How to Buy a New Suspension Fork for a Hardtail Mountain Bike
By: Bike Servant
About a year ago I purchased an entry level hardtail mountain bike. At the time I did not want to spend a lot of money and I did not want poor quality. So I purchase a bike that had a good frame and basic components.
After riding for a year I have decided that I want to improve the comfort and control of my bike on the trail. Therefore I made the decision to upgrade my front suspension fork on my hardtail mountain bike.
My initial research concluded that there are a lot of different brands, types and sizes forks on the market so I conceded knew I needed help. After all, suspension forks are expensive and I didn't want to waste my money.
After talking to different rides, employees at a few bike shops, reading article and posting questions online I put together a couple of bullet points to consider when buying a front suspension fork.
Determine if your bike has the geometry to support a suspension fork. If it does have the correct geometry try to determine the maximum height fork it can accommodate. I almost bought a fork with 160mm of travel but the seller convinced me not to buy it because he believed my bike did not have the correct geometry. After checking with the factory I determined that he was correct.
Consider your riding style. Are you a cross country, down hill or a dirt jump rider. Make sure you buy a fork that suites your style of ride. This will help prevent you from buying more fork then you need.
Determine your budget and stick to it. Suspension forks can vary in price and can be very expensive. However if you ride often spending a little more on a fork might be warranted.
Determine the size of the bikes head tube. The size of the tube could limit your selections. Is your head tube 1 inch or 1 1/8 inches, etc?
Consider buying a suspension fork that is adjustable. Some forks are adjustable at the head and some have a pop lock adjuster that mounts on the handlebars. The adjustable function will accommodate different riding terrains.
Determine if you need to buy new parts to install your new fork. Do you need a new headset, stem or brakes?
Consider the installation charges of a new fork. If you plan on installing the fork yourself you will need to press on a bearing and potentially cut the fork tub. This could result in additional tools and time so you want to weigh your options.
Find out what your friends are riding and ask them their opinion on brand and options. Ask them if you can ride their bike to test out their fork.
Do you want to buy new or used? Some riders buy great bikes, immediately upgrade them and never use the original parts. You can find new or near new parts on Bike Servant which lists mountain bike classifieds containing bikes for sale, bike parts and race events.
Keep in mind list above will help you get started in your decision making process and there are more items to consider as you explore your options.
The tips listed above will hopefully help you narrow down your choices before you purchase a new fork. Good luck and see you on the trail.
About the Author
Experience with full suspension and hardtail mountain bikes, bike parts and organizing race events for mountain biking.
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(ArticlesBase SC #753070)
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