New to full suspension - what to know / look for- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New to full suspension - what to know / look for

    Considering a used (obviously) 2003 Trek Liquid to see if I like the full suspension thing. I don't have a lot of experience with maintenance or rebuilding front or rear suspension (current bike has a crappy old RST fork that is pretty much seized up), adn I'm not sure I'd want to dump a bunch of money on new suspension components on an older frame, so I'm hoping I can get some decent use out of the current shocks.

    What should I look out for as far as the condition of the suspension components on a bike that old? Is there a quick and dirty way to test them? It has Fox Float Talus rear and Psylo front. Are these older shocks still serviceable / are rebuild kits available?

    Thanks for any advice!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by salinity View Post
    Considering a used (obviously) 2003 Trek Liquid to see if I like the full suspension thing. I don't have a lot of experience with maintenance or rebuilding front or rear suspension (current bike has a crappy old RST fork that is pretty much seized up), adn I'm not sure I'd want to dump a bunch of money on new suspension components on an older frame, so I'm hoping I can get some decent use out of the current shocks.

    What should I look out for as far as the condition of the suspension components on a bike that old? Is there a quick and dirty way to test them? It has Fox Float Talus rear and Psylo front. Are these older shocks still serviceable / are rebuild kits available?

    Thanks for any advice!
    MTB suspension tech has jumped lightyears(figuratively) ahead since 2003. A 2003 full suspension is in absolutely no way whatsoever, representative of what a full suspension bike is to ride today. If the suspension has been largely ignored since 2003(which it probably was), then you'll probably end up hating full suspension bikes.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by salinity View Post
    Thanks for any advice!
    I don't want to be a buzz kill, but a 2003 Trek with a brand new bell is worth little more than the cost of a new bell. If you were a close friend sitting here in my garage asking the same question, I'd tell you to forget about it and we'd find you something much better.

    You are concerned whether a full-suspension bike is for you. In 2019, a full suspension bike is the one that has mass appeal. A hardtails, rigids, and single-speeds are the outliers that have appeal for a much smaller audience.

  4. #4
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    ok - thanks. I donít have a lot of coin to spend (<$500) and Iím just looking for something to get me back out there & thought an older higher-level FS might be worth trying. It still has to be better than a newer FS Walmart bike (right?). There are some other decent upgrades as well on this particular bike (bars, saddle, pedals, etc).

    Understanding components have improved a lot, would these older suspension components still be rebuildable / serviceable (I know most of YOU wouldnít bother, but could I)?

    As far as hating FS because of the age of the tech, my baseline is pretty low - an entry level 05 Trek hardtail - so anything better than that ride would be an improvement.
    Last edited by salinity; 09-18-2019 at 02:46 AM. Reason: Clarity

  5. #5
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    Just yesterday I rode with a friend who used to be an avid rider but had not done a 'real' trail ride in years. He showed up with a spotless 2003 Gary Fisher Sugar3 which was clearly well maintained and in great shape (FS, rim brakes, short bars, 26" with tubes...VERY old school XC bike). I dragged him through 12 miles of technical/boney singletrack and he was so pumped about how great it was to get back out there. Don't forget, 15 years ago we were all riding similar bikes and loving it. Even for a creampuff I wouldn't pay more than $300-400.

    Buying an older FS bike is a crap shoot but focus on condition of the fork, shock and linkages. If they have been well cared for and serviced you will be fine. The linkages typically have bushings that wear out so look for slop there. Do some searches for shock setup guidance so you know what to look for. You are going to need a shock pump so you can adjust pressures and set it up properly.

    If fork/shock needs some TLC, you should be able to find rebuild kits on-line. I would start by getting exact year/model of each shock and checking websites for any service manual downloads...SRAM/Rockshox is pretty good but Fox may be harder to find. There's also some links on this site in the 'suspension' forum. From there, you can search for seal kits/oil needed for service. In my experience a typical bike shop will be of little help on a bike this old and you will be better of pursuing this on your own.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sturge View Post
    ...If fork/shock needs some TLC, you should be able to find rebuild kits on-line. I would start by getting exact year/model of each shock and checking websites for any service manual downloads...SRAM/Rockshox is pretty good but Fox may be harder to find. There's also some links on this site in the 'suspension' forum. From there, you can search for seal kits/oil needed for service. In my experience a typical bike shop will be of little help on a bike this old and you will be better of pursuing this on your own.
    Thanks for the info. I did some digging and Talas-specific rebuild kits don't seem too easy to obtain (float rebuilds are out there, but not sure how compatible the Talas is with other Floats). I'm also trying to figure out what rear shock would work in that bike if I wanted to replace it (maybe any 8.5 x 2.25 or 2.5). May still give it a look, but also leaning towards looking at newer hardtail 29ers.

  7. #7
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    See if you can find a 2010 or newer giant trance. It will be a bit more than $500 but good to get your feet wet in FS.

  8. #8
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    Looked around for a newer FS model from a decent brand, but nothing anywhere close to my budget - so I took the plunge on the "near-vintage" '03 Fluid. Got it for under $300. It needs some TLC (freehub, cassette, a tune up for sure) and I'll assess the Talas once I get a proper shock pump. I got it up to 110psi for a test ride (max of the pump I was using), but certainly need another 20-25psi or so to get it set up properly. If it's shot / leaking I'll either try to refurb or get a decent inexpensive used or cheap new (DNM) 8.25" shock to put in there.

    FWIW, although the bike isn't yet tuned or set up properly, I felt a huge difference vs my old HT. I felt like I could attack the trail with much more confidence and blew through the short loop with much less effort than on my old bike. So I'm sure I'm not getting the most advanced up-to-date FS experience, but from where I was sitting before, I think this bike will be a marked improvement - I'm pretty stoked to get it sorted!

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