Author Topic: Suss fork on Nomad Mk2 for extending touring (South America) - experiences?  (Read 8608 times)

cycling4chapatis

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Hi there,

I've seen endless opinion on this topic, but can't find much actual experiences, so anyone out there who has used a suss fork (e.g. the Magura Menja option) on a Nomad on a longer& loaded trip?

For background, partner and myself cycled Kenya-South Africa last year on solid frame tourers with 42mm/~1.7'' Mondials. We tried about 150k's of off-tarmac and it was tough going (getting knocked around+vibration) and we hence stuck to tarmac after that. Now we're planning South America (6months+) and want bikes that we can take off-tarmac a lot more (with luggage, not for fast mountain-biking sans luggage).

I've seen plenty of comments of "deflate tyres and then actively get out of saddle and use arms, shoulders and legs as suspension". While that makes sense and as a strong guy might be ok for a while, a 50ish kg chick with 40kg+ of bike&luggage for days of off-road - that just sounds rough (she's a sturdy lady, but still!). Hence thinking of suspension fork, obviously with lock-out.

I understand that with suss-forks the luggage has to sit on the back, that's fine.

Want to go with V-brakes, so Magura Menja option it would be.

There's also plenty of opinion of "if suss-fork for touring go for one with a coil spring". Both offered options are the now more common air-only variant though.
Although the nomad brochure is hesitant (?) as far as suss forks go, ALL - ALL the photos of Andi&Fi touring are with suss forks (I understand their trips are a bit shorter), talking about mixed messages! Obviously stuff can break, but how hard is it to repair a blown fork (assuming it's just spares and not crash-victim of course).

So getting down to it:
- anyone toured for months on a suss-fork nomad?
- watched Magura maintenance videos, doesn't seem to be too bad. How often do you have to re-grease/ pump up/ etc? Only the "small" service with re-greasing or the full disassembly? With care just requires wiping down from dust and a little air from time to time or full-re-grease, etc. every 1000k??
- what extras would I have to carry vs. steel fork? (Pump, grease, oil, special tools, spares...?).


Many thanks already!!



Danneaux

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Hi and welcome to the Forum!

I'm afraid I have no firsthand sus-fork touring experience to offer you (someone will be along shortly, I'm sure. NZPeterG, perhaps?), but something you wrote did catch my eye...
Quote
I understand that with suss-forks the luggage has to sit on the back, that's fine.
Actually, you can carry front panniers with a sus fork if you use a compatible rack. One option to do so is the Tubus Swing, here: http://www.tubus.com/product.php?xn=65 Another option might be to use a trailer. The Extrawheel maximizes ground clearance compared to sled-type/platform single-wheel trailers and might be a way to avoid putting the bulk of the load on the bicycle's rear rack.

Either of these approaches could open up some possibilities for a more balanced touring load, depending on your needs.

I notice you did mention trying the rough stuff on some 42mm Schwalbe Mondials. One possibility is to fit some wider (50mm/2in+) tires and run them at lower pressures for a mild suspension effect. This would prove most helpful for taking the edge off high-frequency, low-amplitude bumps, but wouldn't help as much for the really rough stuff, of course. For reference, I have taken my 26x2.0 Schwalbe Duremes on extremely rough logging roads with touring loads on both Sherpa and Nomad and found the 2.0 tires did help greatly compared to 700x32C or 70x38C tires on my other bikes, though I had to go slower than I would have with a sus fork.

A suspension seatpost or sprung saddle might be something to consider, even with a suspension fork.

You can search the Forum archives for more posts specifically on sus fork use and maintenance like this one: http://www.thorncycles.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=79.0

I have written a little tutorial on how to search most effectively and posted it here: http://www.thorncycles.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=4390.0 Try the terms "sus fork" and "suspension fork" (no quotes).

I hope this helps. It sounds as if you've already had some wonderful adventures, and I wish you well on your next one!

Best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 02:21:18 AM by Danneaux »

NZPeterG

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Hi
Well as Dan this said I'm running with Suspension Forks, V-Brakes, and sprung saddle!

Here it is  :)


I would have like to run with a pair of Magura Menja V-Brake forks but have not did any luck finding them? (have you?)
I'm running a pair of "Rock Shox Recon Silver TK 2012" forks 100mm, Coil Spring, V-Brake, I had to order them from the U.K.
Right how is it to ride a Thorn Mk2 with Suspension Forks?
Great, I have set it up for Mountain Biking cycle touring (and World Cycle Touring with STD forks) I have only find one down side with running Suspension Forks on my Nomad  8) and that is on sharp Switchback turns in Singletracks when Mountain Biking it's a little slow and hard work! with STD forks its great around the same switchbacks.
But with Suspension Forks on its Great (that great!)  ;D  on fast open down hills. Climbing hill is all good too. So all round My Thorn Nomad MK2 with Suspension Forks on is all good  :)

I'm also running Mavic 819 UST rims, So that I can run them Tubeless with UST tyre! Why so I can run low tyre pressures (around 20psi) But for tours overseas (I'm in New Zealand) I think I would just run with tubes  ???

If I was doing the same Cycle Tour as you I would try a Tubus Swing on front too, But I will not use a trailer again offroad or on Rock/dirt roads  :o

Go for it, I love my "Tom" (name of my Nomad) it ride's like Mountain Bikes did back in the 1980's/90's Fun Fun Fun, I ride my one at speed on rocky open fast down hill's

Pete
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E-wan

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sorry if this is off topic but what is the front mudguard you have on your forks? & what are those caps on the mouth pice of your bottles?

Thanks

Ewan

NZPeterG

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sorry if this is off topic but what is the front mudguard you have on your forks? & what are those caps on the mouth pice of your bottles?

Thanks

Ewan

Hi Ewan,

Good spotting about the bottle caps  :o My Bottles are Camlbak PODIUM® BOTTLE 24OZ and I have an ACCESSORIES of Camlbak on the bottles call PODIUM® MUD CAP here is the link http://shop.camelbak.com/podiummudcap/d/1044_c_322 it will only fit onto Camlbak Podium Bottles.

The front (and rear) mudguard are Topeck! and here is a link to the front one http://www.topeak.com/products/Fenders/defender_xc1

Pete
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cycling4chapatis

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Cheers for the replies!

Somehow still not sure about some crucial parts.

To clarify: not keen on a trailer, I've read all the pros, but worry enough about bikes, never mind adding 50% more wheels.

Also read about the racks on forks business. I know it is possible, but equally see that attaching weight to the end of a spring (whether coil or air doesn't matter) puts strain on it when it does its thing (obviously the weight wouldn't affect sag being attached to the outside). So would prefer to go with only handlebar bag and bottle cages at the front.

Coming to the fork again: so the current Nomad brochure has the Magura Menja as the V-brake compatible option.

I gather from various Thorn brochures that Andi&Fi's sus fork equipped bikes get used in trips up to  couple of months I take it?

What is the (roughly) service interval on forks? (I'm of the obsessively caring cycle mechanic kind that is happy to clean/ lube/ adjust to ward off evil spirits). What do people typically end up doing with a fork on tour? Nothing? Grease/ oil every 1000ks? 10,000ks? Pump it up once in a while? Can someone actually tell me what can so horribly go wrong with a air sus fork rather than a coil one? Assuming no impact (a steel fork wouldn't take kindly to be run over by a truck either), what can really go wrong that can't be fixed with some carried along spares?

For illustration, before Africa I read myself silly on the 700c/ 26" debate. We already had 700c bikes, whatya gonna do? Had some 36spoke, thick as spoke wheels handbuilt (nothing wild 150Euro for a set, hub, rim, spokes that is) and off we went. Carried about 10 spare spokes each in the seat-tube - they are still in there 6000k's later. What put my stressing to rest was a comment I read that people go on world tours with motor-bikes and 4x4s with a lot more finicky, expensive, specialised bits and they don't go ape about - oh-my-good-I-need-to-be-able-to-repair-my-bike-after-godzilla-chewed-it-with-less-good-looks-than-McGiver.

Someone, somewhere, needs to have done 10,000ks on tour, with luggage, with a sus fork - where are you???
 

StuntPilot

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Hi! I have been through the search too for suspension options for my Raven Tour. I can hear the frustration at not having some first hand long distance feedback on sus fork use! I am sure some intrepid member will show up!

Sorry I will not be able to add that experience. However I can point you in the direction of someone who has and add a few snippets. Elsewhere on the forum sus forks have been discussed so hunt around (see Dan's links).

The Magura Menja is a superb fork, not that I have one but I do have the Magura Odur fork which is exactly the same construction but with a coil spring. You will not go wrong with a Magura (solid double arch construction, made in Germany and of excellent quality). If you can I would try and find the Magura Odur. That way you only need to carry a spare spring, and even then that is not strictly necessary (if the spring goes (unlikely), you just stick in a bit of wood dowel or a stick in the fork until you can get the spring replaced). For maintenance of the spring - a bit of grease now and then.

The Magura Menja gets great reviews too and spares would include some seals and a way of re-pressurising the fork. More complicated hence I searched for ages for the Odur spring version. I managed to get hold of a new 85mm version Odur from a shop in Estonia! Keep Googling/eBaying and you may find one. It does not matter if its a 2007 model - all good.

The 'someone who has' experience with the Magura Odur is Tom Allen on his rides across Mongolia. Great viewing ...

http://vimeo.com/18567650

He uses an extrawheel trailer. Personally I would not use a trailer, but add a suspension compatible rack on the front as Dan has suggested. The videos are great at showing the extrawheel trailer and Magura Odur fork in action. I don't think he serviced the sus fork at all on his trip!

His site has some more detail on the fork and alternatives ...

http://tomsbiketrip.com/how-to-build-the-perfect-expedition-bike-part-1/

And his review ...

http://tomsbiketrip.com/magura-odur-100mm-front-suspension-touring-fork-review/

I would also go for a suspension seat post such as the Thudbuster ...

http://www.thudbuster.com/

or SR Suntour NCX ...

http://www.srsuntour-cycling.com/dstore/products/Seatposts/3045/NCX/SP8-NCX.html

Now where is that actual Thorn owner who has done the miles with a sus fork?  ???

(PS: Love the DeFender mudguards Pete!)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 07:32:08 PM by StuntPilot »

NZPeterG

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Hi All,to tour with Suspension Forks.

Right 1st off I have only cycled 1500km's so far on my Nomad (Tom) But I have 10's of 1000's of Km's with Suspension Forks on Mountain Bikes all over the world, most racing hard in mud and dirt!

Air forks are great and light! I Love them and would have a pair on my "Tom" for weekend Mountain Biking! But have not find any good one's with V-Brake mounts.

Air Spring Forks to tour with them is all OK but you need to take a Shock Pump (a tyre pump will Not work), and maybe a full rebuild kit (with oil to lube air piston seal), Plus you need to check your forks air pressure weekly.

Coil Spring Forks with Coil spring forks all you have to do is just ride them week in week out. You can take a set of fork seals if you like? But if they start to leak you can just keep riding (wash the oil off from time to time). inside the forks you have (in most) oil in a sealed damper unit, if it leaks it just leaks into the inside of your forks and the damping stops working you can keep in riding all the way home (it will be a pogo :o).
Most forks today have a little oil in each side of the fork to lube the inside (and spring) if your fork seals start leaking it's this oil that you see coming out, you can keep riding still the insides will dry out a little and you may wear the inside of you forks out (bush's which can be replaced once your home) but to keep your forks working good all you need to do is clean them (weekly is good)

With Air Forks you can have the air piston seal blow  :( and that is it! game over unless you are good at pulling forks apart, clean, and rebuild with new seals and oil's (there is a oil just to lube the air piston).

Service your forks? once a year or about every 5000km's this is pull them apart, clean, change oil's, check oil seals.

I hope this is a help to you all, I once pulled Fox Forks apart and custom tune them to the rider! charging part's inside from STD set. It was good money but I was missing my riding time so stopped.
Plus I have over 25 plus years as a Motorcycle Engineer working on Dirt and Motocross bikes.
 

Pete
:-)

« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 08:46:37 AM by NZPeterG »
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NZPeterG

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I forgot about wheel size and wheel builds?
1st wheel size? I have had 26", 29" and 700c wheels on loads of bikes over the years!
I also read up about which size to run with for my cycle ride down Africa last year, and ended up running 700c X 42mm tyres? But once in Africa find that very few places had 700c tyres or tubes (after being ill I Sold off my spare Tube's @ $10 US each  :P ).
(my 12,000km ride was cut short too only 2000km's after getting a little ill  :-\  read my Blog about it)
So when I started planning for a return Solo Tour I charged to running 26" wheels as most places had 26" tyres and tubes.
Spokes? and number of Spokes?
With having 26" wheel's 32 spokes are all that is needed (a well build pair of 32H wheels is very Strong), the main thing is the have your wheels build with only the best spokes! (like DT Swiss or Sapim) and only use DB spokes (Double butted) (they are far stronger than straight gauge)
How do I know all this well I get My wheels Build by one of the Best Wheel Build's in New Zealand! Here is a link to my wheelset  8) http://kiwipetescyclingsafari.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/wheels-build.html

I hope this helps  :)

Pete
 :o

« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 07:48:39 AM by NZPeterG »
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NZPeterG

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A few more things

I would also go for a suspension seat post such as the Thudbuster ...

A thudbuster seat post is very good but so is a Brooks



Also I have been thinking about running a front carrier and I have changed my thinking  ::) I would only use a Handlebar Bag keep it light up front and have fun on the Dirt roads and tracks.

Pete
 8)

« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 10:00:48 AM by NZPeterG »
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cycling4chapatis

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Thanks Pete & StuntPilot!

700c vs. 26": with handbuilt, strong wheels, 700c is no problem, assuming you're capable of repairing a wheel with spare spokes/nipples, but it's still a bit stressful. Ended up staring at every single bike wheel coming past me in Africa. Especially taunting: most bikes there(Kenya-South Africa) were those cheapy indian ones with the double top tube which have a 28"+ wheel size, that is actually just larger than 700c. Anyway, after all that paranoia now going with 26" and shifting paranoia onto my front fork. Nothing like a bit of mechanical fear to keep looking after the bike ;-)

Sounds like repairing an air sus fork isn't too bad either. I watched a couple of videos from Magura on servicing their air forks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40NUFsIfPd4 (full disassembly)
https://www.magura.com/en/bicyclecomp/products/suspension-forks/menja.html (it's under the picture of someone unscrewing a bolt on the fork, bottom right  - small service)

I'm a bit concerned that I can't find the Menja in the 2013 section and all their forks are now, surprise, disc only. Hope Thorn has a big stash?
So here some more questions:

- is there a pump that doubles for forks and wheels? I know the fork pressures are much higher.

- wouldn't the wooden stick repair work equally for an air sus fork?

+ 1 on the no trailer, no front panniers option. Apart from the extra wear by adding weight to the forks, it would of course impede the front maneuverability on rougher surfaces, which seems to defeat the idea of sus forks (obvious overkill on tarmac touring). BUT: that means: more needs to be on the back. Looking at the Thorn brochure, Andy talks about the long chainstays allowing for the rear weight to sit inside the wheel-base. When we started touring with our previous bikes we only had rear panniers with stuff additionally strapped on top. It was a bit horrendous. The bikes were ok to ride, but they hand a tendency to 'rear up' like an angry donkey and constantly wanted to fall over(more like backwards and then over) when rested against a wall. So we got front racks and panniers and it was all good. But now going with the sus forks we'd have to get more stuff in on the back again. We're pretty good at minimal luggage, but especially for longer/ potentially rougher weather trips (South America vs. Africa) we need a bit more space? The panniers in the nomad brochure photos look MASSIVE - what are they?

We've got rear and front Ortlieb Roller Plus. A pair of the rear ones, handlebar bag and a dry-bag over the back ok for 6months+ of South America?

NZPeterG

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Hi Yes to the wood stick repair, but you will not need too.
Why because if your spring brokens you can just keep riding! Your fork will only drop a few mm's 10mm at the most.
A fork coil spring will last years before broken! I have only come across a few broken in the last 33 years of working on motorcycle and bicycle forks.

The hard thing about wheel building is not the lacing up, or truing up your wheels, its to have all your spokes loaded with the same loading.
I build and true my wheels in know time, its the adjusting so that all the spokes have the same load.

As I said good luck finding your forks, more and more are disc only.

Pete
 :o

« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 08:53:20 AM by NZPeterG »
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NZPeterG

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The panniers in the nomad brochure photos look MASSIVE - what are they?


Yes I have a full set of these Panniers they are made in the UK. by CARRADICE
Here is a link to them
http://www.carradice.co.uk/index.php?page_id=product&under=type&product_id=22

They big at 54 litre capacity per pair and far strong then Ortlieb and Bigger  :o

Pete
 8)


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NZPeterG

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So here some more questions:

- is there a pump that doubles for forks and wheels? I know the fork pressures are much higher.


Hi Yes to a pump!

I know of only one pump that will do this it's a Topeak Shock 'n Roll Pump, here is a link about this pump.
http://www.topeak.com/products/Pumps/shocknroll

Or you can go with a STD tyre pump HP and use a Topeck Shuttle™ Gauge! Pump to Gauge, Gauge to Air Fork! and here is the link
http://www.topeak.com/products/Pumps/ShuttleGauge

I hope I have helped Answer your Questions  ???

For me I can Service and repair any Air or Coil Spring Fork! But I have gone with a Coil Spring fork because they work better on Dirt and Rocky Roads, Air Spring Forks are lighter (do you need a lighter fork?)
And I like to go with the old KISS

Pete
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cycling4chapatis

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Hey Pete, thanks again for all the links and info!

coil vs. air:

- touring I obviously couldn't care less about 100s of grams. So the pump doesn't bug either, esp if I were to go with the tyre/ fork pump option. On that note - I like the pumps that have a small connecter hose. You can repair punctured tubes 20 x easily, but if the valve is buggered, that's it. So in that regard, not fussed either way.

- don't want to go disc, that's just asking for too much worrying, so that limits the above choice considerably. I've read all the heroic stories of finding an ancient fork from the good old times, but seems a little tricky. I know this has been asked before, but most forums posts I've found are a few years old:
(quality) v-brake coil forks??

- coming back to the worst case scenerio: fork failure in middle of nowhere. Wooden stick option also applicable for air?

- mild case scenario: something is a little buggered, all I would need to carry (for the air option) would be spare seals, the grease and/or oil, the required torx bit and pump of course? All that doesn't sound like anymore than I would carry for the unlikely event of the speedhub wanting attention? The mechanic-y part doesn't bother me, just how much likely-never-required stuff I'd have to carry? A film canister of grease and 100ml oil don't bug me.

In short, coil would be lovely, but hard to come by and air isn't that much of a drama after all?



And back onto the topic of panniers and rack. After some more research, the tubus swing option doesn't seem that bad after all. Not planning to stuff heavy weight into the front panniers, but the volume makes a difference (and not having to buy new panniers, considering we're fully decked out already on that end and the bike, etc is gonna be ..$$$).
Came past these two sites:

http://www.thefuegoproject.com/i_gear.html (Alaska-ushuaia, thorn bikes, Magura Odur forks, tubus swing - "22000k's no problem" , though "Broken Parts (Ali): front rack tubus swing twice (*replaced free by tubus*), "

http://www.gurdon.cam.ac.uk/~ad327/india2008/kitlist.html (Himalaya cycling, Fox forks/ discs, but with tubus swing)

And those springs in the brooks saddle look more and more comfy...;-)