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Hello All, First post on here so bear with me:

I have a '98 Schwinn Mesa, I'm pretty sure it's all stock. The forks are absolutely atrocious. I wanted to ask someone more experienced and knowledgeable than myself what my best bet would be. I am considering upgrading the front forks and just riding it to death until I can afford to purchase something nicer, or if I should buy a nicer used entry level bike. The only thing that REALLY bothers me currently are the old RST 261 forks that feel like they have maybe 30 or 40 cm of travel. Any advice would be much appreciated!
 

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New Bike.

Your gonna have a hard time finding part upgrades that will fit a bike from 98. Additionally, the tech over 15 years has changed tremendously. I would say ride what you have if you still can and save the $$ for a new (or used..but newer) bike.
 

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3rd on the new(er) bike. You will be amazed at how the bike tech has advanced in the time since your bike was new. Upgrading it will be (and I mean this in the nicest possible way :) ) a total waste of money. Even a 2-3 year old 2nd hand bike will be a massive upgrade and the level of equipment won't be too far off what's around brand new today.
Keep your current bike for a commuter and put your money into some much nicer.
 

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I had a Schwinn Mesa! The GSX model, probably a '99, but I'm not really sure.

There are two angles you can take, and it depends on how much you like to tinker, what you're comfortable spending, and what kind of head tube your Mesa has.

If you generally like the bike and the drivetrain's in good shape, you could get a new fork, mechanical disc brake caliper and rotor, and front wheel. A worthwhile package for this approach probably starts around $450. You MUST have a 1-1/8" threadless headset for this to be in the cards. I can't remember if the Mesa had gone to that standard in '99.

You can probably pick up a secondhand bike that would be an improvement for about $500. So if you're trying to do this for not much money, it's really kind of a wash.

For less money than that, a rigid fork is about $75 and you should be able to find one that's compatible with all your existing stuff.

The advantage to a new fork is you can choose whatever XC fork you want, assuming your bike can take 1-1/8" threadless and you're okay with a new wheel and brake to go with it.

The monkey wrench in the works is that secondhand bikes with nice forks sometimes go quite cheap. My roommate had a nice Scott with a Fox F100 on the front that she bought for $600. Totally kicked myself for having bought my MTB retail.

The other monkey wrench is that it can take some time to look at used bikes and you need to be able to check them out somewhat and you're likely to want to plow some money back in shortly after purchase. A nice fork of unknown provenance is probably worth a rebuild, for example.
 

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Marzocchi Bomber 2001 Suspension Fork Shock | eBay

If everything else is pretty serviceable and you mainly want to upgrade the fork, the old Bombers are very durable, will take v-brakes, function well, and you can still get seals for them. Would probably be my first choice for low $$.

The Z1 models have ~4" travel, while the Z2's have closer to 2".
 

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I have a '98 Mesa, the low-end steel model with black and goldenrod paint. It doesn't hold a candle to my Trek, but was a big step up from my son's Wal-Mart bike I was riding :). I still have it for a spare and for use on a trainer.

Anyway, yeah, definitely replace it. It has a threaded headset.

I will keep my eyes open for a bike with a rigid fork that someone is throwing away and replace the RST.
 

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Just because its threaded doesn't mean it can't be upgraded to thread less. As long as it is 1-1\8". Manitou makes a nice oil damped fork with v brake mounts their around $250-300. Model is the Match comp, get a $25 headset and $30 stem and you've got a decent coil spring suspension fork with rebound, lockout and compression.

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There is lots of 1-1/8 threaded. Mostly used on comfort and department store mtb. Auntour makes a $90 aftermarket 100mm travel coil spring non damped fork for $90. 1" threaded or threadless, and 1-1/8 threaded or threadless

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I ride a 2002 GT Aggressor 1.0. It's been a great bike, but it is worn out. I took a ride on a friend's 2012 Giant Trance and it really is a night and day difference in what ten years did to bike technology. I'm now in the market for a new bike.
 
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