Bike Suspension Part III: Upgrading Your Front Suspension

Upgrading Your Front Suspension

Bike Suspension Part Three



If your current front suspension needs replacing due to non-serviceable wear or damage, you need to know these 4 specs to upgrading your front suspension in order to replace it properly:


  1. Axle compatibility: Does your front wheel have a standard 9mm quick-release? Or a 15mm or 20mm through axle? Choose the correct axle dropout size for your wheel.
  2. Travel: Many bike frames are designed to work with a suspension fork featuring a specific amount of travel. The amount of travel will change the handling characteristics of the bike. An older mountain bike may have an 80mm fork, which is hard to find now. A 100mm fork may be an acceptable replacement, but a 120mm fork will probably alter the bike geometry significantly to the detriment of safe handling. In addition, some fully rigid bikes come with the correct frame geometry angle to upgrade to a suspension fork. Always check with your bike manufacturer for replacement fork recommendations.
  3. Steerer tube: A standard steerer tube (see components diagram, below) is straight with a 1-1/8” diameter. Very old bikes may have a 1” diameter tube; newer bikes, especially upmarket mountain bikes, most likely have a tapered or oversized steerer tube. Make sure your new fork has a compatible steerer tube.
  4. Brake type: Most mountain bikes now have disc brakes. If you want to replace a fork that has rim brake mounts, your choices will be limited to some very basic suspension models unless you upgrade your wheel and brakes as well.


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