26" Hardtail Longest Travel Recommended- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    26" Hardtail Longest Travel Recommended

    My hardtail is old, but I still enjoy riding it. The bike came with a fork with about 80mm travel and was wondering if the geometry and handling would be negatively affected if I installed a 120 mm travel fork on my bike? I would even consider a 100mm application but I am not sure if I would notice much difference. Also if you know what part of the bike it would it would affect, please let me know.

  2. #2
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    You're going to be hard pressed to find a quality fork with 80mm travel. Heck, you'll have trouble finding ANY worthwhile fork with the rim brake mounts you most likely need.

    So there's 2 big ideas that need to be covered....

    How much travel can you safely add?
    A 'recreational' hardtail from yesteryear is probably going to be more accommodating to a long travel fork than a race-bred machine. In general, the hardtails designed to give new riders confidence have longer top-tubes, lower bottom brackets, and longer chainstays than race-bred machines, and those design features keep the rider secure between the wheels where his weight shifts won't hurt him. A bike like that can have a bigger fork installed and mostly preserve it's handling character by moving the saddle forward and the handlebars down a bit, keeping the rider centered. A racier bike doesn't have that 'slop' built in to the design, so if you change one parameter much you are hard pressed to adjust the handling to fix it since the bike is designed to be much more sensitive to a bit of weight transfer.

    Do you WANT a longer travel fork?
    In my experience, suspension is more about quality than quality. A top notch short travel fork; one that has a spring that is set to the rider's weight, with a fully functional damper that can be tuned to the frame/fork/rider... works much better than one with more travel but less precision. A really good fork softens for big bumps, but keeps the bike riding high through the little bumps, where the spring is still soft and the bike was designed to handle. For contrast, by virtue of it's budget damper, a cheap fork will always try to compress or extend at the same rate- always too slow to properly react to impacts, but fast when you hit the brakes and your weight shifts forward. (if you want to read more, look in to oriface dampers, shim stacks, and undamped suspension)

    In general, you can figure that you can add an inch of fork without any insurmountable damage done, but it'd be good to know more about your bike before applying that logic. It's also helpful to know what forks you're working with; just because the suspension travel is the same doesn't mean that the fork holds the wheel the same distance from the frame.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
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  3. #3
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    The fork on it is a 2003 Skareb comp. The mountain bike is a univega rover 308.

  4. #4
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    If you like the bike convert the whole front end to mechanical disk brakes and get a nice used 100mm RockShox fork.
    Dropping into a trail

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramon Mal View Post
    The fork on it is a 2003 Skareb comp. The mountain bike is a univega rover 308.
    1999 Univega Rover 308 - BikePedia

    I don't see much reason to throw a pile of money at that bike. A 11 year old fork is probably in desperate need of service; adding new bath oil is a piece of cake and will transform it. Instructions can be found here-

    http://www.manitoumtb.com/wp-content...ers-Manual.pdf

    basically-
    remove the rebound knob
    use an 8mm allen to screw the damper up into the fork
    use a 4mm (i think) to pull the bolt on the spring side
    pull the lowers and gawk at how there's dirt and no oil in there
    clean it out
    add a tablespoon of 5w-30 mobil 1 synth oil to each side of the lowers
    bolt that crap together

    That fork is definitely the nicest thing on the bike, and while it is a pretty basic fork, it shouldn't be the component holding you back.

    How much do you weigh?

    If you have a boner for a new fork, i agree with cdale- a used (and freshened) reba would be a very nice upgrade.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
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  6. #6
    Yeah!
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    Geometry and handling will remain largely unchanged (except for better handling from a better fork) as long as you stay close to your ATC (axle to crown distance). Whether or not you can up the travel depends upon what the frame was designed to accomodate. While you can up the ATC some with no considerable change in handling, the headtube has a limit to how much force it can handle from the fork, and increasing the distance between the fork and crown increases this torque. Univega might have this information available. Otherwise, I'd suggest measure the ATC on THE ORIGINAL fork and don't add more than 1/2 inch with the new fork. This should keep you within the frame's built in safety factor, and you don't have a worry of voiding your warranty

    I would not suggest a disk brake unless you plan to convert the rear as it overwhelms the rear. Unless you like a challenge anf can deal with a potentially unstable bike under hard or delicate braking conditions. The bike also was not designed for disk, so you'd want to factor that in when considering a fork. IMO, it's a Univega, (not that it's a UNIVEGA, but that it's a ($350) Univega.) and throwing a lot of upgrades at it won't get you where you think you are going.

    I'm going to echo that you should first look into a clean and renew of the fork you've got, it's a pretty decent upgrade to the bike, probably better than what the rest of the bike can take.

    If you are really hellbent on a new fork, since it's a ($350) Univega that YOU ARE HAPPY WITH, I suggest looking into a lower end forks from major players. Ex. Suntour has six forks with 80mm travel for 26" bikes in the XCM and XCT series. RockShox XC28 and XC30 are also good forks to consider. $60-$150, depending upon the options you desire, is what it will run. Available with v-brake bosses. If you do get a new fork, spend a few extra bucks and go threadless. Most shops have a parts bin full of parts tossed for upgrades, and should have a stem they can sell you for cheap (or free). A new threadless bearing set is about $20. This will reduce flex between the steerer tube and handlebar a bit, assiting control and confidence of your now silky-smooth fork, for the cost of a cheap dinner date or less.

  7. #7
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    I agree the bike was not costly, but at the time it was all I was willing to pay for a bike. This bike would likely have cost me about $700 today. Over the years I have upgraded the components so it is not the same bike per say. I also liked the fact that it weighed only 27 lbs when I bought it. With that said, over the years I have gone out with riders with much more expensive bikes and at the end it's about the rider and your conditioning. The only reason I am seeking an upgrade in travel is for technical riding. Some of the upgrades mentioned in this thread have already been done. I think I am going to lean towards purchasing a quality 100 mm travel fork. On the other hand, if I go out and purchase a new bike lets say on a recreational level and it would likely cost me around $750 without the components I have added to my bike over the years.

  8. #8
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    In 11 years front shocks have evolved a great deal. 100 is not great stretch for the frame but the added quality will be noticed so you get a double-dip.
    I don't rattle.

  9. #9
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    I'd maintain what's on it, replace it when it's worn out, save for something nice in the meantime.

    I had a similar fork, an '03 Axel, rode the crap out of it. Not a great fork, but a great fork for the money. Luckily, the preload cap didn't shoot out at me, like it did for some with that fork.

  10. #10
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    I would change to a 2011-12 dual air Reba with a SLX front disc in a heartbeat. Most of a good rider's braking, about 90%, takes place using the front brake. I put a SLX front on a bike with bb7s and I don't use the rear except for minimum stabilization. The front offers so much power and modulation.

  11. #11
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    The most I would fit would be a RockShox Tora/XC TK, the same fork effectively, and both available with V'brake mounts in 80, 100 or 120mm travel. Typical used value about 60 and a simple, fairly sturdy fork so as long as it's not abused should be an ok used buy.

    Two down sides. They are heavy and the damping is crap. The upside of the weight is that they are very stiff and the 32mm steel stanchions mean that if you wanted to get silly you could actually fit a damper from one of RockShox big-ass forks! Not worth it though as, although basic, the TK does the job.

    No, you won't notice much difference going from 80 to 100mm. Changing your stem would alter the handling more.

    I would forget disk brakes. By the time you've done all that you would've been cheaper just buying a better bike which came with all the goodies on it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    By the time you've done all that you would've been cheaper just buying a better bike which came with all the goodies on it.
    This is the critical consideration. For me, a change in shock gave me 2 more years on one 30 pound bike. An updated shock gave me 10 more on classic of 25 pounds.

    It will help if you can look at a bigger picture. So a thing to think about is where you are in your development as a rider. When will you buy another bike? Are you willing to spend, say $500 on a new shock that will see 2 years of use before you buy a new bike? If I could plan like that I would feel okay about the expenditure.

    A 31 pound bike was probably $800 new. Over 3 years that is about $250 per. Plus you have a resale of about $$350-$400. A new shock gives you 2 more seasons at the same rate.

    Your next bike will be more, if I know my mtb addicts. I'll be it is 2x10, 120mm, disc brakes. Think. i.e., Giant XTC 2 at $1700 or Trek Superfly 5 at $1500 or Spec Rockhopper Evo at $1400.

    It will happen. You'll see. In the mean time, make the best of what you are riding.
    I don't rattle.

  13. #13
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    I live in Scotland and we have an infestation of creatures known as 'boy racers'. Perhaps you guys have something similar? It's not as bad as it used to be, since they started charging the little dolts more than their car was worth for insurance, but the problem remains. They are very easy to spot. They all drive tiny cars with puny engines covered in stickers, lights, trims and tinsel. It's obvious why the cars end up like that. These kids just love their little cars to bits and want to soup them up. Problem being that, by the time they've paid the running costs, all they can do is go to the parts store each week and buy whatever they can find for ten bucks!

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

    Some times you need to step back and be patient. One day, God willing, you'll get that nicer bike. In the mean time consider whether throwing money at the one you've got will actually make it much better, or are you just doing it because you want to do...something??

  14. #14
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    Last edited by DIRTJUNKIE; 06-09-2014 at 05:20 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  15. #15
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    I appreciate everyone's feedback...despite some of you going off on a tandem.

    I will continue riding my old hardtail as long as I can. Therefore I am considering two 26 inch front forks: Rock Shox 30 Gold TK Solo Air or 2014 Marzocchi Corsa LR Fork. both cost between $340 and $370.

    Opinions on these forks appreciated.

    Thanks

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramon Mal View Post
    I appreciate everyone's feedback...despite some of you going off on a tandem.

    I will continue riding my old hardtail as long as I can. Therefore I am considering two 26 inch front forks: Rock Shox 30 Gold TK Solo Air or 2014 Marzocchi Corsa LR Fork. both cost between $340 and $370.

    Opinions on these forks appreciated.

    Thanks
    The RockShox 30 Gold is a good choice, but if you want a good fork that will last a while, spend a little more and buy a Reba.
    Dropping into a trail

    2019 Rocky Mountain Instinct A50 BC
    2019 Salsa Timberjack SLX
    2014 Trek Crossrip Elite

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