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  1. #1
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    New question here. Vintage or lower end modern suspension fork

    I have been playing with the idea of adding a suspension fork on my 1994 Diamond Back Apex. If you were looking at it from a performance perspective, would a vintage upper tier suspension fork be better than a modern lower end fork? It is kinda hard to find a current high end 26" fork that does not have the tapered steerer. Mostly this is just a winter time idle conjecture process but I am curious to know your thoughts on it. I have not bought an aftermarket suspension fork since the mid 90's and my last bike with suspension was a 2000 Fisher Sugar 4 so I have not clue what kind of advances have come about in the last 15 years or so.
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  2. #2
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    Two things. Firstly, it will be very hard to find a vintage fork that is not worn and parts might be hard or impossible to find.

    Secondly, fork technology has improved enormously over the last ten years or so. Many of today's cheaper forks have dampers that are as good as anything available back then. Well, maybe not quite but the bottom line is that you can get a lot for your money if you look carefully.

  3. #3
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    The problem is that this frame has a very steep headtube angle and short fork height. Nothing in production is going to be anywhere close to the same height. So what happens is you end up raising the front end a few inches and it ruins the feel of the bike. A current 80mm fork is going to be anywhere from about 2.5 - 3.5in higher than your rigid fork.

    You're in 63mm or lower territory to not completely mess up the geometry. If you really want to put a suspension fork on it, I'd look for a vintage 63/80mm fork with an axle to crown of 420mm or lower, the closer you get to 400 the better. I'll bet the rigid fork is something in the 390mm range, so literally any suspension fork ever made is going to raise the front end up.
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  4. #4
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    I would look for a 98-2000 Marzocchi Z2 or Z2 BAM or a Z1/Z1 BAM if you want a touch more travel. These are easy to service, easy to find seals and bushings, easy to set up for weight and riding style and perform great.

    ETA Dont forget that sag will shorten the axel to crown measurement. Off the top of my head the 80mm travel Z2 has a A2C measurement of 430mm
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Vintage or lower end modern suspension fork-green001.jpg  

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jestep View Post
    The problem is that this frame has a very steep headtube angle and short fork height. Nothing in production is going to be anywhere close to the same height. So what happens is you end up raising the front end a few inches and it ruins the feel of the bike.
    I hadn't thought about that, you're right of course. From my experience you can raise the fork 20mm or so and it's still ok but much more than that is very noticeable.

  6. #6
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    I'll go measure the axle-to-crown height. I've been meaning to do all that, anyway. But, I am generally aware the compromises with handling.

    As for older forks being worn out, I would make sure I could get seals, springs etc before I purchased anything. I have rebuilt a few motorcycle forks in my time so I feel pretty confident that as long as parts are available I can fix it up.

    My Sugar had a Marzocchi but I can't remember which one. I always liked it, though.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beicster View Post
    I'll go measure the axle-to-crown height. I've been meaning to do all that, anyway. But, I am generally aware the compromises with handling.
    To an extent, you can help by fitting a shorter stem. Some forks can be shortened too, in fact a lot of them can.

  8. #8
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    Eyeballing it with a ruler, wheel in place and fork mounted in the frame, it was about 16". Giving me a little fudge room, I would say 400 mm. It is an unusually tall fork for the time. Quite a bit taller than the one on my 93 Paramount. It easily holds a 2.3 tire and I fairly sure it would hold a 2.5.

    The Response Elite, which was also a TT Lite double butted frame that year came with a Manitou 3. Anybody know what the axle crown height on that was?
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  9. #9
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    Finding a steerer tube that is not-tapered and a fork that allows you to reduce travel to 63-80mm to travel will be tough in a modern fork.

    If you can find a late 90s or early 2000s fork in good condition, I'd go that way. Higher-end 2000-2004 Marzocchis were a good fork, and still are.
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