Why is it harder to climb with a lowered fork?

Hey Lee,

Why does it feel harder to pedal with a FOX TALAS fork in “shorter” mode while climbing? For example you’re chugging along, climbing your favorite moderate to steep (insert appropriate grade % here) fire road, you drop the fork, and it gets NOTICEABLY harder to pedal.

This one appears to have some debate around it. Physics and some good Lee Likes Bikes diagram kung fu should be able to kill it. What’s your take? Has anyone tested whether it’s perceived or real?

Thanks,
Mark


Hey Mark,

That’s an interesting question. Perhaps:

• When you drop your fork the hill tends to be steep and you tend to be miserable. I’m sure you’ve already factored this in.

• You are steepening your seat tube angle, which changes your pedaling dynamics. A couple degrees is a big change!

• With some suspension designs, lowering the front end changes the chain’s “pulling” angle and messes up the kinematics. The suspension might open up or squat with each power stroke. Sorry, no time for diagrams today. Which bike are you on?

Rip it (in long travel mode)!

Lee


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5 replies
  1. Mark says:

    Miserable: check. Twist travel adjust: more miserable!

    +1 on leave it in long travel mode (I do). I experienced this on my Nomad with a 160 TALAS, but it is fairly common among many TALAS owners.

    We’ve run this one by some of our Engineering comrades, and no one has had a definitive analysis that makes sense. I think you’re on it with the angle part, and maybe the end result of seat angle > torso to leg angle > vs bike to ground angle is what’s happening.

    Life is good when this is the “problem” eh? Thanks for the response (and the spell check)!

    Mark

    Reply
  2. Pascal says:

    Here’s my take, I use the TALAS feature regularly for longer climbs, but, my bike has a low single pivot (no anti-squat) and a PUSHed shock set up plush. When climbing, the shock compresses because of the weight transfer to the rear, slacking out the bike even more and giving me a feeling of falling off the rear of the saddle. Lowering the travel up front helps balance things out and the bike feels more normal when climbing

    On a bike with a good anti-squat (such as VPP) or a lock-out shock, I would believe the bike settles less to the rear on climbs, so when you lower the travel, you “unbalance” towards the front, steepening the angles and changing the usual pedaling position.

    So I guess if you don’t have the “falling off the back” feeling, fork travel adjust is not necessary.

    Reply
  3. daz says:

    i ride a chameleon with a 150 revelation dual pos fork. i don’t notice increased pedalling difficulty when i drop the fork on a climb. what happens is that my all-trail hardtail suddenly becomes an xc rig with steeper angles, i really notice the nose of my saddle drop allowing to me to weight it more especially at the back and the climbing is easier, which i guess makes me pedal harder! maybe it is a rear suss thing?

    Reply
  4. rev says:

    I notice the same thing on my Bionicon with adjustable geometry (not just fork travel). However, the effect of “pedaling gets harder” seems to be entirely subjective and only lasts a few minutes. In fact, doing timed runs uphill (or flat for that matter) shows that the lowered fork / steepened geometry definitely is faster than long travel mode.

    One trick I often use to trick my mind around this issue: Adjust the geo (or fork in your case) completely into uphill mode. Ride 30-60 seconds. Adjust minimally back to long travel (like, 10mm or so). It instantly feels easier to pedal, while still being in the ‘better’ positioning.

    However, the Bionicon system also automatically locks out the rear suspension and changes all angles, so it probably is not comparable 1:1 with a simple adjustable fork.

    Reply
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