How to Buy a Suspension Bicycle Fork for Mountain Bikes

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How to Buy a Suspension Bicycle Fork for Mountain Bikes

Suspension forks for bicycles are readily available for those who wish to replace their own damaged forks or for those who wish to build a bicycle from scratch. They are designed as a means of absorbing shock whilst riding a bicycle to prevent injury and to make the ride as smooth as possible.

Suspension forks feature on a number of different types of bike. However, they are most commonly found on mountain bikes. Numerous high quality examples are available for reasonable prices on sites such as eBay.

The price of suspension forks for mountain bikes varies depending on quality, brand and condition (new or used). This does not mean, however, that the purchasing of a suspension fork for a mountain bike will not be cost-effective.

This guide is written with the intention of easing potential buyers of suspension bicycle forks.

Components of a Suspension Bicycle Fork

In order to choose the best suspension fork to buy, it is a good idea to find out about the components that make up the fork itself. This can aid the decision as it will enable potential buyers to understand which specific parts of the fork are important in enhancing the riding experience. Below is a table that defines all the components that make up a suspension bicycle fork:

Suspension Fork Component

Function

Legs

The legs are the main framing components of the fork that sit either side of the wheel. They are essentially the component from which the name ‘fork’ comes. They are split into two sections, the lower leg and the upper leg. On mountain bikes, the upper legs (otherwise known as the stanchions) can reach up to 40mm in diameter but this only tends to occur on longer forks. Whilst style and design remain the same in suspension fork legs, there is a wide variety in the size, especially in length and thickness. 

Crown

The crown of a bicycle suspension fork is the top point at which the majority of suspension fork legs meet. Generally, mountain bike forks have one singular crown that joins the head tube of the frame to the legs. However, there are also forks that have double crowns as a means of making the suspension more robust and less prone to shock. At professional mountain biking level, crowns can be found to be hollow as this decreases the weight of the bicycle.

Spring

There are two types of spring used in mountain bike suspension forks. The first is air springs.. These are pressurised air chambers which enable the absorption of shock whilst riding. These can be easily customised to an individual cyclist’s requirements. They are considerably lighter than coil springs as they are essentially made up of air - again advantage for serious riders.  The second type of mountain bike suspension forks are those that have coil springs.. Coil spring suspension forks are made from a variety of different metals (the metal used plays a role in determining price) and are harder to adjust. They are heavier than air springs due to the nature of their material. They are considerably less expensive than air springs yet remain extremely effective. There are occasions where one can find a mountain bike with suspension forks that contain an air spring that is reinforced by a metal coil spring as a means of making the suspension more effective. 

Axle

Axles are an important component of a suspension fork. They increase stiffness and the absorption of shock, as well as playing a role in affecting the accuracy of the steering of the bicycle in rough terrain. A lot of the more modern axles are made as 15 millimetre or 20 millimetre.

Damping

Damping is a means of softening the blow on the springs of the fork. It prevents the springs from getting damaged, as well as enhancing fork movement. It occurs via the forcing of oil through the valves. Most commonly, standard mountain bikes will have ‘rebound’ damping, yet different bikes have different damping for specific purposes. For example, if one wished to use their mountain bike for high jumps and large shocks, then a high-speed damping should be used as it contains a compression damping, as well as a rebound damping. More expensive and developed suspension forks have a number of isolated damping routes to enable them to be adapted to differing terrains and forms of impact. 

Steerer Tube

The steerer tube connects the head tube of the bicycle to the fork. They come in a variety of different sizes depending on required levels of stiffness and are available in a number of different metals. They are inexpensive when made of steel, but are placed higher on the price scale when made from the lighter weight carbon fibre.

Types of Suspension Fork for Mountain Bikes

There are two main types of suspension fork used in mountain bikes. The choice of which one to purchase depends entirely on the style of riding one wishes to undertake:

-  Short-Travel Fork: Short-travel forks are used by those who like to ride standard trials, or even who enjoy a simple ride through slightly rougher terrain than that which can be found on a road. They are effective whilst riding through loose dirt and are often the standard when purchasing a mountain bike. Short travel forks can be used to ride fast and whilst they cannot take the big hits that long travel forks do, they are still able to absorb a large amount of shock. In terms of dimension, they range from 50 millimetres to 80 millimetres.

-  Long Travel Fork: Long Travel Forks are often used by those who anticipate high levels of shock. They are a lot bigger than short travel forks and range from 100 millimetres to 180 millimetres. However, long travel forks that are anywhere between 120 millimetres to 180 millimetres tend only to be used by professional downhill mountain bikers who come across massive hits during their rides. Long travel forks are heavier than those designed for short travel and because of this they are not recommended for standard mountain bike use.

Buying a Mountain Bike Suspension Fork Online

There are very many mountain bike part sellers online. They offer a range of suspension fork options, whilst also offering a range of different prices, information about which is useful for potential buyers. A price comparison can be made in order easily and quickly to spot the most cost-effective prices. Auction sites such as eBay can improve a buyer’s chance of finding the same product at an even more affordable price.

There are also a vast number of online resources available that are designed to help with the buying of mountain bike parts. Again, take advantage of the likes of forums and blogs that discuss the pros and cons of certain materials used in suspension forks, or the best type of suspension fork for a certain style of riding. These blog posts and forum threads are often written by those who work in the industry or have been hobbyists for a number of years and they provide swathes of valuable information that can be used when choosing a suspension fork for a mountain bike.

Buying a Mountain Bike Suspension Fork on eBay

Not only does eBay play host to a huge number of mountain bike parts and accessories, it is designed to make the search for a certain product as specific and as tailored to the buyer’s needs as possible.

By visiting the Sports & Leisure section of the site and by clicking the Cycling link, one can find listings dedicated to those who wish to buy Bike Parts at more reasonable prices. One can search for items such as ‘Long Travel Suspension Forks’ by using the keyword search bar and then further the accuracy of the search by using the filter tabs to seek out specific brands or conditions.

However, before finalising a transaction, be sure to read up on the product desired. Take care to be meticulous in the reading of the product description to make sure it offers the same level of detail as that found on specialist online retailers. This should also be done in relation to the images provided so as to make sure that the transaction is an honest one. Despite the fact that the vast majority of transactions on eBay are sincere, it is reassuring to check the seller’s previous selling history.

If one is unsure of the practices of buying on eBay, check the Buyers Tip page before placing a Bid,, Best Offer or taking advantage of the Buy It Now option.

Conclusion

Being well read on the subject of suspension forks for mountain bikes can ensure that a deal can be found that is perfect for one’s riding style, as well as being of high quality.

Buyers should take into account the price they are willing to pay, as this can greatly affect the standard of suspension fork that can be bought. A high quality suspension fork will be light (for instance equipped with air springs and a carbon fibre steerer tube) but is more likely to be higher on the price scale than a suspension fork that is heavier due to different components.

If a suspension fork is regularly maintained and looked after, one of high quality and good condition can be a steady investment for a rider’s cycling experience. Using eBay will ensure that whilst the quality stays high, the price remains reasonable. 

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