Thursday, November 12, 2015

Rigid fork vs suspension fork findings.

The last few weeks I've been doing some testing of different setups on my bike. Ive chosen a local loop at Ramapo Mt. for this testing. It has a good mix of everything you'll find in a race. Long fire road climb. Techy downhills. Techy single track and even some jeep road double track. The loop is just over 10miles and I hold the Kom at 1:08:58. On a 27.5 rigid ss with a 34:20. 

Tested the suspension fork yesterday on this test loop. I can't help but feel like it just eats up a percentage of the pedal stroke. It's almost like the bike has to "load up" before moving forward. This is most obvious when standing. As any single speeder will tell you, you're standing a lot! I was working the lockout too. Clicking it on every uphill and opening it up on flats and downs. The effort for this test felt harder than previous tests. The conditions were basically the same. 

Just a few observations from my rigid vs. sus tests. 
(1) instead of being aggressive, I tend to stay on the seat and let the tech "come to me". This leads to slower trail riding overall. 
(2) on the fork, I can be more aggressive on the downhills but it's a effort to do so. Not allowing proper recovery for next climb. 
(3) there were some steep pitches that I just breeze up on the rigid that I actually had to get off and walk. I attribute this to not being able to use proper body english to maintain momentum. 
(4) bike really seams vague and washy in the corners. 
(5) I was pretty sloppy in the tech. Making many mistakes. Probably because I could get away with it on the forgiving sus fork. 

My strava times were telling. I was 1m slower than my Kom even though I felt faster and with a higher heart rate than all other attempts. In the middle of the loop I was sure I was on record pace. All of the downhill segments I was faster on but only marginally. All of the uphill segments I was slower and I seemed to lose even more time uphill as the ride went on. Losing 48sec on the final 9min climb. 

What does this all mean? I think I'm gonna be running a rigid for at least the xc racing this year. Obviously in the longer stuff the comfort factor will come into play but seconds are seconds and on a single you only have one game against the gearies. That's the ability to out climb them.

Next up, 27.5 vs 29 rigid testing...


  1. I'm a rigid fork fan.
    My moutainbike is set up with a rigid, because I like how it forces me to ride, and pick lines.
    Your kom fitness vs. current fitness? where they the same?
    I don't have your resume/experience racing xc, but what I noticed was that over time the rigid did cause me to fatigue more. again... just playing devil's advocate here a bit.. I'm all about the rigid fork...

    1. I find for me, are much smoother and more precise on a rigid fork. I tend to bash and plow when I have a suspension fork causing me to make many mistakes. Of course over the long haul the suspension will win out particularly in an endurance race situation. Also I'm a sprint and recover type rider. I find I'm on the gas little bit quicker with the rigid where the suspension eats up some of my pedal stroke.
      Btw. The Kom that stands was taken from my very fit (May race shape) self about 2weeks ago on a rigid 27.5.
      Only to open another can of worms, that original kom was set on a 29er ss squish fork and the recent out of shape attempts are on 27.5 rigid geared the same.
      Thanks for reading.. -M

      I hope any of this makes sense. It's pretty hard to walk the dog and reply apparently.