hardtail front suspension efficiency on mountain vs paved road- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    hardtail front suspension efficiency on mountain vs paved road

    i have watched videos where front suspension is tuned so there isn't much bobbing during mountain climbs. its very efficient and moves only when riders hit a rock. there isn't much fork dive when braking hard. this is opposite of what i read in other forums that the front suspension robs energy or bobs up and down during climbs.

    question: since a hardtail's front suspension is very efficient on a mountain climb, why can't it be just as efficient on the road? if it can handle a big mountain, surely it can handle a hilly road, right?

    my guess is that the front suspension is efficient on road but not necessary. i don't mind $65 a year maintenance and a little loss of efficiency for the freedom to take my only one bike (pre-ordered trek cobia 2011) wherever i please.

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    Fox Terralogic

  3. #3
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    You just ordered a bike with a lockout function. The suspension fork isn't going to effect efficiency very much at all when you turn it on.

    They're really not that bad without any dampers at all, if you're pedaling in the saddle with a high cadence and smooth technique. Getting out of the saddle changes things, though.

    IMHO, the two biggest problems with mountain bikes on the road are the type and placement of the handlebars and that the tires are huge and knobby. Obviously, both can be addressed to some degree. That also makes it less of a mountain bike off-road.

    When I got my first road bike, I found it quite shocking how much better they are for road riding. If you're not racing or going on fast group rides, you don't need anything fancy. Even something from the mid-'80s, if you maintain it, will outperform a mountain bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  4. #4
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    They're really not that bad without any dampers at all, if you're pedaling in the saddle with a high cadence and smooth technique. Getting out of the saddle changes things, though.
    this is what i wanted to hear. i don't get out of the saddle. i'm thinking of having the fork on stiff settings because i don't know how well the turnkey works. i don't know if the fork would get damaged if i hit a big pothole locked out.

    IMHO, the two biggest problems with mountain bikes on the road are the type and placement of the handlebars and that the tires are huge
    these are two huge advantages for me. my only concern is the suspension efficiency which you addressed.

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    yep. probably similar to rockshox' motion control with nice compression dampening. this would really increase the efficiency. too bad i don't want to spend anymore and get the x-caliber which does have motion control

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by common_man
    i'm thinking of having the fork on stiff settings because i don't know how well the turnkey works. i don't know if the fork would get damaged if i hit a big pothole locked out.
    The lockout is for mountain biking. I'm not sure how tunable that particular system is, but most lockouts have a threshold - if they take a big enough hit, they unlock. Wear life is supposed to be somewhat reduced, but that's all. I doubt that it would be enough to notice if it only gets banged around with the frequency that road riding would induce. Some people ride with their forks locked out all the time, although I think that's just a substitute for having a better damper. If you use lockout for this, when you get to the trail you can just unlock it and go. If you tried to use preload instead, you'd have a lot more fiddling to do.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    although I think that's just a substitute for having a better damper
    agree completely. this is why now i must have a trek paragon which has a fox fork with a nice damper. this will give me the best of both worlds.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by common_man
    agree completely. this is why now i must have a trek paragon which has a fox fork with a nice damper. this will give me the best of both worlds.
    oh sheesh, 'i need a fox fork so i can ride on the road.' Now i've heard everything.

    Mountain bikes suck on the road. It doesn't matter how many lever you have available to switch, 700g of knobby tires, geometry bent towards handling offroad, and the sturdiness required to ride off road make for a pretty miserable road ride. You can't have 'the best of both worlds' with 1 bike. A crappy road bike from the 70s is a much better road bike than any mountain bike is.

    The fork is only robbing power when it's bobbing up and down; so unlocked it's only a problem when you're standing, and if you're hitting obstacles on the road locked out large enough to blow a seal in your fork... you need to write a letter to your local DOT.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
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  8. #8
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    i feel very strongly about this even though i'm a newbie (the combination might make me a troll).

    what you say is true for a cheap fork but not a quality fork with an excellent damper like the fox. the fox fork will NOT rob power and it will NOT bob up and down.it will act like a rigid fork even when you climb out of the saddle or hit the brakes hard. i have seen videos of people doing this and averaging 20 mph on flat surface. the whole point of adjustable floodgates on rebas (motion control) or high end forks like the fox are to protect the fork when you hit something big even when locked out. the forks are very durable. this is why the forks are very expensive because they're highly tunable to allow people to climb mountains with great efficiency.

    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg
    geometry bent towards handling offroad, and the sturdiness required to ride off road make for a pretty miserable road ride
    i personally feel very comfortable on the mountain bike geometry. i feel very confident and safe. i like the anti-endo geometry of a gary fisher 29er. what more could i ask? sturdiness? i'm not a weight weenie. it's the engine that counts. in a race i'd get whipped by a 70s road bike but not for commute. ANY bike is going be slow compared to a car. for a measly 3 mph i'm not going to sweat it.

    in my town near philadelphia, we have lots of potholes on the side of the road. a 29er will eat them for breakfeast. you keep riding on! with a madone, you better slow down.

    lastly, a 29er will never betray you. you're doing 30 mph down hill on a road and hit a pothole or something on the road that you don't see, chances are you'll fall and get hurt. not a 29er. the rocks on the road will run out of the way in fear of getting crushed by the monster tires. i've heard horror stories of road bikers on the road losing control because they hit something they didn't see. the skinny tires are not as safe as the 29ers. you think my man lance would have fallen on the cobble roads if he was allowed to do that stage on a 29er? no way.

    i don't know why in our country we're so fascinated with abstract speed. for speeds less than 20 mph and for less than 1 hour rides, you may have to work harder on the mountain bike but it's perfectly doable and you get a lot of benefits.

    of course, i'm not commuting. i just want the best of both worlds so when i hit paved parks and when i hit off road parks.

    i'll take a 29er with a kick ass suspension over a plastic road bike any day of the week (unless i'm racing on a perfectly smooth road like tour de france).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by common_man
    i personally feel very comfortable on the mountain bike geometry. i feel very confident and safe. i like the anti-endo geometry of a gary fisher 29er. what more could i ask? sturdiness? i'm not a weight weenie. it's the engine that counts. in a race i'd get whipped by a 70s road bike but not for commute. ANY bike is going be slow compared to a car. for a measly 3 mph i'm not going to sweat it.

    of course, i'm not commuting. i just want the best of both worlds so when i hit paved parks and when i hit off road parks.
    Do you have any saddle time on road bikes? What length of road ride do you do?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    Do you have any saddle time on road bikes? What length of road ride do you do?
    20 mile trips. i know, that's not much for a road bike (maybe that's influencing what's best for ME). i don't own a road bike but a family member has an old trek 1000 that is my size that i have ridden several times. i can handle the flat back position without any discomfort but it isn't my favorite posture. my area is very hilly so when i descend down a hill fast on the skinny tire bike, it isn't very confidence inspiring especially when there's stuff on the road.

    the only advantage i know to road bikes is that the drops offer multiple hand positions. i don't know if you're familiar with grant peterson (designer for bridgestone / rivendell bikes) but i'm a strong believer of his philosophy on bikes. he goes for heavy steel frame + 40 mm or fatter tires. it won't win races but it will definitely make an excellent commuter.

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