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Suspension forks on Touring Bikes

Old 12-19-22, 02:32 PM
  #26  
arvin smee
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Honestly, why not just stay with what is working? Your Kona is fully capable of doing what you want to do. You might change up the bags a bit and use bikepacking bags rather than panniers. I donít like them as much as pannier and would never use them for road touring but for rugged to semi-rugged off-road touring, they work far better.
Those are some gorgeous pics! I think if I was out west I'd be more likely to keep the current set up but the amount of on road riding I do leads me to think I should have a bigger frame. I do hate how much the panniers bang around on the rougher sections though - I'll keep that packing set up in mind for the upcoming year's trips.
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Old 12-19-22, 03:06 PM
  #27  
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I donít love suspension forks for anything for anything but the most rough off road but a suspension corrected mountain bike will get the handlebars higher.

When I wanted what you do I just bought a Karate Monkey and went with it but I do run rigid.





^^^recycled pictures
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Old 12-19-22, 03:43 PM
  #28  
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^^ Older Karate Monkey frames are also in play. From what I can tell the new ones are built for longer travel forks and wouldn't really work.
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Old 12-19-22, 04:59 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by arvin smee
Thatís for the detailed responses everyone! Thatís a lot to chew on.

Since a lot of people brought this up: like I said in the original post, I really donít need front bags. I do a lot of ultralight backpacking and my kit is very small. That pic in the first post is on a 6 night trip, and that included a hammock AND a bivy set up (most of my camps were in the woods but I spent one night on a rocky summit). I bought most of my food but had a dayís worth on me at any given time.

A few reasons. While Iíve gotten used to my tiny frame, itís way smaller than it should be, and Iíd be more efficient if I had something that was closer to the ďrightĒ size. If Iím building a new bike, Iíd like something comfortable and durable, which steel is. The 29Ē wheels should add additional comfort for rougher roads as well. I'd like to convert my Kona back into what I call a city bombing bike - built for weaving through traffic and jumping curbs when needed.

I checked and the new Ogre isnít suspension ready Ė but the 2016 and earlier are! That would be perfect. And I can always switch to a rigid fork without too much trouble. Now I just gotta spend a few months checking CL and FB every morning till I find a good deal lol.
that all makes sense. I get wanting to have a bike that fits you better. I assume you want to stick with mtb bars? You may really want to consider alt bars, there are lots of neat options out there and I really find an improvement for wrist comfort with angled back bars.

Around here used Ogres are really quite rare, just as Trolls were when I was looking for one, so just take that into account.
On the youtube channel, Pathlesspedaled, the fellow has reviewed a number of steel bikes , seems from memory most are 27.5 but some must be 29 also with narrower tires. I don't really pay attention to the brand names as they are mostly small brands from the States etc and as I'm not in the market, I don't retain the names--but this could be a source of other options. Although I don't know how many are front suspension ready.
While I'm clearly still in the panniers camp, just for the convenience of space, using bikepacking bags and reducing frontal area really does help with speed and less of an effect from headwinds, but you have to figure out what volume you need, and what budget you have for bikepacking stuff, which can be pricey volume/cost wise.

good luck finding an Ogre and or getting new ideas of suitable bikes.
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Old 12-19-22, 07:25 PM
  #30  
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You did not say if you already own the suspension fork you want to use or not. Just a heads up, when I was shopping for a fork for my Nomad Mk II (photo in post 15 above), a lot of the used forks I saw had steerer tubes that were too short for my needs. So, if you are shopping for a fork, you should know how long the steerer tube has to be before you spend much time shopping. That means get the frame first so you can measure the headtube.

Good luck.
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Old 12-19-22, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
Around here used Ogres are really quite rare, just as Trolls were when I was looking for one, so just take that into account.
.
That's odd, All I find online are trolls
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Old 12-20-22, 05:32 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by MarcusT
That's odd, All I find online are trolls
Bene bene!
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Old 12-20-22, 07:01 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by arvin smee
^^ Older Karate Monkey frames are also in play. From what I can tell the new ones are built for longer travel forks and wouldn't really work.
When you said you were looking for a touring bike frame, I assumed you wanted long chainstays. And that is why I assumed you were opposed to a hard tail mountain bike frame. Especially when you are not going to use front panniers, that means most of your weight is on the rear rack.

Now I am confused about what you are interested in. Your photo of your current bike showed the rear panniers way far back which is what I assumed you were trying to avoid. The Karate Monkey chainstay length is shorter than on my road bike.

I have three touring bikes, my Lynskey has the shortest chainstays, you can see in the photo how tight my heel clearance is on that bike, look at my drive side foot and rear pannier. And that chainstay length is much longer than on a Karate Monkey.



One more thing. I understand the desire for steel frame, most of my bikes have steel frames. But a steel frame that has the rear rack and pannier center of gravity way far back will handle like a tail wagging the dog.

Post number 15 above has a photo of my Nomad Mk II, that is my touring bike with the longest chainstays and that still has the rear rack and pannier center of gravity a few inches behind the rear axle.
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Old 12-20-22, 09:43 AM
  #34  
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I've got a Kona Smoke, 2009, that I stumbled on a few months ago. Seems like just what you may be looking for. Long chainstays (18") and what appears to be suspension corrected geometry. Earlier models were 26" wheel, while later models were 700c/29". Mine is 700c/29" (622 ETRTO). Lots of clearance for fat tires (probably at least 2.25") and fender/rack braze-ons. I plan on building it up into a budget tourer/gravelly bike kind of thing.
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Old 12-20-22, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
When you said you were looking for a touring bike frame, I assumed you wanted long chainstays. And that is why I assumed you were opposed to a hard tail mountain bike frame. Especially when you are not going to use front panniers, that means most of your weight is on the rear rack.
Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly do long chainstays do? I've never had a problem with my feet hitting the bags. I figured a touring geometry would be more comfortable and efficient, but I wasn't thinking of load balancing. Again, my kit is pretty damn small, for the trip in the picture both rear bags combined came to 15 lbs. There wasn't more than 4 lbs in the front either. Might I not be running into handling issues because the weight is so low?

Last edited by arvin smee; 12-20-22 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 12-20-22, 12:03 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Smokinapankake
I've got a Kona Smoke, 2009, that I stumbled on a few months ago. Seems like just what you may be looking for. Long chainstays (18") and what appears to be suspension corrected geometry. Earlier models were 26" wheel, while later models were 700c/29". Mine is 700c/29" (622 ETRTO). Lots of clearance for fat tires (probably at least 2.25") and fender/rack braze-ons. I plan on building it up into a budget tourer/gravelly bike kind of thing.
Great option. I love Kona's and they're certainly more affordable than Surley!
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Old 12-20-22, 01:25 PM
  #37  
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Generally speaking, the further behind the axle or higher up above the axle that the center of gravity of the rear rack and pannier load, the more likely that the bike will wobble or shimmy with a load on it. If aluminum, the frame is stiffer and less likely to have that happen than steel. Thus, I assume your frame on your existing bike is probably aluminum if it does not bother you with the weight that far back. And yes, less weight will lessen that. The phrase tail wagging the dog is often used to describe that handling.

It can also happen with weak racks that can develop a resonance while riding.

I usually advise new bike tourists to adjust their panniers (if they are adjustable) so that they are as close as practical you your heels as you pedal, but give a a bit more room to make sure you don't clip your heels if your feet are not firmly in the right spot on the pedals. I have three touring bikes, every time I go on a tour I find myself re-adjusting the rear pannier hooks if I changed bikes after the prior tour to shift the panniers fore or aft on the rack. A friend of mine had some trouble with his Habanero (a titanium brand frame) that had some shimmy, I suggested he try that and after he pushed his panniers further forward he got rid of most of that shimmy.

Most touring bikes will include the chainstay lengths in the list of specifications. And a few will mention that they are longer in the text in sales brochures.

Longer chainstays also lengthen the wheelbase, but not by very much so that is minor. A touring bike you want it to hold a fairly straight line for those days when you are quite tired after a long day, you do not want to veer off the road if you lost your concentration. Mostly, a longer trail will help with that but wheel base also plays a small role on that too, touring bikes usually have a longer wheel base than other bikes.

I did a quick google search, some additional links on this topic:
https://www.cyclingabout.com/underst...rame-geometry/
https://www.adventurecycling.org/blo...uide-geometry/

I was surprised that the above links did not emphasize getting the center of gravity of the rack and pannier loads closer to the axle in their writeup. I think that is important criteria too. In front of the axle would be even better but virtually nobody makes touring bikes that long, they would be to hard to put on a car rack.

My bike chainstays are
- road bike - 430mm,
- randonneur bike - 435mm,
- light touring bike - 445mm (photo in post 33 above),
- medium touring bike - 450mm,
- heavy touring bike - 466mm (photo in post 15 above).

I do not have a LHT any more, it was 460mm. I have a few other bikes, too lazy to measure them.

A good touring bike will also have heavier tubing or larger diameter tubes compared to lighter duty bikes.
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Old 12-20-22, 05:24 PM
  #38  
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Agree with what Tourist in MSN said. Longer chainstays allow a greater range of adjustment and also allow for those of us with big ole feet to still keep the load as close to the rear axle as possible while still avoiding "heel strike", wherein your heels brush against the rear panniers because they're too close. I don't do the super lightweight packing; I'm built for comfort so my packing tends to follow suit. The traditional 4 panniers and handlebar bag usually keep me reasonably happy. But then again I'm not bouncing down trails like others have shown. I'm excited to add some racks and give this new (to me) Kona a go.... Good luck in your search!
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Old 12-20-22, 06:37 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Smokinapankake
Agree with what Tourist in MSN said. Longer chainstays allow a greater range of adjustment and also allow for those of us with big ole feet to still keep the load as close to the rear axle as possible while still avoiding "heel strike", wherein your heels brush against the rear panniers because they're too close. I don't do the super lightweight packing; I'm built for comfort so my packing tends to follow suit. The traditional 4 panniers and handlebar bag usually keep me reasonably happy. But then again I'm not bouncing down trails like others have shown. I'm excited to add some racks and give this new (to me) Kona a go.... Good luck in your search!
Longer chainstays as well lengthen the wheelbase, slows handling, which is a useful feature on a loaded touring bike.
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Old 12-20-22, 07:02 PM
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My troll has 425mm chainstays, but I'm not a Bigfoot guy, and I personally like the quick handling.
WIth reasonably loads, this mountain bike handles well as a touring bike, but you would think that if you travel light, a lot of bikes would be appropriate.
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Old 01-06-23, 05:32 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
Something made by surly would probably work. Krampus or karate monkey.

As for the need of a suspensuon fork, I really don't see tge need for road touring. Perhaps for really rough gravel roads a fork with maybe 40mm of travel would be appropriate but even then you'd easily get near the same effect with larger tires.

100mm is almost trail bike territory meaning fast descent on a rocky rooty singletrack.

I'm with you on this one, a karate monkey would be my ideal trekking bike, I wouldn't go for any front fork suspension but id consider a redshift shock stop stem just to take the edge off any rough paths
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Old 01-07-23, 06:07 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by shauny
I'm with you on this one, a karate monkey would be my ideal trekking bike, I wouldn't go for any front fork suspension but id consider a redshift shock stop stem just to take the edge off any rough paths
just keep in mind that the KM is no lightweight and non Surly racks are a PITA to mount and Surly racks are heavy. The good part though is the frame is really stiff so it rides better with weight than without all IMHO
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Old 01-11-23, 02:40 PM
  #43  
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Taking all the responses into consideration, I have a new plan. Although I the goal is still eventually to get a Surly, I'm going to aim lower for the moment. I'm looking for a used Kona Unit X, most of which have a rigid suspension corrected fork. It looks like they go for around $800, so I won't be breaking the bank, plus if I hate it, I can sell it for around what I paid. So it's a low risk way to get a feel for how a bike built for bikepacking rides (including the rigid fork). I can start making changes to fit my preferences (suspension fork, etc) once I've decided that a) I want to keep the bike b) the changes are actually warranted (maybe I'll learn to love the rigid fork?)

My big trip is in early August this year, so I have plenty of time to get things in order. In a departure from earlier trips, this one is mostly dirt roads with even a little single track. So I'll really get to put the bike through the paces.

Maybe in a few years I can get the Surly. Or maybe the experience with the Kona will send me in a completely different direction. Either way, thanks for all the help!
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Old 01-11-23, 05:33 PM
  #44  
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Rigid forks can be fine, as long as you run a good width of tire at not excessive pressures.

What magic compromise of width Vs terrain is personal, so I guess the only way to figure out what works for you is to try things.
ALl the best
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Old 01-11-23, 09:37 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by arvin smee
Taking all the responses into consideration, I have a new plan. ...
If you have not figured this out yet, all of us keep revising our plans.

I mentioned the bike that I posted the photo in post 15 above, repeated that photo here:



But all of the serious touring that I have done on that bike was with a solid fork, photo below:



And another trip five years later, below:



I still own the suspension fork, have not fitted it to the frame for about seven years, but I might do another trip where I feel that the suspension fork is right for it. My point is that having a bike that can work with a suspension fork or a solid fork can come in handy. I hope this new plan works out for you.
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Old 01-30-23, 02:43 PM
  #46  
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Well, that didn't take long. I'm now the proud owner of a 2021 Kona Unit X. I got it for $800 barely used (MSRP: $1400). I was hoping to snag a lightly used 2022 (which is spec'd with Shimano instead of SRAM) but I came to realize the chance of finding one in my area was slim to none. Three weeks of FB marketplace searches countrywide turned up zero results. This one was a pretty good deal and it was just about 5 hour round trip to get it.

It's not as drastic of a change from my old bike as I would have imagined, but I haven't done any long rides yet.




Now I just gotta resist the urge to immediately start upgrading parts.
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Old 01-30-23, 11:29 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by arvin smee
Well, that didn't take long. I'm now the proud owner of a 2021 Kona Unit X. I got it for $800 barely used (MSRP: $1400). I was hoping to snag a lightly used 2022 (which is spec'd with Shimano instead of SRAM) but I came to realize the chance of finding one in my area was slim to none. Three weeks of FB marketplace searches countrywide turned up zero results. This one was a pretty good deal and it was just about 5 hour round trip to get it.

It's not as drastic of a change from my old bike as I would have imagined, but I haven't done any long rides yet.


Now I just gotta resist the urge to immediately start upgrading parts.
Why resist?. I suppose I would start to personalize. Maybe get some pedals, grips and such to match the logo (blue)
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Old 01-31-23, 06:05 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by arvin smee
Well, that didn't take long. I'm now the proud owner of a 2021 Kona Unit X. I got it for $800 barely used (MSRP: $1400). I was hoping to snag a lightly used 2022 (which is spec'd with Shimano instead of SRAM) but I came to realize the chance of finding one in my area was slim to none. Three weeks of FB marketplace searches countrywide turned up zero results. This one was a pretty good deal and it was just about 5 hour round trip to get it.

It's not as drastic of a change from my old bike as I would have imagined, but I haven't done any long rides yet.
Now I just gotta resist the urge to immediately start upgrading parts.
​​​​​​ First of all, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one to have driven a fair amount to buy a used bike!.

And re changing parts, I'm really serious about looking into trying to find some used alt bars like Jones bars or whatever. I know you said you like regular MTB bars with barends (I use them too on a bike) but you might appreciate other bars, try for fun anyway and resell if necessary, although hydro brake lines are more complicated to lengthen.

Enjoy, neat bike.
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Old 01-31-23, 07:25 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by arvin smee
Well, that didn't take long. I'm now the proud owner of a 2021 Kona Unit X. I got it for $800 barely used (MSRP: $1400). I was hoping to snag a lightly used 2022 (which is spec'd with Shimano instead of SRAM) but I came to realize the chance of finding one in my area was slim to none. Three weeks of FB marketplace searches countrywide turned up zero results. This one was a pretty good deal and it was just about 5 hour round trip to get it.
...
.
Sounds like you got one that you wanted for a good price. Congrats.

From the photo it does look like it will take a 100mm suspension fork.

And you got a solid fork that I suspect you will also use, that fork can take a cage like the Salsa Anything or one of the copies. Not sure if it can take a low rider rack, hopefully the upper mount is the right distance above the fender mounts so that a low rider will fit.

And it has fittings for fenders if you so choose, but if you do choose to use fenders, the rear mount would also be the rack mount if you use that.

The rear rack mounts are quite far forward, so if you choose to use a rear rack and panniers, heel strike could be a consideration. That could be a consideration if and when you choose a rack.

I hope you enjoy it.
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Old 01-31-23, 03:02 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by MarcusT
Why resist?. I suppose I would start to personalize. Maybe get some pedals, grips and such to match the logo (blue)
Iíll get there, Iím just trying to slow myself down a bit. When I get something like a new bike, my immediate urge is to dive deep into dialing it in, often before Iíve used it enough to really gauge what I want / need. New pedals are definitely in order and Iím going to swap grips with my old bike. The rest (drivetrain, cockpit, racks, tires, wheels, fork) Iím going to hold off on for nowÖ
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