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  1. #1
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    Fully rigid SS or Fox front shock

    Building a Niner SS - it's going to be primary bike as my Full Suspension finally died after 10 years of loyal service. Should I go fully rigid or use a Fox Shock in the front? What are the pros and cons of each option? Leaning towards fully rigid but not sure what my motivation is - I mean other than to get stronger with each ride of course ...

  2. #2
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    I rode a geared FS for a long time.

    I took the plunge and went with a rigid 29er SS.

    Everything everyone says here is true. An SS is much simple and just plain more fun to ride.

    As to the rigidity....what type of terrain do you ride?
    My bike is VERY stiff and has a tendency to kick out and bounce quite a bit. Also I can't really ride the more technical terrain. 1) Because I don't quite have the skill and 2) It will hurt alot.

    My rides are 50% road and 50% easy trails, (rolling grass/dairly land and easy singletrack).

    It just depends where you want to ride. If you get a front sus. fork with lockout, you can mimic to an extent a fully rigid bike and have the best of both worlds.

  3. #3
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    Thanks - I'm super excited to take the plunge myself - although a bit nervous as to the extent of suffering the initial transition might entail.

    I usually ride intermediate, fairly smooth, rolling single track - some climbs but nothing major. Sometimes I head to North Georgia to ride where the rides/climbs are much tougher with some technical and rocky sections. Was planning on building the Niner SS with a front shock - then I rode tonight on my dad's old GT fully rigid and actually kind of liked it.

    I think I'd probably like the front shock initially, and it would most likely ease the transition but now wondering if I should just do it right from the beginning and embrace the SS as it was meant to be ridden : )

    If I don't use front suspension I'd get the carbon Niner fork which should help some with cushioning the impact, yes?

  4. #4
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    If you have 29" wheels then there is no excuse for using shocks anymore because 29" wheels are so superior to 26" so you HAVE TO go all rigid!

    Personally though, I'm going to keep riding inferior 26" wheels.
    PoisonDogFart

  5. #5
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    I do have 29" Wheels .... Only 5'4 though - seriously hope I can ride this hoss ; )

  6. #6
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    If you do decide to go with suspension I would pass on the Fox and get a Reba w/remote lock-out. I much prefer full rigid myself and I find that it makes riding technical terrain much easier. You don't have to worry about fork dive when going down step like terrain and you don't have to load the fork before pulling up to get the wheel over objects. As for the difference between a carbon fork and a steel fork, rigid is rigid IMO. A fat tire set up tubeless with low psi is where you will get your real shock absorbsion.

  7. #7
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    Give it at least a dozen rides as a rigid. That should give you a pretty decent idea of whether you will like it or not. Be sure to get some fairly high volume tires.

    I love the rigid fork on my new bike. It gives an absolute feel of the trail, doesn't steal any pedal energy, and the light weight allows the front to be lifted more easily. I really believe that SS and rigid are a wonderful match.

    I ride some very rocky and technical trails, and have only had to slow down slightly compared to my FS bike. Line choice becomes very important.

    Suspension has its place for sure, but most trails are perfectly enjoyable on a rigid bike.
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  8. #8
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    Use a wider tire in front with a wider rim like they use in DH, then you ride the bike on 25 psi pressure and you will be all set.

    If you dont have acces to a wider rim, use a tubeless 2.35 tire and run it also at 25 to 30 psi... this is your new suspension


    Have fun


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  9. #9
    jdg
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    I only miss front suspension on long rocky downhills. Then again I am also using mechanical discs which leads to more hand fatigue so I will see when I switch to hydraulics. Front suspension will help you on longer rides after you've become fatigued.
    I will probably do a comparison soon. Been riding rigid since April.
    I have a carbon fork as well but am a bit hesitant to use it other than locally since we do a lot of back country rides and I'd hate to splinter it miles from anywhere.

  10. #10
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    .[/QUOTE]I have a carbon fork as well but am a bit hesitant to use it other than locally since we do a lot of back country rides and I'd hate to splinter it miles from anywhere.[/QUOTE]

    Are you genuinely concerned about splintering the carbon fork? I was contemplating the purchase of one but if that is an issue then I may just pass....my local trails are pretty rooty & techy and whatever fork I ride sees a good bit of abuse...also I'm pushing 190lbs all geared up.

  11. #11
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    I have used for the past 2 years the bontrager Carbon fork on super technical trail without any problem

    I have also done several 24 hours SOLO race with the same fork... Bomb proof..

    You should be more worried about your physical fitness more than the bike. Your triced will become your front suspension and your legs your back suspension. Riding a full rigid is a full body workout but it's like anything else; if you train for it, you will be all good.


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  12. #12
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    Hard to go wrong either way. I rode a Fox all last year and it's a great fork that you'd be very happy with. I've since switched both my Niners to rigid - Niner steel on the SIR and Niner carbon on the EMD - and don't see ever going back to squishy. I agree that if you're rigid-curious you should go for it, and give it a dozen or so rides to really get a feel for it. Since you're going with a Niner frame then I think a Niner steel fork is a decision that makes itself. Throw on a big front tire, I love my Rampage, and get ready to enjoy many miles of rigid singlespeeding happiness.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katie76
    I do have 29" Wheels .... Only 5'4 though - seriously hope I can ride this hoss ; )
    You will fit. Willow Koerber got 3rd at the World Championships on a 29er, and she is 5'2" in heals, according to her team mechanic, Matto.

    (picture from above thread)


    As for a rigid fork - if you want to go as fast as possible always, or ride with others on suspension forks, then you will likely want suspension to allow faster speed. If you want to work on skills, and learn to ride smooth and pick lines, if you do not mind going a little slower, and the satisfaction of cleaning technical moves is more important, then go with the rigid fork.

    And get the Niner carbon, it is sweet, very supple from reports, and if you do not like it, you can sell it pretty easily. You might want to keep it 20mm or more longer than necessary using stem spacers until you decide for certain.
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  14. #14
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    So I really enjoy my rigid Monocog Flight 29. It is a blast to ride. As the trail gets more technical, I pull away from my FS counterparts.

    As the trail becomes more open and flowy and they can put the power down better, I lose a bit of ground.

    Fast downhills are rougher for sure.

    But I have a FS/geared bike as well and ride it on longer rides and ones with a lot of elevation. Just because I choose to.

    If I could only have one bike, I would probably have an 80mm fork with some sort of lock-out/blow-off feature and a 1x9 drivetrain.

    I would ride my 'cog on 85% of the trails around here. But I still would like to ride the 15% in a bit more comfort.
    Just get out and ride!

  15. #15
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    depends on your riding

    I rode a Niner one9 last year rigid with an On one carbon fork and a RR 2.25 front tire. This was a really good xc set up, but for longer distance rides, say 40-50 miles my arms just started fatiguing. That was with ergon grips carbon bar all that good stuff just couldn't compensate... it is possible I just need to toughen up. This year I went with a fox fit remote at 80mm... I am a huge proponent of 80 mm travel xc bikes. The advances in lockouts (especially the new fox one) make the only really noticeable difference weight imo. That being said the weight difference from even the nicest suspension to something like a niner carbon is pretty immense... up to 2 lbs (have seen up to 4). I think if you are going rigid the Niner fork is the only real choice: 1. it isn't THAT much more expensive 2. it IS significantly lighter 3. it IS postmount for disc which is nice in 90% of the cases.

    Just my two cents, but for longer rides the comfort and responsiveness that a sus fork provides just can't be taken for granted. As a good friend said at the end of the Ouachita 80 mile race this year. "thank you for telling me to run suspension...I may have died otherwise."

  16. #16
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    I was racing and riding rigid for the past year in rocky Western PA and I loved it, but I started having some serious pain in my hands. I bought a suspension fork, and the pain went away. As an added bonus, I'm a lot faster on the downhills.

    Thats just something to think about if you live somewhere rough. Rigid is fun, but it's really really hard on your body if you ride a lot.
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  17. #17
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    John Tomac, famous for riding ti/carbon/steel kevlar disc rims and hardtail with drop bars, claims only "full suspension on gnarly trails". I think you'll find a lot of younger riders claim rigid or bust because they can handle it and it shows the machismo. You ask any older rider, will prefer gears and front fork bounce if not full suspension. Just has to do with your body's tolerance levels. Since you came from full suspension for 10 years, front fork is the least deviant from what your body expects.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by the munts
    I was racing and riding rigid for the past year in rocky Western PA and I loved it, but I started having some serious pain in my hands. I bought a suspension fork, and the pain went away. As an added bonus, I'm a lot faster on the downhills.

    Thats just something to think about if you live somewhere rough. Rigid is fun, but it's really really hard on your body if you ride a lot.
    +1

    My story is this. I have a Motobecane Outcast 29'er (cheap, SS, low-tec, aluminum and rigid) that I never intended on changing. The more I rode my Ti bike with a nice SID race fork and then switching back to my rigid 29'er, the more I wanted a front suspension fork on my Outcast. Not that rigid was a problem (please, I'm a freestyle BMX'er and nothing can be more harsh than that), but downhill was not as fast.

    So, I ordered a White Brothers Magic 29 (80mm) for my Outcast WITH V-brake mounts. When I received it, the fork only had disc mounts. Instead of going through returning it to the UK (even though they offered to pay for shipping back), I had some extra cash, so I built a SS On-One Inbred 29'er around the fork - kind of my dreamy 29'er that I had thoughts of for the past few months. Originally, I wanted a Singular frame, but they were out of stock in my size and Unreal Cycles was having a blow-out on Inbred frames. Steel, baby.

    Consequently, my Outcast has turned into my easy going, "camping" bike with platform pedals. I love my Inbred and it's my preferred off-road bike, even over my Ti 26" geared bike. I'm much faster with a suspension fork, and the White Brothers IMV dealio actually works: pedal bob is not an issue.

    Rigid is fine, but if you have a high-end suspension fork, I don't think there is an advantage with rigid except weight and simplicity. Believe me, with a rigid fork, there are times you'll be like "If I only had suspension right now". I remember feeling like my fillings were going to shake loose when I rode rigid.

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  19. #19
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    I have a Racing Ralph 2.4 at 19psi up front on my 29er Misfit with white bros carbon fork, and it feels the same as a front fox on my 26" squishy bike... Studder bumps? if that's a word, suck a bit, but the weight and no bob when climbing are the best. 29 really smoothes things out.

  20. #20
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    I have to take issue with illnacord that older riders prefer suspension - most of the singlespeeders I see are older guys. Younger dudes prefer overkill and tend towards freeride bikes.

    Here's my two cents - get a Niner steel fork and a Fox or Reba 100mm fork and install the same crown race and cut to the same length so you can switch back and forth. The carbon Niner fork is light, but it is expensive and personally I am scared of carbon steerer tubes.

    I switch my SIR9 back and forth all the time. For some reason I get all misty eyed and romantic about the simplicity and beauty of my matching steel fork so I put it on. Then after a few fast and rocky downhills (I live for going as fast as possible downhill) where my eyes get blurry and it feels like my skin is going to tear off of my body with every impact, I think maybe the Fox fork isn't so bad after all.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katie76
    Leaning towards fully rigid but not sure what my motivation is
    Masochism most likely.

    Fox is good stuff. You're going to suffer enough switching from a FS to HT SS. Why make the transition any more ridiculous.

  22. #22
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    I went from HT SS to rigid SS. How I clear obstacles has changed. I don't just "charge" but choose a line carefully. I'm more skilled. We have a lot of rocks and roots on our trails in Maine. Some hills. I haven't even found the downhills on a rigid as bad as some people warned. Being jostled has been kind of thrilling. Perhaps I'm still in the honeymoon phase??? Anyway, I say rigid is way more fun.

  23. #23
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    locked-out bouncer

    I too puzzled this very choice with my current ride...

    I went with the Reba race and ride with it locked out 95% of the time...at 50 my hands and shoulders don't need the abuse and the little travel it has when locked is just enuf to smooth out the chatter bumps on the downhills - this is what will really slow you down with the rigid no matter how high tech it is....

    rode with 3 other SSers last week; we all pretty much rode the same pace up the mtn but the 2 on rigids lagged waaaay behind on the 5 mi super fast super bumpy fireroad down.....and still complained of their hands at the bottom; us on the Rebas only complained of our feet, but had a lot more fun coming down

    younger skeletons and smoother trails should allow the feel of rigid to be appreciated with less pain
    I'm not on a mission to beat the crap out of myself and everyone else; it just comes naturally with the single speed

  24. #24
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    I have to say, I would have to see your body type before I would be able to accurately advise you. What do you usually wear when cycling? Baggies or Full Lycra Kits? I am a big fan of the Full Lycra Kits myself. I will say those are some pretty tasteful choices for a 1st SS though. Personally, I am a fan of the Niner ONE9 w/ Niner Carbon Rigid. Who knows, maybe Santa will hook you up w/ a White Carbon Niner so you can try both.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by illnacord
    You ask any older rider, will prefer gears and front fork bounce if not full suspension. Just has to do with your body's tolerance levels. Since you came from full suspension for 10 years, front fork is the least deviant from what your body expects.
    Bzzzzzt! Next contestant please........

    Gawd I love being the 60 year old exceptions to the assumptions. I started with a rigid MTB geared in 1979, I ride a rigid MTB SS now.

    I do ride a geared FS, but my heart belongs to the rigid SS, keeps me honest, makes me a better rider, teaches me something new every time out, keeps me young. Just slower than the fast young studs on sussy forks.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by PanFry
    I have to say, I would have to see your body type before I would be able to accurately advise you. What do you usually wear when cycling? Baggies or Full Lycra Kits? I am a big fan of the Full Lycra Kits myself. I will say those are some pretty tasteful choices for a 1st SS though. Personally, I am a fan of the Niner ONE9 w/ Niner Carbon Rigid. Who knows, maybe Santa will hook you up w/ a White Carbon Niner so you can try both.

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  27. #27
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    I ride a Reba on my Ferrous 29er and love it. Thinking about trying the new Bontrager Carbon Switchblade, when I can get it.
    anything Steel

  28. #28
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    I have to add my 2 cents on this one. I am 33 yrs young and I really like my SS with a Marzocchi on the front. This is my first year racing SS and have managed to out run all the SS guys, but one Semi-Pro racer that changed his racing Cat last minute this weekend(I finished 14 seconds back), and all of the Cat 2 guys. I have thought about putting rigid back on, but I can tell you that I am much faster with a suspenion fork on the front.

    Put the Fox on the front and ride the H#LL out of the bike.

    Ride it like you stole it.
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  29. #29
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    Depends on you and the terrain. I've ridden rigid and sus out in vegas. You can do it, but you'll take a beating because of all the small bumps followed by large bumps, followed by small bumps, etc...

    Now that I'm in a less rocky area and riding a 29er I'm considering carbon rigid again. But I'll keep the reba, because why not have both? If in doubt, get the suspension fork. You can always get a cheap steel or AL fork for under 100 bones just swap back and forth.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29

    Here's my two cents - get a Niner steel fork and a Fox or Reba 100mm fork and install the same crown race and cut to the same length so you can switch back and forth. .
    Best advice so far. It always amazes me that if it's cold out, we put on warm clothes, only makes sense. However if going to a rocky place with a lot of DH we don't want to put a suspension fork on to make an 8 hour day more comfortable?!? I've done enough of Bull Mountain that having a choice of squish or rigid is as normal as wearing knee warmers or not on a cool day.

    The Niner Steel fork has enough compliance to smooth out the vibrations on light trials. A reba or fox will be great on those epic N. Ga mountain days or when you head to W NC.

    Since you had your last bike for a decade, the extra $180 for a rigid steel fork is really a wash. If you keep this bike for a decade that steel rigid will cost you about $0.05 per day

    Enjoy your new bike and the 29er experience!

  31. #31
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    nice

    Quote Originally Posted by slocaus
    Bzzzzzt! Next contestant please........

    Gawd I love being the 60 year old exceptions to the assumptions. I started with a rigid MTB geared in 1979, I ride a rigid MTB SS now.

    I do ride a geared FS, but my heart belongs to the rigid SS, keeps me honest, makes me a better rider, teaches me something new every time out, keeps me young. Just slower than the fast young studs on sussy forks.
    Well put and great to hear. I am only 31 and have both a Geared F/S 29er & SS Rigid 29er. That said, I totally agree that the Rigid SS keeps me Honest and certainly makes me a better/stronger rider. Being forced (or face serious consequences) to pick clean lines and mash up climbs certainly makes your Geared F/S riding that much better aside from the simple fact that it is just plain fun. I love having the quality/overall fun of a ride be determined by my skill set of line picking. Not to mention, 90% of the time I am faster on a Rigid SS 29er than other F/S riders on my local trails & I imagine my Thread Starting Lady (Girlfriend) will be the same...

    Keep On Truckin',

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  32. #32
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    I actually already have a brand new Fox Shock. Think I will def keep it and also get the Carbon Fork - I can always use the Fox shock for a different bike (in the future) and keep the carbon for the SS. Thanks for all the advice ... Super helpful.

  33. #33
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    why rigid?

    the way i see it....

    the reasons to go rigid:

    1) weight weenie

    2) you never ride anything technical (or if you do you are willing to trade off going really fast through the bumpy stuff because you've convinced yourself it's just as fun since you're in denial that the real reason is...

    3) riding rigid in the front is f**king badass and gets respect from anyone savvy enough to notice


    if you're not numbers one or three then a bouncy forked that locks out should be the no-brainer best-of-both-worlds choice for the rest of us
    I'm not on a mission to beat the crap out of myself and everyone else; it just comes naturally with the single speed

  34. #34
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    I am also building a rigid 29er SS to replace my 26er rigid SS. My first SS was an Aluminum frame rigid 26er. Rigid CrMo fork and aluminum rise bars. It was a bone shaker
    big time. I switched over to a 531 steel frame and that was some relief. My best move was to run Surly 1x1 CroMo bars. I prefer rigid, I can climb and corner better. If you go rigid I go all steel. Steel is real.

  35. #35
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    Or that it climbs a hell of a lot better and most of your rides are uphill.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsord
    the way i see it....

    the reasons to go rigid:

    1) weight weenie

    2) you never ride anything technical (or if you do you are willing to trade off going really fast through the bumpy stuff because you've convinced yourself it's just as fun since you're in denial that the real reason is...

    3) riding rigid in the front is f**king badass and gets respect from anyone savvy enough to notice


    if you're not numbers one or three then a bouncy forked that locks out should be the no-brainer best-of-both-worlds choice for the rest of us

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsord
    the way i see it....

    the reasons to go rigid:

    2) you never ride anything technical (or if you do you are willing to trade off going really fast through the bumpy stuff because you've convinced yourself it's just as fun since you're in denial that the real reason is...
    Actually, I do very well on very tight and technical trails. Trails that require a lot of skill to negotiate vs just pound on the pedals or allowing gravity to do the hard work for you.

    I don't do as well on fast, flowy downhills either.
    I don't do as well on smooth but slight undulating terrain.

    But give me a good rock and root garden and I'm good.

    Yeah, I can go faster on my FS bike, but where's the fun in that. I think it's more of do you want to challenge yourself or not. If you don't, and you just want to go for a ride with the group, then I would NOT recommend rigid.
    Just get out and ride!

  37. #37
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    my FS has 6" f and 7.5" rear and on the rocky downhills I just fly down them paying little notice to my line as it really doesn't matter, on my rigid SS I go slower but pay fat more attention choosing my line shifting my weight around on the bike, using my legs and arms as suspension

    Both are fun but I enjoy the SS more as it is more rewarding, anyone with a big FS can thunder down a hill but it takes skill on a rigid

    Or maybe I am in denial?

    For cross country general trail riding a Rigid is fine, horses for courses and all that

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsord
    the way i see it....

    the reasons to go rigid:

    1) weight weenie

    2) you never ride anything technical (or if you do you are willing to trade off going really fast through the bumpy stuff because you've convinced yourself it's just as fun since you're in denial that the real reason is...

    3) riding rigid in the front is f**king badass and gets respect from anyone savvy enough to notice


    if you're not numbers one or three then a bouncy forked that locks out should be the no-brainer best-of-both-worlds choice for the rest of us

    Its funny how many guys bag Weight Weenies...... 99% of guys that see a bike for the first time want to pick it up to see how light it is...WTF?

    Nothing wrong with being weight conscious and if it increases your riding experience then so be it. Not everybody wants to bomb down hills....and besides, thats what your other bike is for if thats your thing.

    Save the debate....have a Rigid bike aaaaand a squishy one, that way when you get sick of either you just swap. Simple.
    "Be the Gear..."

  39. #39
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    Rigid = clean light & simple but my wrists can't take it anymore but I ride long, hard, fast & on technical terrain. My SS now rocks an Fox F80 RLC & I can feel the fatigue difference in my wrists. Although it weighs 1.5lbs more than rigid the Fox is staying on!
    Rule #5 almost always applies!

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by roybatty666

    Or maybe I am in denial?

    in yer sig is a 16 lb bike.....

    need i say more?
    I'm not on a mission to beat the crap out of myself and everyone else; it just comes naturally with the single speed

  41. #41
    mtbr member
    Reputation: BlueMountain's Avatar
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    If you have smooth trails to ride the rigid on, keep the lighter rigid fork. If it is your only bike and you do ride it on rough trails and epics, go with suspension. Try rigid first for 20-30 rides if possible.

  42. #42
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    You will enjoy the greater power transfer from rider-to-bike during flats and climbs. Your first ride will be abit of a harsh experience, you being new to SS but once you have gone for the first few rides, Im sure you will like it in some way. I did

  43. #43
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    Reputation: Velobike's Avatar
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    If you ride with your weight in the saddle you'll need suspension.

    If you are comfortable riding out of the saddle then you can use the 10"+ of suspension in your legs and arms and you can go rigid.

    Personally, I prefer rigid. Most rides take you back to your starting point so what you climb you have to go down and vice versa.

    I have done a few experiments with and without front suspension. Riding balls out with suspension downhill, and then doing the same but a bit more carefully with rigid doesn't make a great deal of difference in time for me. However the rigid bike is much faster uphill and more than makes up the downhill loss. I did this to work out my best strategy for 12 and 24 hour solo races, which I now do exclusively on rigid.

    That of course is just a sample of one, and a younger fitter rider may find it different.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  44. #44
    SS or Die
    Reputation: -Muz R-'s Avatar
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    I rode rigid for roughly 2 months straight and only noticed a couple of places on my trails where I could have benifited from suspension and my trails are rocky and rooty.

    For what I lost in cush I gained in climbing, flickability, responsiveness and exceleration.

    When I jump back on my FS bike I ride different lines to my usual ones which results in a faster, smoother decent.

    Im not sure why so many get torn between 2 bikes....just have one of each and have the best of both worlds.
    "Be the Gear..."

  45. #45
    "Casual Rider"
    Reputation: workingcat2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Muz R-
    Im not sure why so many get torn between 2 bikes....just have one of each and have the best of both worlds.
    Rule #5 almost always applies!

  46. #46
    Back on the wagon
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    Another vote for rigid. I've been riding rigid for the last 5 years, and 90% of the time I love it. The 10% I don't is on fast not-smooth downhills and technical uphills that require momentum to get through. Both are possible with a rigid fork, but suspension definitely makes both easier.

    I will say this - your choice of rigid fork makes a HUGE difference. I have an On-One steel fork and a Vicious Cycles steel fork and the difference is night and day. The On-One rides like a tank, the Vicious like Ferrari. I'm not sold on carbon. I was speaking with a guy who works for a major custom builder a couple of weeks ago, and he was saying they all put Vicious steel forks on their $3200 custom Ti frames...
    RIDE HARD, live easy.

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