Upgrade decision: New fork or Carbon wheels??

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11/25/2018 6:42 PM

I am the proud owner of a transition smuggler AL (as per your suggestions on the forum, thanks guys!) End of the year bonus is coming up in a month or two and I want to upgrade her. I have the GX middle build and have already upgraded the dropper post and brakes.

So my dilemma is that I ride in some technical rocky terrain but the bike is also no lightweight either so I'm trying to decide where to put the money. I'm open to other upgrade options but I thought an MRP ribbon coil fork on that would be a sick upgrade to help with the burliness of the bike (the 140mm Fox 34 is getting the job done but could be better) or carbon wheels to save some weight overall. What do you guys think? Thanks for the help.

Upgrade options for the Smuggler

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11/25/2018 7:48 PM

Send the fork for a tuning (Avalanche or Push) and put some quality alum. rims(Stans) and spokes, for the same cost of only one of your current options.

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11/25/2018 8:19 PM

What is it about the Fox 34 that you feel could be better? And what wheels do you have right now?

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11/25/2018 8:54 PM

taldfind wrote:

What is it about the Fox 34 that you feel could be better? And what wheels do you have right now?

Good questions, I would say that for the fox I would like a bit more travel and some more ramp up at the end of the stroke. As for wheels I have an e13 wheel set with novatec hubs and TRS rims.

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11/26/2018 2:04 PM

I vote new fork and shock. You can get both new for about as much money as a carbon wheelset, and I feel that there is more of a performance gain for spending your money on more agressive suspension. Yes, there are lighter allow and carbon wheelsets than what you have out there, but honestly not by very much.

The Ribbon Coil can give you more end stroke support, but you may have to run a higher spring rate and less sag then you currently do which could reduce traction and small bump sensitivity. The Ribbon air may be a better choice, especially since it has the Ramp Control that lets you externally adjust the end stroke support you get at higher shaft speeds. This will allow you to get the end stoke feel you want, without sacraficing the beginning stroke feel. But if you like the feel of coil better than air, go for the coil.

As for the shock, I feel the Fox DPS will feel under-gunned once you put a burlier, longer travel fork on your bike. Dirt Merchant sells The DVO Topaz T3Air shock for $420 new, and the DVO website says they make that shock in 210x50mm that will fit your bike. Again, if you just like the way coil feels better than air, Cane Creek makes an Inline Coil shock that they say will fit your bike with an MSRP of $460 that you may be able to find for less money.

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11/26/2018 3:47 PM

Thanks for the tips Taldfind, I may just keep the fox and look at upgrading the rear shock now, good call!!

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11/26/2018 6:29 PM

You may also be able to increase the travel of the fork you have, and then add the MRP Ramp Control Cartridge for the Fox 34 to get more end stroke support, you just need to make sure that the space taken up by the Ramp Control Cartridge is less than or equal to the maximum number of spacers that fox says your fork can run at a given travel.

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11/27/2018 3:54 PM

I think carbon wheels are pretty over-rated. They can make the bike feel snappier in certain situations, but in other situations you'd be better on alum as they deflect less. They are blingy for sure and might be a good buy if you need new wheels, but as an upgrade, I don't know. You'd have to get a good deal and that's unlikely with carbon.

The Fox 34 is a pretty solid fork. I think you should explore tuning before you upgrade. I'm sure there are better forks, but it's pretty fractional unless you are a pro.

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11/27/2018 4:31 PM

Try and find a 150mm Fox 36 GRIP 1 (or even 160!). I loved my Smuggler "over forked". Just my $0.02.

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11/27/2018 7:24 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/27/2018 7:24 PM

I'd have to vote fork too. Probably a better value per dollar upgrade.

I will say this though:

I am not saying carbon wheels justify the price tag. They are really expensive and you could buy a fork and shock for the cost of most carbon wheels. That said, I really, really, believe in their durability. I am a rear wheel destroyer. I am 6' 2" 190 lbs and I love rough trails. I used to blow through a couple aluminum rear rims a year.

I have absolutely wailed on my RF Next R31 wheels and they are still in excellent shape. I've trued them up once or twice.

I also rode some SC Reserve wheels for a few months. Same deal. I hammered the shit out of those things and they came out strong.

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11/27/2018 8:06 PM

I’m partial to DVO. Not sure if their Black Friday thing is still going but a diamond/topaz would be sweet. I moved my diamond down to 150 on my scout but I’m going to put it back to 160. Sounds a bit much but at 160 it didn’t climb much worse at all and was still nimble but on the downs it gave a noticeable benefit
Lite bicycle also has/had a Black Friday sale on carbon wheels(mine have been great for ove a year knock on wood)
Not sure if mrp have a deal going but their latest ig post has a new bikekitted out with a coil shock/fork and other mrp bits.looks amazing. I prefer coil up and down. Dvo’s air products probably come as close as anyone’s product to coil ,albeit not quite

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11/27/2018 10:07 PM

Thanks for the replys guys. I am thinking that the 34 could just do with a better tune and see how I could go about getting it upgraded to 150mm of travel. Maybe a coil rear shock instead of a fork? any thoughts on that?

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11/27/2018 10:26 PM

astrizzle wrote:

Thanks for the replys guys. I am thinking that the 34 could just do with a better tune and see how I could go about getting it upgraded to 150mm of travel. Maybe a coil rear shock instead of a fork? any thoughts on that?

That made my rune(160) into a mini dh bike. 180lyric with a cc dbl barrel coil . If I don’t put a coil shock on my scout it’ll be a topaz

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11/28/2018 1:55 AM

Just to put a spanner in the works... You could most probably sell the alu frame and use that cash plus the money your looking to spend purchasing the carbon version...

Carbon wheels don't weigh that much less than alu especially if you need to run inserts because of the rocky terrain.

A new fork is just a new fork, its not really night and day stuff.

The carbon trannys are quite a bit lighter than the alu counterparts, i wouldn't swap my carbon sentinel for anything at the moment.

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11/28/2018 10:32 AM

I'm going to go back on what I said.

I suggest you do nothing to that bike except spring (pun intended) for a longer air spring. I think they make em for the 34.

Spend some time tuning that rear shock (volume spacers). Spend the rest on riding Trips > Parts.

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11/28/2018 10:40 AM

I would go off of what jeff.brines said,
Invest in some shock and fork tuning like renting a shockwiz for a weekend to get everything dialed in. But if you want to upgrade the wheels, i would go with something like the stans flows or arch's. They are relatively in-expensive and are bomb proof no matter what the terrain. If you get the Neo ULT rear hub, the engagement will be pristine with only 5 degrees of engagement.

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2017 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR expert 29er
2015 Specialized Camber Comp Custom Build

11/28/2018 10:41 AM

the MRP isn't helping your weight concerns.

Best fork option is a new 36 lowered to 140mm.

If you want to save some good weight, check out your stem/bar/seatpost/saddle combos. Getting a carbon or TI saddle will save alot of weight. Being that you have an aluminum transition build, the bars/stem/post is probably a little bit heftier.

Buy new fork, sell old fork and a bunch of new new bling. at the end of the day, alot less than carbon wheels.

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11/28/2018 11:22 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/28/2018 11:22 AM

I won't waste my time with wheels, they are meant to be trashed. If you don't use them for racing, they don't need to be light. I would buy new tires, fresh grips, make sure you are happy with your pedals, that's all your points of contact. I dislike the 34 and would explore anything stiffer like a Fox36 or even a pike. If you don't feel the 34 is too flexy, try harder ;-) but a good service/tune is also underrated. Finally, you'll get less marginal gains than with bike upgrade if you invest in some coaching or just riding more!! Congrats on the bonus buddy!!

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11/28/2018 4:00 PM

I remember watching one of Vorsprung Suspension's videos where Steve, the owner, said that he highly encourages a rider to play around with the suspension tuning option they have before they consider getting a custom tune from Vorsprung. His reasoning is that you will either a: find the feel you are looking for with what you have, or b: you will know what it is about your current set up that you want to change but that your current set up won't allow. I think this approach also applies to upgrades. I'll give you an example from my experience.

I currently own a 2015 Knolly Warden Alloy in size medium with a pike RC and a CCDB Air CS. I've got the fork dialed, so I feel no reason to get it tuned or changed out. The shock is another story. I can get it to either feel good and supportive for jumping and pumping but harsh in rocky terrain, or to feel very nice through the rocks but dead to pumping and jumping. This is primarily a spring (support) problem, not a dampening (energy management) one. To fix this problem I need to have more support at the beginning stroke and comparatively less support at the end stroke. I have two options to achieve this; I can get an eXtra Volume (XV) air can so i can use more travel with less sag, or, I can get a coil sprung shock with it's linear spring rate. I'll probably go with the XV Air Can because (if I can still find one) it will cost less and weigh less than getting a whole new shock. However, it took me a number of rides and lots of trying different tuning/setup changes to narrow down to the real issue I wanted to fix.

See as your profile says you live in Idaho, and winter will shortly arrive here, perhaps you should spend some time watching the videos that Vorsprung has on YouTube. They completed upgraded my brain for setting up my suspension, and what you learn from them, plus what you learn from applying that knowledge this spring will help you make the best decision for how to spend that bonus.

Sorry for the long post, I just want to be as helpful as I can for you, and anyone else who reads this forum thread. If we aren't building each other up we are tearing our sport down!

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11/28/2018 8:12 PM

jeff.brines wrote:

I'm going to go back on what I said.

I suggest you do nothing to that bike except spring (pun intended) for a longer air spring. I think they make em for the 34.

Spend some time tuning that rear shock (volume spacers). Spend the rest on riding Trips > Parts.

Thanks for the tip Jeff, do you happen to know where I could get a longer spring for the 34? Just email Fox directly I suspect?

that would make me feel more confident on the fork and save some cash for trips in the process, good call mate!

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11/28/2018 8:13 PM

taldfind wrote:

I remember watching one of Vorsprung Suspension's videos where Steve, the owner, said that he highly encourages a rider to play around with the suspension tuning option they have before they consider getting a custom tune from Vorsprung. His reasoning is that you will either a: find the feel you are looking for with what you have, or b: you will know what it is about your current set up that you want to change but that your current set up won't allow. I think this approach also applies to upgrades. I'll give you an example from my experience.

I currently own a 2015 Knolly Warden Alloy in size medium with a pike RC and a CCDB Air CS. I've got the fork dialed, so I feel no reason to get it tuned or changed out. The shock is another story. I can get it to either feel good and supportive for jumping and pumping but harsh in rocky terrain, or to feel very nice through the rocks but dead to pumping and jumping. This is primarily a spring (support) problem, not a dampening (energy management) one. To fix this problem I need to have more support at the beginning stroke and comparatively less support at the end stroke. I have two options to achieve this; I can get an eXtra Volume (XV) air can so i can use more travel with less sag, or, I can get a coil sprung shock with it's linear spring rate. I'll probably go with the XV Air Can because (if I can still find one) it will cost less and weigh less than getting a whole new shock. However, it took me a number of rides and lots of trying different tuning/setup changes to narrow down to the real issue I wanted to fix.

See as your profile says you live in Idaho, and winter will shortly arrive here, perhaps you should spend some time watching the videos that Vorsprung has on YouTube. They completed upgraded my brain for setting up my suspension, and what you learn from them, plus what you learn from applying that knowledge this spring will help you make the best decision for how to spend that bonus.

Sorry for the long post, I just want to be as helpful as I can for you, and anyone else who reads this forum thread. If we aren't building each other up we are tearing our sport down!

Thanks for the ideas man, good post, you are really into suspension huh!

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11/28/2018 11:32 PM

I agree with others that getting your suspension tuned will give you the most bang for the buck. It’ll set you back about $200 per damper. If you want to play with your suspension first but don’t know what to do you can probably rent a shockwiz locally.

Also I’ve had great luck with nextie (Chinese carbon) wheels. I don’t think high end hubs are worth it, go with hope or bitex or sram 900 or another high engagement, low weight, low cost option. I’ve owned king, dt and i9 but just built wheels with the 900s. You can find custom wheelsets like this for $500-$600. This guy is awesome: Nathan@OregonBicycleWheels.com

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11/29/2018 8:59 AM

astrizzle wrote:

Thanks for the ideas man, good post, you are really into suspension huh!

Lol, yeah I guess I am. Well set suspension really unlocks what a bike can do. Plus I've had long night shifts working with nobody but my thoughts...

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11/29/2018 2:40 PM

taldfind wrote:

Lol, yeah I guess I am. Well set suspension really unlocks what a bike can do. Plus I've had long night shifts working with nobody but my thoughts...

I just saw that WWC has a DB inline coil shock that is make just for the Smuggler and it's less than $500, may have to give that one a try soon....

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