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A commuter bike is different from a mountain bike or touring bike in several ways. It fits the rider like a second skin and makes every day ride no matter how long a joyful one. When it comes to comfort, there are several features to add to the joy of riding, and front suspension is one of them.
At the time of buying a commuter bike, you will need to look into numerous factors before making a choice. Whether you need a rigid fork or a suspension fork for a bike will depend on the type of road you ride on and your personal riding style.
When there’s a suspension fork in the bike, this helps in ensuring a comfortable ride on rough terrains or bad quality city roads. On the other hand, if you mostly ride on smooth and well-paved roads then a rigid fork is a more practical choice.
In this post, we will primarily discuss on rigid Vs suspension fork for commuter bikes. Read on to find out the difference they make and how the experience differs from each other.
|Rigid Fork||Suspension Fork|
|Performance||only comfortable on well-paved roads||Comfortable on rough terrains and well-paved roads|
|Weight||Less heaver||add more weight to bikes|
|Absorption||no shock absorption||Absorbs shock and impacts on road|
Getting To Know Suspension Fork Better
The suspension fork at the front side does a good job at absorbing the impacts caused by imperfections and bumps on the road. When you ride two different bikes on the rough terrain – one with a suspension fork and the other without it, the former offers a smoother ride.
When riding in the right circumstances, a bike with a suspension fork is just what you need to avoid strain on your arms and wrist. People who ride in bikes without a front suspension will go smooth on good quality roads but the ride may get shaky in shortcuts.
You can find suspension forks in two common types of bikes – MTBs and hybrids. While you may not find them in all the hybrid bikes but they are available in all MTBs. The biggest point of difference between the suspension forks found in these categories is the travel of the fork.
The hybrid bikes usually have a short travel which is enough to absorb the minor road bumps and road imperfections. However, when there is challenging terrain, they fall short in terms of performance. MTBs suspensions come with a comparatively longer travel (about 100-170mm) as they are designed specifically for off-road use.
Benefits Of Using Suspension Fork
Most people use bikes for commuting because they enjoy the overall experience. Those who prefer to sail smooth and avoid any kind of vibration or jerks will consider having a suspension fork in their bike. The front shock offers a benefit when you ride over the cobblestones, train tracks, single trail, and gravel in the cities.
When you have a shock-absorbing front suspension in your bike, this can ensure that the front tires stay well inflated to maximum pressure. You will still enjoy the pleasure of riding without having the risk of getting a flat tire.
Disadvantages Of Using Suspension Fork
For everything good and nice, there’s a price you have to pay. While the front suspension forks give you a smoother ride, they also add more weight to your bike. This is not noticeable when you ride on a flat surface but feels difficult when you have to ride on steep hills. If you need to carry your bike to your apartment every day, this would be an issue.
A heavy bike also means the ride will be slower than usual. This may not affect everyone but if you go for longer commutes with climbs included, there’ll be an extra effort for pedaling. You can feel the difference in weight even when the slope is not very steep.
Another downside is that a suspension fork absorbs the energy as you pedal your bike, stepping out of the saddle. As you move your body, you can feel the bike going up and down resulting in significant energy loss when climbing the vertical slopes.
This kind of kills your efficiency and prevents you from realizing your full riding potential. If your suspension comes with a lockout knob, it works like a rigid fork. Some cheap quality suspension can also seize up together and stop working.
Off-roading without a suspension fork
If you need to go off-road on your daily commute or you wish to go for some light trail riding, you may wonder whether a suspension fork can actually, handle the terrain. When you are not on technical terrain, we suggest that you opt for a no-suspension for a bike to get better control on gravel, dirt, and a wide range of terrain types.
Understanding Rigid Fork
A rigid fork bike comes with a solid frame that does not have suspension on any wheel. The material may range from steel and titanium to carbon fiber or aluminum. The wheel size may also range from 26 to 29 inches.
These are more conventional forks comprising of two metal supports that ensure both wheels are locked in one position like a traditional bicycle. In mountain bikes, you can find rigid forks on hardtail mountain bike frames.
Benefits And Downsides of a Rigid Fork
When talking about the advantages and disadvantages of a rigid fork bike, it is also important to consider the main objective of the rider. This style of bike is highly economical in nature and pretty long-lasting too. It hardly requires any maintenance work other than the conventionally one.
If you are thinking of losing weight then the rigid fork can even help you with that. So, if you think you can do without any suspension fork, going rigid is your best option. This can help you exert more pressure while riding and thus lose weight.
Now, talking about the downsides or disadvantages – if you ride your bike on rough or bumpy terrain, the rigid forks will not give you any comfort. You will be all jarring and shaking from the impact of the road.
Choosing The Right Fork
The popularity of rigid forks has increased with the rising trend of backpacking that involves strapping food supplies and camping gear directly to the bike frame of an off-road or mountain bike. Bike with a suspension fork is not the right choice for this type of bikes due to the extra weight that they carry.
For commuter bikes again it depends on the type of road and your style of riding. If you regularly take a rough road then you will benefit from a bike with a suspension fork. On the contrary, if you always ride on a smooth city road then a rigid fork bike will be enough.
Do fat bikes have a suspension fork
Most of the fat bike riders use rigid forks and the makers claim there’s no need for a suspension fork. It’s important to remember that a suspension fork works to smoothen out bumps on the front, not the tire. The higher pressure helps the bike roll more easily.
Why road bikes have no suspension
A road bike is designed as a way to ride on a track hence it can be legally used on public roads. It is fitted with light mountings, a reflector, two brakes, and so on. The racing machines do not come with any suspension as it does not offer any advantage for racing.