Mountain Bike Forks.
To Bump or Not to Bump.

With no suspension your body will do all the hard work to absorb road and off-road obstacles.

You might want to choose more comfortable way of living…

Fork Anatomy and Behavior

Mountain bike forks contain a set of shock absorbers, which provides you with more comfortable ride even in hard conditions. As always, it’s up to you what trail to ride and how hard to jump.

So, your fork will be (should be) different if you are cross-country (XC), downhill or freeride fan.

Forks designed for XC usually weight less and have short travel suspension.

It begins from 50 mm (2 inches) and may vary up to 80 mm (3 inches).

Although, if you prepare your bike for more extreme trails like downhill or freeride you would like to obtain fork with better ability to absorb greater shocks. Which means you need long travel suspension. How long?


Something between 100 mm (4 inches) up to 120 mm (5 inches) should suffice. Anyway, if you are going to become downhill professional be prepared to use mountain bike forks with extra long travel.

Extra long means more than 120 mm (5 inches). Talking about extras – be prepared for extra weight and price too. Looking for Hi-end technology fork?

Search for forks with the lock feature to reduce or even “shut down” your forks travel. You may use this feature for more efficient riding over different trails and surfaces.

Before you Buy…

Compatibility issues

Frame – your current fork doesn’t make you happy, so you decided to buy a new one? Before you select and pay take a look at your frame first.

Is it compatible with a long travel fork? If it’s not, and your budget does not include a new frame, think about short travel fork.


Do you have rear suspension?

If so, you’ll want to combine your new fork with your old one. Both should have the same travel length (long comes with long, short comes with short) for better bike handling.

Brakes – whatever brakes you use (be it V-brakes, cantilever or disc) be sure that your fork will be usable with your current brakes.

It should have proper fixing elements for your brakes.

Axle – your may choose conventional or a thru-axle fork. As a thru-axle fork guarantees you more stiffness and better bike performance on downhill trails, a conventional fork (as the name suggests) is typically used for more “conventional” rides.

Where goes the Shock Power?

Shock power needs to be “stored” somewhere. Here are three basic technologies used for suspension forks.

Air - how can air absorb bumps? It can. This technology mountain bike fork absorbs shock power when shock power forces air to travel through special inner construction of the fork.

This creates resistance and... slows the bouce/re-bounce of your fork.

More complicated construction means more time spent in your workshop. Biggest advantage – less weight.

However, if your bike is not on diet – better choose elastomer-filled or spring forks.

Spring - springs inside this fork take the shock power. Rebound is slowed down by means damper. Spring mountain bike shocks are living-classic. They do not require much upkeep and need only rare cleaning.

I would recommend these forks as a wise choice between elastomer-filled and air forks.

Elastomer filling - is an elastic rubber inside your fork to absorb shocks. Clean such fork regularly and it will serve you well.

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