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  1. #1
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    Reputation: carlostruco's Avatar
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    Fork...80mm, 90mm or 100mm? Carbon or AL?

    I currently race on a FS 26 wich I love and use daily, but I'm already budgeting for a HT 29er for next racing season. I plan to use this new rig on courses wich are less technical and more flat than the rest and also for traning rides ( I own a RB but hate riding solo daily and prefer to train on my MTB ). My team is sponsored by certain shop that distributes certain brand where I live. I'm getting a good deal on a brand new 2012 model.

    Here's my debate...should I get a Carbon or AL bike? My current race bike is AL. 100mm, 90mm or 80mm fork? I am a very good technical rider, but I have not used a HT bike in 2 years. I don't crash, but in races I gamble trough tech sections and often they pay off due to my bike's superb handling. Will I miss the extra travel if I go lower than 100mm?

    Feedback will be greatly appreciated...

  2. #2
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    I'm not sure why people still run 80mm forks. There is no weight penalty, at least with Fox/Rockshox, since the 80mm fork is just a 100mm fork with an additional plastic spacer added to restrict the fork from fully extending. Twitchy 72 degree head angles make it a tad easier to get around tight switchbacks on not-designed-for-bikes hiking trails, but with even a little bit of skill those switchbacks can be navigated with a 69/70 degree HA bike. Steep head angles can be downright scary downhill, I know Shurter and Absalon do it, but those guys are gods. Maybe the smaller air chamber makes for better pedaling with the fork unlocked, but I never see those guys climbing with the fork unlocked.

  3. #3
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    I'm building a carbon ht 29er right now (superfly ss) and went with 100mm travel. I looked at 80mm forks though. Like was mentioned, they're just 100mm forks with a spacer. Probably pretty easy to experiment with adding or removing a spacer to see what you like best.

  4. #4
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    If you have good support and can get a new bike every year, go carbon. It's lighter and rides pretty awesome. It inherently seems to have a dampening affect. I've broken my Superfly twice, so longevity doesn't seem to be there for some models.

    I didn't mind the 80mm fork. If you absolutely have to have a low front end, that would be one good reason to get it. A believe with a 100m you will have to run a zero stack and negative stem if you like a low front end.

    GF ran that G2 fork design and it worked well. Stable at high speeds, but tight enough turning for switchbacks and such. But not as tight as a 26er still.

    Pedal banging is another thing to keep in mind. If a frame was designed with a particular pedal clearance with a 100m fork, it will have less clearance with an 80mm.

    I currently ride an Anthem 29er with a Lefty fork, and it's only negative is slow steering. First few races it was hard to stay out of the bushes during turns.
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  5. #5
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    I was race last weekend on 100mm thinking "120 would be pretty sweet here". I could never go back to 80mm after running 100 for the last couple of years.. (Before you call me a "noob" for wanting extra travel I do have an elite license for what that's worth).

  6. #6
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    I have a carbon HT Orbea Alma. I'd recommend it to anyone. I'm a believer in the 4 point triangle idea that gives you some flex in the rear end. Makes the rockier stuff in Oklahoma a lot easier on you. I also run my fork at 80mm. I like the steeper HA and I didn't like how the 100 mm felt on steeper drops. My home trail has several foot to foot and a half drop offs you have to roll over due to a turn that immediately follows it. The 100 mm felt like you were gonna OTB every time (though I never did). I noticed no change in ride comfort with the less travel, but definitely feel more secure on it.

  7. #7
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    Interesting points here...most race courses and trails don't require that much travel to go for a 120mm...only one and that would be a job for my FS...I'm gonna wait until 2012 models show up and make my decision then...Specialized and Orbea stores have showed intesrest to sponsor our team for next year so we'll see if a good deal comes through... we still have to cough up some cash, but far less than MSRP...

  8. #8
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    I have found that I can get by equally well with a 80mm travel fork set up with the right air settings based on my weight over a 100mm travel fork. I've even ridden both Pisgah and Dupont with only that 80mm of travel on a aluminum hardtail without any issue.

  9. #9
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    carbon frame +100mm my vote

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlostruco View Post
    I currently race on a FS 26 wich I love and use daily, but I'm already budgeting for a HT 29er for next racing season. I plan to use this new rig on courses wich are less technical and more flat than the rest and also for traning rides ( I own a RB but hate riding solo daily and prefer to train on my MTB ). My team is sponsored by certain shop that distributes certain brand where I live. I'm getting a good deal on a brand new 2012 model.

    Here's my debate...should I get a Carbon or AL bike? My current race bike is AL. 100mm, 90mm or 80mm fork? I am a very good technical rider, but I have not used a HT bike in 2 years. I don't crash, but in races I gamble trough tech sections and often they pay off due to my bike's superb handling. Will I miss the extra travel if I go lower than 100mm?

    Feedback will be greatly appreciated...
    If your coming from a FS 26, which I assume is 100mm f/r, I think you would be fine on the 29er 80mm. If you go with carbon, with tubeless high volume tires and your forks set up correctly, you won't notice much of a difference in ride quality imo.

    I've raced on a Superfly at 80mm and to me felt like a top fuel with pro pedal on. Rear end was stiff but had some flex so it didn't beat your back up so much. I've never ridden a 29er at 100mm but I would bet the steering would be the really only noticeable difference.

    I currently race on a 26er alum ht ss with 100mm forks on a frame designed for 80mm forks fwiw. I don't notice a difference in travel or ride quality going between 80 to 100, like you do going from 100 to 120 for instance. The steering doesn't bother me really at all, the only major problem I have is the front end drifting on loose turns and the occasional washout, but that happens on all bikes so I wouldn't say the extra length causes it, just makes you have to have a quicker reaction time to correct when the front end drifts. But if you have good tech skills, you shouldn't have any problems once you get used to the threshold.

    I would race carbon if I could and would prolly go with the shorter 80mm forks. Best advice is to see if you can test ride both first in a perfect world.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crosstown Stew View Post
    If your coming from a FS 26, which I assume is 100mm f/r, I think you would be fine on the 29er 80mm. If you go with carbon, with tubeless high volume tires and your forks set up correctly, you won't notice much of a difference in ride quality imo.

    I've raced on a Superfly at 80mm and to me felt like a top fuel with pro pedal on. Rear end was stiff but had some flex so it didn't beat your back up so much. I've never ridden a 29er at 100mm but I would bet the steering would be the really only noticeable difference.

    I currently race on a 26er alum ht ss with 100mm forks on a frame designed for 80mm forks fwiw. I don't notice a difference in travel or ride quality going between 80 to 100, like you do going from 100 to 120 for instance. The steering doesn't bother me really at all, the only major problem I have is the front end drifting on loose turns and the occasional washout, but that happens on all bikes so I wouldn't say the extra length causes it, just makes you have to have a quicker reaction time to correct when the front end drifts. But if you have good tech skills, you shouldn't have any problems once you get used to the threshold.

    I would race carbon if I could and would prolly go with the shorter 80mm forks. Best advice is to see if you can test ride both first in a perfect world.
    I'm might be able to test ride both bikes on the same day at our next race...but one of them would be AL since no carbon model is currently being raced around here...

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