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The mountain bike suspension fork is one of the most heavily loaded parts. Even when it is adjusted to handle the load, depending on how often you use your bike and how rough you are on your gear during those tours, at some point the wear and tear will make itself noticeable. And after a bad accident, it is recommended that you change out the fork. So if it is time to treat your bike to a new suspension fork, there are two central questions: Does the new fork fit to my frame? And: What should that fork be capable of?
Here are a few points to answer your questions and help you choose the right mountain bike suspension fork.
Just like the rest of your bike, the suspension fork should meet your needs. If you prefer racing on faster trails then every gram counts. So you should choose the lightest suspension fork. However, for downhill, you need extra support for jumps and rough stretches - the fork should remain stable and absorb shocks well.
Which fork length you choose depends on the installation height. This is determined by the frame and is measured from the axle of the front wheel to the lower bearing cup. If you change the fork length, this will have an effect on your steering: A shorter fork means more agility. If you add to the installation height, then the wheel will follow the track better, but steering might be more difficult. It is usually recommended to stay with the stated installation height, since that is what the frame is designed for.
Does the prospective fork fit to your braking system? Check ahead of time which brakes your bike has - and choose the appropriate fork. These days almost all bicycles have a post mount brake. Still, you should check whether your bike is equipped with IS 2000 brakes, even if they are rarely used anymore. Regardless, there are adapters for both systems. However, if your bike is equipped with a rim brake, then the suspension fork will definitely need to have cantilever bolts.
It is also important to know with which type of axle is used to fit the front wheel into the fork. Does it have a quick release skewer? Also common used is a bolt-thru axle with a 15 mm or 20 mm axle.
Also important: What is the headset standard for your frame? Some examples include the classic Ahead headset with bearings outside of the head tube, or the increasingly common semi-integrated headset with bearings inside the head tube. A further question on this point: What is the diameter of the steering bearing cups? The sizes can differ greatly - if you’re unsure, definitely consult with an expert.
You should now have a good overview of the prerequisites that mountain bike suspension fork has to fulfil, so that it fits to your frame. Now it’s time for the fun part: How do you want to outfit your bike fork?