dialed it down to 85 for the long climbs.
Originally Posted by chet3
Faster is not always better, but it's always more fun
I use 140 travel for general trail riding. But a different fork to yours. My fork is taller for the same travel. I have tried a 130 fork but didn't feel quite right for me. I think the Moto Lite feels great with a bit more travel up front if you have rough trails.
Lowering your travel to 120 or 100 basically lowers the height of the front which puts more weight on the front wheel. The static HA gets steeper by 1 degree for each 20mm of fork height different. A bit more weight up front helps climbing as it puts more weight on the front wheel to help keep it planted and not lift up easily, so you an steer better and have more control.
Lowering the fork lowers the centre of gravity. When up a slope, the lower the centre of gravity (and puts it a bit more to the front) the less overturing moment there is. That resists better from looping out backwards . When you ride on a flat section you have around 35 to 40 % of the weight on the front wheel and the rest on the back wheel. When you point your front wheel up a slope you unweight the front tyre more and the weight distribution gets even lower on the front (5% to 20%). So it helps to lower the height of the front to put more weight back on the front.
For corner and general riding the ideal fork height would allow you not to understeer or oversteer, which keeps the bike neutral and means both wheels keep traction in the corners. Shifting your weight can achieve the same thing, but setting your bike (or a good design) just makes it better. Drifting is a term where you break wheel traction in a corner without using your brakes. To drift lean and turn the bike but stay upright and no brakes (easier said than done). You shift your weight front to stop a front drift or back to stop a back drift.
Agreed... SB rider here, pretty similar geometry and handling, though jealous people says the ML rides better
Originally Posted by All Mountain
I love my AM1 with a A2C close to 530mm (that's 140mm for an AM series Marz) for the days when riding towards the centr of the Earth is more pronounced.
For my average trails, 130 (or 515mm A2C) feels better for me.
I had a Magura Phaon fork that could go from 95 to 125mm (475-505 A2C) and at 95mm the bike was a rocket when on the climbs. At 125mm it was a slice and dice singletrack weapon. With a handling much like a combat helicopter, turning more with the tail than the steering, though a bit nervous at high speed or open wide turns.
I prefer a much balanced feel and at 520mm A2C it steers much better overall, sacrificing a bit the singletrack performance for a more stable at speed feel and better aplumb on wide turns.
At the DH trails we hit occasionally over here, which are tame for DH but very steep for a trail bike, the fork extended at 145mm is a must because you spend much more time over the nose of the bike and the long fork helps counteract a bit of it.
I have a Float 32X fork which was set to 145mm when I got it to put on my then new ML. When I first rode it I did not like the way my ML steer, like the balance was off. So I lower it to 120mm and I find that it ride perfectly balance now. It steer they way I like now. My trails are fairly rocky and root infected and I dont have any long climbs just alot of short technical ones.
So is your face
I have a Talas rlc and I like it at 120 for most riding. When I'm coming to a long decent I'll change it to 140.
IT'S NOT THE FALL THAT HURTS. IT'S WHEN YOU HIT THE GROUND.
With my Pike, I generally leave it @ 140 mm, but will drop to 90mm for either really steep climbs or looooooong climbs, other than that, it's 140mm. My dos pennies.
This may seem like a silly question but does anyone else have a problem with the seat angle becoming uncomfortable when lowering the travel? I keep my saddle level in my normal set-up but when I lower the travel it feels like I am going to slide off the front.
Yeah... but in my case, when I lower the travel, probably the steepness of the grade is such that the angle ends up being either correct or irrelevant.
Originally Posted by Yolden Gears
What he said holds true for me as well. Travel reduction = climbing.
Originally Posted by Warp
My ML is almost a year old now. For the first several months that I had her, I would try different settings for different trails. (Austin has a wide variety of terrains.) Obviously, I'd put her on the fullest travel for the most technical stuff, the least travel for the non-technical stuff, then 120 for the moderately-difficult trails.
Then one fateful day I arrived at our least-technical trail and started riding. The first thing was a rough, rocky descent. Felt good. The second thing was a longish, gradual climb. "Ah," I thought, "I'm still on full squishy from City Park." But I didn't feel like stopping to change anything, so on I rode. The next section was practically-level, tight, twisty, single track. And I LOVED the way my bike crouched into the corners and sprung out of them! I had an absolute blast!
She's been on full squishy--front and back--ever since.
For maximum fun, I say go with maximum travel.
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin
Thanks for the feedback everyone!!
It seems that 120 is the balance point for the bike but a lot of folks like the feel of the 140 or longer fork even for general trail riding. This was the same conclusion I had.
I will keep experimenting with 120 vs 140 on my local trails and see what feels best.
I still like how it climbs with the shorter fork. If I am in granny low and 140 fork I have to keep moving way forward to keep the front wheel on the ground, when I drop the fork down it tracks much better.
Veni Vidi Vici
I use fox 32 talas RLC as well, for really steep climbs I set it at 100, then for long climbs I set it at 120... for descent I set it at 140....