Author Topic: Fork upgrade  (Read 559 times)

Svend

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Fork upgrade
« on: September 07, 2012, 01:21:57 pm »
Further to the bike upgrade project thread, as I mentioned, I will also be upgrading the fork on my wife's bike.  There is a 2008 model Rockshox Recon SL on there now, with 80mm travel.  I would like to put something lighter on there, with more "sophisticated" ride.  On the latter, I don't get the impression that the Recon has the most plush and silky feel to it, although I have not ridden the bike.  But a more advanced fork seems like a very worthwhile investment and should improve control in tricky terrain like rock gardens, gravel beds, root-bound trails, etc.

The biggest question regards fork travel:  if I increase travel to, say, 100mm, will this mess up the geometry of the bike? I know I will get a more slack front end, but I am not sure how much.  1 degree? More? This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the bike is plenty agile as it is so may not lose much there, but may gain a bit of descending stability. 

Further, this will raise the BB height somewhat, which is also not necessarily a bad thing (not sure on this, though).

But what will also change, and this is where I am most concerned about the possible drawbacks, is that the seat tube angle will be altered, and the front end of the bike will be higher. 

Overall, I do not want to adversely affect the overall balance of the bike and its handling.  The bike fits my wife perfectly -- the shop took almost 3 hours to properly fit the bike to her body and riding style, and after more than 3 years of riding, I have not changed a thing except for raising the bars by a couple of centimeters to alleviate some shoulder and neck pain.  She feels very balanced and in control in all terrain.  She loves the way it handles in tight singletrack, climbing, accelerating....the works. 

So, guys, if I mess up the geometry and balance, I'm in the proverbial doghouse.  And winters are very long and very cold here in Canada  ::)

Otherwise, on other tech details, I will try to get adapters for the hubs of the Mavic Crossride wheels to a allow QR15 fork to be used.  This should be possible, and if so, would be great.  If not, I am stuck with 9mm QR.

As for brands and models, I can get a good deal through a local shop on Rockshox SID models, which I hear are well respected.  My father-in-law has a SID on one of his bikes, and swears by it.  Solid, trouble free, easy maintenance, great performance.  Am I on the right track here...?

Otherwise, there have been some good deals on Magura lately, which have an excellent reputation and a great warranty and customer service. 

Another option:  our youngest daughter's bike has an older Marzocchi race fork that is a seriously nice piece of hardware -- light, extremely smooth feel, very adjustable, great build quality.  If I can find a similar one, I wouldn't hesitate.

Any thoughts...?

Thanks to all in advance for the help.

« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 01:27:20 pm by Svend »


epic

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2012, 02:49:11 pm »
I wouldn't worry about the geometry changes in the least. 20mm is a small change, and with the increased travel you will probably be running a little more sag too, so it might be a change of less then 20mm. You may also be able to get a headset with lower stack height which would minimize it further.

WRT the wheels, you probably don't need an adapter, you may already have an adapter - from 15mm to 9mm. To find out if you do, just take out the QR halfway, and see if you can push it cockeyed, then whack it with a mallet and see if the 9mm endcap pops out leaving you with a 15mm thru-axle repeat on the other side and you are good to go.

I'm kind of a Fox guy, but any of the forks you are talking about could be good. The Magura is pretty intriguing. In terms of having customer support though, I'd say Fox and RS are your best bets, the others all seem pretty shaky.

Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2012, 03:14:32 pm »
Hey, any time I can whack something and make it work, it makes me happy.  Sounds brilliant -- I will try it tonight and see if it pops out.  Hopefully the older Crossrides had this design.

And good feedback on the geometry.  I hadn't considered the sag.  But I will not be sharing that little bit of info with my wife.  She will not be pleased to hear she will be getting more sag.  I'll be the one getting whacked....by one of her bike shoes.

Not sure what kind of headset is on the bike now -- Cane Creek, I think -- but I will check it out and see if there is room for something slimmer.

I too have a Fox on my bike, and am very happy with it.  Has great ground feel and excellent control.  I can't get a good deal on one, though, like I can on a SID, so Fox may be out just on price alone. 

Thanks for the reply!

« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 03:15:58 pm by Svend »

Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2012, 12:01:11 pm »
WRT the wheels, you probably don't need an adapter, you may already have an adapter - from 15mm to 9mm. To find out if you do, just take out the QR halfway, and see if you can push it cockeyed, then whack it with a mallet and see if the 9mm endcap pops out leaving you with a 15mm thru-axle repeat on the other side and you are good to go.

Hi Epic,

I checked out the front hub, and I don't think that this will work.  The hub is designed as follows:
 the sealed bearings are covered by dust caps; the dust caps are held in place by nuts which  thread onto the axle; these nuts are in turn held in place by outer lock nuts; and the QR skewer runs through the whole thing inside the axle.  The whole arrangement looks somewhat like an updated version of an old cup and cone bearing hub assembly. 

Taking out all the parts which would be incompatible with a QR15 (ie. the axle, dust cap nuts and the lock nuts), leaves just the thin little dust caps and the bearings.  Unless I am misunderstanding how the QR15 system works, and I am totally missing something in this picture, I think I definitely need an adapter.  But all my searches on the web have not turned up anything for this model of Crossride, so I don't think such an adapter exists.  Unless I want to swap the hubs or the whole front wheel (not going to happen), it seems I am stuck with 9mm QR. 

On an up note, I did discover that the travel on some XC forks can be changed from 80mm to 100mm with the use of a spacer.  So if we go with 100mm, and the bike doesn't feel right, then we can easily switch back to 80.  Nice!

« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 12:08:48 pm by Svend »

Liam

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2012, 12:27:36 pm »
I wouldn't spend the money it cost to purchase a quality aftermarket fork (650-1000.00) if I were still stuck with a 9mm QR axle.  I'd pony up the money to get a new thru-axle compatible front wheel as well, or I'd just decide to be happy with what I already had. 

And, once you've decided to buy a new after market fork and wheel...you might as well buy a new bike and get all new and updated components.

That being said, a 2012 (or newer!) 100mm RS Reba or Fox Float, would feel nicer, smoother and stiffer (laterally) than the OEM Recon that came on your wife's bike.   Though, the recon is plenty of fork for most riders.

AS far as geometry and balance, I'm willing to bet that going from 80mm of travel to 100mm with the new slacker Head Angle and slightly higher BB will probably feel better to your wife than what she presently rides (as it would for most folks.).




Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2012, 01:19:40 pm »
Hi Liam,

I don't think I would be entertaining this if the fork cost that much, but I have an "in" with a local shop and can get an aftermarket one at a very good price.  Also, I have seen some Magura Durin models going at outlet prices for around $350.  At those kind of prices, plus a new stem and bars, we're talking a reasonable upgrade cost -- probably less than $550 or so.  For that cost, this is worth doing.  As I mentioned, the frame is a keeper, wheels are good, drivetrain is good.  But if the upgrades pushed north of $1000, she would be looking for a new bike, or, as you say, just staying content with what she has.

Thanks for the confirmation on the longer travel / slacker head angle question.  I was watching her riding yesterday, and noticed that she is totally comfortable in virtually all conditions, except downhills.  She is quite cautious there, and doesn't just lay off the brakes and let fly.  I asked if the bike feels too twitchy and unstable when descending, and she couldn't really pin it to that, but will pay attention next ride and report back again.  But climbing (even rough terrain), tight hairpins, rocks, sand, roots, are all no sweat....just a breeze.

A good test might be to have her ride our daughter's bike for a few hours (which is actually a better spec'd and built bike than either of her parents own  ::))  It has a more slack front end and longer travel fork; same frame size.  It would be interesting to see if she prefers the handling over her own.


PS:  I don't think I will be upgrading the brakes just yet, but will try better quality pads first and see if they perform better.  I have had good luck with Jagwire pads on my own bike, so will try those first.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 01:40:05 pm by Svend »

bushwacka

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2012, 06:03:05 am »
well first to be a good/great decender on hardtail especially a 26 inch XC angle hardtail require kung fu skill level. Most people do not have it, and those that do have it usually do not ride 26 inch XC angle hardtails. the easiest way to go faster DH is to get a full suspension trail bike.

The next easiest way is to get wide sticky low pressure tubeless rubber.

some other things that help, brakes that allow ONE FINGER braking. bars set at the right height and with enough width. different for everyone but so many people still run bars that are much to narrow on a stem much to long IMO.

on the fork.

I have run 100mm fork on bikes not designed for them for quite a while, I just ran them sagged a ton giving me a more complaint ride with out messing with the geo to much. Honestly is seems like your wife could beneift from a higher front end.

I would not mess around with a QR fork at all if buying a new one.

I have used Fox, Rock Shox, and marzochi.

Fox IMO have had the worst feel out of the box, with the exception of 34 and 36. They are no user friendly during service and have bad taste in my mouth after my 1 year old Float 32 RL killed its seals, got bushing scores on the stanchions and now needs a ton more part than I really want to put into it. I will say this if you get one, get it and put lighter weight oil in it since your wife will be to light for the stock oil. admittly I never did any maintence to that damn thing but I have also ran rockshox for years with out touching even the oil and they never did that to me. fox is pretty easy to deal with. If I had a bike that came with a 34 or 36 though I would probably keep it and just make sure I take better care of it.

Rock shox has by the easiest fork to work on, and with that said they never need worked on for the most part. the reba/sid are both great complaint and plush fork while pedaling great. The RLT is a nice damperner but the RCT3 is amazing. You can probably get a close out dual air fork for pretty cheap. easiest company to deal with the bike business IMO.

Marz - easily the best feeling forks I have ridden might not pedal as well as the rockshox but going down they feel great. can be hard to find, and the company has had issue in recent years leading to customer service problems.

Liam

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2012, 11:26:26 am »
True on the Marzocchis:  I used to have a very slack Hard Tail with a 1st generation Marz Monster T Jr.--wonderful fork!  I had an old Z1 coil as well on another bike.  Yeah, forks have gotten lighter, and air spring technology is amazing now, but I miss the bullet proof, smooth feel of those older marzocchi coil and oil forks.

I haven't seen a high end Marzocchi on a bike in years, though.  But I know they are still out there  (and stil making great MXer forks as well.).

Svend, note that Bush and I both agree a QR fork isn't worth the upgrade.   Try the bigger, Tubeless tires first, maybe?

Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2012, 12:07:34 pm »
Thanks guys.  As usual, some straight-up advice and great replies.  I appreciate it.

And yes, as for the fork upgrade, I think you guys might be right.  Even at $350 to $400, it's probably not worth it.  She would get better improvement in handling and control with high quality / high volume tires run tubeless, better brake pads for smoother braking (I hope), a slightly wider bar (preferably carbon), and a more solid stem (Thomson).  I will check out the tech sites to see what I can do to tune the fork -- perhaps lighter oil; play around with sag and rebound settings....?  I finally splurged and bought a high-quality shock pump (SKS, German made), so now I can fine tune the pressures quite easily.

Interesting comments on Marzocchi.  There are two of their forks on our bikes -- our eldest daughter still has an older GT bike with a Z-1 fork (nice smooth feel; bomb-proof build); and our youngest daughter's Norco EXC hardtail has an MX Pro, which is about 4 years old, and is just a great fork too (lots of adjustment possibilities; very silky feel).  I am impressed with their quality overall, but as you mentioned, you don't see much of them in the shops here as aftermarket, or as OE on new bikes.

Back to my wife's bike upgrades, her father (the bike nut on Vancouver Island) called me this morning with an offer we may not be able to refuse.  He has an '08 Norco Faze One full suspension XC bike that he rarely rides, in mint shape, in her size, and was wondering if any of the ladies in the family would be interested?  Heck, yes! Full XTR, including the wheels and brakes; Fox fork and shock; Horst suspension....a very, very nice bike.  He will measure it up to make sure the standover and top tube will fit, and if so, we might have another bike in the shed soon.  Specs are here: 
http://www.norco.com/2008bikes/templates/model/enlarge.php?id=30&view=&deets=2.
Being a Canadian company, you guys may not be familiar with Norco's bikes, but their upper-end stuff is really well made and designed.  Great build quality.  They are based in North Vancouver, so have the North Shore scene and Whistler as their testing grounds. 

If this works out, I may just do the above-mentioned minor upgrades to her hardtail, and she can ride the Norco on the gnarly trails.

« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 12:11:28 pm by Svend »

Liam

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2012, 12:10:17 pm »
Nice on the Norco....Horst Link Designs still rule.


jim-ratliff

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2012, 01:13:40 pm »
If this works out, I may just do the above-mentioned minor upgrades to her hardtail, and she can ride the Norco on the gnarly trails.
Or she could ride and enjoy the plush Norco ride all the time?
I wonder what the difference in total weight between the two really is?
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Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2012, 01:27:30 pm »
Not sure, but I am going to guess about 3 lbs or so.  Her Opus hardtail is pretty light.  And stiff.  And fast.....  ::)

Edit:  no specs online on weight of the Opus complete bike, but frame weight is only 1150 grams / 2.53 lbs (but they don't say what size that is for).

FWIW, one of the reasons I was considering the fork upgrade (aside from performance gains), was weight saving.  The Recon fork on there now is just over 4 lbs, whereas the higher end RS / Magura / Fox models are about one pound less.

I don't know how much she would like the full-suspension ride as her daily driver.  She sure likes the responsiveness, acceleration and climbing power of her hardtail.  Very quick and agile little bike.  I can see her picking the latter for the smooth trails in our local forest -- I've mentioned this before, but the local singletrack is really pretty smooth and flowy.  We also do regular rides on a flat gravel rail trail just for a constant cardio workout.  However, we do ride about once or twice a month in some forests where there are bigger rocks and rock gardens, heavily root-bound trails, and generally more challenging conditions where some extra cush in the rear end would certainly help out.

« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 01:49:41 pm by Svend »

jim-ratliff

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2012, 02:48:38 pm »
Yeah, but that's all in the context of never having ridden a good full-suspension bike.
She might try it and decide that she likes the full suspension. At least might wait on upgrades until she tests the Norco.

I will say that there have been several times that letting the bike run on a downhill gravel road is really exhilirating, especially since I earned it on the uphill side.  I'm not young enough to want to stand and use my legs for shocks the whole way, and I don't think I would have the nerve to do it on a hardtail. Lower tire pressures have given us the control to feel comfortable going faster, but the rear suspension keeps us upright on the bike. I hit a sequence of two big potholes at 30 miles per hour when I didn't see them in time to avoid them -- my first reaction was a bit of amazement that my tubeless tires were still with me, the second was how much a non-event it was compared to the 'Ohh ****, this may not be pretty' when I first saw them.

A rear suspension will certainly obviate the need to a 'more plush' bike seat.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 03:11:51 pm by jim-ratliff »
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Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2012, 03:24:31 pm »
Well, from your perspective, it's all in the context of never haven ridden a good hardtail bike.  Back atcha!  ;D 

Just remember our background for a moment, Jim.  Started riding 1989 (23 years ago) on steel frame rigid bikes.  Riding basically the same trails we do today, except now there is actually trail maintenance done, whereas back then it was whatever nature carved (ie. rougher, gnarlier, poor drainage, more mud).  No real choice of tires -- Specialized Ground Control or Panaracer Smoke/Dart, that was it.  Learned to use good balance and body english for handling, and all limbs and joints for suspension.  So going to a light modern hardtail with a front fork was a piece of cake.  Keeping our butts off the seat and absorbing terrain with legs and arms and hips, and moving fore-aft and sideways for balance is just second nature....instinct.  I wouldn't ride any other way, even on a full-suspension bike -- you need to move around on the bike for balance and control, that's all there is to it, hardtail or not.  Plus, it's dynamic and fun, and when you've done it from day 1, it's easy.

That said, I have never been against full-suspension bikes.  Just that for most of the terrain around here, and given the bikes we rode on for almost 20 years, they are overkill and just add weight and suck power which is not offset by any great corresponding benefit.  OTOH, we are venturing farther afield more often, and are getting into rougher terrain that can be quite taxing for a rider on an aluminum 26er hardtail.  So a full-suspension bike makes perfect sense.  But for a daily ride in the local woods or rail trail? Not so much....

« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 03:30:30 pm by Svend »

jim-ratliff

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2012, 03:32:15 pm »
Well, from your perspective, it's all in the context of never haven ridden a good hardtail bike.  Back atcha!  ;D 
Excellent response.  ;)
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jim-ratliff

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2012, 03:35:48 pm »
But the upgrade to a front suspension bike from the rigid frame bike was a good decision??  Hmmmm. 8)
Jus' sayin'
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 03:39:20 pm by jim-ratliff »
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Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2012, 05:17:49 pm »
Yes, of course it was.   ::) Sigh....    However, the modern hardtail, aluminum frame with fork, is about 6 to 8 lbs lighter than our old steel frame rigid bikes were.  And it has a better drivetrain, better brakes, better geometry, greater ability to customize fit (changeable stems, etc.), than the old bikes had.  So there were other very good reasons for upgrading, beyond just the presence of a front fork.

I wish you had been here two days ago for our ride through our forest, or last Tuesday evening to watch the weekly race there.  You would have seen quite a number of 26er and 29er hardtails, and an equal number of rigid 29ers with just a carbon fork.  My point is that the trails here are not rough or gnarly or overly technical.  So we, and many local riders, including racers, elect not to carry the extra 3 to 5 pounds that rear suspension adds, just to smooth out a few roots and small rocks.  And many, like the fully-rigid 29er riders, elect to forgo the front fork altogether, in favour of lightness and agility.  But for those who also ride other trails farther away, where more technical and rough terrain does exist, they choose full-suspension, and that is the best choice for them.

Believe me, Jim, looking at some of Josh's pics of the terrain in Vermont, or having ridden the trails on the west coast with my father-in-law, for example -- if those were our local trails, my wife most certainly would be on a full-suss bike.  No question. 

BTW, my wife did test ride quite a number of full-suspension bikes a few years ago, before choosing her hardtail, and decided that she just did not care for the feel and handling.  To her, they felt sluggish, slow accelerating, poor climbers, lazy handling, and not much lighter than her old steel bike.  Designs have improved, and those bikes are much better now, esp with the evolution of carbon frames and lighter components and better rear shocks.  But at the time, she chose the best bike for where we ride, and has never regretted it.

To each his (or her) own....

« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 05:46:40 pm by Svend »

Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2012, 05:41:29 pm »
well first to be a good/great decender on hardtail especially a 26 inch XC angle hardtail require kung fu skill level. Most people do not have it, and those that do have it usually do not ride 26 inch XC angle hardtails. the easiest way to go faster DH is to get a full suspension trail bike.

The next easiest way is to get wide sticky low pressure tubeless rubber.

some other things that help, brakes that allow ONE FINGER braking. bars set at the right height and with enough width. different for everyone but so many people still run bars that are much to narrow on a stem much to long IMO.

Great insight -- thanks Josh.  Yeah, I would definitely like to get her to try a wider bar.  I think hers is too narrow -- it looks like it's cramping her movements.  Only about 585 or 600 mm wide, I think.  I will look for a 620 mm to open it up a bit.

I think the stem is a good length.  She looks comfortable and well supported, neither too cramped or too stretched out; easily able to maneuver hairpins and switchbacks.  Slightly higher bar position might be good....worth trying a spacer under the stem to bump it up a titch.

I have her brake levers positioned inboard of the shift levers, meaning that the end of the brake levers is right about where her index finger sits on the grips.  Whether she actually uses one finger braking, however, I will have to ask and look for.  Good point. 

Also, whether her brakes are powerful enough for that is another question (Avid Juicy 3).  I kind of doubt it.  I have the Juicy 5 on my bike, and I am not overly impressed at their stopping power, or their progressive feel (too grabby, unpredictable).  Better brakes may be in order.  I have ridden a bike with Hayes carbon brakes, and really liked those.


bushwacka

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2012, 05:59:59 pm »
the thing is 620mm is hardly wide.

I know I am probably quite a bit larger but I run 700mm on both my bikes, also if her stem is 'good" now it will not be good if you drastically change the width because going wider effectively makes the reach longer.

on brakes, I am a sram guy, but avids honestly kinda of suck compared to the new ICE tech Shimano brakes. SLX,XT, and XTR all effectively stop the same with the SLX being heavier and cheaper.

Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2012, 06:31:43 pm »
the thing is 620mm is hardly wide.

Hmmm...good point.  Just measured her bars at 585mm.  She is a slim 5'6", and at present, her hands are positioned approx. shoulder-width apart.  An extra inch or so on either side should do it.  Keep in mind she is riding a 26er XC bike, not a 29er or all mtn. / trail bike. 

Good tip on the brakes -- thanks.  What do you know about the new Elixir series? Worth the upgrade from the Juicy 3's?

BTW -- I just checked the Rockshox tech manual for '08, and it seems I can adjust the travel of the Recon fork from 80, 100, and up to 120 mm just by replacing an internal travel spacer, or removing it altogether if we want the full 120 travel.  It means taking the fork apart, but it needs service anyway, so this is easily done. 

« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 06:45:25 pm by Svend »

jim-ratliff

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2012, 08:03:06 pm »
Svend: sigh - just to be clear, i'm just playing Devil's advocate -- but not at all doubting your decisions or logic getting there.


But being able to service and at the same time adjust that fork sounds like a win win.
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Svend

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Re: Fork upgrade
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2012, 08:17:10 pm »
I know you were trying to get me stoked.  It worked  ;D 

And yes, good news on the travel adjust for the Recon.  I am very happy to have discovered that.  This opens up the possibility for more leeway of adjustment of air pressure and sag for more plush ride.  Should be an improvement.  I will have to check to see if different oil viscosity will have any effect -- lighter oil for a lighter rider? This is new territory for me, and I know little about the technicalities of fork tuning.