rigid. I feel like if Im already riding a steel singlespeed I might as well carry that through and ride a rigid fork. Also, I'm young enough to have not collected many injuries that would bother me during a harsh ride. They say it helps for climbing too but I have no personal experience with that.
I already see how this is going to play out. One day I'll feel like I need a little smoother ride and buy a suspension fork, then I might get a 5 speed hub, then maybe a 1x9, and Ill end up as an old man spinning a granny gear up a fire road on a full suspension 27 geared bike.
I ride rigid. It took awhile, but I realized that a suspension fork didn't increase my speed anywhere. To be honest, I'm more than a little afraid of speed -- I get to some speed (dependent on terrain, fitness, freshness, and general level of anxiety) and I just don't want to go any faster, and that upper limit is not set by the lack of suspension. So I figure why should I carry the extra weight up hills? My ride time is not limited by arm or back fatigue, so a shock wouldn't do me any good there. Finally, I like a quick handling bike and the small offset of most suspension forks (corrected now on some of the newer models) would require a much too steep of a head angle on the frame, so I went with a custom fork to get the handling I desired.
Suspension fork on a 26" hard tail. The newer forks are really getting good (light weight, durable, lockout etc), I just find myself enjoying the ride more with a suspension fork (and as large a volume tire as will fit). When I started riding there were no suspension forks we all rode rigid. Then I got a Manitou 2 and currently use a 2009 SID Team on my SS and a 2008 Reba on my 1x9.
Maybe if I had smooth single track to ride I would go for a rigid fork but it is roots, rocks and mud so I'll take some cush.
Rigid is the way to go on a SS I used to ride a full suspension because I had bad back and my buddy talked me into going ss and I never rode the FS again.My first ss was a c-dale 1fg and I never locked the fork out.I was amazed from going from fs to hardtail how much was lost in the suspension.One day I finally locked the fork out and I was like holly cow what took me so long to do this.Now I just built up a ss 29er with a carbon fork and love it.What ever you put inot the bike you get out,and the ride is great.I do evrything I used to do with no problems.
Just to add a bit more. I'm faster downhill with a suspension fork, but the downhills are over really quickly. I did a comparison recently on a long downhill - 5mins with suspension, just under 6 with rigid. The same height has to be regained by climbing - I'll more than make up the time lost on the rigid fork in the climb. Even if I was superfast on the downhill and did it in zero time, the better climbing with the lighter rigid makes up for it.
Maybe if you're racing you would go for a fork with a lockout, but I prefer the simplicity of the rigid.
Riding rigid is different. Not better or worse, just different. You need to handle your bike much differently with no suspension. I have a FS gearie that I ride, well, like a FS gearie. When I move over to the SS I want a totally different game. If I had only one bike, a SS, I may consider putting a suspension fork on it, mostly because that way it would be a more all-around-bike and allow me to keep up with the guys on tricked out FS rigs. Riding full rigid and keeping up with the geared duallies on rough, steep, rocky terrain is tough.
It depends on the time of year for me. In winter a lot of the trails round here are pretty soft and boggy anyway, so a suspension fork doesn't make that much difference and although I do ride a lot of technical stuff it's mostly at lowish speeds (because it's pretty tight and steep) and here one advantage of the rigid fork is no brake dive and predictable geometry.
Plus, cleaning is easier and maintenance practically non existant.
In the summer (if we get one - we're talking the British Isles here remember) I'll sometimes swap to suspension forks - just for a change mostly, but also because the trails are harder and dryer (well, maybe....).
For me, I'd say rigid 75% of the time and if I had to, I'd quite happy for it to be 100%.
You learn to live (and ride) with what you've got.
My main ss has some F100X forks on the front. I had a cheapie (Trek Mountain Cycle 850 I think) steel fully rigid bike first, but when I'd do longer rides and team 24hr rides, I just found the back and wrists got too beat up. The new frame is a much better frame (steel & geo wise), and probably would be better than the trek for pain etc (as in less). But, with these forks on it, it's just a dream to ride.
I have a 29er ss with no forks (Kona Unit 2-9), but I've not ridden it properly yet, so don't know how that's going to turn out.
Heavy forks that bounce, would suck, but if you can get some nice forks (to me the F100X is the ultimate xc ss fork), then they can really improve the enjoyment.
I ride both.
I am faster on the hardtail, which is actually lighter than the rigid, but I enjoy both. This time of year I prefer the rigid with all the mud, slush, snow, and ice. I have the rigid set up fixed now too.
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