Carbon fork vs full suspension on a Fat Bike- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Carbon fork vs full suspension on a Fat Bike

    Up until this point I have been biking with a full suspension "regular" mountain bike. Mostly trail riding, some roots and bumpy ground but nothing too extreme.

    I am going to buy my first fat bike for winter riding. However, since it is going to be a lot higher quality of bike, I can see myself using it year round on roads and trails.

    I am considering both ones with full suspensions but am leaning to one with a carbon fork but not a full suspension.

    Anyone have an opinion on if the combination of carbon fork and larger tires will provide enough "shock support"? I have had some issues with both lower back and wrist pain when I rode my full suspension bike with the suspension turned off.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Frame Building Moderator Moderator
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    Fat tires are not the same as suspension. If you have back/health problems from repeated jarring, just go full squish.

    Carbon forks are still rigid forks.

    -Walt

  3. #3
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    Even though I only ride my fat tire bike in the winter, 95% in the snow, mostly at low pressures (<9 psi) and mostly on smoother single track, I replaced my carbon fork with a Bluto after my first snow season. Snowy trails become rough with foot traffic as well as thawing/freezing cycles. The carbon fork was much too harsh for me. Before replacing the carbon fork I replaced the handlebars and seatpost with carbon fiber components and those changes didn't help take any harshness out of my rides. (Background: My typical snow rides are between 2 and 4 hours each and I ride 2 to 3 times per week. My other fat tire biker friends are also converting to front suspension. This is my third snow season fat biking. Rig: Specialized Fatboy with Ground Control tires setup tubless.)

  4. #4
    beer thief
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    I agree with Walt. I have both and the Bucksaw is way smoother of a ride.

  5. #5
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    I have a fat bike with carbon fork. Great for winter riding on groomed trails or snowshoe packed trails and smooth flow summer trails.

    Sucks on the summer trails when the trail is rocky or rooty. Get jarred around a bunch and I sometimes lose small amounts of turning control cause the front wheel doesn't stay planted on the ground. My lower back starts hurting after a while also.

    Full squeesh (maybe not fat) is in my near future.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    I think your best bet might be carbon fork/bars and maybe an Eriksen sweatpost if you don't want to go full squish.

  7. #7
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    I'll give a dissenting opinion apparently. If you will be riding mostly on snow, stay rigid. Suspension is absolutely not needed on snow. Your tires are not suspension but between the give low psi provides and the carbon fork, you'll be fine. I'd rather my bike weigh two pounds less, hauling it around in the snow, than a few inches of suspension. I ride 95% snow on my fatty with a carbon fork and 4.8 inch tires and I love it. It's not my favorite to ride in the dirt but that's not what my fatty is for.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in southwest Utah

  8. #8
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    Well, many of us ride on postholed/hard snow, or icy snow, that is actually rougher than riding on most dirt trails. If you mostly ride groomers or loose/soft stuff, different story.

    2# is 1% of your vehicle weight even if you're pretty small/in shape and have a light bike. Totally irrelevant.

    And the OP has a bad back, which for me pretty much clinches it.

    -Walt

  9. #9
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    Full squish fatty is awesome all year long!

    Have not ridden anything narrower than 3.25 x 27.5 is just about a year and 4.6 to 4.8 is how I have geared up the bikes for winter

    You can't do wrong with a full Suspensjon fatty!

  10. #10
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    I ride a rigid fork fat bike all year, but keep the summer riding to smoother flow trails, it is amazing. For winter I prefer not to deal with a suspension fork when it is cold. I ride my FS 29er on everything else in the summer.

    My riding style does not require a front suspension fork on the fatty, but to each his own.
    I also have a bad back.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonshonda View Post
    I think your best bet might be carbon fork/bars and maybe an Eriksen sweatpost if you don't want to go full squish.
    I used to think this way. I have a Sweetpost. After riding with a Bodyfloat for the last month, the Sweetest feels like exactly what it is: A completely rigid post.

    To the OP: If you can't go full sus for some reason, get a suspension fork and check out the Bodyfloat seatpost for 'rear suspension' duties.

  12. #12
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    I'm 57 and have bad back, knees, hips and wrists. I ride my fatty fully rigid with 4" tires and 27.5 x 3" tires. The 4" tires provide decent suspension and pretty good bump absorption. The 3" tires, somewhat less. For those who might say that the fat tires offer little suspension, try riding a fatty and a rigid skinny-tired 26er back to back.

    My back issues are not bike related, and suspension does me no good when I'm having an "episode". When I ride the smoother, flowy stuff, I never find myself wishing for a suspension, but I sometimes do when riding the rocky places on the mid-fat tires. I ride a Ti bike with a carbon Sarma fork. I've been riding all fat since 2010. I was on a 5" travel FS 26er before that. I don't miss the sloppy steering, noises and high maintenance of FS at all.

    The best practical advice for anyone buying a bike of any kind is to demo one if you can.

  13. #13
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    A rigid fatbike is a rigid bike. It will punish over roots and rough terrain. On snow, it can ride very nice and the snow (plus the tires) can absorb a lot of energy that would otherwise cause you to bounce all over the place, but that takes enough snow to fill in all the holes and roots of course. In the summer, riding the fatbike is like having maybe 1/2" of suspension, not much. Sure, it's a little softer coming down off a jump or something, but it's 95% like a rigid bike.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  14. #14
    will rant for food
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    Here's an illustration of thinking of a rigid fat bike as a suspension bike: Slide GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

    I also used to think this way. I was wrong.
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonshonda View Post
    I think your best bet might be carbon fork/bars and maybe an Eriksen sweatpost if you don't want to go full squish.
    This is the set up on my Beargrease in fact, and I can attest it's mighty user friendly. Just stumbled into a Bluto mind you...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Diller View Post
    Here's an illustration of thinking of a rigid fat bike as a suspension bike: Slide GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

    I also used to think this way. I was wrong.
    that video hurts my taint.

  17. #17
    All fat, all the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonshonda View Post
    I think your best bet might be carbon fork/bars and maybe an Eriksen sweatpost if you don't want to go full squish.
    Be careful googling "sweatpost" lol....

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Jason View Post
    Anyone have an opinion on if the combination of carbon fork and larger tires will provide enough "shock support"? I have had some issues with both lower back and wrist pain when I rode my full suspension bike with the suspension turned off.
    Good question

    For me a fatbike absorbs a lot of trail chatter. Considering it's a rigid bike the vibration is reduced not so much because the big tyres act as suspension but because they roll over stuff so much easier and the constant buzz you get from normal tyres is missing. It was the first thing I noticed literally after a couple of turns of the cranks. The fat tyres are so much smoother.

    However this only works up to a point when you will suddenly realise that you are back on a rigid. The moment this happens depends on you and where you ride but the floaty hoverbike sensation can lull you into a sense of false security. For me it was a short time into the fat bike experience when I rolled off something that was a bit bigger and a bit steeper than I expected. I got a bad jolt through my wrists, both of which have been broken in the past. For a couple of weeks afterwards both wrists felt as though they were in the post-plaster-removal phase which was not a good feeling.

    tl:dr the tyres and the carbon will give you some shock support up to a point

  19. #19
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    Thank you all for the input. Definitely good advice all around.

    It is hard to find a good fat bike with a full suspension at a good price that isn't a tank besides going with Bikesdirect - which I dont really want to do. I might end up going with a carbon fork one that my local bike shop has a good deal on. If it gives me any problems, I will swap out the fork for a full suspension one later.

    My back/wrist issues aren't that bad, and have been lessened as I have become a better rider and know how to lessen the impact from my form. I got an ergonomic grip that has eliminated all the wrist pain. I think I will add those as well.

    Thanks again. These forums have been a great resource.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I used to think this way. I have a Sweetpost. After riding with a Bodyfloat for the last month, the Sweetest feels like exactly what it is: A completely rigid post.

    To the OP: If you can't go full sus for some reason, get a suspension fork and check out the Bodyfloat seatpost for 'rear suspension' duties.
    Interesting, I was thinking about getting one (sweetpost shark) and because of my very man-esk mass, figured it would give me some flex. I have never heard of body float, but I am guessing it equals the feeling of riding your bike baked?

  21. #21
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    The Cane Creek Thudbusters are pretty decent too. I used an LT, but then it started creaking last fall, so I took it off, apart, and and lubed it up. Then the snow fell, so rather than dicking around with it, I just left it in my basement. It did a nice job of taking the edge off.
    it's a challenge some of us are ultimately worthy of.

  22. #22
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    Jason -
    We may live near-ish one another based on your name. I'd be happy to meet up with you somewhere to try my unsuspended fatbike with carbon fork & handlebars.

    I'm in Howell - assuming you're around Lansing. Now, if you're just a MSU fan and not in MI...

  23. #23
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    You guys need to toughen up! Doesn't anyone remember when we used to ride rigid steel bikes with 26x2.0 tires???

    I know I am the exception these days, but I have not ridden with any form of suspension for at least 5 years. Although I am on 3" or 4" tires these days. I find I have plenty of suspension in my arms and legs, and they work pretty well. It also improves my bike handling skills and gives you a full body workout! It may not be the fastest way through a rockfield, but I'm OK with that. And it's actually faster on other parts of the trail, and I have no problem keeping up with the FS crew.

    I'm not saying everyone should be riding without suspension, I'm just saying not everyone needs full suspension, they just don't know it!

    Got back or wrist problems? Racing DH or Enduro? Yup, FS is a great idea.

    Riding around your local park for a couple of hours? FS not really needed.

    Flame away!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeny View Post
    You guys need to toughen up! Doesn't anyone remember when we used to ride rigid steel bikes with 26x2.0 tires???
    Yes I do - My first bike was 4130 full rigid and my second was a Cannondale 2.8 running full rigid 26x2. That combo was the ultimate RIGID bike and was SUPER rough on my back, arms and wrists. I am glad to be running at a min some front suspension with a titanium frame now for sure

  25. #25
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    Are you confusing 'full suspension' with 'front suspension'

    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Jason View Post
    Up until this point I have been biking with a full suspension "regular" mountain bike.
    I am going to buy my first fat bike for winter riding.
    I am considering both ones with full suspensions but am leaning to one with a carbon fork but not a full suspension.
    Anyone have an opinion on if the combination of carbon fork and larger tires will provide enough "shock support"? I have had some issues with both lower back and wrist pain when I rode my full suspension bike with the suspension turned off.
    Thanks
    Two things:
    Are you confusing the terms: 'full suspension' with 'suspension'?
    Full suspension means exactly that, the full bike is suspended. Hardtail means only the front has suspension (a suspension fork), and the other style is a fully rigid bike.
    So are you really choosing between fully suspended and fully rigid?
    Most full suspension fatbikes are aimed at dirt riding and can only run small tires.
    The other option would be a Hardtail with a suspension fork and perhaps a suspension seatpost.

  26. #26
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    I'm debating what to do with My RSD Mayor Bluto for winter riding.

    Spring for the Turnagain winter seal kit for the Bluto or go with a full carbon fork for winter use.

    I need to do something ASAP
    Mike
    Toronto, Canada
    2017 Trek Farley 9.6
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  27. #27
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    Yep, when I was in shape in college I rode one of these for a season and it beat me up with its super stiff rear.
    I added a suspension fork but since nothing could cure the rear I ended up selling it and getting a steel KHS and liked riding again.
    I would hope today's aluminum fatbikes have less rear harshness.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    A rigid fatbike is a rigid bike.
    With respect, I see this typed over and over and over again, but it's an oversimplification and not entirely the case. I know where the sentiment comes from however.
    It's at least not true literal sense. Get on a rigid bike with 26x2 tires, and a rigid fat bike with 26x4.8 tires running 8 psi, and it is not the same.

    I wish the "rigid is rigid" narrative would die since it's not entirely accurate and doesn't do justice to the difference in riding various tires/pressures. Even a rigid 29er with 2.3 tires is more forgiving in feel than the old school 26 with 2" tires. This makes riding a rigid 29er more attractive to many vs riding a rigid 26.
    There is a difference, both because of wheel diameter and tire volume.

    Fat tires are not 'suspension' in the literal/normal sense when dealing with vehicles, but tires do suspend your weight over the ground to some degree whatever the size. Fat tires provide more cushion that results in a somewhat softer ride compared to other platforms. It's just a matter of degrees and whether the resulting ride works for you.

  29. #29
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    My empirical observation: 4" Fat tires at 6 psi are simply squishier than 2" tires at 35psi.

    I've been curious about those nifty looking suspension seatposts. But I know my tendency when approaching rough stuff is to lift my butt off the saddle. Do they still provide the same cushioning when you have less than 100% of your body mass seated? (This question is fat/skinny tire agnostic.)

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