If you are someone who is considering upgrading your mountain bike fork, there are several things you need to know before purchasing your replacement.
Most entry level mountain bike forks will come with a 1 1/8″ threadless steerer tube. In most cases this will not be tapered, but you need to check your fork to be sure. In some cases it will be threaded, but that is not very common. Also, make sure to measure your current steerer tube before ordering a replacement, as the replacement needs to be the same size as your current steerer tube, unless you want it to be longer or shorter. You also need to check to see if your fork uses a thru axle or a quick release axle. Also, don’t forget wheel size, as different forks are meant for different wheel sizes.
Forks have different diameters, starting out at about 28mm, and going up to 32mm. Forks also have different lengths of travel. Most entry level mountain bikes have a travel of 80 to 100mm, and you will want to double check what your current fork is before ordering, because changing the travel of your fork can change the geometry of the bike. It is important to note that vintage mountain bikes used suspension forks that had shorter axle to crown measurements, and as such, will handle quite differently with modern forks, as the geometry will be quite different.
One last thing to consider is what kind of brakes you have. While most modern mountain bikes have disc brakes, if your bike has v-brakes, you will need to double check that the fork is compatible with your brakes before purchasing.
Once you have considered all of these factors, and taken the proper measurements, you are ready to order your new fork. A lot of people who currently have a Suntour coil fork will upgrade to a Rockshox forks, but there are also other forks like the Suntour Epicon and Raidon forks that get great reviews. Other brands to consider are Fox, Manitou, and Marzocchi, just to name a few. Some forks can get quite pricey, and you don’t want to buy a fork that is more expensive than your bike!
Some suspension mountain bike forks have lockout features that allow you to lock them out when climbing, or riding on pavement, which prevents them from bobbing up and down, which can be really annoying when climbing. Some forks also come with a remote lockout switch, which means you don’t have to reach down to lock the fork out – you can just do this with the flick of a lever that is mounted to your handlebars.
Coil forks are the most entry level, while air forks are considered to be better in quality, although there are some great coil forks out there.
Most mountain bike suspension forks that are worth buying start out at about $100, and go up from there, but if you want to see a significant improvement in the performance of your fork, I would recommend investing between $150 to $200. Typically speaking, the more expensive your fork is, the better it will perform.
One fork that should significantly improve your bike’s performance without breaking the bank is the Rockshox TK 30 series fork.