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How much travel is too much on front forks? - cross country bike

Old 08-26-19, 11:24 AM
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NoWhammies
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How much travel is too much on front forks? - cross country bike

So I'm looking at buying a mountain bike. I think I have the bike narrowed down, but I'm concerned the front travel - 160mm - is too much for the type of riding I'm going to be doing.

In short, how do you know you're buying the right bike? I've been reading reviews like crazy and am still no closer to making a decision.
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Old 08-26-19, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
So I'm looking at buying a mountain bike. I think I have the bike narrowed down, but I'm concerned the front travel - 160mm - is too much for the type of riding I'm going to be doing.

In short, how do you know you're buying the right bike? I've been reading reviews like crazy and am still no closer to making a decision.
What are people around you riding? If you visit trails that you plan to ride, what sort of bikes are you seeing? If you can, ask some local riders what they ride, and why.

Where I live our trails are smooth and I see a lot of 100 - 120 mm travel 29ers. Whereas a 160 mm fork is one I would associate with enduro racing and aggressive riding over rough terrain with fair-size drops.
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Old 08-27-19, 10:03 AM
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160 mm more than likely a downhill or park bike.

120 -130 mm covers most general trail riding.
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Old 08-27-19, 11:20 AM
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Some of the newer trail bikes are spec'd for 150 front forks but that seems to be the upper limit. More than that is an uphill/downhill bike, not a trail bike IMO. I'd be perfectly all right with 130, I'm not fast or brave.
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Old 08-27-19, 12:28 PM
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I see you're from British Columbia, my media-fueled gut reaction is every trail there is like a Whistler Bike Park gnar feast so you'll need 160mm or more - but, of course, I have no freakin' idea.... I've never been to BC.

JonathanGennick's suggestion of checking out your MTB colleagues to see what they are riding is spot on. Also, speak with your LBS. A good LBS is worth its weight in gold (imho)
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Old 08-28-19, 08:56 AM
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@PickleRick I don't think I'll be bombing down the bike part or doing some crazy downhill. In speaking with friends who are riding XC, 160mm seems like a lot of travel for them. 150mm is apparently pretty good for the riding I'm thinking of doing.

@Darth Lefty Yeah, I've seen a couple of bikes for sale here with 130mm of travel. That would work too.
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Old 08-28-19, 12:28 PM
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Yeah, I would see what other people are riding for the terrain you are going to be riding. "Smooth" and "gnarly" and even "XC" mean very different things to different people and varies a bit by location.

Also, the difference in feel between 150mm and 160mm travel by itself (all else equal) is pretty negligible. Spring rate/curve, damping settings, and fork stiffness will make more of a difference than 10mm travel.

That said, I rode everything from long smooth xc rides to big stuff in Moab on a 140mm fork for many many years (2005 RS Pike with some mods). I now do it all on a 160mm fork (2013 RS Lyrik), but in reality I have never seen the last 15mm travel, so I guess it is 145mm for all practical purposes. But it FEELS like a lot more travel, for better and for worse.

I would consider the whole bike rather than just the fork.
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Old 08-28-19, 12:46 PM
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I see no problem with a long travel, except an extra lb or two. If its properly set up, those hybrids with 50 - 63mm of travel will seldom use the full travel. You could add 100mm and as long as it doesn't compromise the bikes geometry, It won't change the bikes characteristics.

The quality of the fork and adjustment options are more important then too much travel.

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Old 08-29-19, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by render ranger View Post
Adding 100mm of travel will increase a2c and compromise the bike's geometry and change the bike's characteristics.
That might explain why most of Giant's comfort and hybrid road bikes are limited to 63 mm of travel. I see the same Suntour 63mm fork on many other entry level comfort and hybrid bikes too. Seems to be an OK fork for the intended purpose of these bikes.

When I asked my LBS to put suspension forks on my Sedona, He told me my bike was not made for them and advised against it.
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Old 09-04-19, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
So I'm looking at buying a mountain bike. I think I have the bike narrowed down, but I'm concerned the front travel - 160mm - is too much for the type of riding I'm going to be doing.

In short, how do you know you're buying the right bike? I've been reading reviews like crazy and am still no closer to making a decision.
which bikes are you looking at? 160mm is pretty much the standard for the enduro type most have been marketing
Though I see you are in BC, which has some of the best enduro/AM trails
Are you sure you're looking for a XC bike?
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Old 09-04-19, 02:04 PM
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Yeah, I'm 99% sure I'm looking for a XC bike. I don't see myself doing any downhill bombs or whatnot. But you are certainly right about the downhill trails here in BC. There are a lot of them.
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Old 09-05-19, 01:49 AM
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So I'm taking a gander at purchasing a trailblazing bicycle. I think I have the bicycle limited, yet I'm concerned the front travel - 160mm - is a lot for the kind of riding I will do.
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Old 09-05-19, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
Yeah, I'm 99% sure I'm looking for a XC bike. I don't see myself doing any downhill bombs or whatnot. But you are certainly right about the downhill trails here in BC. There are a lot of them.
Jealous of your proximity to Whistler and Squamish, but I won't sell you an Enduro bike.
XC bikes are general spec'd with 100 or 120mm forks and 100mm or so shocks.
Go to the next range with 130-140mm forked bikes with 120-130mm rear and you'll have a more Trail spec'd bike. The Trail bike will have a more relax geo and slacker front to make downhill sections less twitchy and more fun. I personally don't think you'll give up much in speed going from a XC to a Trail bike. IMO XC bikes exist for two reasons, folks who race and those who want a hardtail but don't want the beating of one. I primarily ride HTs, cause I like the beating.. but my favorite FS is a 140front 135rear Banshee. I can ride fast flowy trails and take on moderately tech DH shoots with one bike.

Check out Santa Cruz, they are pretty spot on for the different geos and travel ranges.
Blur is the new gen XC bike with a slack front but still 100mm in the rear
Hightower is their bike most similar to my Banshee Prime, but in carbon

However, given the few bits I picked up from you posts and location, I consider the new Tallboy. They just redesigned it as V4 with 130front and 120rear
https://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear...allboy-review/

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Old 09-05-19, 01:56 PM
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Yeah I agree. I think the 120-140ish bikes are really the best of both world unless you are racing XC or Enduro. There is very little downside to my Intense Spider 140/130 bike on XC trails and when I do hit the bigger stuff it has enough travel not to beat me to death.
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Old 09-06-19, 08:55 AM
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Real XC bikes are for racing. This year Trek refreshed the Fuel EX and a new XC bike, the Supercaliber. The Fuel is the one they want everyone to buy. Although following industry trends it's going to be a really friendly bike like a Stumpjumper or anything else in the category. 140/130 travel and available at a lot of price points. The Supercaliber has a fancy flexing carbon frame to eliminate pivots and 100mm front/80mm rear travel, and it co$ts

https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/fuel-ex/
https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/supercaliber/
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Old 09-08-19, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
Yeah, I'm 99% sure I'm looking for a XC bike. I don't see myself doing any downhill bombs or whatnot. But you are certainly right about the downhill trails here in BC. There are a lot of them.
What frame are you looking to marry it up with?
That will dictate what fork length you can use.
Having ridden around North Vancouver and at Whistler, I would not want a true XC bike (100 - 120mm travel).
I rode my XC bike in the Seymour Creek area last time I was over, but would want my longer travel bike anywhere else.
My cousin's husband Chris lives and rides locally and has just moved to a DeVinci e-bike which gives him the travel he wants plus helps him to cover more ground.

Last edited by sumgy; 09-19-19 at 02:36 AM.
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Old 09-10-19, 09:02 AM
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I'm over 200 pounds and a 160 fork works for me. It saves my ass when I get into rocky stuff or when I get too ambitious on rough descents.

Another thing is the diameter of the stanchions. 36 mm turns without deflecting and it just goes where I point it, unlike some lighter forks I have used.

Yeah it's a little heavier than smaller forks but it's good insurance against my lack of skill.
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Old 09-10-19, 08:07 PM
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Any travel is too much. You don't need no stinkeen travel.
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Old 09-10-19, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by sumgy View Post
What frame are you looking to marry it up with?
That will dictate what fork length you can use.
Having ridden around North Vancouver and at Whistler, I would not want a true XC bike (100 - 120nn travel).
I rode my XC bike in the Seymour Creek area last time I was over, but would want my longer travel bike anywhere else.
My cousin's husband Chris lives and rides locally and has just moved to a DeVinci e-bike which gives him the travel he wants plus helps him to cover more ground.
I ended up getting a bike with 120mm of travel in the front and a 100mm in the back.
I don't plan on doing jumps, and wheels will likely stay on the ground more often than in the air. Most, if not all of my rides will be on green and blue trails. I foresee rolling over drops as oppose to dropping over them.
If I do ride the Whistler bike park, I won't be hitting up any of the black runs or taking the jumps.

I know many of the bikes I see on the trails and in the area are in the 140mm - 160mm range. But I am hopeful the 120mm of travel will work for me.
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Old 09-10-19, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
I ended up getting a bike with 120mm of travel in the front and a 100mm in the back.
I don't plan on doing jumps, and wheels will likely stay on the ground more often than in the air. Most, if not all of my rides will be on green and blue trails. I foresee rolling over drops as oppose to dropping over them.
If I do ride the Whistler bike park, I won't be hitting up any of the black runs or taking the jumps.

I know many of the bikes I see on the trails and in the area are in the 140mm - 160mm range. But I am hopeful the 120mm of travel will work for me.
If you ever need more travel, you can likely hire at Whistler.
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Old 09-11-19, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by NoWhammies View Post
I ended up getting a bike with 120mm of travel in the front and a 100mm in the back.
I don't plan on doing jumps, and wheels will likely stay on the ground more often than in the air. Most, if not all of my rides will be on green and blue trails. I foresee rolling over drops as oppose to dropping over them.
If I do ride the Whistler bike park, I won't be hitting up any of the black runs or taking the jumps.

I know many of the bikes I see on the trails and in the area are in the 140mm - 160mm range. But I am hopeful the 120mm of travel will work for me.
LOL, you really going to leave us hanging, after all this free advice?
What you get?
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Old 09-11-19, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by qclabrat View Post
LOL, you really going to leave us hanging, after all this free advice?
What you get?
And pics please, or this thread was useless.
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Old 09-12-19, 09:47 AM
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I pick the bike up on Saturday. Pics to follow. Thanks for the guidance/input.
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Old 09-15-19, 04:53 PM
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@qclabrat I ended up getting a Rocky Mountain Instinct C70.

@Kapusta as requested!

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Old 09-20-19, 12:08 AM
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There are a lot of bikes on the market with 160mm forks that pedal very well and are entirely enjoyable on relatively XC trails, but much of the travel won't be used. The industry is moving towards 130-150mm of travel for general purpose trail bikes on 27.5" bikes and 120-140mm for 29" bikes. Suspension design for the frame also plays a pretty significant role in how efficiently the bike pedals and how supportive the bike feels near sag.

OP: Sounds like you picked an appropriate bike for your use; I hope you enjoy it.

Honestly a lot of hard charging riders enjoy relatively short travel bikes because they ride with finesse and may prioritize a more supportive feel to the suspension, and a lot of relatively gentle riders like the very plush, linear suspension performance of a longer travel bike on easy terrain. As long as what you're on makes sane sense, there's a lot of room for personal preference.
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