Can I run 20mm More Travel Up Front?

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Sep 26, 2016

My vacation afterglow lasted about 3 days before I was dragged back down to earth. But it’s different this time. It really did change me. Hopefully it will result in changes that I’ll be able to talk about at some point in the next couple of months. Until then…more of the same.


I just got a new DH/Freeride/park bike. I have only run 200mm of travel in both the front and rear before. Is 180mm in the rear and 200mm in the front okay?

Thanks.


Dear Needy:

I’d really like to know who started this “balanced travel front and rear” bullshit. It can’t have been anybody who grew up riding hardtails. Or riding shitty first generation full suspension bikes that needed all the fork you could give them. Or…I don’t know. I just don’t get it. Obviously, there is a point at which your bike has “too much fork travel” compared to the rear end. It looks like this.

monstermorpine

If your bike doesn’t look like that, you’re probably going to be okay. Why? Here’s where we get controversial.

1 – Fork travel is far more important than rear end travel

I’ll take a great fork on a subpar rear suspension design over the reverse any day. A great fork can cover up a lot of mistakes and a bit of extra fork travel will usually add some capability to your bike. To a point. See photo above.

2 – The majority of fork tunes in no way match what is going on in the rear

Take a few hours one day and peruse the work our friend over at the Spanish Linkage Blog has completed. If there’s one thing you should take away, it’s that rear suspension designs are all over the place. Flat rate. Rising rate. Dancing rate. There are popular and well-reviewed bikes will all kinds of rate curves on the rear end. Has this been matched in any way, shape or form to what is going on with the fork? No. I’ve ridden flat rate (nearly) bikes that I like and rising rate bikes that I like and I would keep my fork tune the exact same between the two.

3 – You’re not hitting the damn bumps at the same time so why do you care if it’s balanced? Sorry. “Balanced?”

Unless your rides consist of nothing but drops to flat, the majority of the bumps you hit will not impact your suspension equally. You hit things hanging off the back. You hit things with your weight shifted forward as you brake. You hit things with your front wheel in the air. It matters not a whiff if your suspension is “balanced” when these things are happening. And they happen a lot.

So don’t worry about it.

To put it another way, what’s the best way to improve the capability of your 120mm trail bike? Work for a few weeks improving the “balance” of your suspension components? Or throw a 140mm fork on?

You’ll be fine.

Sorry,
Uncle Dave


Dear Uncle Dave

I’ve been riding a long time, I’ve been riding MTB since before the RS1. I have 26, and 27.5 bikes in the shed, rigid, hardtail and fully sprung, single speed, dual ring and single ring (although my knees and back mean the fully rigid ss is for flat family rides). I never went 29er because wagon wheels are for gangly freaks who can’t ride. I am short in the arse, and I’m, therefore, more awesome than a dozen lanky gunards all offense intended. 

Like you I mostly ride alone, due to the demands of kids, work and general anti-social tendancies. Also like you I like to listen to tunes while I ride, partly because I get in the zone and ride better with a bit of music, and also so I don’t have to talk to people.

My problem is that, when I look at my preferred riding playlist, it’s mostly music and bands I’ve been listening to since before panracer smokes were cutting edge; tool, faith no more, black flag, wu-tang, the sex pistols, NIN etc. I feel like fresh tunes would push me to hit that drop that I always try to roll, or to grind out that pinch climb without dropping into granny.

I’ve tried finding some new stuff, but I just don’t have the time or energy to spend days sifting spotify, trying to pick the gems out of the endless, weary, dayold dogshite, that is most current music these days.

What is your playlist? You seem down with the kids, please help! 

Crustymtb.   


Dear Crusty:

Deep down, every music nerd wants nothing more than to be asked about what music to listen to. The editors are probably freaking out because they hate it when I try to insert discussions about music into things, but I’m super excited. I mean, I can’t just ignore a direct request, can I? And thank you for suggesting I’m still somehow, some kind of “with it.” That means a lot to me.

However. Rather than talking on and on and on about a bunch of bands that suck that you don’t care about, what I’m going to do is finally put some effort into something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Shit. I even started it one week but chased a fresh ball across the street before I could follow up the next. What I’m going to do is leave you every week with one song that I think you should be listening to but probably aren’t. It might not be a new song…It probably won’t be a new song. But it’s going to be a good song. And you’re going to enjoy it. And it’s going to add at least 300 to my word count each week.

I’m going to start things off with something a little loud and a little noisy and that just happens to be at the very, very top of my iTunes “Most Played” list (because I’m analog like that) and will hopefully mean you don’t ever have to listen to Tool again. It’s Monomania by Deerhunter. Full album here, if it floats your boat. Shit. This is a mistake. I could just talk about Deerhunter for hours. Agorophobia definitely needs a listen, but is more “tortured indie rock” than you’re probably looking for at this time. The new album is a bit of a dog, but Snakeskin is worth a click. Back to the Middle. On and on I could go. (so I will…) Microcastle full album…and Halcyon Digest full album, while you’re at it. This was definitely a bad idea. Better way to end than the usual Instagram pleading though, No? (@davetolnai, if you must)

Shit. There’s no way I follow through on this.

Sorry,
Uncle Dave


Crusty – you win a prize! Loam Coffee Travel Pouches – Our travel pouches are 3-packs of coffee featuring the Mystery DH (Guatemala), Boondocker (Colombia), and Bike Park Blend (Guatemala + Colombia). At 28g of coffee in each pouch they are perfect to throw in your pack, for bikepacking, traveling, and more.2016-07-04 15.05.08-1-1


Are you down with Uncle Dave’s musical stylings?

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Comments

avner-b
0
Avner B.  - Sept. 28, 2016, 5:48 a.m.

My experiance when running 200mm forks on a Cove G-spot FR with 6″ rear travel was that the rear end struggled handling rough stuff that didn't phase the fork.

Reply

tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - Sept. 27, 2016, 11:03 a.m.

…and here I thought the comments would be all about leverage curves and stuff on Antonio's Linkage Design Blog….

Reply

nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Sept. 27, 2016, 12:04 p.m.

Like I said…

Reply

tim-lane
0
Tim Lane  - Sept. 30, 2016, 3:14 p.m.

How's this?

Ideally, I think fork travel should be at least 10% greater than rear travel.

Here's my rationale: Because a telescoping fork slides parallel with the head tube, the vertical travel is only about 90% of the fork displacement.

So if ‘balanced’ is a goal, you’ll want to use a fork which claims 10% more travel than your rear suspension (which is typically measured vertically).

This is not to say that longer forks on an existing bike won’t mess up your BB height or your riding position, or that longer rear travel might be preferable because your rear suspension kinematics have intrinsic anti-bob whereas your fork does not… I've said too much already…

Reply

tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - Sept. 30, 2016, 3:59 p.m.

I agree 110%. (LOL).
Considering that the sine of a gravity bike hta would mean an 8-10% reduction in vertical travel, not a bad idea.
Slight downside is that in most instances with air shocks, the rear sagh is about 8% more, so if matching positive travel is the goal, probably not necessarily what we're after.
FWIW, a good fork will always feel good on rough downhill stuff, but extra travel always comes with noticeable downsides.
Since bike companies don't make bikes that are too slack for me, up-forking is generally an awesome plan

Reply

zigak
0
ZigaK  - Sept. 27, 2016, 10:31 a.m.

I never ride with the music, but here are my suggestions anyway:

Simone Angel - Let This Feeling
Whale - Hobo Humpin Slobo Babe
Europe - The Final Countdown
Maybe you won't like it for bike riding, but it works wonders when the kids are watching Minions for the umptenth time. Just put on headphones and watch Kevin, Stuart and Bob perform along the final countdown - it's magical.

Reply

zigak
0
ZigaK  - Sept. 27, 2016, 10:29 a.m.

I never ride with the music, but here are my suggestions anyway:

Simone Angel - Let This Feeling
Whale - Hobo Humpin Slobo Babe
Europe - The Final Countdown
Maybe you won't like it for bike riding, but it works wonders when the kids are watching Minions for the umptenth time. Just put on headphones and watch Kevin, Stuart and Bob perform along the final countdown - it's magical.

Reply

kurt-adams
0
Kurt Adams  - Sept. 27, 2016, 5:51 a.m.

suggesting listening to Deerhunter over Tool is like saying the above Banshee Morphine is better than a Santa CRuz V-10, are you drunk and sarcastic ? By no means am I saying Deerhunter is bad music……just that Tool is legendary in comparison. I may just have to stop reading this column.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Sept. 27, 2016, 8:51 a.m.

Of all the borderline insane things Uncle Dave has written over the past year or so, I think it's delicious and ironic that he just got this response. Also, for the record, the editors don't freak out when he starts mentioning music, but we will if he makes us listen to some of that - again.

Reply

Dirk
0
Dirk  - Sept. 27, 2016, 1:34 p.m.

I'll spot you most of Opiate and a couple of songs off Undertow…but I think we have a slightly different opinion of "Legendary".

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aaron-k-mattix
0
Aaron K. Mattix  - Oct. 2, 2016, 6:28 a.m.

Tool is legendary for being horrible….

Reply

stephen-park
0
Stephen Park  - Sept. 27, 2016, 5:48 a.m.

For some old (early 90's) but very good listening, try Course of Empire's first and self-titles album. Listen to the whole thing in order because it's very good and really does take you through the potential story arc of an empire. There are a couple of hard hitting tunes that might help with the hucking, too!

Reply

hbelly13
0
Raymond Epstein  - Sept. 27, 2016, 5:04 a.m.

Great to see that Uncle Dave digs on some southern noisy weirdness. Checkout the oblique hardcore noise of Double Negative from NC and the LSD-drenched hardcore of Destruction Unit (southwest, but whatever.)

Reply

nat-brown
0
Nat Brown  - Sept. 26, 2016, 10:47 p.m.

This is going to be good.

Reply

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