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BIG GUY SHOCK TIP
My Iron Horse 6Point4 came with a Fox DHX Air 3.0. I run it with 290 psi (I'm 240 pounds). I would like to upgrade to something a little stiffer but am having a hard time finding a shock to fit. Any suggestions?
-Shawn, who is tired of bottoming
Mountain Bike Action: If you’re running 290 psi already, it will be tough to find a coil that will give you a stiffer spring rate than what you already have. There is some fine-tuning that you can do with your shock to give it a stiffer feel, though.
Fox offers air volume reducer kits for their air shocks. They are basically plastic pieces installed on the inside of the air sleeve to take up space and decrease air volume. With a smaller air volume, the same 290 psi pressure you’re running now will not only support your weight better, but it will ramp up and resist bottoming better. You may lose some small-bump compliance, but it sounds like that would be okay with an improved spring rate. You can order the part directly from Fox by clicking here.
Have a 2000 Marzocchi Monster T fork. Yes, she is old, but I keep her in good shape and she never fails me. I weigh 223 pounds and I’m using 7.5 wt. oil. Should I use 10 wt. to avoid bottoming out?
-Alvaro, who takes care of his equipment
Mountain Bike Action: You should continue to use 7.5 wt. oil and consider having the fork revalved to address your bottoming issues. Marzocchi offers a full service and tuning for around $75, and it includes fresh oil. You can contact Marzocchi at (661) 257-6630. On another note, Alvaro, it is 2012. That means your fork is 13 years old (you don’t measure bikes or components like birthdays). While this is a true testament to the longevity and durability of Marzocchi suspension components, you are still talking about 13 years of abuse. That’s a long, long time, especially for the type of riding you are doing with that Monster T. If you ride a lot, we would suggest looking at Marzocchi’s new offerings and considering an upgrade.
Why don’t fork companies eliminate the fork lockout feature in favor of a low-speed compression adjustment?
--Zul, who breaks the rules
Mountain Bike Action: As you can tell from reading our tests, there have only been a few occasions when we have actually used a fork’s lockout feature (or shock for that matter). Even long-travel trailbikes, when ridden smoothly, don’t benefit much, if at all, from a fork lockout feature. Does this mean fork lockouts will disappear anytime soon? Probably not. Marketing 101 teaches that a company must give its customers what they want. Bike companies say the feature has to stay because riders (less experienced than you and me) perceive the feature as a "must have" for riding performance.
Hey smart guys: I still have a lot to learn about selecting the best suspension mode while riding my Trek EX8. Uphill, I lock out front and back. Cruising singletrack, I unlock the front only. Downhill, I unlock front and back. Am I doing this right?
-Scott, who is throwing a lot of levers
Answer (and thanks for calling us smart): You are correct with your suspension mode selection, but we’d like to suggest another option. First, be sure your suspension is properly pressurized. Your bike uses an air spring in both the fork and shock. Your bike’s suspension works best if you have 20-percent sag in both the fork and rear suspension. Trek makes a super handy sag tool that should have come with your bike. We also explained how to set fork sag in our February 2011 Garage Files. If you don’t know how to set suspension sag, you will need to have your local bike shop show you.
Once the suspension is correctly set and your tires are properly inflated (don’t overlook them), try this. On your next ride, leave the fork open in all situations and only employ the shock’s platform feature for steep climbs (if the trail surface isn’t too technical). In all other situations, leave the shock open, especially if the trail is rough. Concentrate on a smooth pedaling rotation and spinning instead of torqueing a gear. Doing this will unlock all the performance your Trek was designed to deliver.
Q: Got a Specialized Hardrock and want to upgrade the RST Gilla T7 stock fork with something a little more smooth but that won't
break the bank. -Mike
Mountain Bike Action: Go for the 2011 RockShox ToraTK. Priced at roughly $200 (depending on options that you choose, like
remote lockout), it packs good bang for the buck. Its coil spring will
provide you with a plush ride, and will allow for external preload
adjustability. Among the other features are external rebound adjustment
and a lockout. It comes ready to accommodate both disc and v-brakes, so
you shouldn’t have any compatibility issues there. With a claimed weight
of 4.85 pounds it’s not the lightest fork out there, but it will be a
noticeable upgrade over your existing fork. That being said, don’t
expect it to perform like your buddy’s $900 Fox fork.
Hey Mountain Bike Action guys: I have a 1999 Cannondale F400 with a fork that has a single suspension mounted in the center. I know Cannondale is making their Lefty design now. The Lefty approach seems needlessly complicated. Is there a reason so few use the center/single like mine?
--Lee who likes the Headshok
Mountain Bike Action: Your front suspension is called the Headshok and Cannondale still makes it (although it is now five generations removed from the one on your bike). This suspension design lost favor as forks inched toward longer travel. The Headshok design raises the front end too much as the travel increased. This leads to all kinds of handling woes and some would theorize frame stress issues. Cannondale still offers one or two bikes with the Headshok, but they are hybrids, intended for city riding and bike paths.
The Lefty is totally different from the fork on your bike and is a marvel of engineering. It works awesome and Cannondale went out of their way to be sure the design was not needlessly complicated so riders could perform their own service. The Lefty once stood above the field in rigidity but that lead has been trimmed with the introduction of 15-millimeter front axles that have made a big improvement to conventional forks and leveled the playing field so to speak.