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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This might be a basic question, but is more travel only noticeable on jumps and drops, or do you feel it on smaller rocks, roots, etc? I am either going to upgrade my fork, or my entire bike, and I am looking at either 100mm or 120mm. I ride almost exclusively XC and have never dropped off anything more than a foot. What I am really looking for is a something to smooth out the trail so I feel like I am riding the MTB equivalent of a Cadillac. As long as I got a good quality fork and set it up correctly would I notice a difference between 80mm, 100mm and 120mm?

Thanks for the advice.
 

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IMO it is the quality not the travel that counts. I have owned and ridden quite a few set-ups and if you are doing XC you are going to get the weight penalty the more travel you have. However, the more you have the faster you will ride and therefore the more you will need as a 1 foot drop at speed will eat up the travel very quickly. But, a budget 120mm rig will be worse than a quality 80mm set-up. Not sure that is very helpfull :rolleyes:
 

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"El Whatever"
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Yes, you will notice the increase in travel.

A fork with 80mm will bottom out over a golf ball. The 120mm takes bigger hits yet.

Also, increased travel means increased length on a fork. This will alter the handling of the bike and it's more noticeable as the terrain steepens more and more.

For your use, 100mm are a happy medium and offers from Fox, Rock Shox and most of anyone else have fine options.

Set them up to a 25% sag and the softest compression settings that will not give excessive bobbing.

A few caveats...

1.- Small bump compliance is directly proportional to bobbing and brake dive. So, if you set your fork too soft, it will bob and will dive when you brake, but it will make the trail feel like tarmac.

2.- Too soft a settings can make your bike to bottom frequently and it will shake all over the place in turns or weight shifting... and ultimately, compromise traction.

There's a happy balance to be achieved. When you get it, your bike will feel supple but it will feel well planted over the trail too.
 

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I dig trails!
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billyboy197 said:
IMO it is the quality not the travel that counts. ...
I would tend to agree.

To add to that, bikes with longer travel are also build different and the linkage will be designed for more compliance on a FR rig while linkage will be designed to be more sprinty on an XC bike. Point being, more travel does not necessarily get you to a different kind of riding.

But I would also add that changing a fork from 80mm to 120mm would change the Head Angle almost 2 degrees slacker, and the BB would be much higher, so handling will be affected (better for faster riding with the HA)

P
 

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Some Assembly Required
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Longer travel forks/shocks tend to be a lil plusher ride than their shorter travel counter parts. Longer travel forks will let you ride a line that isn't so "clean" and you will barely notice it. After a certain amount of riding a longer/plusher travel fork, this will become the "norm". Follow a guy on a hard tail w/a short travel fork & watch how clean of a line he rides. Minimal suspension tends to make one a cleaner rider, i.e.; avoiding the roots, rocks & ruts that a rider w/longer travel will tend to ignore and just ride over. All that said, I agree 100% that "quality is better than quantity", so yes, you will notice it, IMO.
 

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IMO the biggest advantage to a little more travel is the ability to run more sag and a plusher initial stroke without constant bottoming. You may end up with close to the same "positve" travel but the increased negative travel (sag) and softer setup will allow the fork or rear to stick to the ground much better and easily aborb small trail chatter that a shorter, stiffer setup would not. My 8.5" travel dh bike sags 3.5" which only leaves me 5" of posivtive travel but I can hammer through big stuff at fullspeed like you never would on a 5" travel trail bike. There is obvioulsy a limit to this but it illustrates my point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have noticed that most non-race bikes have 120mm of travel and that is pretty standard. I am not too concerned about efficiency, more about plushness. Is it worth it to pay the extra to go to 120mm? (obviously I would have to get a new bike because my current one has less than 80mm in the rear, and the HA angle alone would be a mess).
 

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noMAD man
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Most definitely longer travel is noticed on the trail. The comments on quality vs quantity are true, but remember...you can have both.

Let me throw a curve in here that you won't normally hear from most MTB'ers. Yes, of course the longer travel is great for drops and big stuff, and it'll often save your bacon when you get in over your head...but...I also like it because I can sit down for long periods in all but the more highly technical terrain. What?...am I a lazy loafer who can't handle the rigors of real MTB'ing?...well, absolutely...but in reality, the more you can ride without having to pop up and down on the saddle like a jack-in-the-box, the more energy you'll save over a decently long ride. I come from a dirt motor background...and not the TV style Supercross stuff. I trail and enduro ride. And the better/more travel you have, the more you can conserve energy to cover the miles and stay fresh for those gnarly sections that will kick your tail. I find it to be true for MTB'ing also. Now...I'm obviously not recommending sitting on your barcalounger long travel MTB while plowing through big rock gardens and such, but many who haven't tried these types of bikes would be surprised how much energy you save because you're not having to act as big a part of your bike's suspension with a quality long travel trail bike. And since they're not DH/FR heavy...unless you want it that way...they don't suck the life out of you when you're having to do all the work and gravity has forsaken you.
 

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TNC said:
Let me throw a curve in here that you won't normally hear from most MTB'ers. Yes, of course the longer travel is great for drops and big stuff, and it'll often save your bacon when you get in over your head...but...I also like it because I can sit down for long periods in all but the more highly technical terrain. What?...am I a lazy loafer who can't handle the rigors of real MTB'ing?...well, absolutely...but in reality, the more you can ride without having to pop up and down on the saddle like a jack-in-the-box, the more energy you'll save over a decently long ride. I come from a dirt motor background...and not the TV style Supercross stuff. I trail and enduro ride. And the better/more travel you have, the more you can conserve energy to cover the miles and stay fresh for those gnarly sections that will kick your tail. I find it to be true for MTB'ing also. Now...I'm obviously not recommending sitting on your barcalounger long travel MTB while plowing through big rock gardens and such, but many who haven't tried these types of bikes would be surprised how much energy you save because you're not having to act as big a part of your bike's suspension with a quality long travel trail bike. And since they're not DH/FR heavy...unless you want it that way...they don't suck the life out of you when you're having to do all the work and gravity has forsaken you.
Could not agree more. For the past few years, I have ridden a combination of hardtails and FS bikes, alswasy with 4" of travel or less. Even owned a rigid bike as well. The more suspension you have, the less tired you will be at the end of the day. Even though they generally exhibit a penalty in the weight and climbing department, their ability to soak up bumps and keep the rider fresh is where they really shine.

Another thing: Longer travel bikes generally have a more rearward weight bias, which makes it far easier to keep your weight back on steep descents. When I ride a hardtail down a steep hill I always feel like I'm being pitched forward; not so on my 6" travel bike. Depending on the bike, you can actually feel your weight "back there"--I fought it at first, but only because I was used to a bike with a more forward weight bias. Now that I'm used to it, I don't notice it.
 

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I experimented a while with switching my Giant VT rear suspension from the 5" to 5.7" setting and came to the conclusion that indeed the 5.7" setting is considerably plusher. I configured the amount of sag to be equal with each setting which meant a decrease in rear shock air pressure for the 5" setting versus an increased air pressure for 5.7". I think that even though they were both running equal sag, 5.7" soaks up bumps better because the air shock internal pressure doesn't ramp up as quick for a given amount of rear wheel travel.

That's my own theory as to why the 5.7" setting feels so much better anyway. Even though the 0.7" difference in travel might at first thought seem an almost insignificant amount of change, the difference in the ride was quite noticable.
 

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I had my RS Pilot SL lenghtened from 80mm to 100mm. I'm riding a bit more upright, ofcourse, but I really like the way the bike changed. I also like having more travel.

The weird thing is that before I had my fork's oils and seals changed (the 100mm mod was made at the same time) I used to have air also in it. After servicing it I have ridden with no air and it feels better in every way.

So to answer to the question: Yes you would. But the difference depends on your frame and riding style. I went for +20mm and I'm having much more fun riding my bike!
 

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if you're buying from a bike shop, see if they'll let you ride around a 120 or 130mm bike (toras are fairly common oem forks, 130mm on those) .

i went from a 80mm 71 degree hardtail, to a 130mm 68 degree hardtail, to my next bike, a 140/145mm full suspension bike. i have no desire to ever own anything less than 130mm again. it might not be the fastest, or most efficient, but its the most fun!
 

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GaryM said:
IMO the biggest advantage to a little more travel is the ability to run more sag and a plusher initial stroke without constant bottoming.
That is what I think too: you can run a longer fork softer, which helps in smoothing out the minor rocks and roots.

Then there's the penalty in brake dive and such: on my long travel bike I need much more body language to keep the bike level while braking.
 

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My 4x4 FS bike is comfy on the trail, and it keeps the tires in contact with the trail surface, but you still have to pay attention to picking a line, clearing obstacles and riding smoothly. My 6x6 bike is like driving a Hummer, point and go, roll over anything on the trail without much concern about how big it was (or how loud it was screaming or growling when you rode over it :rolleyes: :D ). The place I really notice it is on gnarly root carpets and baby head rock cobble. It does make the 6x6 feel near invincible, even though I have been vinced often enough to know it isn't entirely the case. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the advice guys, sounds like more travel (within reason) is the way to go.

I have a question about sag though. Seems to me that by setting sag at about 20% all that means is the instant I sit on the bike I have already used 20% of my travel. In my non-technical mind wouldn’t I want the fork to be just ready to overcome stiction as I sit on it, but with no sag? That way as soon as I hit any bumps on the trail I immediately start to use the travel, but at that point I have the full travel available.

I am sure there is a good reason otherwise the manufactures would not recommend sag, but can somebody with more experience and technical knowledge explain it to me?
 

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Suspension sag allows the wheel to drop down into holes and trail undulations without the bike/rider dropping This keeps your forward momentum up and makes the ride much smoother, especially at higher speed. If you tried running zero sag you would not get satisfactory performance and the ride would be extremely harsh. Think of it like th eready position in any sport where you have your knees slightly bent and are ready to move quickly in any dirction.

You're likely looking at 30% or so for a trail setup, 20-25% for a XC race sort of setup. DH you'll be upwards of 40%.
 

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GaryM said:
Suspension sag allows the wheel to drop down into holes and trail undulations without the bike/rider dropping This keeps your forward momentum up and makes the ride much smoother, especially at higher speed. If you tried running zero sag you would not get satisfactory performance and the ride would be extremely harsh. Think of it like th eready position in any sport where you have your knees slightly bent and are ready to move quickly in any dirction.

You're likely looking at 30% or so for a trail setup, 20-25% for a XC race sort of setup. DH you'll be upwards of 40%.
Agree100% :D w/TNC and TLL. GaryM this is very well put and could be the Websters dictionary definition of sag. This is th reason I like/love MTBR. :thumbsup: :cool:
 

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The plough
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Longer travel becomes very noticeable when you attempt the downhill sections on a long travel bike and you are used to doing it on a shorter travel bike.

On a long travel bike, brakes are not used as much, you do not focus on the rocks or roots in front of the wheel, you look much further ahead and look for terrain contours, instead of just trail imperfections.

In essence, you fly through the rough sections that you used to thread through on an XC bike.

Additionally, long travel, quality suspension, works better on the trails the faster and harder you hit (within reason). You really gobble up baby heads and larger rocks, against all expectations (luckily for me :) )

V.
 

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The plough
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Yes in a sense, but do not forget that suspension works both ways: it compresses and EXTENDS.

The purpose of suspension is to keep your wheels in contact with the ground, and isolate the frame from the shocks.

Running a lot of sag means that your wheels will follow the contours of that rock or root that you ride off, instead of drop you to the ground and then compress to absorb the landing. Lots of sag makes your bike stick to the ground so you go faster and have greater control. Within reason of course. 10-20% for XC, 30-45% for DH, or whatever works for you and for where you ride.

V.
 

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Its all sketch
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For a xc fork that can take drops id go with the RockShox Tora its a great fork for drops jumps and trails its also only 3 pounds with 80-120mm travel
I have it on my bike and its taken a 4 foot drop.
 
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