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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm new to mountain biking and just bought a Giant Talon 2 27.5 with 2.8 plus tires. I ride single track at Mt. Ashwabay up in Northern Wisconsin and sometimes the moderate downhill routes on Spirit Mountain in Duluth.

When reading about the quality of the bike I purchased the one thing that consistently comes up is the poor quality of the Suntour XCM forks. I understand that they will likely not last as long as a higher quality fork.. especially if ridden hard. And I suppose that they are heavy. But what else? Would I see a noticeable difference in ride quality if I upgraded to at least the Raidon air forks? Would it be worth upgrading while these current forks are still fresh?
 

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The main thing about a coil fork is that it doesn't really adjust to your weight. There are two basic adjustments to a fork, the spring rate, which is how much the spring compresses when you sit on your bike, and damping, which is how your fork as a whole responds to high- and low-frequency inputs or "hits."

With a coil fork, the spring rate is adjusted by changing out the spring. Your spring is one-size fits all, so probably doesn't fit you, but it might.

An air spring uses air to define its spring rate, so it's adjustable to your weight.

The dampers on a fork are basically where all the money goes on expensive forks. Cheap dampers don't work very well. So an inexpensive coil fork is kind of the worst of both worlds.

Just for reference, there are high-end coil forks and shocks. They are available with a selection of springs to set the component to the rider's weight, and they have sophisticated damper systems.

A fork upgrade might be the single best upgrade you could make. It is accepted now that Suntour's higher-end offerings are good forks. But even a lower-end one would be a significant upgrade.
 

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It sounds like you are looking at your fork upgrade objectively. A Raidon wouldn't be a bad upgrade for you. If you are the original owner, you might be able to get the Raidon through the Suntour upgrade program.

I'm just curious how 2.8" tires were able to fit on that bike? The stock tires on a Talon are 2.25" and the stock rims are only 21" inner width. If the wheels are aftermarket, I can understand that but I am wondering about rear tire clearance on the frame. Just an observation ;)
 

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It sounds like you are looking at your fork upgrade objectively. A Raidon wouldn't be a bad upgrade for you. If you are the original owner, you might be able to get the Raidon through the Suntour upgrade program.

I'm just curious how 2.8" tires were able to fit on that bike? The stock tires on a Talon are 2.25" and the stock rims are only 21" inner width. If the wheels are aftermarket, I can understand that but I am wondering about rear tire clearance on the frame. Just an observation ;)
Well, with 21" rim width, he can fit up to 28" tires without problems. :p :p
 

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Tapered steerer and it appears the Talon 2 is a straight head tube.

The Suntour upgrade program is probably OPs best bet, but I think even ST is getting past straight steerer forks.

The other option would be a Manitou Markhor, which seems to be serving all the 26" or straight-steerer bike upgrades.
 

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Having ridden ashwabay on my 29+ Trek Stache, I'd say those plus tires are a great idea! So much sand... But fun trails

As said above you may notice an improvement in control over small rocks and roots with a fork that damps better. If you find yourself constantly being battered on small stuff or the front end in the air more than on the ground, a new fork may help your control.

Can you borrow a bike with a better fork and see if you can tell the difference? It's not worth much to take off and sell, if it were me I'd ride that fork for a while then upgrade down the line.
 

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Go through the ST upgrade program. Get yourself a Raidon or epixon fork and be done with it for a while. They are much better than the stock fork. I know I have a 2018 Talon which I upgraded to the Raidon and have since made changes to the fork (lower oil bath, tokens....) No sense on putting a 1k fork on that bike. Ride it until you feel you need to change
 

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Tapered steerer and it appears the Talon 2 is a straight head tube.
Just because the head tube is "straight" doesn't mean it can't accept a tapered fork.

What matters is the diameter of the head tube more than anything. My hardtail has a straight head tube and I have fork with a tapered steerer tube installed in it, no problem. The head tube on my bike is a straight 44mm variety. I have an internal upper cup and an external lower cup. Looking at the Talon, you could put a tapered fork on it if you installed a compatible lower headset cup.

Granted, it's an extra cost, which might not be worth it for that bike if an appropriate straight steerer fork can be found for a similar price.

Also, many don't realize it, but you actually can service and tune an XCM coil fork. Suntour DOES sell springs of different weights for both the LO and MLO versions of that fork. And rebuild kits. For much cheaper than a new one.

https://www.srsuntour.us/collections/xcm-service-parts?page=2

Generally speaking, I'll recommend riding it till it's not good enough anymore. It'll be plenty for fairly light riding. It's a MUCH better fork than the forks I rode for probably the first 5 or 6 years that I rode. When do you know that fork isn't enough for you anymore? Well, for one, if you break it. That's a good indicator. Also, if you're wearing it out and needing to rebuild it frequently is another. It's got lots of plastic parts that will wear out quickly if you ride it a lot, and if you ride it hard. Another indicator will be performance-based and harder to pin down. If you find that the range of tuning is no longer sufficient to get the fork to perform the way you want, it might be time for an upgrade.

Considering the bike you have, the riding it's intended for, and the cost of upgrades, it might be worthwhile to buy a completely new bike that's better suited for your riding. Even if you upgrade the fork, the Talon is still built for lighter, more casual riding. Even if you change all the parts on it, the frame is still the same one built for lighter, more casual riding and if you find yourself riding a lot, riding harder, and riding more difficult stuff, you might find something completely different to be more appropriate.
 

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XC iconoclast
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Tapered steerer and it appears the Talon 2 is a straight head tube.

The Suntour upgrade program is probably OPs best bet, but I think even ST is getting past straight steerer forks.

The other option would be a Manitou Markhor, which seems to be serving all the 26" or straight-steerer bike upgrades.
If he does the upgrade program, the straight steerer fork is the Raidon for $250 with the discount, and the tapered steerer fork is the Axon for $350 with the discount. Both seem really good for the money. Raidon is 4.5 lbs and Axon is 3.6 lbs. There are other 27.5" and 29" straight steerer forks out there, but for a beginner the forks and prices above should be fine unless he's going to try 6 foot jumps or something.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for all the replies. I can see that I've got a lot to learn.

Now you've got me curious about the frame. What exactly is it that makes the Talon 2 frame built for casual riding? Which is fine... because that is definitely where I am right now. But still... curious.

Just because the head tube is "straight" doesn't mean it can't accept a tapered fork.

What matters is the diameter of the head tube more than anything. My hardtail has a straight head tube and I have fork with a tapered steerer tube installed in it, no problem. The head tube on my bike is a straight 44mm variety. I have an internal upper cup and an external lower cup. Looking at the Talon, you could put a tapered fork on it if you installed a compatible lower headset cup.

Granted, it's an extra cost, which might not be worth it for that bike if an appropriate straight steerer fork can be found for a similar price.

Also, many don't realize it, but you actually can service and tune an XCM coil fork. Suntour DOES sell springs of different weights for both the LO and MLO versions of that fork. And rebuild kits. For much cheaper than a new one.

https://www.srsuntour.us/collections/xcm-service-parts?page=2

Generally speaking, I'll recommend riding it till it's not good enough anymore. It'll be plenty for fairly light riding. It's a MUCH better fork than the forks I rode for probably the first 5 or 6 years that I rode. When do you know that fork isn't enough for you anymore? Well, for one, if you break it. That's a good indicator. Also, if you're wearing it out and needing to rebuild it frequently is another. It's got lots of plastic parts that will wear out quickly if you ride it a lot, and if you ride it hard. Another indicator will be performance-based and harder to pin down. If you find that the range of tuning is no longer sufficient to get the fork to perform the way you want, it might be time for an upgrade.

Considering the bike you have, the riding it's intended for, and the cost of upgrades, it might be worthwhile to buy a completely new bike that's better suited for your riding. Even if you upgrade the fork, the Talon is still built for lighter, more casual riding. Even if you change all the parts on it, the frame is still the same one built for lighter, more casual riding and if you find yourself riding a lot, riding harder, and riding more difficult stuff, you might find something completely different to be more appropriate.
 

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A cursory look at the frame geometry tells me it has a tall head tube, short reach, tall stack, short top tube, and long chainstays. It's still a mountain bike but those features make it more compact and upright, most like a beach cruiser. This is perfect for beginner riders who are going to stick to easier trails at lower speeds. This is fine for more casual riders who are not going to charge ahead and want to quickly learn to shred. If you're already fairly athletic and ride this bike a lot from the start, your skills are going to quickly outgrow this bike and it will be less than ideal for riding agressively over challenging terrain. That won't stop you if you don't let it-you can ride any POS over any terrain if you are sufficiently determined- but it might not be as fun as riding a bike with a higher level of riding in mind. This is not to say you need to spend $$$ on a bike to get started, but the bottom of entry-level is designed to satisfy people who don't have bigger ambitions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks... informative. Right now this bike is such a huge upgrade on what I had that it's hard to imagine how it could be that much better (coming from a late 90's 26er with skinny wheels and no-name forks). But I'm new and I don't have the feel for it yet obviously.

I'm athletic and live right next to the cluster and am out there all the time so I'm likely in the category of out-growing this bike if what you say is right on.

Thanks for the education (although it does hurt a little bit to think of my bike as a beach cruiser?).

A cursory look at the frame geometry tells me it has a tall head tube, short reach, tall stack, short top tube, and long chainstays. It's still a mountain bike but those features make it more compact and upright, most like a beach cruiser. This is perfect for beginner riders who are going to stick to easier trails at lower speeds. This is fine for more casual riders who are not going to charge ahead and want to quickly learn to shred. If you're already fairly athletic and ride this bike a lot from the start, your skills are going to quickly outgrow this bike and it will be less than ideal for riding agressively over challenging terrain. That won't stop you if you don't let it-you can ride any POS over any terrain if you are sufficiently determined- but it might not be as fun as riding a bike with a higher level of riding in mind. This is not to say you need to spend $$$ on a bike to get started, but the bottom of entry-level is designed to satisfy people who don't have bigger ambitions.
 
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