Will I notice 10mm of travel difference?

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Will I notice 10mm of travel difference?
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Posted: Jan 13, 2021 at 12:52 Quote
Will I notice the difference in 10mm of travel between two bikes with similar geometry? Am I too fixated on travel numbers?

Hear me out... I'm in the market for a new bike. I ride in the Vancouver area. It's wet, techy, traction is king here. My current ride is an older Norco Fluid (120mm up front 120mm out back). To get the traction I want I run it fairly soft with extra volume spacers, and I still end up bottom out pretty harshly on bigger hits. So I ask myself, how much travel should my new bike have?

Given there are plenty of bikes in the 'all mountain' category that have very similar geo numbers, my question is will I notice a difference in travel of around 10mm?

~160mm up front seems to be the sweet spot for this type of riding. However, would bumping up to 170mm help with the bigger hits while still having that supple off the top feeling? Will it feel like mush when I ride easier flow trails with friends new to the sport? Will I still get the same bottom out issues if I go to a 'smaller' bike with 150mm up front? Heck, will I even notice a difference?

Ideally I would demo the range of bikes I am interested in. However, given covid, that is really tough. Therefore I am asking those who have had the privilege to ride different bikes in this travel range (ideally back to back) and can speak to this.

Posted: Jan 13, 2021 at 16:53 Quote
Yes you will notice a difference. Going from 150-160mm front I noticed a huge difference in terms of margin for error on techy roll ins. Every bit in the back just reduces bottom outs. Don't believe me? Go rent a DH bike for a day and be shocked at the things you can get away with.

NOW that being said if you're riding the shore the bigger problem you're going to run into is that as you get more travel the bikes tend to get slacker and longer. The shore is all tight techy jank so super slack head angles won't help you, and in fact will make tight trails harder to ride because it also makes the bike longer. My personal preference for riding blacks and double blacks on the shore would be something 150mm rear and 160mm front with 64-65 degree head angle.

Curious to see what others say, but do pay attention to wheelbase lengths.

Posted: Jan 13, 2021 at 19:28 Quote
160 front is really nice, 140 to150 rear. And don't go too slack for slower riding.i
150 front is still a lot more than your current bike so it would be good.

Posted: Jan 14, 2021 at 5:58 Quote
To bear in mind though when you run a longer fork you also run a bit more sag, granted it's peanuts, but you don't get the full cm more of compressive travel all the time, only when doing jumps after the fork has fully extended. Even my 180mm fork looks pretty small once I'm standing on the bike and it's compressed to 30% sag. For example at 30% sag a 180mm fork will be 14mm longer than a 160mm fork rather than 20mm.

Posted: Jan 14, 2021 at 8:15 Quote
coast2coast-4 wrote:
Will it feel like mush when I ride easier flow trails with friends new to the sport? .
A 170mm bike could be mushy on flow trails. But you can bump up the air pressure by 20% or so and add a few clicks of compression damping. Assuming it's an air fork with good adjustability, of course.

Based on what you describe I think you'll absolutely end up using the extra 10mm. You can run lower pressure for when it's wet compared with 150mm or 160 mm and have a little more wiggle room on bit hits. The only permanent downside of a longer travel fork is the extra weight but that doesn't seem to be a concern.

Posted: Jan 14, 2021 at 14:03 Quote
Good point, adding a little compression damping is a good call for flow. That is the direction I was leaning too, figuring that it would be easier to make a longer travel bike feel good on flow then it is to make a short travel bike handle better in the chunk and on drops. If weight is the only penalty for going more travel I don't see that being a big issue.... I think... haha. First long travel bike so this may be a learning experience.

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