Save Us SRAM AndrewM
EDITORIAL

Save Us SRAM (and our bikes!)

Words Andrew Major
Photos NSMB.com Archives - unless noted
Date Jun 22, 2018

The Precipice

Mountain Biking faces a pandemic of slow rolling inevitability. An unprecedented mass extinction like nothing the sport has ever experienced. The global potential for millions of dollars in lost equity. A complete re-ordering of a system that has been in place since the day after the sport was invented.

As of this year there are no longer viable options for 1-1/8" suspension forks at a modest price. Whether you blame Manitou for pushing oversized 1.5” steerers 15 years ago or Trek for introducing Tapered steerers in 2007, the slow death of the 1-1/8" suspension fork spells certain doom for thousands of otherwise perfectly fun-tastic mountain bikes. Some of them are classics and some of them aren't even a decade old. For others, beloved steel and titanium frames, it means painful and expensive surgery to install 44mm head tubes, rigid-fork commuter duty, or a life of slow decay, all but forgotten in a crawl space.

There is only one company with the product penetration, price points, rider-driven direction, and - dare I say - panache to save us, and even make a few dollars doing it. SRAM, we need a hero - will you answer the call?

Save Us SRAM AndrewM

The Specialized Pitch and earlier Enduro the frame is borrowed from is still an excellent mountain bike chassis 8-10 years later. 

Save Us SRAM AndrewM

From May to September I still see a Slayer SXC on almost every ride I go on. These bikes were legion locally. (Photo: Strahan Loken

This is mountain biking’s “let them eat cake” moment. Not everyone can afford a new Super Boost Carbon 29’er, and even ‘cheap’ bikes often don’t touch the potential value on the used market. Environmentally their production debt is paid, and in many cases they are invested with significant emotional attachment from their owner.

Some are beloved bikes that have been a singular companion for years and others are on their second or third owner. Some have been passed down to kids getting into the sport and some are being called on for the first time in a decade to answer the call of the mountains.

And many are in great working condition save for creaking, squeaking, leaking, and shrieking suspension forks. Long unsupported with small parts, even if the chassis' are safe for use and the owners have been diligent with maintenance, these forks could only take so much. Marzocchi, Manitou, RockShox, and even Fox* forks are destined for the recycling bin without replacement options available.  This spells mass extinction for durable platforms like the classic Heckler, Hustler, Stumpjumper, Slayer, Nomad, SX Trail, Knolly Endorphin and Transition Preston, and that's just bikes I've noticed in June.

*Who has long lost the luster of once-legendary legacy product support.

Save Us SRAM AndrewM

It's possible to weld a bigger headtube onto this classic Chromag Samurai but wouldn't that be sad? (Photo: Omar Bhimji)

Save Us SRAM AndrewM

I get serious nostalgia every time I see a Santa Cruz Heckler ride by. I can't believe how many of these machines are still on active duty. 

The Pitch

All I’m asking for is a few SKUs. Take some current forks that straddle the price vs. performance value curve, insert a 1-⅛” steerer tube, and save these bikes from a fate worse than cracking.

The majority of the soon to be abandoned bikes are 26" wheeled machines, with a few shorter travel 29'ers thrown in there, but I'm not asking you to reinvent the wheel. 26, 27... close enough right? Let's start with three existing chassis:

  • RockShox Judy Gold 27.5" (100mm, 120mm) at 380 USD. 
  • RockShox Judy Gold 29" (100mm, 120mm) at 380 USD.
  • RockShox Revelation RC 27.5" (120mm, 130mm, 140mm, 150mm, 160mm) at 650 USD. 

But wait, these are Boost forks?  Include a 10mm axle spacer and it’s easy enough to re-dish the existing wheel to fit if its 15mm. Most 20mm hubs have conversion end caps. Forcing a rider to ditch their QR front wheel is certainly the lesser of two evils. And, as an added bonus the new fork investment will be easily transferable to a new trail bike with Boost spacing in the future.

How are you going to press a straight 1-⅛” steerer tube into a crown meant for a 1.5” to 1-⅛” tapered steerer? To keep production costs low, take an existing crown steerer unit (CSU*), press and bond in a permanent 1.5” to 1-⅛” reducer, and press in the 1-⅛” steerer from there. Wait, what am I saying? SRAM makes truly rideable suspension forks that sell for less than 400 USD. I’m sure they don’t need my help to make a 1-⅛” version that maximizes the use of current components.

*The pressfit assembly of two stanchions, the crown, and steerer tube.

Save Us SRAM AndrewM

The Cove Hustler is one of my favourite classics. Drill it for internal dropper post routing, shim in one of the 27.2 stealth droppers arriving on the market this year, and enjoy!

Save Us SRAM AndrewM

This Chromag TRL could last forever, but I guess we'll never know. Photo - Stuart Kernaghan

Still too much to ask? Let's start with the Revelation. It's a high-value platform that would fit 90% of the bikes in questions. You already make everything needed except for the 1-1/8" steerer CSU and the included you-don't-have-to-buy-a-Boost-wheel-yet spacer. Or offer your own version of the Problem Solvers universal Booster kit. It might work out to being cheaper than a basic 10mm spacer and labour for a re-dish. 

We all get a boost from stoked teenagers boosting away on the best bikes they can convince their folks to go halfers on. It's one minute to midnight for a lot of these bicycles and you hold the keys to keeping many a machine in the mountains.

Comments

fartymarty
+2 Andrew Major Merwinn
fartymarty  - June 22, 2018, 12:54 a.m.

Andrew - Thanks for another great article.  Lets hope the powers that be take note.

This is something I am going to have to deal with when I rebuild by Keewee Cromo 8 which is currently hanging in my garage in a temporarily retired state.  The plan is to refurbish and rebuilt it when (and maybe if) my daughters get old enough to ride DH.  I did get a quote to have the headtube replaced with a 1.5" HT and it wasn't silly money (£150 from memory) however getting a fork that fits the Cromo King headset I already have pressed in would be a far better option.

Your options for the forks are good however I think they could be even easier.  Why not just produce a 1 1/8" CSU (in the current fork width) with a 35mm diameter stanction.  Then you would buy the tapered ST fork and a 1 1/8" CSU and get them swapped over.  This is going to cost more but in the grand scheme of things I would happily pay over the top to keep an old bike running.  Plus it would make it very easy for the fork manufacturer.  The 1 1/8" would be on a long lead time so shops / suppliers don't need to keep stock - just order from the manufacturer as and when needed.

I know Mojo were previously doing this with Fox forks but an not sure if this will continue as they aren't the Fox supplier in UK any more.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 6:17 a.m.

Thanks!

Certainly had that thought - current Pike chassis w/ RC damper and go - but with the pace of change being what it is, and the relative ease of a Boost ‘upgrade’ up front I don’t forsee those forks remaining in production 

(for example, I’d bet replacement lowers and crowns for non-Boost mid-to-high-performance forks will be non-existent in ~3 years)

My thinking is current (Boost only) platforms with a very minor (CSU) swap on assembly have a chance of remaining in production for a few years.

The problem with the CSU swap is $$$. Trying to maximize ease of delivery / minimize cost to customer.

For the record though, I’ll take any solution from any company - as long as the price is reasonable and it can cover a huge range of travel.

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - June 22, 2018, 11:58 a.m.

Another alternative is to slap on a rigid fork and get on with life.

Seriously tho for this type of project cost comes second to getting the bike working.  A few hundred £, $ is easy to lose over another 10 years from a frame.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 12:13 p.m.

Safe to assume you’re only recommending rigid forks for the front of hardtail frames? :-)

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - June 22, 2018, 1:09 p.m.

Yes but it would be an interesting (and maybe painful) experiment.

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dcamp2@gmail.com
0
dcamp2@gmail.com  - June 22, 2018, 6:32 a.m.

Not to be a downer- but it takes a LOT of testing to verify a new crown/steerer.  Probably more forks would need to be tested than would be sold.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 6:52 a.m.

That is a downer! Still holding out hope.

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NealWood
+2 Cam McRae Andrew Major
NealWood  - June 22, 2018, 1:03 p.m.

Not that much testing.  This is all known art. It's not like they would need to save every gram. I would think that instead of the shim solution it would be cheaper and easier to re-purpose an old crown forging tool with the correct sized steer tube hole to be m/c'd for a 1 1/8" steer tube.  That's assuming that the hole is even forged in.

Bang.  Done.

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mammal
0
Mammal  - June 22, 2018, 6:45 a.m.

Hey Andrew, didn't you tell me that there was a 140mm option from X-fusion (I think) still available? Perhaps that was only for the last model year.  It's a shame there are no offerings, but it does make me glad I've moved my 2012 Chromag along to a new home. 

Some serious classics pictured here. I rode the Heckler from 2002 until 2011, when a buddy of mine took pity on me, and sold me his Reign for a deal. Epic durability.  I've seen that Slayer (last Saturday), Hustler (last Sunday) and Heckler (a few weeks ago), on the Shore, all in the last month.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Mammal
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 6:50 a.m.

As of this year just their basic RC32 platform has a 1-1/8” option (max-130mm). Previously they had some great options including long travel SC to replace the Totems and Fox 36 180s out there.

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DanL
0
DanL  - June 22, 2018, 6:49 a.m.

This couldnt be more timely for me. Im looking at building or buying a cheapo DH bike and there are so many great chassis choice out there; but after the grief of trying to get parts (outside of seals/wipers) for junior Ts, its always the forks and their maintenance that make me wary.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 6:58 a.m.

At least with DH bikes 1-1/8” isn’t an issue. Fox also supports old 40s pretty well still as long as you go 2011+ (compression adjusters on top). So there are decent options.

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DanL
+1 Andrew Major
DanL  - June 22, 2018, 7:08 a.m.

There’s a lot of Stinkys and Coves that just won’t make the grade though

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Cheez1ts
0
Garrett Thibault  - June 23, 2018, 2:40 p.m.

You can just lower a 1-1/8" DH fork for your trailbike/hardtail then, no?

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doug-m
0
Doug M.  - June 22, 2018, 6:52 a.m.

2x on X-Fusion. I got an OEM-spec 1-1/8" Velvet, 120mm travel, 15mm axle a few years ago on eBay, but I bet if you called them or talked to a savvy dealer, they could put together any of their 32mm stanchion forks with a straight steer tube.

Edit: non-boost. There's sooo many perfectly fine non-boost hubs/wheels still out there.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 6:53 a.m.

See above. RC32 still available. Their 32mm forks don’t have the travel to cover most the bikes on my list.

Stay on top of your maintenance! I doubt they’ll be offering 1-1/8” much longer. Tapered has hit low enough price points that the OE focused manufacturing companies have no reason to produce 1-1/8.

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Littleman
+5 Cam McRae Niels Cr4w Andrew Major Mammal
Littleman  - June 22, 2018, 7:25 a.m.

A very interesting article, and refreshing to see from a media outlet who understandably survives through revenue from companies who make their money from the constant selling of “new, better” stuff. Not a criticism of NSMB or mtb media outlets in general or an accusation that NSMB is biased (I don’t think it is btw), but there is a commercial reality that media outlets like NSMB rely on “new, better” to feed them. I'm fine with that.

I actually really like reading about new kit but can’t afford a new bike so this article resonates with me, more so as I’m still riding a 26” Heckler and my wife’s still riding a 26” Cove Hustler regularly. Both with 1 1/8th headtubes and both with 160mm forks so no new replacement options as far as I can see. Both bikes are slackened with offset bushes and headsets, both have droppers, tubeless and 1x but that’s as far they can go to keep up with current trends. Both bikes are actually still running well as I’m ocd about the maintenance of both bikes (I carry out very regular lower legs and air sleeve services), but there’ll only be so long before the forks can’t be salvaged any more and parts won't be available - even decent grippy tyres are getting harder to come by in 26”.

I’ve resisted the urge to buy a new bike for years as I don’t believe in using all of our savings for new bikes when every time I finish a ride I absolutely always finish it with a big smile on face, especially when having a young family means rides are more precious. All my wishing for a new bike when I’m on the internet (too much btw) completely disappears when I actually get on the bike. We are now trying to save up for new bikes but it’ll be at least year or so before we can financially justify 2 new bikes, and the only reason for changing them in reality is parts becoming obsolete / difficult to buy (decent tyres as mentioned, internals for 2009 fox 36’s anyone?). I’m sure that a new bike would be nicer, better, faster etc and I do want a new bike but I very much doubt it would make my smile at the bottom of a descent any bigger so I'm not willing to dig a financial hole for myself and my family to get one.

Sorry for the long post, it’s just the article resonated with me.

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craw
0
Cr4w  - June 22, 2018, 9:46 a.m.

Stock up on tires and a few sets of rims while you can!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 11:16 a.m.

Thank you for making the time - this is a perfect example of the scenarios I’m thinking about.

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rvoi
0
rvoi  - June 22, 2018, 7:25 a.m.

I still own one of the 2010 Rebas with 20mm axle and 120mm of travel that is retro-awesome! It is keeping an older bike in the game and I feel like the frame will fail before that fork. The only wish I have is for a bit more clearance in the arch.

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SRSUNTOUR
0
SRSUNTOUR  - June 22, 2018, 9:09 a.m.

SRSuntour still makes some pretty decent 26", QR, 100mm and straight steerer options!   Epixon and Raidon for the trail/XC crowd and the Rux for the DH crowd.  envelo and SR Suntour NA can usually build something up for the in-betweens.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Merwinn
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 9:11 a.m.

How about something in the 140mm-160mm category? Auron, Aion, Durolux?

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SRSUNTOUR
0
SRSUNTOUR  - June 26, 2018, 1 p.m.

For USA and Canada the envelo crew have a limited number of 26" Durolux that can be set at 140-180 mm. That fork is no longer in production so get em while you can.  Its a mix of straight and tapered steer as well.  Best to call or email to see what's left. info@envelo.cc or 608-229-6612.    For those in Europe the office Germany may have some left as well check with them at service@srsuntour-cycling.com 

Another alternative is to run the 27.5 Auron / Aion and reduce the travel a bit to keep the axle to crown in close range, not ideal but an alternative.

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BruceWee
0
BruceWee  - June 22, 2018, 9:42 a.m.

Actually, as far as I know, there's still one option available:

https://www.sram.com/rockshox/products/sektor-gold

I don't need them yet, but I've got three bikes (Nomad, Dialled Alpine, and a Coyote Dual) that all have straight steerers.  None of them are showing any signs of dying.  I'm thinking about getting one just to have since I don't know how long these forks will be around for.

I'm not sure whether to blame the bike industry or society in general. Either way it's depressing.

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Morox
0
Brian Moreaux  - June 22, 2018, 10:22 a.m.

I chose the sektor gold coil sprung fork for my DMR Trailstar. Not super confidence-inspiring compared to the old 36 that I had on there before but it will do the job. If I were to do it again I would probably buy an older straight-steerer 36 and install newer internals. I have a 2008 36 with 2011 internals and it just feels solid.

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Morox
0
Brian Moreaux  - June 22, 2018, 10:25 a.m.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 11:19 a.m.

The problem increasingly is finding an old straight steerer 36 in good condition. They’re quickly approaching unicorn status and legacy parts support is running dry.

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nwd_26
0
nwd_26  - June 22, 2018, 4:47 p.m.

That's because since the tapered/650b/15mm revolutions kicked off, DJ riders have been buying up and burning through all these old stock forks.

There were a solid few glory years where 26" forks with 1-1/8" steerers and 20mm axles were plentiful and dirt cheap on the used market, and since those are the specs 90% of DJ bikes use...we took advantage.

Now the pendulum has swung in the other direction, and while prices are still low, availability is dwindling. I used to be able to buy an immaculate 36 Float that had lived life on the front of of an all-mtn bike for pennies on the dollar, and I knew that the seals, bushings, topout springs, and CSU were probably all in great condition. Not so much anymore.

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BruceWee
0
BruceWee  - June 22, 2018, 9:45 a.m.

Alternatively, get a custom frame builder to make you a set of these:

https://www.facebook.com/wraithbicycles/photos/a.1552324768333129.1073741840.1550294391869500/2082092362023031/?type=3&theater

Always wanted to try leading link :)

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - June 22, 2018, 11:37 a.m.

Very cool but not so economical!

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millsr4
0
Millsr4  - June 22, 2018, 7:29 p.m.

I'm still pedaling around a 2008 Pitch that has been through a few different forks since I've owned it. When my last fork died(an '08 Fox 36) I couldn't find a fork to save my life, not even second hand. Then came a guy came along who had a coil totem with a 1/8 steer tube... I was working in a machine shop at the time so I made a spacer on the lathe to lower it down to 165mm of travel and I've been cruising ever since! It has been a great bike but at this point I'm about ready to get with the times...

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2018, 11:11 p.m.

It doesn't sound like your Pitch owes you a cent, but it also doesn't sell like the bike is dead it's just that you're ready for a new rig?

In that case, it would be a shame not to be able to sell it on for money towards your next rig and so someone else can enjoy it.

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millsr4
0
Millsr4  - June 23, 2018, 7:42 a.m.

It's a little bit of both lol. I question the integrity of the frame with everything I've put it through at this point. Also some of the bearing bores arent in the best shape and there are a few dents/deep scratches that look sketchy. My plan is to buy a new trail bike and repurpose some the parts onto a DH/FR frame and others to my fiances bike.

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trustywheels
0
trustywheels  - June 23, 2018, 7:53 a.m.

Just checked fox’s 2019 options, quickly found a 26” straight steerer, QR 32 in the performance line for $649 retail and a straight steerer 15x100 29” 32 for the same price. These are available to order aftermarket from any fox dealer.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 23, 2018, 8:26 a.m.

I acknowledge that it was a bad choice to use this Chromag as a header image - I needed a larger image than what was in the NSMB archives and it’s what I had on hand with a 1-1/8” steerer.

All of the bikes I’ve highlighted through this article need a 140-160mm fork and the fork I specifically ask SRAM for in the article is a min-maxed 35mm stanchion platform.

Reply

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