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Discussion Starter #1
I've got a 2012 Scott low-range hardtail that has served me very well over the years. I'm just getting back into riding after a few years off due to kids. Most of the trails around here are fairly smooth, so while dropping $3k on a new or used full sus would be great, it's just unnecessary since I still have a lot to learn on the hardtail. Buying a brand new hardtail or XC bike seems like a total waste since my current bike is fine.

The bike has an old RockShox XC/32/TK coil fork that's getting sticky and blown, and really just doesn't do much at this point. The bike has a straight steerer with quick release axles, so new high-range upgrades are limited. So I have three options:

  • Take the ancient $100 fork apart and spend a couple hours rebuilding it
  • Buy a new fork with somewhat upgraded internals, like a RockShox Recon Silver RL, for $250
  • Buy a very old high-range used fork that fits the spec, probably for around $250-400

I don't like the idea of putting new parts on an old bike, but the Recon is definitely an "upgrade" from the current fork. Used forks with straight steerers and 9x100qr axles are sometimes available on ebay, but a fork that old seems like a buyer-beware situation, and is likely going to need to be rebuilt anyway. Like I saw a 2012 Reba with the same damper and air spring as the current Recon, selling on ebay for $250. Makes no sense to buy that over a new Recon. But I also don't like the idea of spending 2 hours of precious weekend time rebuilding a fork that deserves to be in the garbage.

Any thoughts? Thanks
 

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You can get the Judy TK Solo air in straight steerer for QR wheels for a 29er for $169. It will go in and out of stock at Worldwide and other vendors. Just set a email notification when it's in stock and jump on it when it gets in stock if that's a better budget option for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You can get the Judy TK Solo air in straight steerer for QR wheels for a 29er for $169. It will go in and out of stock at Worldwide and other vendors. Just set a email notification when it's in stock and jump on it when it gets in stock if that's a better budget option for you.
Are the features of the Recon Silver RL worth the extra $80? Recon has 32mm stanchions + MCS damper, whereas Judy has 30mm + TK damper. TK damper was old in 2012 is my concern.
 

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I wouldn't worry too much about the damper. Given the bike you have and the money you're looking to spend, you're never going to be putting a fork with a fancy damper on. "Works" should be plenty for your purposes at this point.

Missing from the talk so far is that all suspension needs to be maintained. Otherwise, you'll get exactly what happened to what you have now. Doesn't matter how much you spend on it to start with. Buying something new will give you some time before you need to think about service, but that's it. Reasonable service intervals are probably a lot more frequent than you think. Your option of rebuilding what you have isn't necessarily an unviable one. If you DIY the job (totally doable), it's by far the least expensive one. If you buy an old, nicer fork, you still ought to budget for getting it serviced because too many people never service their suspension until it doesn't work.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I wouldn't worry too much about the damper. Given the bike you have and the money you're looking to spend, you're never going to be putting a fork with a fancy damper on. "Works" should be plenty for your purposes at this point.

Missing from the talk so far is that all suspension needs to be maintained. Otherwise, you'll get exactly what happened to what you have now. Doesn't matter how much you spend on it to start with. Buying something new will give you some time before you need to think about service, but that's it. Reasonable service intervals are probably a lot more frequent than you think. Your option of rebuilding what you have isn't necessarily an unviable one. If you DIY the job (totally doable), it's by far the least expensive one. If you buy an old, nicer fork, you still ought to budget for getting it serviced because too many people never service their suspension until it doesn't work.
Yeah, I spend a fair bit of time working on my road bike (I raced road for many years) since it's finicky. I pretty much beat the sh*t out of the MTB with little to no maintenance. Bleed the brakes when they get squishy, wipe it off when it's dirty, whatever. Now that I've started riding it a lot more, I'm getting more mtb-specific tools on the understanding that maintenance still needs to be done. I realized a few days ago I'd never even pulled the crank. Still, the mtb seems to be WAY more robust and tolerant of abuse than my road bike. Going to need to buy an o-ring set and some oil regardless to service forks in the future.

OK so you think there's not going to be any noticeable difference between an air spring/MCS damper fork vs. my current coil spring/TK damper fork? If I'm not even going to get slightly improved grip or feel, I'll just rebuild it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yeah, I spend a fair bit of time working on my road bike (I raced road for many years) since it's finicky. I pretty much beat the sh*t out of the MTB with little to no maintenance. Bleed the brakes when they get squishy, wipe it off when it's dirty, whatever. Now that I've started riding it a lot more, I'm getting more mtb-specific tools on the understanding that maintenance still needs to be done. I realized a few days ago I'd never even pulled the crank. Still, the mtb seems to be WAY more robust and tolerant of abuse than my road bike. Going to need to buy an o-ring set and some oil regardless to service forks in the future.

OK so you think there's not going to be any noticeable difference between an air spring/MCS damper fork vs. my current coil spring/TK damper fork? If I'm not even going to get slightly improved grip or feel, I'll just rebuild it.
Also I'm absolutely not taking anything to a shop anymore. My local shop wanted $120 to basically oil the chain and wipe the bike down, and they said they're a month out on appointments. What a joke. That used to cost $35 and could be done same day. I'll pay a shop to save me some time, but apparently COVID really messed up the supply/demand equation.
 

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look what suntour has to offer. they provide usually more than rockshox for your money. 2nd hand will probably get you the best performance for your money.
dont focus on qr only, a 15x100 front wheel can be pretty cheap if you find a nice offer for a 15x100 fork.
 

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OK so you think there's not going to be any noticeable difference between an air spring/MCS damper fork vs. my current coil spring/TK damper fork? If I'm not even going to get slightly improved grip or feel, I'll just rebuild it.
You might be able to notice (depends how in tune you are to your bike), but I don't think that it'd necessarily be worthwhile given what you have. Assuming your current fork isn't actually broken, servicing it would be the cheapest way forward so you can save for something a bit better.

apparently COVID really messed up the supply/demand equation.
It messed things up pretty bad. Shops in my area were booked months out this summer for even little stuff.
 

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look what suntour has to offer. they provide usually more than rockshox for your money. 2nd hand will probably get you the best performance for your money.
dont focus on qr only, a 15x100 front wheel can be pretty cheap if you find a nice offer for a 15x100 fork.
I have to agree with this. Suntour Epixon on ebay can be had for under $200 with straight steerer and 9mm QR dropouts. It's 32mm stanchion, so its reasonably stiff. I got one for my cheap hardtail and am pretty happy with its performance. It sounds like the perfect match for your bike. Also, they are easily adjusted from 100, 120, 140mm travel. There's a couple how-to videos on youtube.
 

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I am going to offer a different suggestion. A Manitou Markhor which is available for $225. It is significantly lighter than your current (1900 grams v 2182), has a good airspring, and the standard Kwik Toggle damper is shimmed, as is the TPC rebound. For $60, you can swap out the Kwik Toggle for the ABS+ damper which is topnotch and you can reshim however you want (Manitou will send you a booklet with the different shim stacks and dyno curves if you ask). Swapping to the ABS+ takes all of 10 minutes, remove the old compression assembly by unscrewing, check and set the oil height, screw in the new assembly.
 

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  • Take the ancient $100 fork apart and spend a couple hours rebuilding it
I think you should do this one first, just for the experience. It's kinda fun to work on forks, and you can probably make a massive improvement with just a little elbow grease. Then buy a new fork anyhow, because I'm all for spending other people's money and I like Cary's idea about the Manitou.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think you should do this one first, just for the experience. It's kinda fun to work on forks, and you can probably make a massive improvement with just a little elbow grease. Then buy a new fork anyhow, because I'm all for spending other people's money and I like Cary's idea about the Manitou.
Haha thanks - the Manitou forks look like they have better internals per price point vs. RockShox. The only thing that makes me reticent about that Markhor are the 30mm stanchions. How big a deal is that? (I weigh 165lb)
 

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Haha thanks - the Manitou forks look like they have better internals per price point vs. RockShox. The only thing that makes me reticent about that Markhor are the 30mm stanchions. How big a deal is that? (I weigh 165lb)
There is also the Machete comp if you want 32.
 

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Haha thanks - the Manitou forks look like they have better internals per price point vs. RockShox. The only thing that makes me reticent about that Markhor are the 30mm stanchions. How big a deal is that? (I weigh 165lb)
Stanchion size tells you little about stiffness as bushing overlap and wall thickness also have a large effect. The short that it is plenty stiff for its intended use and travel: I had a 230 pound rider on one with no issues. Keep in mind it is 100mm travel and the old Skarebs, Judys, and Sids were 28mm and none of us died (even me at over 200 pounds).
 

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Haha thanks - the Manitou forks look like they have better internals per price point vs. RockShox. The only thing that makes me reticent about that Markhor are the 30mm stanchions. How big a deal is that? (I weigh 165lb)
I bought a bike about a year ago that came with a Manitou Mattoc Comp fork with the ABS+ damper. It's surprisingly good and far, far better than I would have expected for the price.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Stanchion size tells you little about stiffness as bushing overlap and wall thickness also have a large effect. The short that it is plenty stiff for its intended use and travel: I had a 230 pound rider on one with no issues. Keep in mind it is 100mm travel and the old Skarebs, Judys, and Sids were 28mm and none of us died (even me at over 200 pounds).
Alright screw it, I'm just going to do this, as long as Hayes can confirm I can get an ABS+ damper upgrade for it. Cheap enough that who cares. And I'm going to take the old forks apart if for no other reason than showing workings to my daughter.
 

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Also I'm absolutely not taking anything to a shop anymore. My local shop wanted $120 to basically oil the chain and wipe the bike down, and they said they're a month out on appointments. What a joke. That used to cost $35 and could be done same day. I'll pay a shop to save me some time, but apparently COVID really messed up the supply/demand equation.
My LBS has gone evil also. They want much more money for simple things that they used to do for a much more reasonable price. So I swore to never get any service from them again & bought my own tools and learned how to do everything myself & did actually do everything on my bike myself. The only things I have not done done yet is rebuild a hub, lace a wheel to a hub, & rebuild a fork. Other than that I have done everything else. Soon I will rebuild my hub also. I just don't think I ever want to deal with lacing my own wheels that might take time & to be very careful. The fork maintenance I can easily see myself visiting in the future.
If I were in your situation, I would most defenitely take apart the fork & try to service it myself. Based on what my results would be after I tried I would only then consider another option like getting another fork because I would rather spend the money and a new fork a small amount of more money than rebuild the old one if I couldn't do the service my self. Although I did just buy myself a fox float 32 fork, but that's because I really wanted it lol.
 
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