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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all -- first post here. I'm looking at a 1995 Diamond Back DBR Vertex for sale on Craigslist. I rode the bike and liked it, but the front shock was quite stiff. It's the original Manitou, FWIW. The owner said the bike hadn't been ridden for a while and that the shock would loosen up with riding.

That doesn't sound right to me. I only rode it for a few minutes, but I wouldn't imagine that a spring would stiffen up so much from lack of use that I'd still feel it was stiff at the end of a quick spin. Am I wrong?

Given its age, I'd imagine I might have trouble finding a suitable swap. From what I understand, sizing might be a problem.

Thoughts?

mb
 

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From what I can tell, it's a Manitou Comp. Here's a link to a Bikepedia entry on the bike:

1995 Diamondback Vertex - BikePedia
Okay, that's a simple elastomer fork that's lubricated by grease. Lowers are silver with blue/grey anodising. Get yourself a tube of Slick Honey or Manitou Prep M grease and read on.

Tools:
Allen keys for the lower bolts.
Small screwdrivers.

Pull up the dust wipers and underneath you'll see a flat steel circlip holding down the seal below. Use the small screw drivers to flick up that circlip and ease it around to release.
Same both sides.

Then undo the lower leg bolts and they'll pull off. Leaving the seals and bushings behind on the stanchion tubes. The elastomers unscrew out the top.

Clean, dry everything and apply grease to the seals, bushings and elastomer collars, reassemble and ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just did a little reading on elastomer shocks. Sounds like they're just plain cheesy shocks compared to what's come after them. Knowing that, I'm thinking I should pass on this bike because it's not going to be easy to swap out the fork for a better one. The bike has center pull brakes, for example. Nice frame, but that fork is going to be a problem, I'm thinking. Correct?
 

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Thanks. So you're saying that as long as the shock hasn't suffered any obvious damage, it can be restored to full functionality with that maintenance work?
Yes.

Just did a little reading on elastomer shocks. Sounds like they're just plain cheesy shocks compared to what's come after them. Knowing that, I'm thinking I should pass on this bike because it's not going to be easy to swap out the fork for a better one. The bike has center pull brakes, for example. Nice frame, but that fork is going to be a problem, I'm thinking. Correct?
It's a retro bike, don't expect the performance of modern suspension but for a commuter or gravel path bike it should work fine.

But that said, there are plenty of current forks that feel worse than elastomers.
 

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Those elastomers are nearly 20 years old. No service will recondition them. Probably a little unsafe at this point.
Rubbish.
Elastomers are polyurethane, it outlives people. If they have taken a set then heating them in boiling water returns it to the original shape.

How is this unsafe?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I meant to post earlier.

OP, what do you want from this bike? Is it something to ride to work? Something to ride on singletrack? Some other job?
Thanks for the question, and thanks to everyone else for replies as well.

I'm just thinking of riding this bike for fun and exercise. I've ridden a recumbent for the past 15 or so years and want to get back to the upright position. Probably will never take it on a trail where a super-absorbent fork would be critical. But it would be nice to hop a curb once in a while without worrying about falling over or popping a tire.

My recumbent has a front shock, and I've gotten used to its effect on smoothing out the road. The stiffness of the DBR's fork was notable in that it felt no different than a straight fork.

The bike itself was very light and responsive, so if the fork could be brought up to its normal functioning it would be a nice machine.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Hop on a couple road bikes before you commit. Talk to the shop about tire pressure: it makes a huge difference.

Try riding them up and down curbs. Don't just plow into them, though. Lift your butt off the saddle so all your weight is on your feet and put your pedals at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock. When you ride up (or down) a curb, try to pull up the front wheel. It's a little bit "tail wagging the dog," but very possible. I find it feels like I press down and forward with my feet at the same time.

If you still want a mountain bike for this job, fine. But I'm glad I decided to try going with the herd on this one, way back when. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks. I should explain that I had a road bike before the recumbent and did a lot of riding. I did cross-state tours, plenty of centuries, etc. So when I talk about hopping a curb, I don't mean that I'm really worried about blowing a tire. Perhaps a more accurate way of putting it is to say I'd like to be able to ride without worrying about the smoothness of the path beneath me, and that if I get off into the grass or dirt once in a while it's not a problem.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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Save up for a basic 29" hardtail. That would be much better on the road than an old 26" wheeled bike. The 29er would be closer to the dynamics of the road bike.
 

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OP, I already feel that way about road bikes. It's riding singletrack that keeps me on mountain bikes.

I guess if you actually know how to ride a road bike and still want to ride the road on a MTB, who am I to argue. I wouldn't have high expectations of an elastomer shock ever getting better again, but I've never tried to recondition one. If the bike is too old to have a 1-1/8" head tube, it's going to be a ton of trouble to find a new fork for it, and most of what you find won't be worth buying anyway. So if you want suspension, only buy bikes compatible with contemporary suspension components.
 

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Dougal has given me a negative rep, kind of harsh. I probably see a lot more of these old forks than he does, but who knows. I am not familiar with him.

I service suspension all day every day. There is a lot of opinion and misinformation out there, but when diagnosing an issue over the internet its better to err on the side of caution. We see far too many elastomer forks that are no longer in serviceable condition and I recommend replacement or converting to a rigid fork for street/path usage. Maybe this guy found that one in a million fork, but it doesn't sound like it.

Dougal, sorry that my opinion makes you that angry enough to send personal regards. I wish you could field the 50 calls a week we get from people asking about their 20 year old elastomer forks. You may change your mind.
 

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Dougal has given me a negative rep, kind of harsh. I probably see a lot more of these old forks than he does, but who knows. I am not familiar with him.

I service suspension all day every day. There is a lot of opinion and misinformation out there, but when diagnosing an issue over the internet its better to err on the side of caution. We see far too many elastomer forks that are no longer in serviceable condition and I recommend replacement or converting to a rigid fork for street/path usage. Maybe this guy found that one in a million fork, but it doesn't sound like it.

Dougal, sorry that my opinion makes you that angry enough to send personal regards. I wish you could field the 50 calls a week we get from people asking about their 20 year old elastomer forks. You may change your mind.
I am no elastomer guru but my first thought too was old elastomer = history. I had an old Noleen Chubby fork that had a stack of elastomers that just mushed down to nothing. The LBS told me too circular file the elastomers and purchase a Mountain Speed coil spring upgrade kit. My fork was operational again but quite bouncy - no dampening rebound effect w/ steel springs.
 
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