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Discussion Starter #21
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.
Ha yeah, I'm sure I could rebuild the fork no problem - I've got all the tools and have been working on cars (and my other bikes) for years - but no way I'm ever building a wheel!

I'm happy for the LBS' business, and also at the expansion of the bike market, but the entire convenience of having a shop nearby is kind of gone now.
 

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Murica Man
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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
just came across this fork the other day. i would get it unless you are on a tight budget
 

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Forks servicing (unless a fox fit) is generally straightforward. Download the instructions, print, watch a video, then take the instruxtions to the garage and do it step by step. Wheelbuilding is not hard either, just step by step. The first one takes the longest. I find it relaxing to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
just came across this fork the other day. i would get it unless you are on a tight budget
Would this be ridiculous or no? It's a much bigger commitment, to be sure. I've never ridden anything this nice, so have no idea how to value this type of upgrade and what I'd get from it. I'm definitely getting chucked around when trying to push it on rough terrain, but it's not clear to me if my technique would benefit from this fork. Maybe it'd be better to spend the $ on some coaching?

Forks servicing (unless a fox fit) is generally straightforward. Download the instructions, print, watch a video, then take the instruxtions to the garage and do it step by step. Wheelbuilding is not hard either, just step by step. The first one takes the longest. I find it relaxing to do.
When I was racing road, guys were taking their expensive wheels to these specialist wheelbuilders and paying big $ for that. So I figured building wheels was best left to pros . . . but maybe it's worth re-visiting that assumption. The guys doing that were generally the ones with more money than sense, riding insane Lightweight wheels and such as Cat 4s.

Nobody's shop has gone evil this year.

They all got slammed unexpectedly. They didn't have time to prepare, and they got overwhelmed. What else are they supposed to do?
Yeah I mean, my local shop used to be pretty slow, and I was worried they'd go out of business and I'd no longer have a local shop. But now, if they can charge inflated prices and people are not only willing to pay, but willing to wait months for service . . . good for them.
 

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Would this be ridiculous or no? It's a much bigger commitment, to be sure. I've never ridden anything this nice, so have no idea how to value this type of upgrade and what I'd get from it. I'm definitely getting chucked around when trying to push it on rough terrain, but it's not clear to me if my technique would benefit from this fork. Maybe it'd be better to spend the $ on some coaching?
You'll get to a point where the fork is no longer the component holding you back. But the rest of the bike will still be the same as it was, and something else will be what limits you. Your wheels, brakes, the frame. The list goes on. And whatever that is will wind up holding the fork back.

Putting it into perspective, you'll still have a low end 9 year old Scott mtb. A fancy fork won't change that.

Any fork that's in rough shape and in need of work will benefit enormously from being replaced outright. ANYTHING will obviously be better than the clapped out thing you had before. But yeah, coaching and time spent practicing skills will benefit anyone's riding a great deal.

When I was racing road, guys were taking their expensive wheels to these specialist wheelbuilders and paying big $ for that. So I figured building wheels was best left to pros . . . but maybe it's worth re-visiting that assumption. The guys doing that were generally the ones with more money than sense, riding insane Lightweight wheels and such as Cat 4s.
The thing with wheel building is that it's time consuming. It requires attention to detail that you can only speed up so much through practice and repetition. With wheels, it's the tiny little details that a skilled wheel builder brings to the table that are desirable vs. a machine built wheel. But those guys you knew from your roadie days also had some high end equipment to boot most likely, and the cost of those high end parts won't change much from place to place. But, a REALLY good wheel builder should be able to build wheels a lot faster than a mediocre wheel builder or even a novice. So their total labor cost is likely to be lower.

Some years ago, I worked in a shop that was pretty road-focused. We got some legit fast mofos in coming into the shop. I saw some seriously expensive road bikes on a regular basis. We did not have a wheel builder who was good enough to be efficient at wheel builds for the shop to really make money at them. Those riders who wanted handbuilt wheels got referred elsewhere for that work. Build prices got set based on the shop's labor rate and the amount of time they expected to be able to complete the job. Our mechanics could do it, and occasionally they did, but usually it took them long enough that their total labor charge was actually HIGHER than what more skilled and more efficient builders would charge, who could do the same thing faster, and probably turn out a slightly more refined wheel in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
You'll get to a point where the fork is no longer the component holding you back. But the rest of the bike will still be the same as it was, and something else will be what limits you. Your wheels, brakes, the frame. The list goes on. And whatever that is will wind up holding the fork back.

Putting it into perspective, you'll still have a low end 9 year old Scott mtb. A fancy fork won't change that.

Any fork that's in rough shape and in need of work will benefit enormously from being replaced outright. ANYTHING will obviously be better than the clapped out thing you had before. But yeah, coaching and time spent practicing skills will benefit anyone's riding a great deal.
Makes sense. This is the approach I took when I built my track car. I got a Miata bone stock, then put all my expense into coaching and track time until it was clear what was holding me back (wheels/tires), then upgraded that, got more coaching until it was clear what was holding me back (suspension), etc. etc. That's honestly part of why I like having a crappy hardtail. It seems like it might be the Miata of mtb. The only way to go fast is to build your skill. Which is why it might feel weird splurging for a $700 fork to put on a $1000 bike.
 

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Which is why it might feel weird splurging for a $700 fork to put on a $1000 bike.
Not to mention that that's a fork that you would have trouble flipping for $200 in a year when you upgrade your hardtail, because there's no way that it's going onto a modern bike. I'm much more impressed with Manitou's offerings these days than Fox's, especially out of the box, so I vote for the Markhor as well.
 

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Get that Manitou and you will be surprised how good it is. I have a Tower29 (straight steerer, 9mm) with abs+, it is regarding the damping and small impact sensibility equal to my Pike rct3.
 

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An entry level fork like the XC32 has limitations, but there will still be a noticebable difference in feel and performance between a neglected and a freshly serviced one. I'd do a basic service at least, ride the bike and then decide if it's good enough or a new fork is necessary. At worse, you'll have your first go at servicing a fork and you will be able to sell it in as a well maintained item.
 

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Makes sense. This is the approach I took when I built my track car. I got a Miata bone stock, then put all my expense into coaching and track time until it was clear what was holding me back (wheels/tires), then upgraded that, got more coaching until it was clear what was holding me back (suspension), etc. etc. That's honestly part of why I like having a crappy hardtail. It seems like it might be the Miata of mtb. The only way to go fast is to build your skill. Which is why it might feel weird splurging for a $700 fork to put on a $1000 bike.
One important aspect here is that bike geometry can make a huge difference. An old, entry level bike isn't made to go fast. In fact, these bikes often start feeling sketchy if you start going fast off road in gnarly terrain. They're meant more to be generalist bikes. They have more upright riding positions because bike manufacturers know that MOST people who buy these will never actually ride them off road. They're going to ride on paved greenways and around their neighborhood with their kids. College campus bikes. Remote gravel roads. They also happen to be capable enough off road for people to try it out and see if they like it. That upright riding position gives you better visibility. But it sucks for stability at speed. The bike might be easier to handle at low speeds, but given most people who actually ride them, it makes sense.

This is why I advocate at least tearing that old fork down to see if it's serviceable. It'll save you money in the long run if you give it the TLC it needs and get your bike rolling again.

If you REALLY DO like riding mtb, you'll go a LOT farther with saving for a bike that's better than entry level. When you move into this next classification of bikes, you start to see divergence in geometry depending on the intended use of the bike. If the geometry fits you and if your riding style matches the intended use of the bike, now that's going to be something that'd be worth fiddling around with the components on to dial it in for your use. Not only will the geometry be optimized for certain uses, but the materials and the construction will be optimized for certain uses. You want a light, fast xc bike? You can find that. Want a bike that's stronger and built for bigger, rowdier descents and technical riding? You can find that, too. Want a versatile workhorse that can do a little of everything? You can find that, too.

you would have trouble flipping for $200 in a year when you upgrade your hardtail
Yeah, the rest of the bike will ALSO hold back resale value. You'd get more money selling the used fork on its own than you would selling that fork attached to a low end 9yr old Scott. A high end fork on an entry level bike will make that bike harder to sell later, honestly. You won't be able to ask very much more for it to account for the fancy parts bolted on. The people looking for an entry level hardtail won't be willing to spend on it. And most people looking for a bike with a nice fork won't be interested in something with an entry level frame.

I wouldn't bother with buying a replacement fork unless you absolutely have to. And if so, I'd be keeping my spend under control on it. As others have recommended, there are forks out there that would work well without requiring you to spend a ton on something really fancy.
 

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Do not spend $700 for a fork for that bike. As others have said, it is a poor use of funds. The Manitou will get you virtually the same performance as the Fox. I am of the camp, don't do more than needed to make the bike comfortable and ride decently with the idea of saving towards a newer bike with newer geometry and better components. You may want to consider a 120mm or so full suspension bike if it will be your one bike for everything.

Right now the market it tight for bikes due to supply side limitations and higher demand by all the people who normally go to the gym are buying them and riding. As we head into summer, this will hopefully change and the used market may go back to more normal, where you can pick up a nice 2-3 year old bike for 40-50% of its new price.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
One important aspect here is that bike geometry can make a huge difference. An old, entry level bike isn't made to go fast. In fact, these bikes often start feeling sketchy if you start going fast off road in gnarly terrain. They're meant more to be generalist bikes. They have more upright riding positions because bike manufacturers know that MOST people who buy these will never actually ride them off road. They're going to ride on paved greenways and around their neighborhood with their kids. College campus bikes. Remote gravel roads. They also happen to be capable enough off road for people to try it out and see if they like it. That upright riding position gives you better visibility. But it sucks for stability at speed. The bike might be easier to handle at low speeds, but given most people who actually ride them, it makes sense.

This is why I advocate at least tearing that old fork down to see if it's serviceable. It'll save you money in the long run if you give it the TLC it needs and get your bike rolling again.

If you REALLY DO like riding mtb, you'll go a LOT farther with saving for a bike that's better than entry level. When you move into this next classification of bikes, you start to see divergence in geometry depending on the intended use of the bike. If the geometry fits you and if your riding style matches the intended use of the bike, now that's going to be something that'd be worth fiddling around with the components on to dial it in for your use. Not only will the geometry be optimized for certain uses, but the materials and the construction will be optimized for certain uses. You want a light, fast xc bike? You can find that. Want a bike that's stronger and built for bigger, rowdier descents and technical riding? You can find that, too. Want a versatile workhorse that can do a little of everything? You can find that, too.
It's this bike: Scott Scale 29 Team 29er Hardtail user reviews : 3.7 out of 5 - 11 reviews - mtbr.com

It's a Scott Scale, so it should share the XC geometry with their racing bikes, right? It just has lower-end components on it and an aluminum frame. I was trying to buy basically the Minimum Viable MTB, something above entry-level that I could properly learn on, but without spending money on expensive componentry I couldn't take advantage of. Seems like a step above something a dad would buy to ride around with their kids, but I don't know that much about mountain biking.
 

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It's this bike: Scott Scale 29 Team 29er Hardtail user reviews : 3.7 out of 5 - 11 reviews - mtbr.com

It's a Scott Scale, so it should share the XC geometry with their racing bikes, right? It just has lower-end components on it and an aluminum frame. I was trying to buy basically the Minimum Viable MTB, something above entry-level that I could properly learn on, but without spending money on expensive componentry I couldn't take advantage of. Seems like a step above something a dad would buy to ride around with their kids, but I don't know that much about mountain biking.
The way you were talking, I thought you might have an Aspect instead. A Scale is a better starting point. But keep in mind that it's still an older bike and it's got very xc geometry, which may not be what suits your riding best.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
The way you were talking, I thought you might have an Aspect instead. A Scale is a better starting point. But keep in mind that it's still an older bike and it's got very xc geometry, which may not be what suits your riding best.
Ha yeah - it certainly seems low-end when the other people at the local trails all have Tallboys and Yetis and such.

Coming from road, I do enjoy going fast up climbs, but as technical skill has improved, I'm finding I like descending more and more. At some point, a trail bike is in the cards, but there aren't many gnarly descents locally (Bay Area), so given market conditions for buying used trail bikes, we figured we'd hold off for a while. Hence the fork rebuild/upgrade!

Thanks for all the advice.
 

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Ha yeah - it certainly seems low-end when the other people at the local trails all have Tallboys and Yetis and such.

Coming from road, I do enjoy going fast up climbs, but as technical skill has improved, I'm finding I like descending more and more. At some point, a trail bike is in the cards, but there aren't many gnarly descents locally (Bay Area), so given market conditions for buying used trail bikes, we figured we'd hold off for a while. Hence the fork rebuild/upgrade!

Thanks for all the advice.
Yeah, I think you'd be much better served by a modern trail bike. Perhaps you could codge together your current fork until you can better afford a modern bike.
 

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Ha yeah - it certainly seems low-end when the other people at the local trails all have Tallboys and Yetis and such.

Coming from road, I do enjoy going fast up climbs, but as technical skill has improved, I'm finding I like descending more and more. At some point, a trail bike is in the cards, but there aren't many gnarly descents locally (Bay Area), so given market conditions for buying used trail bikes, we figured we'd hold off for a while. Hence the fork rebuild/upgrade!

Thanks for all the advice.
I think you are pursuing a wise strategy. Not sure where you are on the bay area, but if you want to have a go rebuilding your fork and get stuck, I can help you with it. I am in the east bay (Walnut Creek area).

Also, as I am sure you know, don't worry about what others are riding. I have seen many people on $6,000 bikes that have the suspension so poorly set up, they would be better off on a full rigid. I have also been held up by enduro bros on their 160mm bikes while following them down trails on a hardtail. Other times, I have had my ass completely smoked by kids on a $500 completely crapped out bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #39 (Edited)
I think you are pursuing a wise strategy. Not sure where you are on the bay area, but if you want to have a go rebuilding your fork and get stuck, I can help you with it. I am in the east bay (Walnut Creek area).
Wow, thanks! I'm just up the road in Oakland. Where do you normally ride? We mostly ride Joaquin Miller, Crockett, and China Camp. I also love Tamarancho, but my wife has been complaining she wants to work on technique before we go back there :) I did the fire roads around Chabot the other day, which was a good workout but kinda boring. Lots of fire roads in the East Bay. Would rather ride Zwift or go for a run honestly.

For $230, I figure I can get the Markhor, then for an extra $15 I can rebuild the existing fork, and try some trailside swaps from one to the other to do a comparison. Worst case, I'll sell the Markhor at a net loss of say $100 and put the rebuilt fork back on. Best case, I have a slightly better fork, better understanding of differences among forks, and I can put the rebuilt fork onto my wife's bike (we have the same Scale . . . also the reason to wait to upgrade to trail bikes - everything needs to be purchased 2x).

Also, as I am sure you know, don't worry about what others are riding. I have seen many people on $6,000 bikes that have the suspension so poorly set up, they would be better off on a full rigid. I have also been held up by enduro bros on their 160mm bikes while following them down trails on a hardtail. Other times, I have had my ass completely smoked kids on a $500 completely crapped out bike.
Oh yeah. Even up at Joaquin Miller, lots of people walking their long-travel bikes wearing full DH protective gear, but also lots of legitimately good riders with similar kit. Road seems even worse - guys who could stand to lose 30lbs riding $10k weight-weenie bikes with carbon bottle cages, and meanwhile I used to race with a guy who would ride away from fields on an old steel frame. Seems pretty common in gear-based sports :) when I was doing track days, it was fairly common to see a great driver in a Spec Miata pass Porsches and Lotuses, etc. etc. etc.
 

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Trailside fork swaps? Nah, you're not gonna do that. Talk about a pain in the ass. Go ahead and try it once to see what I'm talking about. You'll need a 2nd crown race for your extra fork. You'll have to be extra careful you don't drop headset parts in the dirt. You'll need a work stand. You'll have to be really finicky about aligning the front brake caliper when you swap it over. You'll have to make sure the steerer tubes are cut the exact same length before you even start, so you don't have to worry about different spacer stacks.

Also, I wouldn't recommend just buying 2 of whatever of the same thing for the two of you. There's really no good reason to do that.
 
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