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I'm new to the MTB scene and I'm just doing some minor upgrades to an older mongoose MTB till I get a new one next year. However, I'm only 120lbs, so I figure I wouldn't need an expensive suspension fork. Maybe just a decent RockShox. On my current bike, the suspension is good, even though its not name brand(Element). So i'm assuming if you're a light weight person, you shouldn't need "the best" parts in regards to suspension?
 

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Lighter riders may not need as stiff/strong fork chassis, but the damper/spring quality is at least as important as for heavier riders. Tunability matters the most for riders out of the average weight range.

In your example, a Rock Shox Reba dual-air fork might be a good choice, but a cheap RS "TK" model might not be much better than a rigid fork.
 

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I'm new to the MTB scene and I'm just doing some minor upgrades to an older mongoose MTB till I get a new one next year. However, I'm only 120lbs, so I figure I wouldn't need an expensive suspension fork. Maybe just a decent RockShox. On my current bike, the suspension is good, even though its not name brand(Element). So i'm assuming if you're a light weight person, you shouldn't need "the best" parts in regards to suspension?
The opposite argument can be made easily. Light riders, and I am one of them, need the best suspension for a number of reasons: stiction, tune-ability, and stiffness.

1) The stiction, or static friction of the seals, is likely largely the same for all riders (unless the air pressure has a significant effect on this, which I doubt). As a lighter rider running lower pressures this stiction is more noticeable as its not only a greater proportion of the force and dampening but less likely to be overcome on the same trail.

2) the fork needs a tune-able range that included light riders and typically 120lbs is below or just at the limit for what the forks are designed for. As you reduce weight and spring rate you need less dampening, you have to be able to dial down the dampening I'm order to avoid and over-damped fork and the many negative effects of that such as pack-down. Additionally you need a fork where you can tune the spring to the lighter weight and still have a sensible negative spring, so those have to work well.

3) stiffness still totally matters. At 125lbs there is a huge difference between the stiffness of a fox 32 and a fox 36. I recently switched my trail bike from a fox 32 150 to a pike (35) 150 and immediately the extra stiffness was obvious. Tapered steerer and 15qr on both.

All of these features, the extra tuning range of the spring and dampening I would attribute to good forks, not low end ones.
 

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Not entirely related but I blew out an X-Fusion 02 RL in under 100 miles... dunno if it's because I was 260lbs or because X-Fusion is lower level.
 
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