Modern-day mountain bike suspension is a scientific marvel, but don’t be afraid to get back to the basics and mix things up with a rigid fork. You might be surprised to discover that you learn new skills and may even really enjoy yourself.
Anytime a rider brings out a fully rigid steel mountain bike to the group ride, it will surely turn some heads, raise some eyebrows and, start some conversations. It is the type of bike that should be respected, be in every mountain bikers stable, and be ridden often. Rigid bikes are like diamonds in the rough, but the difference is that you and your skills are the ones that get polished. These bikes will help you find your flaws and perfect them into translatable skills from one bike to the next.
Modern suspension is great and has taken its place at the top of preferred bike designs for a reason. It has allowed riders to tackle terrain that, not too long ago, was considered inconceivable. Crazy-rocky-steep terrain can now be covered with speed, control, and finesse. Modern suspension has also led to the progression of trail building. They have become more difficult, interesting, and more variable in style. All of which offer benefits for everybody.
So, thank you, suspension. Thank you for all of the above-mentioned reasons, and for making mountain biking and mountainous terrain more accessible. I do have one complaint though… You have made a lot of us mountain bikers really lazy.
Suspension has allowed us to hide our mistakes among its squishy parts and fancy links. Bikes pull us out of sticky situations all the time. There is sure to be a large group of folks in the audience reading this right now who have pointed a large travel squishy bike down a crazy jumbled up pile of rocks, closed their eyes, hoped for the best and come out the other side looking like a pro. Where is the skill? Where is the ability? Suspension has allowed us to forget about the most important and truly skill-enhancing suspension components available... our own bodies.
Becoming a better rider comes from tuning your own suspension, not the bike's suspension. It will benefit every rider to drop the crutch of suspension and to, every now and then, get out on a fully rigid bike to learn and tune the components you were born with. It sounds painful at first, but trust in it and give it a shot.
There are many reasons why you should try a fully rigid bike. Ultimately, you want to get a bike that is fun for the style of riding you plan on doing. Whether you're just cruising the trails, you're racing to the podium, or bombin' down the side of a mountain and jumping over boulders, you want to get a bike that suits your needs and is fun to ride. With that said, here are the top 5 reasons why you should ride a rigid bike.
1. Mistakes Get Noticed
Get onto a rigid bike and you will soon notice how lazy and sloppy you have become at letting your body absorb the hits. While this doesn’t sound like a good reason at first, you will quickly realize that this will help your bike skills improve massively.
2. Make an Old Trail Feel New
Bring out the rigid bike and you will find all the smaller features and nuances of a familiar trail that a squishy bike simply ignores. Challenge is a good thing.
A steel fork will only set you back about a hundred bucks and will never require maintenance. It may cost you some extra change after you’ve tried rigid, loved it and decided to upgrade to a carbon version. But, that’s okay because your frame was cheaper too.
When a mid-season funk sets in, having a different type of bike to jump on may just pull you out of it, and return your spirits to normal levels. Swapping your ride refreshes your skills, your trail’s features, and stoke levels.
This is by far the most important reason. A rigid fork eliminates fork dive, allowing rigid bikes to rail turns like never before. You will also experience increased bar sensitivity, as well as become more in tune with the trail. As your bike handling skills improve you will find new features and alternate lines that you had just plowed over before.
Sure, it's not for everyone. Once you get used to newer technology, it's hard to go back to older technology. However, if you're still not convinced to try a wonderful rigid bike, then don't fret. We've got plenty of love for full-suspension rigs. For those looking to go full savage on a rigid mountain bike, the next step up is to go single-speed.