Effect of longer fork?


What is your opinion on a manufacturer decreasing a bike’s head angle by adding a longer travel fork? Are the benefits the same as a bike with a slack head angle to begin with? Does this change how well the rear suspension works?


Hey Charlie,

Good question. Back in the early ’90s when front suspension first came out, people FREAKED OUT about this issue. Raise the front of your Bontrager an inch — MADNESS!!!

These days it isn’t such a big deal. When you lengthen the fork on a given frame, you slacken the head angle, raise the bottom bracket and slacken the seat angle. If you only raise the front end 10 or 20mm, no big deal. The effect on the rear suspension is negligible. If you raise your front end 100mm, then things get weird. The BB gets really high, and the bike starts to feel floppy. Also, the seat angle can get crazy-slack.

If the manufacturer is upgrading, say, from a 130mm to a 140mm FOX fork, it’s all good. Just resist the temptation to slap a DH fork on your trail bike. But a FOX 40 on a 1990 Bontrager … that would be SICK!

BTW: Slapping a longer-travel fork on your frame might void the frame warranty.


— Lee

9 replies
  1. Andrew says:

    Hey Lee, I have been thinking of upgrading my fork to a longer travel one. I have a Gary Fisher Mullet and it came with a Manitou Splice with 100mm of travel. I want something that has more travel and is more plush, the Splice isn’t very fluid, so do you have any recomendations? I was think at least 130mm so the tech stuff isn’t quite as rough. Thanks.

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    How about a Rock Shox Pike or a FOX TALAS? Those will let you adjust your travel for different situations. Tall/slack is nice on natural terrain, but low/steep feels better for DJ, park, etc.

  3. Roberto says:

    To Andrew, why not try a Reba or a Fox Vanilla? The Reba has not that difference in travel from your Splice, but I think it is more plush than a Splice. Maybe it’s not the travel you want, but better suspension? The Vanilla has an internal thing to make it 100mm, and it’s coil (not as light as an air fork, but maybe plusher).

    If you want more travel, Fox Talas is pretty good, or Rock Shock Revelation (I have both, and I prefer the Revelation over the 05 Talas R).

  4. alex says:

    I am at a stage to choose between Talas 32 RLC ’07 and Pike 454 U-Turn 95-140 ’07.
    Ride style; no drops and jumps.
    I have been shortly testing Talas -I like the feel of it. However, I have been told, Pike is far stiffer and more reliable having nearly the same ride-feel with Talas.
    Any experience on it?

  5. leelikesbikes says:

    I’ve ridden both forks, and they’re both excellent.

    The TALAS 32 is more XC/trail oriented, with standard QR dropouts. The Pike is a bit burlier, with the Maxle through axle. The TALAS is almost a pound lighter. The Pike has a progressive spring rate that handles bigger hits nicely.

    As with all things, it’s a question of riding style.

  6. alex says:

    Hi Lee,

    Thanks for the immediate, valuable response.
    Where I will be leaving in a few months (South Europe) will have little chance to find competent stores to repair parts of my bike if they brake. Thus, reliability is one of the main buying arguments. People say RS Pike needs less maintenance if not at all.

    I am not happy with the additonal pound of weight with the Pike, however, if it is more reliable than the Talas I would go for it.


  7. leelikesbikes says:

    The last Pike I rode was in 2004, and it was rock solid. Same with the three or four TALASes I’ve owned.

    Whatever you get, get it soon and ride it hard. In my experience, both companies make great products, but there are sometimes little glitches. Fix any problems before you leave for Europe, and you should have a very reliable fork.

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