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Fork shock for old mtn bike?

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
Well, I am seriously thinking about actually spending some time on my mountain bike this spring into summer. It's old (1989), but was decent at the time. It doesn't have even a front fork shock, tho, so I'm considering that such might be a good investment for the short term.

Any thoughts on this approach? Any recommendations? I can likely do the installation myself, and, as everyone, would like to keep the costs down.

What I really need to do is buy a new bike, I suppose, but that will have to wait a few years until the savings recovers from lengthy unemployment... :
post #2 of 57


http://forums.mtbr.com/forumdisplay.php?s=6a61314f37b467dad555b4a4ae162b3 c&f=50

http://www.bikemagic.com/forum/forummessages/mps/dt/4/UTN/53341/srchdte/0/last/1/V/6/S P/

Some cheap (ca less than 150 USD) front suspension forks are so heavy and the construction is so cheap that I would rather stay with rigid forks.

Marzocchis make some lower cost forks that I hear great things about (both performance and reliability). Quite often shops have one or two year old models that you pick up a lot cheaper.

[ February 15, 2004, 03:26 AM: Message edited by: DB ]
post #3 of 57
Steve, if it's a 1989, there's a good chance you have a 1" head tube. You will need to measure the head tube before you shop, because if you have a 1" head tube your choices are MUCH narrower.

You can get a decent Marzocchi fork for around $225. The MX Comp is a good fork for the money, I run one on my singlespeed mtn bike. That's probably your best bet if you have a 1" head tube.

If you have the current standard 1.125" head tube, your choices are much broader, but again I would urge you to stick with Marzocchi. Marzocchi forks are "set and forget" items, you don't need to maintain them other than the initial setup and then periodic oil changes (after 6 mos and then yearly) and seal/bushing/wiper replacement after 1.5 years or so.

My favorite online bargain places:

Cambria Bicycle Outfitters -- be sure to check the Hot Deals and Bargain Basement sections

Jenson USA -- always low prices, but check the Hot Deals section

Mtn High Cyclery -- this is an independent shop run by Larry Mettler in Colorado. Larry has EXCELLENT prices on forks. Call him when you learn your steer tube size. Tell him I sent you (Sean O'Neil).

Price Point -- very low and competitive prices, but watch out for "grey market" unwarrantied stuff. They buy lots of overseas overstock and sometimes the Mfr won't warranty the stuff. Usually PricePoint will accept the return that the Mfr won't warranty, but be careful to ask for warranty facts.

Supergo Bike Shops -- Ever-growing chain of shops with physical and internet presence. Their good deals often are VERY good, but watch out for stuff that really isn't cheap at all. There's full-MSRP stuff in there too.

Universal Cycles -- a decent shop run by a decent guy. Pretty knowledgeable staff. Check for their Clearance/Blowout stuff, there are some incredible deals in there.
post #4 of 57

Just in case you're curious, Gonzo is gonzo about bikes; plus, he is steering you in the right direction with his Marzocchi recommendation.

I know money doesn't grow on trees; but, when you are able to, replace your bike. If you need further eveidence of why you should, spend a day on your old ski and boots. Nuf said.

post #5 of 57
Originally posted by Inspector Gadget:

Just in case you're curious, Gonzo is gonzo about bikes; plus, he is steering you in the right direction with his Marzocchi recommendation.

I know money doesn't grow on trees; but, when you are able to, replace your bike. If you need further eveidence of why you should, spend a day on your old ski and boots. Nuf said.

Consider also that the frame was really not designed for that extra fork travel. You are somewhat likely to alter steering response for the worse.

A first-person description of what I speak can be found here:

EDITED to say: REST IN PEACE, Marco !

[ February 15, 2004, 03:55 PM: Message edited by: comprex ]
post #6 of 57
Thread Starter 
Thanks, friends. Given what you've said here, then let me ask the question and wince in anticipation:

For a guy who has "wanted" to get out biking but hasn't been able to make it work due to office life during the dot-com age, what would be a reasonable budget for a new bike? I have friends who head to Moab each year and would love to get to the point that I could join them, and there are tons of trails around Boulder...

So, go easy on the old ticker, but give me the range and your best recommendations, will you?

(BTW, the old bike is a Maruichi [I think that's spelled correctly], bought from a friend who was helping them import in the late 80s/early 90s. It was very nice at the time. But, I get your analogy, IG, believe me!)

Gonz, I'll measure the head tube and let you know. But, I get the geometry issues, too...
post #7 of 57
Your 1989 bike probably has a 1" threaded headset while today's forks are designed for a 1.25" threadless headset. I tried to do the same thing a few years ago - new suspension fork on old bike - and it didn't work for this reason. You can get new steering tubes (top of the fork), but the cost to do this to get a new fork on an old bike was getting to be more than the bike was worth ($250+). Just turn the old mtn bike into a groovy single speed - that's what I plan on going w/ my old, steel-framed, GT Talera.
post #8 of 57
ssh, if you look at higher value brands like Jamis (look Eureka) or Giant (look Ranier) and avoid unnecessaries like rear disc brakes, I would think you could get one for <$750 easy. Musts to get are a front suspension fork, front disc, clipless pedals, and try to veer towards a lighter weight bike. I'd say look at the Giant Ranier first.
post #9 of 57
I have a Bridgestone mountain bike from around 1989. I went through the whole investigation of options and decided not to upgrade it. First, it is hard to find shops that will bother to order a shock for a 1" head. Second, the forks with shocks go straight down causing the front of the bike to raise higher throw the bikes geometry off. Finding a shock that won't cause this is a real pain especially since none of the shop people are familiar with the shocks available for 1" heads. Finally, my old bike is made from crome-moly tubing which is fairly flexible compared to today's aluminum tubing. It rides as smooth as some lower end bikes with shocks.

[ February 17, 2004, 06:29 AM: Message edited by: Rio ]
post #10 of 57
Steve, the amount you can expect to spend will depend on the terrain you likely will ride, and the level of quality & durability you want.

I could write a thesis paper on bike fit and selection, but here are the simple points that I always make.


1. You should be comfortable on the bike. That's primary.

2. You need to know not only that you are comfortable in the static position (seated, not pedaling), but also that the fit and geometry mesh well for your riding style and your body type -- including flexibility.

3. XC racers usually like a position that mimics the road bike -- fairly flat back, more weight on the front wheel. Unless you want to race seriously in XC events, skip the "race" fit.

4. Generally, you want to position your hips relative to the crankset in a way that you're not too far behind the crank (excessive load on the quads) or too far ahead of the crank (excessive load on the hammies/glutes). This is determined by the angle of the seat tube relative to the crank, with measurement referring to deviation from 90deg (which would be a straight-up seat tube).

5. Chainstay length affects handling too. 17" chainstays are more stable and are found on many bikes, especially FS models designed for faster riding on rougher terrain. 16.5 - 16.8" chainstays help you climb faster and make it easier to wheelie, but can cause rear wheel hopping at higher speeds on rough terrain unless you get your weight way back.

6. Top tube length, combined with the length of the stem and the rearward sweep of the handlebar, will control the "cockpit" or "front center" length. You can play with top tube vs stem length combinations. I prefer shortish stems (90mm and shorter) for most situations, because I like responsive steering and a somewhat rear-oriented weight bias. However, when I raced XC I ran 120mm stems and 130mm stems for better climbing and flat section speed. The longer the stem, the more weight on the front wheel, and the more "skittery" it feels when descending steeps. Vice-versa for shorter stems.

7. Hardtail vs Full suspension -- this is a comfort and terrain issue. The younger you are, and the more you wish to develop highly refined technical terrain skills, the more I lean toward HT (hardtail). The less flexible you are, the less fit you are, the more rugged the terrain you'll ride, the more I lean toward FS rigs.


1. Continuing from (7) above... A HT rig will teach you BY NECESSITY to choose smoother lines. Whether you want to suffer by getting beat up and bounced around while you learn line selection is another issue. Think of a very stiff (torsional and longitudinal) ski with lots of metal sandwich, trying to ski it in the bumps when you don't know how to ski bumps well. It tosses you about, shows your every balance and technique error, and even can punish you. But when your technique is good, it races through the bumps. HT rigs are just like that. Compare a mid-line FS bike to a forgiving ski that does a lot of things well, but has a somewhat dampened/deadened feel (i.e. K2 5500).

2. Components -- nobody needs topline components. Truly. They are an ego thing. For VERY frequent riders, one step down from the top is best, perhaps even 2 steps down. In Shimano, that means XT or LX, but not XTR. In SRAM, that means X-9 or X-7, but not XO. Then you have to choose shifter types, which means trigger only from Shimano, or triggger OR twist shifter from SRAM. SRAM's trigger is different from Shimano's in that Shimano uses the thumb for one shift direction and the forefinger for the other direction. SRAM uses just the thumb for both shifts.

3. Suspension -- forks and shocks are getting very sophisticated. Which ones to choose can be confusing and sometimes frustrating. Because it's highly subjective, I'd say that you should just go pick out a few different bikes to ride, ride them for demo, and then post your thoughts here. I can tell you a lot more about actual in-use characteristics once you tell me the particular setup. Too hard to go through all of them up front.

4. Cost -- the big bugaboo. Honestly, I think that if you care at all about your equipment in ANY way, you should plan on spending at least $1000. There are decent bikes below that amount, but most of them are relatively poor quality rigs. What you are paying most for is a good frame, and frankly, I don't think that any bikes that retail regularly below $1k have good frames.

Those are primer thoughts. I'll post more as you do more looking into what's available, and post on your own impressions.


Also, re Rio's and aschir's comments...

As Rio mentioned, steel frames are the BEST choice for HT rigs, bar none. You can't duplicate steel's combination of ride quality, affordability, and repairability.

aschir mentioned some bikes down around the $500-700 mark. they will work, yes. if you get serious about riding, you'll want a nicer bike. I assume you will get more technical and serious given your posts re. skiing in this forum. that's why I said $1000. a bike below that point certainly will work, but if you start to take riding seriously, it's got too many weak points, the main of which are the reduced frame quality (uncomfortable ride) and cheap components (wear out with frequent use). for a person who rides one day/week, they would be fine... maybe.

[ February 16, 2004, 01:01 PM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #11 of 57
Thread Starter 
Gonz, thanks! That's an awesome starter kit. I'm going to print that off and carry it around as I visit some local shops. I do have friends with pretty serious rigs, so I'll talk with them about the "whys" for them in Boulder county. I'll likely do most of my riding around here, but will want to visit slickrock country and the mountains periodically.
post #12 of 57
Thread Starter 
aschir01 and Rio, thanks for your thoughts, too. This gives me a lot of grist for the process (which, as you know from my ski demo posts, I live on!).
post #13 of 57
These guys have some pretty good deals on complete bikes: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mountain_bikes.htm. Supergo (mentioned above) has some good deals on complete bikes.

The price of complete bikes from these discount places is often less than what you'd pay for an entire groupo. I'm getting a custom road frame/fork made but will buy a complete bike from one of these discount places, strip the groupo and put it on the custom road frame and build up the discount frame with my old components. Free frame!

Point being, if you don't like the free frame that comes with your groupo, you can always get a custom frame. Some custom frame shops (like curtlo.com) are very reasonable $-wise.

Other thoughts...

Get disc brakes (Avid mechanical) or at least disc compatible frame/fork
Get a lighter bike (I wouldn't go over 24 lbs personally)
Don't get top of line components (XTR, get XT or LX)
Dual suspension sounds better as I get older
post #14 of 57
ssh, as with skis, people are very partial to the bikes they ride. I love my 2002 Kona Caldera and in that mindset I would recommend the Kona 2004 Caldera ($1000) or Cinder Cone ($800). These Kona aluminum frames are bombproof and relatively light. That's my latest biased $0.02...
post #15 of 57
I agree that Kona makes great frames, but remember that they're designed principally for riding in PacNW conditions with softer soils -- their hardtails are quite stiff (except the VERY nice Explosif with True Temper OX Platinum tubing) and will epitomize everything uncomfortable about riding a HT. For Kona-like geometry in an affordable steel HT, check out the Cove Handjob.

Also, I agree with Darrell about disc brakes. I've been pretty disc-dependent for the past 2 seasons and just about forgot that some bikes still come with v-brakes. Avid Mech Discs are the best bargain, great power & modulation, easy setup... but they are heavier, and some folks think that matters. IMHO it doesn't. I have an Avid Mech on the front of my singlespeed, which incidentally is a Curtlo (Darrell mentioned Curtlos), and I put Avid Mechs on the front and rear of my new trail/light FR rig:

I disagree with Darrell about the weight. I don't want to belabor the point, but the issue isn't so much the overall weight -- it's really more how the weight is distributed. 24 lbs is not achievable for me even on my bare-bones singlespeed, mainly because I like heavier tires & tubes. But I can make my SS weight 23 lbs if I put on light XC tires & tubes. Basically, you should decide what type of bike you want FIRST, and then we can talk about how to equip it so that the weight is minimized in the proper way.
post #16 of 57
Cheap Mountain Bike - Ebay.
post #17 of 57
Forget about the fork - it'll likely throw your geometry off, add weight, and give you other headaches even if it fits. I suggest to get fat new set of tires and have fun with it. Your steering will be much more accurate without it anyhow.
post #18 of 57
AdamA = retrogrouch extraordinaire? [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #19 of 57
Get the April issue of Bicycling Mag for their new bike buyers guide and check out MBT Review

Lots of good deals on last years leftovers in bike shops around the Denver/Boulder area in the spring.

Good luck in your search.

post #20 of 57
good info from Bong, but...

1) MTB Review has a lot of bogus and worthless reviews. A lot of them are "praise-fests" posted by people who spent lots of $$ on something and are trying to convince themselves of the wisdom of the purchase. Rare to see low ratings on any bike.

2) MTB Review is full of people who know VERY LITTLE about bicycles. Every day I get a laugh (and an internal sneer of disgust) at the sheer idiocy and wrongness of many peoples' "facts" spouted about MTBs. It's nowhere near equal to the high caliber of knowledge found on EpicSki.

3) Bike magazines are funded by advertisement dollars, and it shows in their reviews. The "buyer's guides" published by each mag are WORTHLESS because they don't tell you the important stuff about bikes. They just give you facts on basic model specs. That info is readily available to anyone with a computer and a few minutes of time.

4) Honestly, I'm obsessive about knowing MTBs inside-out. I don't know many folks who have spent as much time researching, learning, riding, etc. about MTBs as I have. Surely those folks exist, but I don't know whether any of them are EpicSki regulars. So what I'm saying is, I'd suggest you ask me. I will tell you what I do know AND what I don't know. I won't play the "expert" card... my opinions are well-considered, but they're not always correct for everyone. I'm not afraid to admit that and I'm not afraid to say "I don't know." I'm not going to steer you toward something for a profit motive -- I have nothing to gain. I just hate seeing people get crappy info when they deserve better. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #21 of 57
Did I mention that Gonzo is gonzo about bikes?

Gonzo has been very helpful when I need advice about two-wheelers. Thank you.

post #22 of 57
[img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] I agree, gotta take all magazine and online reviews as biased. Ya gotta do your research : , filter out the best of the advice available, make your choice and lay out those hard earned dollars.

post #23 of 57
hey, it's all part of being a Bear, folks!
post #24 of 57
I take what I read in MTB reviews with a grain of salt especially all the glowing reports. I have found it to be a good place to find defects with bikes, though. If a bike has an obvious problem it will be reported by numerous people.

One of the local shops had a really good deal on Gary Fischer Sugar+ bikes last fall. The magazines gave it a good write up but MTB had numerous comments about chain suck problems. I looked for that when I demoed it and was able to dislodge the chain multiple times on washboarded alleys (much to the amazement of the shop personnel who said they never heard of the problem).
post #25 of 57
Hey Rio, that B'stone of yours isn't an MB-1 or MB-Zip by chance?
post #26 of 57
Originally posted by comprex:
Hey Rio, that B'stone of yours isn't an MB-1 or MB-Zip by chance?
Nah, just an MB-5. It was a great first mountain bike....a little heavy but very durable.
post #27 of 57
Steve, if you just want a suspension fork and don't much care about its quality or durability, here's a good bargain for a 1" head tube model made by RST (not very high quality) --

http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?category=&subcategory=&brand=&sku=1049 2&storetype=estore&estoreid=87

I would still urge you to get a Marzocchi, though.
post #28 of 57
I too recommend Marzocchi - mine seems to be bomb and idiot-proof so far.
post #29 of 57
There are plenty of people in the UK with SMBF (steel mountain bike fetish) which is surprizing considering the UK can be so damp and these things rust.

There is a whole host of small companies that manufacture steel hardtails, maybe you can get hold of one of these or something similar in your part of the world. (Ebay can sometimes be a very good place to get hold of 'unknown' bike brand names as the general public don't often realize their true value.)


Edit Here's Cove in the US

http://www.ridemonkey.com/forums/showthread.php?s=ace0ffc29dafaa275b8ab0c2ebd8ef9f& threadid=64634&highlight=cotic

[ February 18, 2004, 10:08 AM: Message edited by: DB ]
post #30 of 57
Originally posted by gonzostrike:
AdamA = retrogrouch extraordinaire?
No retrogrouch here - I made the switch to full suspension a couple of summers ago and can't see going back! (Specialized FSR with Fox). Actually, Mtn biking is my top sport - if I could ski as well as many on here, that might be a different story!

I agree that if one choice is to get a new bike, then one is going to have to spend $1000 to get a quality starting point. It sure is fun buying new toys...
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