First Steel Fully Rigid SS -impressions-- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    balance_fit
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    Good job! First Steel Fully Rigid SS -impressions-

    Hello to all, i want to share my first impressions and opinions after finally switching to fully rigid. Most probably there are many riders around debating if going fully rigid is feasible. Hope this helps. This posting contains part of a review of the Salsa Moto Grande rigid fork, which was the missing link on the fully rigid SS i wanted to have, and the latest addition to my setup.

    I had been riding my Jamis Dragon One with the Tora Solo Air it came with for several months, locked out, in part, as preparation for the fully rigid experience. Also, i didn't need that much suspension for my trails here. I will post some pictures of my setup and trails.

    I have to admit that i was apprehensive about the change to rigid, but, thanks to mtbr forums and reviewers, i got the needed info to go on.

    First of all, I wanted to save a couple of pounds at the front for climbing and easier lifting of the wheel over obstacles. Also, i wanted frame/fork material uniformity to take advantage of steel's damping properties. I mostly ride loose over hard, rooty surfaces with some sketchy loose, steep or tight sections here and there.

    The Tora offers one inch 'travel' while locked out, but no fore/aft compliance due to the rigidity of the legs, thus, My particular impression is that I felt that the locked out fork cushioned direct impacts but not the chattering.

    The Salsa rigid fork legs do have a slight fore/aft compliance/flex, most probably due to the material. This compliance/flex, in addition to the 29er wheel's properties and lowering air pressure up front, takes care of most of the chattering. It felt better than the locked Tora in this aspect.
    On the other hand, to try to get the same effect the 1 inch 'travel' the Tora offers when locked out, i reduced the front tire air pressure by 5 psi. I ride tubeless. In my case, this helped to damp impacts on the line of the fork quite a bit, but not as much as the full inch from the suspension fork. Using a wider thread/higher volume tire will definitely help here.

    In my current setup, i switched to rigid fork but kept the 2.1 Ignitors i had with the suspension fork setup to isolate the effect of changing the fork on the bike's ride.
    As this goes, the rigid fork felt almost like the locked out suspension fork, save for some isolated instances where i could feel the 'rigidity'. These were strictly rooty/rocky downhills at just too much speed. Nothing that good body positioning and relaxed grip wouldn't solve. Read on.

    Uphill, the 2.5 lbs i saved up front meant, as expected, immediate ease, lifting the wheel over obstacles, steering, traction, faster climbing too. I felt that traction increased, probably because as one really works the front end climbing, the bike keeps a constant geometry fore/aft. On the suspension fork, bobbing induced while working the front end, even locked out, had it's effect on traction on the steepest or loosest sections. The front end would sink and the rear end will lighten. Switchbacks, due to the improved steering and other benefits, suddenly became easier. This said, I have cleared some hard sections now rigid that i had trouble with while on the suspended fork. This rigid setup is SS climbing heaven.... I'm even considering installing a one tooth higher gear.

    Downhill. Important to assume a relaxed attack position on the bike, flexed arms, butt off the saddle and eyes reading the trail. As widely stated on this forum and absolutely true, arms (not wrists, a common complaint on rigid setups) and legs become suspension.
    Small, not too steep sections and up to 4 inch steps were cleared easily. Switchbacks are a pleasure, the steering has become more precise and the front doesn't nose dive in comparison to the suspension fork, and this means more control.
    Rooty/rocky downhills, either take it slower and read the line or modulate the front brake better. If not, these sections are still doable at speed but a bit rattling.
    If you asked me my preference, i keep the steering precision, saved weight and the absence of nose dive if the price is just some rattling downhill.

    Steering. This fork has slightly less dropout offset than the suspension fork had, which means it reduced my bike's wheel base and increased trail by a minute amount, just enough to liven handling in tight sections. This while keeping absolute control.

    In my specific case, for the trails i ride, i don't need a suspension fork anymore. The Salsa fork matched to the Jamis frame steel (True Temper OX Platinum/Reynolds 520) provide enough vibration damping and fore/aft compliance (in the fork) to make rigid riding a pleasure. Yes, some rattling, but, body positioning, line reading, tire pressure, braking technique, will solve it. The benefits far outweigh the nuisances. I'm sure that, when i upgrade my tires to higher volume, the experience will be even better. The point is, the challenge in rigid/SS riding has made me a better rider.

    I've grown suspension and gears in my arms and legs.

    May all be well and happy holidays !
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    Last edited by balance_fit; 12-20-2010 at 09:40 AM.

  2. #2
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    Nice writeup! Another convert

  3. #3
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    The Cro-Moto Grande 29er fork is a great fork. Put one on my 29er hardtail this past year. Where I ride, suspension isn't necessary. It makes a nice difference in weight and handling for this clyde.

  4. #4
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    Nice review. BTW, reducing fork offset increases trail.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  5. #5
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob
    Nice review. BTW, reducing fork offset increases trail.
    Thanks for the correction. Suddenly, after riding and having so much fun, some things become blurred, even the most basic ones. Very interesting how such a minute change affects steering positively.
    Simple, not easy.

  6. #6
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orkje
    Nice writeup! Another convert
    Thanks...! In the process, pulling other fellow riders to convert too. How interesting when they test ride my bike, then come back with this perplexed looks in their faces.
    Simple, not easy.

  7. #7
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by jddjirikian
    The Cro-Moto Grande 29er fork is a great fork. Put one on my 29er hardtail this past year. Where I ride, suspension isn't necessary. It makes a nice difference in weight and handling for this clyde.
    Very true indeed. I feel that, if one can do without suspension, and 29 wheels help, the 'communication' with the trail becomes phenomenal.
    Simple, not easy.

  8. #8
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    As usual I prefer rigid and big tires.

    There is no better suspension than tires and knees.

  9. #9
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    Nice looking SS!

  10. #10
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackspade
    As usual I prefer rigid and big tires.

    There is no better suspension than tires and knees.
    I concur absolutely! After upgrading to rigid, I now confirm that, for the trails i ride, having had too much suspension created a lazy rider... ... no more !
    Simple, not easy.

  11. #11
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grave9
    Nice looking SS!
    Thanks, should post it some day with more detailed pictures
    Simple, not easy.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by balance_fit
    Very true indeed. I feel that, if one can do without suspension, and 29 wheels help, the 'communication' with the trail becomes phenomenal.
    I like your use of the term "communication". That really does describe the feeling well.
    True North custom chromoly SS Rigid 29er. FUN+

  13. #13
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by pg3317
    I like your use of the term "communication". That really does describe the feeling well.
    Thanks, there's a special kind of feedback that is lost with the use of suspension. I came from FS to hardtail to rigid. I really appreciate feeling the trail and making the necessary adjustments. Rigid is where it is at.
    Simple, not easy.

  14. #14
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    Those flames on the top tube must make the bike ludicrous fast! It looks great, welcome to the club!

    Where are these pictures taken? It reminds me of Hawaii, my old home.

  15. #15
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by KodiakBear
    Those flames on the top tube must make the bike ludicrous fast! It looks great, welcome to the club!

    Where are these pictures taken? It reminds me of Hawaii, my old home.
    Thanks....When i bought the bike the flames looked kind of strange. Soon would i understand that they have been painted there for the sole purpose of reminding me that my legs will fire up once on the bike !

    The pictures of the trails were taken in the south of Puerto Rico. Mostly a hot, dry, loose, rocky and thorny region. The last pictures that show the bike were taken in my backyard ! We have a very small garden with palm trees and plants to remind us of the pleasures of outdoor activities !
    Simple, not easy.

  16. #16
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    Try some drop bars.

  17. #17
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    Nice write up. When you are ready for new rubber, give the Ardent 2.4 a go up front, will provide prodigious amounts of grip and a little larger 'pillow' for cushioning.
    Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. Benjamin Franklin

  18. #18
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    This message has been approved by Sheepo.
    Raised in a Chicken-Coop by Chickens

  19. #19
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesmichael
    Try some drop bars.
    Thanks for your suggestion, is there a particular difference in sweep angle or shock absorbency in the drops?
    I like the upright riding position because of old orthopedic issues in my neck. When i was a road rider years ago, even with a high stem, riding for extended periods, on the road, on the brake hoods caused serious issues in my neck.
    That's one of the things i liked most about mountain biking, the higher handlebar and the absence of neck pains.
    Simple, not easy.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by balance_fit
    Thanks, there's a special kind of feedback that is lost with the use of suspension. I came from FS to hardtail to rigid. I really appreciate feeling the trail and making the necessary adjustments. Rigid is where it is at.
    I followed the exact same evolution to arrive at rigid. Like you, I really appreciate the feeling of the trail and the need to use your body to allow the bike to carry you as quickly (or close) as back in the FS days. I just wish I could enjoy that feeling regularly during winter...too much snow here most of the time.
    True North custom chromoly SS Rigid 29er. FUN+

  21. #21
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenLightGo
    Nice write up. When you are ready for new rubber, give the Ardent 2.4 a go up front, will provide prodigious amounts of grip and a little larger 'pillow' for cushioning.
    Very seriously considering the Ardent for the front when the time comes for new rubber. What's your suggestion for the back tire?

    Thanks !
    Simple, not easy.

  22. #22
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by pg3317
    Like you, I really appreciate the feeling of the trail and the need to use your body to allow the bike to carry you as quickly (or close) as back in the FS days.
    I had the wonderful experience, today, of lending my bike to two FS 26ers for a test ride. This happened after i rode with them on the last loop of a trail i frequently ride. I posted some pics of it on my original write up. They couldn't understand how i kept close by through all the rocky loose and bumpy sections only to pass them on the steepest uphill. After riding my bike, they both came back with perplexed looks in their faces and a very healthy appreciation for the steel SS rigid 29er i ride. One of them commented something about my bike having some kind of 'hidden suspension' .... On top of it all, i commented that the rigid experience is like having a gym on wheels.
    Simple, not easy.

  23. #23
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    Introducing others to the ultimate ride...what a great way to remember the thrill of first riding these machines. Anyone who rides a rigid SS and mentions "hidden suspension" is themselves ready to make the conversion, don't you think? In fact, that comment makes me think they are well on their way. I know one ride was all it took for me to be convinced.
    True North custom chromoly SS Rigid 29er. FUN+

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by balance_fit
    I've grown suspension and gears in my arms and legs.
    This is just so true.

    BTW those are amazing tracks on the pics.

  25. #25
    balance_fit
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    Quote Originally Posted by pg3317
    Introducing others to the ultimate ride...what a great way to remember the thrill of first riding these machines. Anyone who rides a rigid SS and mentions "hidden suspension" is themselves ready to make the conversion, don't you think? In fact, that comment makes me think they are well on their way. I know one ride was all it took for me to be convinced.
    Yes, i never waste an opportunity to allow other riders to try my bike. Even more, if they tell me how ´brave´ i am because of tackling the trail on the rigid SS bike while they are riding FS. Funny, these riders i gave my SS to try had brand new, 5 inch suspension bikes that cost several thousands. One of them rides a road cromoly bike, she knows, but was surprised nevertheless for my bike´s smooth ride. She didn´t want to get off the bike !
    Her husband told me that he had an aluminum hardtail that, after riding my steely rigid, will be for sale. He confided that after 5 minutes on my rigid SS, he was absolutely convinced.

    As you very truly say, he was converted and, let me add, ´enlightened´, during those 5 minutes of riding...i think that his comments were the prologue to something better, and, even though i think he won´t give away his xmas present (the 5 inch FS) he was very impressed on the rigid and he let me know.

    Last, i rode his new FS 26er...know what? I felt the chatter of the trail more than on my rigid steely 29er ! Plus, i felt an uncomfortable swerving at the bars. Don´t know if it was because of a shorter stem and bars he had. After riding, he told me that his FS was set for his weight, 40 lbs more than me...maybe, he needs some rigid SS riding to melt it all !!!

    Be well, jd
    Simple, not easy.

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