Bad idea: Long travel fork on trail hardtail

Hi Lee,
I just got myself a 2008 GT Avalanche 2 2 months ago and now I’m planing to upgrade the fork. I’m looking into 2008 Marzocchi 55ATA2 and 2008 Fox 36 Talas for all mountain and DH rides.

Could you kindly advise which fork is more suitable? I heard FOX have issue with the seal from my LBS.

Thanks. Skyler

Dude, don’t do this.

Here are some reasons:

Warranty. I promise this will void your factory warranty. Don’t be one of those kids who hucks off a building, sheers off his head tube then tells his LBS he “was just riding along.”

Handling. Your bike came with a 100mm fork. I can see going up to maybe 120mm, but those 160mm forks will seriously jack up your handling. The slackness and high bottom bracket will make your bike steer like a tugboat. I’ve seen kids do this, just riding along.

Cost. Are you insane? Your complete bike retailed for $630 U.S. Each of those forks costs more than your bike. When you add the required 20mm-axle wheel, you’re looking at close to $1,000 in upgrades. If you had $1,600 to spend, you could have gotten a lot more bike.

Your Avalanche 2.0 is spec’ed for trail riding. For serious all mountain and DH riding, you bought the wrong bike. My advice:

– Leave your bike stock.

– Ride it as much as you can. Really learn to ride it.

– Save money for your upgrade. This time, buy a bike that’s designed for the type of riding you envision yourself doing.

— Lee

Regarding seals: Given enough time and wear, all forks develop leaks. I have two seasons of almost daily use on my FOX F100, and it just started weeping oil. Marzocchis tend to be very reliable.

14 replies
  1. Chris says:

    Maybe the first generation Fox forks had problems with their seals, but my 2007 32 RLC and my 2006 32 Talas RLC are good as gold.

    Marzocchi seals have been as good to me too!

  2. Mike says:

    Good advice by Lee (as usual). Don’t go for such a long travel fork! I don’t know exactly which fork your Avalanche is equipped with, but if you’re unsatisfied with it buy a quality 100mm or 120mm fork, this will make a huge difference to the typical 630$-Bike-fork. If you know a good source (e.g. friends or a trustworthy bike shop) you could also buy a used one in order to keep costs down. I too agree with Lee that putting such an expensive fork into your bike is basically a waste of money (sorry for that, but it’s really meant to help you).

    Good luck and have fun with the bike, I bet it rails even with stock parts!

  3. Skyler says:

    Hi All,
    Thanks for the advise. I was actually thinking of reusing the fork in the future when I upgrade to full sus, but since it is gonna effect the handling I will look for a shorter fork.

    Any recommendation, preferable Marzocchi or Fox?

    Thanks, Skyler.

  4. Chris says:

    If a long travel fork on a hardtail is truly your dream, an alternative is to sell your Avalanche and buy one of those Norco Shore Hardtails. They’re designed for abuse and for the 160mm forks they come with. And some are the price of a new fork plus a second hand bike (but only the $1900 has ATA, perhaps you can find last years model for a lot less).

    The geometry is designed to point downhill, and they are strong (and since they are cheap, this means heavy). They will be a pig on steep ascents and you will be popping wheelies with every pedal stroke and your front tire will take a haphazard course like a butterfly’s, but fireroads should be fine.

    There are other hardtails designed for such forks from the North West Coast too. Brodie, Cove, Transition.

  5. Skyler says:

    Hi Lee,
    One more thing to ask. What about Marzocchi XC 600 ATA2 or XC 700 ATA. I will be using mostly 100mm and 120 mm for downhill, doubt I will use 140mm. Would the fork effect any handling on the bike?

    Sorry if I have ask too many questions cause I really wanna get the most out of this bike.

    Thanks. Skyler.

  6. leelikesbikes says:

    The more travel you add, the more it will mess with your handling. FOX and Marzocchi are both great.

  7. aaron says:

    Lee, what’s your thoughts on a 150mm 66 on a SC Jackal? leave the stocko on? or? SC says they’ll 160 run=able

  8. Dan says:

    I think it is also worth pointing out that putting the longest-travel-fork-possible on a hardtail is kinda old-timey, like 2001 style. Consider a good tune-able fork like a used z.1 CR (QR20 for future compatibility) and set it up with 100mm travel.

  9. leelikesbikes says:

    Ah the z.1 … now that was a fork!

    I remember Mountain Bike Action saying it was “too plush.”

  10. Dan says:

    I know what you are thinking and the answer is no, no, and um no. For a frame like the jackal you will hate yourself if you put a fork on with more than 120mm. With the Jackal in particular with its tiny rear end you will only accomplish making a loop out machine. One more thing to consider, that is clearance, a fork with that much travel will be way wider than the DJ 3 it came with, the fork may not fit very well. To answer the question you want to be asking get an Argyle or a Pike great forks for a frame like that and with the pike you can go up to 140mm until you realize it rides better at 95mm.

  11. Richard Powell says:

    Don’t stress so much about the travel.
    I have a Talas that runs anywhere from 80 to 120mm.
    As my riding skills improved, I use it more and more at the 80mm setting.
    Read Mastering Mountainbikes, build your skills, then worry about how much travel you need.

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