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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
...the relationship between the amount of travel you have, the amount you weigh and the amount of travel you will actually ever use or need. (Need as in xc or am, not dh or fr.)

If you don't weigh much, wouldn't there be a drop off in benefit of increased available travel. Not sure I'm explaining this all that well, but am I right in thinking that my weight could only ever compress any shock so much? Let's say arbitrarily it's four inches...if that were the case, why would you ever get five inches? And along this line...how could you ever know/determine how many inches you would ever use?
 

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T.W.O.
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Tank Girl said:
...the relationship between the amount of travel you have, the amount you weigh and the amount of travel you will actually ever use or need. (Need as in xc or am, not dh or fr.)

If you don't weigh much, wouldn't there be a drop off in benefit of increased available travel. Not sure I'm explaining this all that well, but am I right in thinking that my weight could only ever compress any shock so much? Let's say arbitrarily it's four inches...if that were the case, why would you ever get five inches? And along this line...how could you ever know/determine how many inches you would ever use?
It's easier for me to explain to you using Full suspension bike as an example. You should be able to use plenty of travel on a 5" travel bike front and rear. First you need to set the SAG, it's a negative travel it can usually falls between 25-30% this help keeping the tire tracking the ground when you are riding over dips or holes. If you set the sag right you should be able to use up all of the 5" travel you have on both end.

Riding Mtb requires dynamic weigh shift, loading and unloading of suspension. Say you weight 100lbs you can still load your suspension plenty. You should pump the terrain, to maintain traction and momentum, instead of floating light over stuff all the time anyways.

From time to time I would ride with my friends and his son who weight only 105 tall little fella, he's quite an aggressive rider who can easily bottom the travel just by pumping the terrain.

Remember light hand, heavy foot.

How would you know how much travel you need? It the trail you like to ride and how you are riding it. 4.5-5.5" travel is quite safe in my book, fun uphill, and fun downhill.:thumbsup:
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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There's not a whole lot of relationship, if you're only looking at forks up to 5". Current, decent-quality suspension components are tunable through a massive range of spring rates, whether by air pressure or swapping the spring for a different one. So if you're using the right spring rate for your weight and level of aggression, you'll use the full travel of the fork every now and then.

I don't know if there's a maximum, at least within the range of production MTB forks, that someone who rides off-road would use. I'm sure most of us would be using close to the full travel of a correctly-tuned DH fork by the end of a shuttle day. Longer-travel comes at a cost, though. The gear's often more expensive, it's usually heavier, it can make it harder to handle a bike in tight places, and it can make it harder to maintain a good weight distribution for climbing. I think some of this is even worse for a smaller rider. My thought is you should get the suspension layout that works best for your favorite part of riding, as long as it doesn't have some dealbreaking problem like making it totally impossible to climb if you're riding someplace without shuttles or lifts.

I guess that makes my favorite part of riding climbing singletrack. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
mimi1885 said:
...First you need to set the SAG, it's a negative travel...

I'm going to have to read up on this, I didn't even know this existed.

...this help keeping the tire tracking the ground when you are riding over dips or holes.

That totally makes sense, maybe even gives me some idea of what SAG is.

You should pump the terrain, to maintain traction and momentum,

I don't really understand this. I wonder if it's something I'm already doing and don't know it, or if it's something I should be doing and haven't been.

instead of floating light over stuff all the time anyways.

This is only my third time in the five months I've been riding that I've ridden with suspension and I'm thinking this is something my rigid never does, cause it sure never feels that way. Wondering how I'd know if I was floating light over stuff vs. engaged the way I'm supposed to be.
Thanks, Mimi!!:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
AndrwSwitch said:
...My thought is you should get the suspension layout that works best for your favorite part of riding, as long as it doesn't have some dealbreaking problem like making it totally impossible to climb if you're riding someplace without shuttles or lifts.

I guess that makes my favorite part of riding climbing singletrack. :D
This totally makes sense. I just did a ride that was a very technical 8 miles up and back. That ride made one thing very clear to me, you know how there are people who only do the uphill cause they love the downhill so much? Well, that wouldn't be me. I'd be the wingnut that would keep doing uphill all day if she could. It isn't that I don't like downhill, it's just that I don't find it all that interesting and could never see myself at anyplace with lifts. There are rides I've heard of, that I'd like to do, that people routinely take shuttles for, but even then, I'd probably look into riding up somehow first if I could. I love the challenges going uphill puts you up against, both for the physical endurance it demands and the mental aspect of pushing yourself to the limit. That said, I could do xc all day on alternating days, cause variety is the spice of life:thumbsup:
 

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The amount of travel a bike has, 4,5,6,7 or 8 inches depends entirely on the intended use of the bike and selection should have no bearing on the weight of the rider [within reason].
Generally a 4 inch travel bikes is designed for XC where as a 8 inch bike is DH or serious free ride.
Put simply, As the average size and speed at which you hit jumps, drops, rocks, boulders, holes, G Outs etc increase the amount of travel increases on the bike
A 100lb rider can ride exactly the same bike as a 200lb rider PROVIDED the suspension is set up according to their weight.
Obviously a 200lb rider will compress the suspension more not only by just sitting on the bike [Static sag as referred to earlier] but also when he hits variations in the terrain as they are riding.
As a result the heavier rider needs to increase the spring rate to compensate for his weight, the reverse is true for lighter rider.
I.E. they will need a stiffer spring to provide more resistance to his weight than the 100lb rider.
This is commonly done by increasing air pressure in an air fork or shock or replacing the steel or titanium spring on a coil spring shock or fork with a stiffer one.
Often air forks have the recommened air pressure for rider weight printed on the back of the fork as a guide, just like my new 2011 Rock Shock Reveltion RLTi

A 100lb rider will use every inch of travel and get full benefit from even a monster 8 inch travel DH rig provided the suspension is set up correctly AND if the rider is fast enough or good enough to warrant it.
You will not use all the travel on any bike even if it is set correctly for your weight if you do not ride agressively enough
There is not much point in having a 6 inch travel bike if the rider crawls down all steep, knarly hills and does not get a buzz from pushing the edge now and again.
Choose the bike to suit the riding you like doing
 

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Tank Girl said:
...the relationship between the amount of travel you have, the amount you weigh and the amount of travel you will actually ever use or need. (Need as in xc or am, not dh or fr.)

If you don't weigh much, wouldn't there be a drop off in benefit of increased available travel. Not sure I'm explaining this all that well, but am I right in thinking that my weight could only ever compress any shock so much? Let's say arbitrarily it's four inches...if that were the case, why would you ever get five inches? And along this line...how could you ever know/determine how many inches you would ever use?
No. Any shock or fork better than those at Walmart can be fine-tuned to your weight so that you will maximize the available travel. Most do this via air pressure, some cheaper models do it through different spring weights.

The amount of travel depends on your intended use, which generally depends on the gnarliness of the trail and/or your riding style.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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One of the ski areas near me has finally managed to get the approvals to set up a summer MTB operation. I'd want to ride up from the base at least once, since I like collecting peaks, but there's no way I wouldn't try some shuttle DH if I didn't have to travel to Whistler for it. :D

Do you ski? To me, descending on a mountain bike that's set up right for me feels a lot like skiing off-piste. The time I borrowed a rigid, it felt like skiing off-piste in an area that was tracked out and had gone through some thaw/freeze cycles - much less fun. Still fun, but it's a lot harder to be flowy. Come to think of it, I hike the occasional in-bounds peak, and if the economic slowdown hadn't hit right when I moved, I'd probably have gone through with taking some backcountry skiing classes, and doing some days hiking from the parking lot up.
 

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Tank Girl said:
This totally makes sense. I just did a ride that was a very technical 8 miles up and back. That ride made one thing very clear to me, you know how there are people who only do the uphill cause they love the downhill so much? Well, that wouldn't be me. I'd be the wingnut that would keep doing uphill all day if she could. It isn't that I don't like downhill, it's just that I don't find it all that interesting and could never see myself at anyplace with lifts. There are rides I've heard of, that I'd like to do, that people routinely take shuttles for, but even then, I'd probably look into riding up somehow first if I could. I love the challenges going uphill puts you up against, both for the physical endurance it demands and the mental aspect of pushing yourself to the limit. That said, I could do xc all day on alternating days, cause variety is the spice of life:thumbsup:
Well you know what they say, don't knock it till you try it!

You would be shocked to find out how physically and mentally demanding lift served biking is. And getting on a DH bike for a day at a local resort will push your riding to another level. You learn so much about control, speed, and the ability your bike has to monster truck over things. The first time I rode a full on DH bike at a resort I went back to my hardtail when I got home and found I had a whole new level of control and confidence that I never had before.

But I digress... back to your original question. You should always set your bike up to use the full amount of travel that you have available (this is where setting the sag comes in; video example!). Remember, every fork worth owning has a mechanism for adjusting how firm the spring (or air spring) is. Sometimes it's as easy as pumping up an air chamber, other times it will require swapping springs in the internals of the fork. So in your example, if you could only ever compress your 5" travel fork by 4", then you would need to adjust the spring inside the fork so that you can compress the fork to the full 5". I fear I've made that very complicated, so I hope it makes sense.

How much travel you need is more based on your personal preference. Along with simply the compression distance (i.e. 3", 4", 5"...) you will typically have a bike that is built around that fork length. You get differences in geometry, in particular with a 5" travel forked bike you would get a more slack angle to make steep or rough terrain easier to handle. Now, I'm one of those people who only go up because the downs are so fun so take my advice for what you will; but I will always pick the largest travel bike that makes sense for where I am riding. I either choose my singlespeed hardtail with 80mm of travel in the fork, or my full suspension bike which is 160/170mm travel front/rear. Sounds like a lot, but in many situations the extra suspension helps me climb things that would be much more difficult on a hardtail or shorter travel bike.

Set your suspension up to your weight and run it. If down the line you're looking at a new bike, then try out some different styles of bikes and see what suits you best. As long as you're pedaling, no one can fault you for your bike choice :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
jeffgre_6163 said:
... A 100lb rider will use every inch of travel and get full benefit from even a monster 8 inch travel DH rig provided the suspension is set up correctly AND if the rider is fast enough or good enough to warrant it.
You will not use all the travel on any bike even if it is set correctly for your weight if you do not ride agressively enough
There is not much point in having a 6 inch travel bike if the rider crawls down all steep, knarly hills and does not get a buzz from pushing the edge now and again.
Choose the bike to suit the riding you like doing
Thanks, jeffgre. I think this answers what I was looking for as to how much travel you would need and it seems to be a mix between what kinda trails you are riding and how you are riding them. Your weight seems to only affect how the fork is tuned, not how much travel you need. Does that sound right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
AndrwSwitch said:
One of the ski areas near me has finally managed to get the approvals to set up a summer MTB operation. I'd want to ride up from the base at least once, since I like collecting peaks, but there's no way I wouldn't try some shuttle DH if I didn't have to travel to Whistler for it. :D

Do you ski? To me, descending on a mountain bike that's set up right for me feels a lot like skiing off-piste. The time I borrowed a rigid, it felt like skiing off-piste in an area that was tracked out and had gone through some thaw/freeze cycles - much less fun. Still fun, but it's a lot harder to be flowy. Come to think of it, I hike the occasional in-bounds peak, and if the economic slowdown hadn't hit right when I moved, I'd probably have gone through with taking some backcountry skiing classes, and doing some days hiking from the parking lot up.
Funny this is, I've only skied twice, about ten years apart each time. The last time I went, the guy operating the ropetow said he never saw anyone ski so badly and have so much fun, which unfortunately sounds a lot like the way I ride:eek:

Still, I'd love to try some more downhill skiing and snowboarding, too. I'd really love to try some crosscountry skiing, seems like that would be a great workout. Did some snowshoeing last year which was really fun and totally recommend it, if you've never tried it before:thumbsup:

I do know what you mean though with regard to a rigid feeling choppy and suspension being flowy. I've only ridden with suspension three times in the six months I've been riding and it's really quite a different experience. As I get more time on my hardtail, I'm sure my appreciation for dh will change. It already has after that eight mile downhill I did this weekend. It was brutally technical, something I could never have done on my rigid and yet, I pulled it off on the ht without a single fall or crash, which for me is beyond amazing.
 

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Tank Girl said:
Thanks, jeffgre. I think this answers what I was looking for as to how much travel you would need and it seems to be a mix between what kinda trails you are riding and how you are riding them. Your weight seems to only affect how the fork is tuned, not how much travel you need. Does that sound right?
You got it
You could ride a 4 inch XC bike on a knarly DH track, but the lack of travel and hence bump absorbtion offered by only 4 inches would serious restrict your speed and control even if your suspension was set up spot on for your weight.
As you pick up speed on the same track a longer travel bike becomes more appropriate whether you weigh 100lbs or 250lbs
You dont weigh 250lbs I hope
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
zebrahum said:
Well you know what they say, don't knock it till you try it!

You would be shocked to find out how physically and mentally demanding lift served biking is. And getting on a DH bike for a day at a local resort will push your riding to another level. You learn so much about control, speed, and the ability your bike has to monster truck over things. The first time I rode a full on DH bike at a resort I went back to my hardtail when I got home and found I had a whole new level of control and confidence that I never had before.

But I digress... back to your original question. You should always set your bike up to use the full amount of travel that you have available (this is where setting the sag comes in; video example!). Remember, every fork worth owning has a mechanism for adjusting how firm the spring (or air spring) is. Sometimes it's as easy as pumping up an air chamber, other times it will require swapping springs in the internals of the fork. So in your example, if you could only ever compress your 5" travel fork by 4", then you would need to adjust the spring inside the fork so that you can compress the fork to the full 5". I fear I've made that very complicated, so I hope it makes sense.

How much travel you need is more based on your personal preference. Along with simply the compression distance (i.e. 3", 4", 5"...) you will typically have a bike that is built around that fork length. You get differences in geometry, in particular with a 5" travel forked bike you would get a more slack angle to make steep or rough terrain easier to handle. Now, I'm one of those people who only go up because the downs are so fun so take my advice for what you will; but I will always pick the largest travel bike that makes sense for where I am riding. I either choose my singlespeed hardtail with 80mm of travel in the fork, or my full suspension bike which is 160/170mm travel front/rear. Sounds like a lot, but in many situations the extra suspension helps me climb things that would be much more difficult on a hardtail or shorter travel bike.

Set your suspension up to your weight and run it. If down the line you're looking at a new bike, then try out some different styles of bikes and see what suits you best. As long as you're pedaling, no one can fault you for your bike choice :thumbsup:
Your points are well taken. No doubt having ridden a rigid almost exclusively since I began riding six months ago has informed my view in a very limited way. I've only ridden with suspension three times during that six months and each time I was able to bring new skills/confidence back to my rigid, so I do see what you are saying with regard to lift served dh with a first rate dh bike. I will definately have to give it a try this summer.

Something I don't understand is why your ss ht has less travel than the fs. Seems like you'd want more plushness with the ht.
 

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Tank Girl said:
Something I don't understand is why your ss ht has less travel than the fs. Seems like you'd want more plushness with the ht.
I cut my teeth on 10 years of rigid riding (and I'm not really that old!), so I understand where you're coming from. I'll explain my severe travel difference between my HT SS and my FS bike this way; hardtails are fun, no question there but sometimes I want to push my speed or terrain a lot farther than I can with a low travel bike. A 6" fork on a hardtail is something I'd love to try some day but I feel that the lack of rear suspension lends its self to a lower travel fork to maintain a balanced feel. A 6" travel fork can eat up big hits all day long but you have to remember that the back end is going to go through that exact same knock. I like to keep a bit more of a balanced feed between front and rear. The 6/7" bike comes out for regular trail riding because I love the damn thing. It's going to be a long time until I can justify not having a 6"+ travel trail bike. It's very hard to justify to someone who hasn't tried a bike like that, but my ASR7 climbs technical stuff better than any XC bike I've ever been on despite it weighing over 30 lbs.
 

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ventanakaz
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bad mechanic said:
As you get better that will change. :)
...i secound that big time, when your tech skills get better you'll know what we are talking about. who knows maybe sometime down the road you'll be getting air off jumps. now thats fun...ralph
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
1962 said:
...i secound that big time, when your tech skills get better you'll know what we are talking about. who knows maybe sometime down the road you'll be getting air off jumps. now thats fun...ralph
I'm encouraged to hear this!!! No doubt having a bike with some plushness will make all the difference in the world. As for getting air off jumps...I am so looking forward to that day. There won't be a soul on this planet who'll miss it either because I will be screaming "YEAH BABY, THAT'S HOW IT'S DONE!!!!" at the top of my lungs:D :D :D
 
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