Modern day suspension is a scientific marvel, but don’t be afraid to get back to the basics and mix things up with a rigid fork. You might be surprised to discover that you learn new skills and may even really enjoy yourself.
Anytime a rider brings out a fully rigid steel mountain bike to most group rides and it will be sure to turn some heads, raise some eyebrows and… let’s just say it is the type of bike that should be respected, be in every mountain bikers stable, and ridden often. Rigid bikes are like diamonds in the rough, but the difference is that you and your skills are the ones that get polished. These bikes will help you find your flaws and perfect them into translatable skills from one bike to the next.
Modern suspension is great and it has taken its place at the top of preferred bike designs for a reason. It has allowed riders to tackle terrain that, only a handful of years ago, was considered inconceivable. Crazy-rocky-steep terrain can now be covered with speed, control and finesse. Modern suspension has also led to the progression of trail building. They have become more difficult, interesting and more variable in style. All of which offers benefits for everybody.
So….thank you suspension. Thank you for all of the above-mentioned reasons, and for making mountain biking and mountainous terrain more accessible. I do have one complaint though… You have made a lot of us mountain bikers really lazy.
You have allowed us to hide our mistakes among your squishy parts and fancy links. Bikes pull us out of sticky situations all the time. There is sure to be a large group of folks in the audience reading this right now who have pointed a large travel squishy bike down a crazy jumbled up pile of rocks, closed their eyes, hoped for the best and come out the other side looking like a pro. Where is the skill? Where is the ability? You have allowed us to forget about the most important and truly skill enhancing suspension components available. . . our own bodies.
Becoming a better rider comes from tuning your own suspension, not the bikes. It will benefit every rider to drop the crutch of suspension and to, every now and then, get out on a fully rigid bike to learn and tune the components you we were born with. It sounds painful at first but trust in it and give it a shot.
1. Mistakes Get Noticed. Get onto a rigid bike and you will soon notice how lazy and sloppy you have become at letting your body absorb the hits. While this doesn’t sound like a good reason at first, you will quickly realize that this will help your bike skills improve massively.
2. Make An Old Trail Feel New. Bring out the rigid bike and you will find all the smaller features and nuances of a familiar trail that a squishy bike simply ignores. Challenge is a good thing.
3. Cost. A steel fork will only set you back about a hundred bucks and will never require maintenance. It may cost you some extra change after you’ve tried rigid, loved it and decided to upgrade to a carbon version. But, that’s okay because your frame was cheaper too.
4. Options. When a mid-season funk sets in, having a different type of bike to jump on may just pull you out of it, and return your spirits to normal levels. Swapping your ride refreshes your skills, your trail’s features and stoke levels.5. Fun. This is by far the most important reason. A rigid fork eliminates fork dive, allowing rigid bikes to rail turns like never before. You will also experience increased bar sensitivity, as well as become more in tune with the trail. As your bike handling skills improve you will find new features and alternate lines that you had just plowed over before.
-Eric N. for Jenson USA