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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey All,

Total newb question here, so no laughing. At least not too hard, please! :thumbsup:

I'm curious if there are any lightweight, coil sprung forks made with the intention of XC/race use still?

Probably not since air seems to rule the roost for lightweight suspension bits.

I used to ride long ago on an elastomer fork, and now I'm back into riding. A buddy rides freeride/DH and he swears by coil forks. Loves the durability, but mostly loves the feel of the fork. He would build up his ideal bike with a coil fork, regardless of the intended purpose. I love to race, but I'm wondering if there's any forks less than 4.25-4.75lbs with a spring?

Are they going/have they already gone the way of the dodo? Can you tune something like a Recon SL to be even lighter?

Maybe some dumb questions, but I'm really curious. Thanks!
 

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Old man on a bike
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Somewhat depends on the travel of the fork. If you're looking for a light 80-100mm fork it's pretty much air and expensive these days. The Fox VanR 140 is in the low 4 lb range.
 

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Modern air forks are a lot better than you think, and work very well for cross country riding. Don't be afraid to buy one.

There's a user on here named robh who just recently tried air after being a staunch coil guy for a long time. You might want to ask his opinion.
 

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Go back to school
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First off, there are tons of threads about coil vs air. See if you can scrounge on up with a forum search. Other than that...

+1 on bad mechanic

I would say your friend is bias about his coil suspension because he is a downhill/freeride rider. Those guys just want as much small bump compliance as they can get with as little maintenance as possible. There are three main complaints about air suspension...pretty much all have been addressed in late model air suspension.

1. Small bump sensitivity. A lot of people complain that you can not get the same small bump sensitivity as a coil since air inherently uses more o-rings. More o-rings=more stiction=less small bump sensitivity. Also air must use a negitive air chamber which just doesn't behave like a coil.
Counter argument: With better designs and tolerances for both the negative air spring and o-ring stiction the difference is basically indistinguishable . My 2009 Marzocchi 888 ATA's (which is actually an air downhill fork :) ) respond to the lightest lift of my handlebars. Even the 2006 Fox Floats (I own a pair) have great small bump sensitivity.

2. Progression. As the air chamber shrinks throughout the stroke the shock gets harder to compress. This creates a very progressive suspension curve and basically makes the last bit of travel unusable and the suspension behavior way weird.
Counter argument. Over the passed 4 or 5 years this is been the number one complaint. A non linear spring curve yields weird suspension behavior. Even up until 2007 people complained a lot about the progression of their air shock. In 2008 pretty much everyone understood the importance of an over-sized air chamber and pretty much all post 2008 air suspension has a much much more linear spring rate.

3. Maintenance. With o-rings to be lubricated you have to change the oil in your suspension more often. This is true. If you don't want your forks to start leaking air or sinking in travel then you need to change the oil out pretty often. At least once a year.
Counter argument: Doing a simple service on an air shock is 100x easier than a coil. Especially if you have an IFP. I can do a Fox air shock service in about 15 minutes with my only tool being a dental pick.

The benefits over coil though:
1. You don't have to buy a new coil if you don't have the right preload setting. Just change the air pressure.
2. You can externally adjust the travel with an air fork (if provided).
3. It weighs less

If you do choose to go air I would make sure you get a late model fork though. 2009 or 2010 will behave the most like a coil.
 

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At the risk of a recursive loop, +1 on Bikesair; his summation is very good.

He mentions one of my favorite things about an air fork (aside from the weight), which is the ability to infinitely adjust the air spring. The exact same fork works for my 150 pounds as my friend's 230 pounds, all you need to do is adjust the air pressure. I can also add a little pressure to run my fork harder or run it a little low to have it be softer. There's no getting stuck between springs with an air fork.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all very much for the answers.

Bikesair, that was very informative. I appreciate it very much.

I think I will see if I can test a bike with an air fork. Progressive spring rates and small bump compliance is what I'm worried about mostly with the air fork.
 

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Old man on a bike
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There are qualities air suspension simply doesn't duplicate, at least not in any design I've tried. The best shocks and forks are still coil...for a reason. IMHO. Weight isn't that big an issue, nor difference in actual weight between similar models. You may be able to tune an air suspension to your weight by screwing around with it quite a long time, but that's simply not as big an issue with coil even if the coil isn't ideally matched to your weight. Coil is far more reliable. No doubt they have made great gains over the last few years particularly, but the air stuff isn't quite the best yet. It just doesn't feel the same at all. IMHO.

PS Flame on!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the opinions Bikinfool.

To answer your first response question: Yes, I'm looking for something in the 100mm travel range to build up around a 24lb bike for XC racing in South Western BC. Pretty rugged terrain, and some of the races around here definitely push the envelope in terms of what's defined as XC...

The only thing I've really found is the RockShox Recon SL Coil, but it's well over 4.5lbs...

I'm able to try out some bikes at my LBS and hopefully try that, a Reba and an F100 RLC...
 

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Old man on a bike
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agabriel said:
Wasn't the TALAS mech designed to replicate coil feeling with air?
The purpose of the TALAS cartridge is what it stands for (Travel Adjustable Linear Air Spring), to adjust the travel and to keep the spring feeling the same at each setting. I've tried both a 32 and 36 TALAS; went with a Van 32 and Van 36 because they didn't feel coil-like. YMMV.
 

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I figured out where I saw it anyway:
http://bikemag.com/gear/suspension/080105_fox_talas_rlc_suspension_fork_test_review/

"Fox designed the TALAS fork with a secondary air chamber which is (in turn) controlled by an independent floating piston, to create a smooth, coil-spring feel."

I haven't had a chance to ride a TALAS yet so I'm not certain how it will feel (in the spring my SS project will have a 130mm TALAS).
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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I think RS does air-sprung forks right with their dual-air design. That negates a lot of the traditional air-sprung issues and offers a lot of tunability. Unfortunately, the damper-seal at the bottom of the stanchion is pretty weak and keeps giving out on me.

That vanilla suggested above weighs about the same as a Reba SL. You might inquite about the possibility of changing the travel on the vanilla, other wise older Fox vanillas do have less travel and are about the same weight.
 
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