How to pick a XC Fork?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How to pick a XC Fork?

    Planning on replacing the boat anchor (Recon Silver) on the front of my Jet 9 this spring. My focus is on longer (6hr etc) races, but I do a fair number of shorter XC events.

    It seems like all the mid-high-end forks are pretty comparable on raw stats these days, $800-900 MSRP, 1.6kg.

    Being that demoing complete bikes is difficult enough, I don't imagine I'll really be able to demo forks, especially to demo them on the actual bike in question.

    So, how do you go about picking a fork? Only real past experience I have is the early 32mm SID that was on my 26" HT and am pretty ambivalent about it - wan't bad, but didn't seem great either.

  2. #2
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    RS has greatly improved the SID. The RCT3 damper is pretty awesome.

    If you shop around, you should be able to find one for $400. I sold a tapered, 15mm 29er SID RCT3 for $200 on eBay a couple months back.
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  3. #3
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    Demoing a fork would be sort of pointless anyways. It takes a while to dial in the set-up of a fork. You could be on the best fork in the world but if the set-up is off it is not going to work for you.

    I would be nervous to pick anything other than a Fox or Rockshox. Both of those companies are producing durable (this key) well performing products. Outside of those two it can be hit and miss.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  4. #4
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    I don't plan on venturing too far from the beaten path - DT Swiss is probably the only other one I'd consider, if only because so many of the WC front runners use it. I'm sure RS or Fox are my best bets as far as having it serviced locally.

    Opinions on remotes vs non? Particularly with a 3-way setup (CTD etc) it seems nice to have, the monarch on my Jet certainly isn't super easy to get to while riding... That said, I demoed a bike running the Fox CTD remote driving both fork and shock, and it's a bit of a thumb workout...

  5. #5
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    -SID has a pretty rigid chassis, this is good.
    -SID with the RCT3 damper has an awesome feel, at least for the first 1.5 hours of racing. The XX damper doesn't feel nearly as supportive or plush.
    -If you're racing longer, I'd go with the fox. Every SID I've had stiffens up after 1.5 hour of racing. I don't know if it's because the seals dry out, or air pressure builds in the lowers over time. But every one I've ridden has done it.
    -I'd love to try an RS-1, RockShox damping, and it probably works better over a long ride. I can't come close to justifying the price though
    -A Pike dropped to 100mm, 110mm, or 120mm would be awesome, but it comes with a 1/2 lb weight penalty.
    -The MRP Look SL is worth a look, there stuff has been great lately, but I don't have any first hand experience.

  6. #6
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    I'm happy enough to have less stuff on my handle bars when I'm racing. I sometimes use lockouts and things if there's a long climb in an endurance race. Never for XCO.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bopApocalypse View Post
    Opinions on remotes vs non? Particularly with a 3-way setup (CTD etc) it seems nice to have, the monarch on my Jet certainly isn't super easy to get to while riding... That said, I demoed a bike running the Fox CTD remote driving both fork and shock, and it's a bit of a thumb workout...
    Remotes are nice; if you lockout your fork while you are racing. A lot of people don't actually lock there forks or shocks out while racing. I know I use the lockout all the time in training, but when racing I hardly ever use it.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  8. #8
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    I have the 2014 Fox CTD with remote (on both geared and single speed bikes). It is a very good fork and the 3 positions takes the guessing out of it. You still need to get the rebound and pressure right, of course.

    As for lockout, I absolutely love it and use it all the time. But I come from 8 years of racing on a rigid bike (single speed) and I really appreciate a rigid setup.
    My rides:
    Lynskey Ti Pro29 SS
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  9. #9
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    Don't forget that the Cannondale Lefty is a great choice also. I have used it on my Lynskey Pro 29, Niner Emd 9 and my Scalpel 29er and its a solid choice.

  10. #10
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    I have the Fox CTD and removed the remote lockout. The remote lockout lever made the bars look UGLY! I only used the remote when sprinting or on long paved climbs to lock out the fork. It's not hard at all to reach down and flip the lever on the top of the fork all the way to the right before you come down to the sprint finish. Let's keep our handlebars looking sexy people...it's insane to have a nice carbon bar and not be able to see it for all the hideous wires and controls hanging everywhere.

  11. #11
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    I still love the Fox Terralogic. Nothing cluttering up my bars is nice.

  12. #12
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    What about Reba 29 Race?

    I am in the exact same situation. Currently have a Ti hardtail 29er with a rigid fork and want to put a suspension fork on the bike. I have owned RS Reba 29er forks on two bikes (one was the original year for the Reba 29), as well as a Fox F29 that is about 6 years old. My problem is that I don't have much experience with the newer models from these companies.

  13. #13
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    I've always been a fox guy, so I may be a bit biased. I love the fox forks. Always had pretty good luck. Not so crazy about the CTD, although I do switch it on my shock. If you are set on a remote, you may want to hedge toward the RS. Their remotes seem to be much nicer.

    I also always have my suspension pushed at some point. Makes it way more supple and responsive. If you are looking at a rebuild, it's not that much more than a factory rebuild.

    Last thought, don't under estimate the amount of damage and wear racing and training puts on your fork. Depending on the amount you are riding, you may actually need to be pretty consistent with the recommended service intervals for once. If you want to ignore them, that's fine, but repairs are expensive and forks more so!
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  14. #14
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    an assortment of thoughts:

    One thing to keep in mind is that I'm looking at this for my FS bike, which already has a Monarch RT3 (which is difficult to switch between positions without taking a pretty good pause [small frame], and difficult to switch without tweaking the rebound adjustment).

    If it was a HT, then yeah, easy enough to just reach down and adjust the fork.

    If we're talking lockout only, then I agree it's not something I use a lot - long fireroad climbs, sure, but pretty much nowhere else. In that case, remote seems less important as I won't be using it a lot. But, the only aftermarket RS/Fox option that 'only' has a lockout is the Sid XX, which I've read about plenty of problems with the Hydraulic remote on it.

    On the other hand, with a CTD/RCT type setup, I feel like I ought to be adjusting it a lot more often - if it's easy to do. On the other hand, I rode several chunks of the True Grit Epic course over the weekend, and spent most of the time with the rear shock completely unlocked and didn't feel like I was giving up a whole lot.

    I don't feel like I'm bothered by having the remote on the bars, at least as long as it's small like the new(er) CTD remote, not the old one that may have well been a Tiller.

    If go remote, it's definitely with an eye towards upgrading to a rear shock that can be controlled remotely as well - ideally with a single remote.

    Kind of a bummer that Fox doesn't (can't?) print sag guides on their stanchions...

    I know I can get the SID for a lot cheaper than the Fox, and that definitely is a factor too. Realistically, if CRC gets their "demo" Rebas back in stock for $300ish, I'll be very tempted to go that direction just on the cost basis.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bopApocalypse View Post
    So, how do you go about picking a fork?
    For me, the main priority of a fork is gluing the front tire to the ground so that I can carry as much speed as possible through my chosen line. Next, it has to be stiff enough to hold any line I want to hit, and have a good spring curve so that it doesn't wallow & bob excessively. After that, I consider weight. These priorities result in me running a fork that's about a half pound heavier than what most others are using. It puts me at a slight disadvantage on fireroad climbs where I'm weak anyway, but it allows me to maximize my strengths and put pretty large gaps on most other riders on all downhill sections and flat singletrack sections.

    Personal choice would be the Manitou Marvel Pro, I think it has a better damper than Fox or RS forks so it's more controlled and finds better traction. The chassis is nice & stiff so combined with the damping control I can hold aggressive lines and pretend I'm Sam Hill on all the downhill segments. And it gives a nice comfortable ride, which is good for longer races. The one downside is that it can take longer than other forks to dial since it lets you adjust more things. In addition to the standard air pressure, rebound, and compression settings, the internals are also user serviceable so you can adjust the fun stuff that you'd normally send a fork off to an aftermarket tuner to work on.

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