DJ fork for 40something rider?

Hi Lee,
I’m 44 and have spent the last two years ripping up the local trails on my Kona Coiler (Your book has helped a lot).

Recently I aquired a single speed Santa Cruz Chameleon for off road commuting, the local BMX track (I will manual properly even if it kills me), street and general trails — and the last couple of weeks have been fun but the bike feels nose heavy, notably it’s really hard to lift when I’m doing jumps or drops.

Guys at the LBS thought the RS Argyle was the go, but I’m interested in the Recon 351 … What sort of things should I be looking for in a fork? FYI the current fork is 2005 Dirt jumper 3.

Look at the goofball in this photo. He’s running a standard Fox XC air fork with a standard quick release. If it’s good enough for Lopes …

Hey John,

Welcome to the wonderful world of DJ hardtails. They are super fun and versatile. I love my P.3 — as a matter of fact, it’s the bike I ride most often: for commuting, errands, coaching, Pump track Nation, jumping, skatepark and some trail. If, God forbid, I could only have one bike, a long could do the trick.

OK, let’s break this down:


2005 Dirt Jumper 3 – An older-school, burly 100mm fork that uses a standard QR axle. I’m gonna say, as long as it is properly serviced and tuned for you, that fork will not hold you back. It uses coil springs with an external air preload, so you can make it as firm as you need for braaap. The damping isn’t as intricate as modern forks, but that won’t make the difference between you manualing and not. (I started 2004 on the trickest Manitou DH fork money could buy; after several failures I switched to the super-basic Marzocchi 888 — and that fork took me the rest of the way through an awesome DH season, and it’s still going strong for one of my buddies. Simple can be good.)

Rock Shox Argyle – A modern, burly DJ fork that uses a 20mm thru axle. The guys at PUSH love these forks, and that’s all you need to know in terms of ride quality. Argyles are about a pound heavier than your DJ3. You are 44 and just getting into this type of riding; unless you are going big and sloppy, I doubt you need the extra burliness/stiffness of a full-on DJ fork.

Rock Shox Recon – A modern XC fork that uses a standard QR axle. An air-sprung Recon is almost a pound lighter than your DJ3. Probably a better choice for you than an Argyle.

What I think – If money is an issue, get your DJ3 serviced and rock it. If you decide to upgrade, go for a light XC fork with a standard QR hub. 1) You don’t have to buy a new wheel. 2) You probably DO NOT need the extra stiffness of a 20mm hub. Jared Graves races 4X on the same Fox F100 I run on my That XC fork is not holding Mr. Graves back. It’s certainly not holding me back either.


His Weirness on his own personal pump track. Rocking the Fox F100. Again: If he doesn’t need a 20mm thru axle, do you?

As you might expect me to say:

Given limited money and time, focus on your kung fu. That will gain you more than any new fork.

Whenever someone says they’re having trouble lifting their front end, it makes me think they’re trying to pull it up with their arms. While that’s the natural instinct, it just doesn’t work very well.

– To lift the entire bike off a jump, load into the lip and let Earth push you upward. Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

– To lift the front wheel for a drop or manual, shift your weight back. Lee’s Third Law of Braaap.

To sum it up

1) Run a standard-QR fork, and make sure it’s tuned for you.

2) Invest in your skills.

3) Have fun!

— Lee (40 this year)

Know more. Have more fun!

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