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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ridingaddict's Avatar
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    Feb 2011

    How much travel?

    I did some searching in the forums and google and couldn't come up with much. What's the rule of thumb when choosing how much travel you want in suspension on a bike?

  2. #2
    Reputation: DH.FR.0ne's Avatar
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    Jul 2010

    What kiind of riding do you do?...

    It depends on what your riding and how you want your bike to feel.
    No real need for suspension on the road obv. For street or park, a hardtail with 120-140mm fork is the prefferred setup for most.
    Cross country trails and flatish off road doesnt really require much travel. Downhillers will use 6-10 inches on the rear, usually with a 170-203mm fork.
    As a do anything bike 140/160mm fork with pretty much the same at the rear is usually efficient enough.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2011
    It really depends on your bike, some can't handle bigger/longer travel forks, can cause damage to the frame.
    What bike?

  4. #4
    Nickel Havr
    Reputation: Eckstream1's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    I ride AM... Lots of climbing so a full DH rig is out!
    Most of the trails I ride are full of crazy rock gardens and roots... And most of the DH sections have small 2-4' drops.

    I went with a Santa Cruz Nickel w/ 5" (125mm) of travel and it suits me just fine...
    Last edited by Eckstream1; 08-20-2011 at 08:50 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by William Blake
    Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street .

  5. #5
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    Reputation: mtbnozpikr's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Some may disagree but if you're looking for a general guideline, this may be of interest.

    XC: 4 inches
    AM: 5 inches
    FR: 6-7 inches
    DH: 8 inches

    This is kind of what you run into in general and is obviously up to personal interpretation.
    2012 Intense M9
    2012 Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon
    2008 Look 595
    2007 Custom Litespeed Sewanee

  6. #6
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    Reputation: jpeters's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    No rule you really need to think about where and how you will ride. You have so many different mtb suspension designs out now to choose from you cant really have a rule. Like mtbnozpiker said this is a basic but not concrete. Different suspension designs react different one may be more plush one may pedal up better ext ext. The only way to really get a feel for what you need is to talk to locals and see what they ride and test ride bikes if you can. For example I had two fs frames one was 120 and one was140 normally one would assume the 120 would climb better because of the shorter travel but that was not true. The newer designed 140 was a better climber because of the suspension design. My point is different suspensions will act different and its hard to make a rule to cover all bikes. Granted you wont be using a 4in xc bike for free ride or DH unless you want to break the bike. Another thing is you need to be careful about what frame you use for what because they will break. I thought my120mm bike was good for AM but I was wrong it was not it was like along travel xc frame and when I rode it like an am bike it broke. Normally 120mm is considered in the AM range but apparently that has changed on some bikes and I had a long travel xc bike so it broke.
    XC or AM: 4 inches ( Depending on the frame )
    AM or Trail or XC: 5 inches ( Depending on the frame )
    AM or FR: 6-7 inches ( Depending on the frame )
    DH: 8 inches

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: slothnation's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
    Is it me or is it pretty vague what constitutes XC, AM, FR, and Trail? There doesnt seem to be a clear definition of what is what. I understand what each stands for, I just don't see how each gets lumped into what category.

  8. #8
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    May 2009
    A little heads up, technology is negating the issues with long travel. SO as Jpeters etc have said, how well a bike climbs is no longer a function of just its travel. I'm currently ridding a full DH suspension bike with 8" travel and it not only has NO pedal bob or wasted motion, it turns and climbs better than my 4" travel Enduro or 6" AM bike. As a bonus its not even heavy at 35 pounds and it will never break riding trails.
    2011 Canfield ONE 200mm DH 35 pounds
    2010 Specialized Pitch 29 lbs sold
    Wife: 2009 Canfield ONE also 29 lbs

  9. #9
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    Jul 2003
    Quote Originally Posted by slothnation View Post
    Is it me or is it pretty vague what constitutes XC, AM, FR, and Trail? There doesnt seem to be a clear definition of what is what. I understand what each stands for, I just don't see how each gets lumped into what category.
    I feel your pain. The problem is most riders focus on travel. What constitutes an XC, AM, FR or DH bike isn't always the amount of travel. It's the design of the frame. You can get a very general idea of what a bike is designed for by how much travel it has, but it's not the definitive factor. It depends a lot on the designer and what their take is. As an example Trek tends to be conservative in the amount of travel they design into a given frame. They run XC/Race 4", XC/Trail 5", AM 6", FR 6-7", and DH 8". On the other hand a company like Turner has a bit of a different take on it, XC/Race and Trail 4" (they really don't make a bike they bill as a "race" bike), XC/Trail 5.5", AM/Lite FR, 7", and FR/DH 8". You can see the difference in what one manufacturer sees as ideal travel for a give purpose. They are similar but different. The key is in the design of the frame. So it's pretty much what the manufacturer designs the frame for and what they bill the bike as suitable for. And we didn't even get into geometry!

    All you can do is go with what the manufacturer says the bike is for, and then talk to people that own the bike. Sometimes if you look at just travel the lines are really blurry. But when you start looking at the frame design it becomes more clear.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  10. #10
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    Jun 2005
    Intended use is the deciding factor. I am a XC rider who doesn't jump, do big drops etc. I have a 4" travel bike and love it for the extra traction it provides the wheel in climbs, over rocks and in corners compared to my hardtail.
    2008 Kona Kula 2-9 SS 2010 SWorks Epic
    Riding trails you maintain is more fun.

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