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Cycling for life
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Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering if anyone knew the amount of performance increase in a bike that did not have shocks vs one that does? My daughter has a Specialized Vienna that seems lite and nimble without shocks. Much faster on speed pickup especially into the wind. Its got 700 x 35 tires and does pretty good on most broken pavment etc. On gravel or any surface that is at all not hard packed it falls off quickly. I was just wondering how much energy output that shocks take away from the physical effort. The Crosstrail I ordered has a suspension lock out.
 

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I was just wondering how much energy output that shocks take away from the physical effort. The Crosstrail I ordered has a suspension lock out.
That depends on the bike and the terrain being ridden. Squishy pieces do soak up energy, including input from the rider which effectively slows the bike down and makes climbing out of the saddle a task. Lock outs and shocks like the Fox Float RP-23 eliminate or minimize this effect, but in most cases, are still going to be heavier than a hardtail, making the bike slower. Also, a suspension fork with any significant travel will slacken the head angle making climbing more difficult.

On the plus side, suspension makes technical descents easier by smoothing out the trail and slacker head angles help you stay behind the handle bars. So in general, bikes with suspension can descend quicker (on the trail) than their rigid counterparts.
 

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Total noob (& forum admin)
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Just for clarification, a shock is a rear suspension component. A suspension fork is a front suspension component. The reason I'm pointing this out is because while a suspension fork really shouldn't cause a loss of efficiency, an ineffective rear suspension setup, or incorrect shock setup could result in wasted energy. When you see someone riding one of those $99 WalMart "full suspension MTBs", (Not for off-road use!) notice that they bob like crazy, and are always active. That's a massive waste of energy.

Now, to your question. I don't think your daughter's issue has anything to do with suspension. Her bike (which is pretty sweet, by the way) was designed for comfortable cruising and commuting. The frame geometry is optimized for on-road handling. When she encounters a loose road surface, the relatively narrow tire kinda loses its way, and makes the bike hard to handle. Taking a Vienna off road is like using a knife as a screwdriver. Sure, it can be done, but not easily, and sometimes you end up getting hurt.

The Crosstrail (another nice bike) is definitely more of a multipurpose tool than the Vienna. It's specifically designed for on the road and light off road. Lock out the fork when you're on smooth pavement, and give it a flick to unlock when the going gets rough. It doesn't have much travel, so it's not going to sap much energy, if any.
 

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Cycling for life
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Discussion Starter #4
Hey I much appreciate being able to tap into the huge knowledge pool of this forum. Thanks for the clairfication on the suspension as well. Not many hills in SW. Florida!
 

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Florida Cyclist
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234 Posts
I was wondering if anyone knew the amount of performance increase in a bike that did not have shocks vs one that does? My daughter has a Specialized Vienna that seems lite and nimble without shocks. Much faster on speed pickup especially into the wind. Its got 700 x 35 tires and does pretty good on most broken pavment etc. On gravel or any surface that is at all not hard packed it falls off quickly. I was just wondering how much energy output that shocks take away from the physical effort. The Crosstrail I ordered has a suspension lock out.
it depends on the equipment-- as mentioned Walmart shocks/forks --- waste energy...

I run on a Specialized S-Works Epic --- pretty efficient ----basically the fork activates when it is needed otherwise it is locked (automatically) and the read shock has a "brain" that makes it very efficient

of course you pay dearly for these accoutrements :)
 

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Cycling for life
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Discussion Starter #7
Mike that sounds perfect for me. A shock that KNOWS when its needed. When test riding bikes I tried and liked the Vienna a lot. But, I ride on dirt, grass, and more broked pavment than my daughter. When I tested the Crosstrail there was a huge difference in the feel over rougher ground, and very little in performance on the hardtop. I dont have the Crosstrail yet as its on order. The other night we were riding in a pretty stiff wind and she seemed to be making much less effort to make good speed that me on my Diamondback with front shocks. Maybe its just the twenty one years difference!
 

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Cycling for life
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Discussion Starter #9
No, not sure at all. I am sure I was working it harder in a lower gear. I tried three combinations to get the best feel. My knee has issues so I generally use a lower gear and get my speed from cranking faster than my daughter wand my wife.
 

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Cycling for life
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Discussion Starter #12
"accoutrement"
A riders perspective on the values of "accoutrements" changes a bit once he or she becomes AARP eligable. More so if the riding surface includes broken pavment and rocky roads.

I'm just sayin'...
 

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Sort of. That doesn't keep the rubber on the road when the going gets rough. But it does provide a somewhat smoother ride.
true hack and one can part company of the seat if you dont get off your butt in the rough

Jumping curbs if you have loads of travel on front shock can be difficult for old men like myself a burn on my leg has covered the scars:rolleyes: and I rode home for well needed nana nap :thumbsup:
 

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greenhorn
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128 Posts
Industry Hack has some good points for sure.
I ride a Crosstrail to commute to work...in nicer weather. The front suspension is easily adjusted stiff so it doesn't give unless you need it to give. One draw back I see with my bike is in the case you like to lift over curbs. Anytime you try to lift the front of the bike over a bump, curb or sidewalk you top out the suspension.
Hard frame riders do this quite often so it is an adjustment in riding style.
I love my Crosstrail. but looking to get more competitive with a road bike this spring.
 
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