Which is more important: Quality fork or Quality gears/shifters/brakes, etc?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Which is more important: Quality fork or Quality gears/shifters/brakes, etc?

    After 22 years with my 1992 Giant Iguana I've decided to upgrade to a better/newer bike. I'm trying to keep it under $1,000 and I'm about to drive myself crazy trying to decide which way to go.

    I've primarily been looking at these 2015 bikes:

    Cannondale Trail 3 - Mostly Shimano parts with Rockshox XC30 coil fork.

    Specialized Rockhopper Comp - Shimano/SRAM parts with SunTour XCR fork.

    Trek X-Cal 8 - Mostly SRAM parts with Rockshox XC32 coil fork.

    I'm in my mid 40's and weigh about 180 lbs. I live in Texas and it's not like we have serious mountains or anything, so I'm not sure if I really need anything more than a coil fork? Then again, maybe I do?

    My Giant has all Shimano parts and has held up great for 22 years, so I find myself leaning towards the Cannondale with almost all Shimano parts. The downside is that the Cannondale has the coil fork. The Rockhopper has a hydraulic fork, but I'm not that familiar with SRAM. The question I'm asking is, which component of a bike is more important, a quality fork or quality drive train/components?

    I will certainly test ride each bike, but a 5 minute test ride in the parking lot may not give me a true feel for which bike suits me best. I'm just trying to take in as much info as possible to help me make the right decision. After all, I plan on keeping this new bike for at least 22 years so I'm trying to avoid any regret 3 months down the trail

  2. #2
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    I would get the best frame and fork I could. Drivetrains wear out relatively quickly and can be upgraded, and even the low-mid level components work well.
    Fork performance improves greatly as you go up the line, and makes a bigger difference on the trail.
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  3. #3
    squish, squish in da fish
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    i agree with shiggy. satanized, i mean specialized has shady business practices that i won't support. i'll let you research that

  4. #4
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    I am a Trek swinger. I have had such a pleasant experience with my old Trek with warranty work that Trek has pretty much earned my business for life.

    That said - the Trek's Rock Shox, although coil sprung, is 32mm sanctions, which will be stiffer and more trail control than the Cannondale's XC30.
    I personally also an not a fan of Suntour anything. It is a lower grade product.

    There is nothing wrong with coil sprung. Heck, ultra high end motocross machines are coil sprung. Coils are actually a very under-rated thing. They offer better small bump compliance, but they are heavier, and less adjustable (you need to get new springs for your weight, instead of just adjusting air pressure).

    As far as SRAM, nothing wrong with SRAM at all. I run SRAM stuff. X5 and X7 are plenty good.
    I think the Trek also gives a little better value for the dollar, as Bontrager makes most of the components that go on a Trek. Since it is a child company, it's very cheap for Trek to use, and Bontrager makes some very excellent componentry.


    My first "real" mountain bike was a Giant Iguana! I think it was a blackish color, with gold "tiger's eye" colored detailing on it. First ride out on the mountains, we started up a hill, and boy, I wasn't sure mountain biking was for me.



    Edit - by the way, the Rockhopper COMP has a coil/elastomer fork, and is only 9 speed, and Tektro brakes. The Rockhopper Expert is a 10 speed rear, and an air fork, but it's still a Suntour.

  5. #5
    western NC
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    Quote Originally Posted by DethWshBkr View Post
    There is nothing wrong with coil sprung. Heck, ultra high end motocross machines are coil sprung. Coils are actually a very under-rated thing. They offer better small bump compliance, but they are heavier, and less adjustable (you need to get new springs for your weight, instead of just adjusting air pressure).

    ^^This. I just upgraded my Rockshox XC32 with a motion control damper and it's fantastic. Supple on the small stuff, firm enough for big stuff, and it's an easy DIY upgrade.

  6. #6
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    Most drivetrain components work fine as long as they are clean and well tuned, even the bottom level ones. Feel and weight get better as prices increase, but the vast majority are perfectly functional.

    The fork on the other hand is what can make or break a ride. A good one will allow you to go faster for longer and in control. The xc32 is a good base to start off. 32mm steel stanchions are quite stiff, which is good, although there is a weight penalty. Don't let the coil spring put you off, as long as you have the correct spring for your weight the ride will be good. Less things to go wrong with coil vs air too.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the info! This really helps a lot.

  8. #8
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    Get the best fork possible. Shifter brand should depend on which style you prefer. Brakes are also a personal thing too. Some love SLX and better Shimano brakes as they have a good bite but kinda poor modulation IMO. If you like to drag the brakes then there are better options. Durability wise I like shimano over SRAM because I've broken a couple x7 FDs.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard=SSV View Post
    I've primarily been looking at these 2015 bikes:

    Cannondale Trail 3 - Mostly Shimano parts with Rockshox XC30 coil fork.

    Specialized Rockhopper Comp - Shimano/SRAM parts with SunTour XCR fork.

    Trek X-Cal 8 - Mostly SRAM parts with Rockshox XC32 coil fork.
    I recently bought a 2012 Kona HeiHei which had the Rockshox XC32 coil fork. I was quite annoyed as I didn't realize anyone was using coil shocks still (aren't coil shocks for Walmart bikes?!?). That said, the shock was actually not bad at all to ride, I'm 235-ish pounds so I was over the weight rating for the springs I'm sure but it was not even close to bottomed out and trail riding was surprisingly fun and fast.

    I have since ditched the coil innards and replaced the spring with an air cylinder (see: http://forums.mtbr.com/shocks-suspen...on-868476.html ) which I like even more because I can adjust it for whatever I want for that day. Side note, this shock with the air cylinder weights MORE than with the coil (I weighed mine before and after the work, I recall about 30g-ish, so not a lot, so don't be fooled and think that just because something is air it's lighter).

    I don't know if the specific XC32 shock that the Trek has could have that done to it, or even if a XC30 shock could either, but it might be looking into (the air cylinder was I think around $60).

    The functional difference I have noticed between SRAM and Shimano components is subtle but worth noting. With my low-end Deore Shimano shifters there is a thumb lever to push the derailleur to a larger gear and then an index-finger pull lever to drop to a smaller gear. This means that depending on if you are shifting up or down you either use your thumb or first-finger. SRAM (mine are lower-end X.7 I think) handles this differently as there are two levers for your thumb, the upper lever drops to a smaller gear the lower lever pushes up to a larger gear.

    Both are totally usable and all that but if you routinely do 1-finger braking then your index finger is often times resting on the brake lever and thus it is not available to use on the shifter. I'm sure Shimano doesn't expect you to both brake and shift at the same time, but I have found myself doing that and on my SRAM bike I can easily do that because all shifting is done with your thumbs, whereas Shimano makes you use your index-finger for the shifting to a smaller gear.
    -------------
    Kona HeiHei, heavy Mongoose fat bike & some cheap Fuji road bike...

  10. #10
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    Thanks again for all of the info everyone. However, I ended up calling an audible and bought a 2015 Rockhopper; not the comp, just the base model. My initial plan was to spend $1000 on a bike and all 3 of the models I originally listed were in that price range.

    The base model Rockhopper was $669 and came with a Suntour XCT fork which definitely isn't the best. However, Suntour has that upgrade program going on, so I figured that for $189 more I could upgrade to an air fork (Raidon XC-LO-R) and still be under $1000, but end up with a slightly better fork than the original 3 models I listed came with.

    The drive train on my Rockhopper is low end Shimano (Altus/Alivio), but I figure I can ride it until it wears out or until I feel I have some disposable income to upgrade it. So far it shifts fine when up shifting, but it seems a little more clunky down shifting than my 22 year Giant did. My Giant has a Shimano SXT-RC, so I guess despite being old it was built like a tank?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard=SSV View Post
    Thanks again for all of the info everyone. However, I ended up calling an audible and bought a 2015 Rockhopper; not the comp, just the base model. My initial plan was to spend $1000 on a bike and all 3 of the models I originally listed were in that price range.

    The base model Rockhopper was $669 and came with a Suntour XCT fork which definitely isn't the best. However, Suntour has that upgrade program going on, so I figured that for $189 more I could upgrade to an air fork (Raidon XC-LO-R) and still be under $1000, but end up with a slightly better fork than the original 3 models I listed came with.

    The drive train on my Rockhopper is low end Shimano (Altus/Alivio), but I figure I can ride it until it wears out or until I feel I have some disposable income to upgrade it. So far it shifts fine when up shifting, but it seems a little more clunky down shifting than my 22 year Giant did. My Giant has a Shimano SXT-RC, so I guess despite being old it was built like a tank?
    Adjustment has a LOT to do with how things perform. Especially after you've gone on a few rides from when it was brand new, it will need to be adjusted again as the cables stretch, thereby putting it out of adjustment. Even top of the line components will perform like crap if they are out of adjustment.

    Is the shifting worse when downshifting (going to a bigger cassette cog) or upshifting (going to smaller cog)? That will help diagnose the issue. If it's rougher/harder to shift to a larger cog, turn the barrel adjuster counter clockwise. If it's rougher/harder to shift to a smaller cog, turn the barrel adjuster clockwise.

  12. #12
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    It's when downshifting that I have the issue. I've only got about 15 miles on it, so I plan on adding another 30-40 miles before I take it in for an adjustment. The bike came with free lifetime adjustments from the shop I bought it from, so I will definitely be taking advantage of that.

    As for the Suntour fork upgrade, I've decided to just ride the stock fork until I feel I need something more and then buy a quality fork instead of just upgrading to another Suntour.

  13. #13
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    Just do it yourself. 1-2 clicks counter clockwise and see if it's fixed, keep doing 1-2 at a time until it is. I did 8-10 clicks in the first 100 miles on my newest bike

    get the full adjustment later if you want but this one is super easy

  14. #14
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    [QUOTE=Alias530;11503459]Just do it yourself. 1-2 clicks counter clockwise and see if it's fixed, keep doing 1-2 at a time until it is. I did 8-10 clicks in the first 100 miles on my newest bike

    get the full adjustment later if you want but this one is super easy[/QUOTE

    Thanks for the info. I'll give it a try this weekend.

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