|There's nothing wrong with "over-forking" a bike, and plenty of companies offer models with 10 - 20mm more travel up front than out back. But while an extra 20mm of travel might save your ass every now and then, it's not going to instantly allow you to ride faster and go bigger. Skill trumps travel, of course, but it's the slacker head angle that comes from the additional 20mm that might actually make a bigger difference than the travel itself. Likewise, installing a stem that's 10 - 20mm shorter than what you might currently be using will likely give you more confidence than just adding travel. It's not a bad idea to go with a bit more travel if you need a new fork regardless, but I wouldn't recommend spending that kind of money purely to have the extra travel if your fork is functioning well. - Mike Levy|
Rocky Mountain specs their 120mm Thunderbolt with a 130mm travel fork, and they're just one of many companies that offer ''over-forked'' bikes that best suit aggressive riders.
|It is unlikely that you will find an enduro-specific shock with a true lockout because the typical leverage rates of popular suspension systems nearly triple the compression forces inside the damper - which can balloon the casing and damage the seals in a worse-case scenario, like a botched landing or a bike park hero's "Watch This" moment. For those reasons, suspension makers use a blow-off feature that prevents the shock from "hydraulic locking." Some XC shocks have higher lockout thresholds, and the RockShox Monarch is the "enduro-type" shock that I have used that comes closest to a locked-out feel. Fox takes a more conservative approach with the Float X. Its highest resistance, as you noted, is more like a super firm platform setting. The one AM/enduro shock that does match the nearly rigid XC types in lockout mode is Scott Sport's TwinLoc, made by DT Swiss and featured on its Genius range.|
The bottom line, however, is that unless you ride paved roads to get to your downhill tracks, a completely locked rear end is going to slow you down on both the ascents and the flats. XC racers ride rigid rear ends because they need the momentary bursts of acceleration they offer more than the rolling efficiency that suspension brings. If it's rough, they ride out of the saddle and use their muscles for rear suspension, which reflects upon how crazy fit XC pros are. - RC
|For a first set of clipless pedals, I'd recommend the Shimano M530. They're tough, reliable, reasonably light, and at $55 USD or less for a set they fall within your price range. It's easy to be tempted by pedals that only have a clip-in mechanism on one side, but those pedals are best left for commuters, not mountain bikers who need to be able to get in and out as quickly as possible - there's nothing worse than trying to step into a pedal only to find that it's flipped to the wrong side.|
You're correct about Shimano pedals possessing adjustable tension - there's a hex bolt on each side of the pedals that can be turned counter-clockwise to reduce the amount of force that's needed to release from the pedals. Start with it almost all the way loose (make sure to adjust both sides of the pedal evenly), and as you become more comfortable you'll be able to increase the tension to suit your needs. Before heading out onto the trails, I'd recommend practicing clipping in and out with your bike mounted in a stationary trainer. This will help you get used to the location of the cleat on each shoe, as well as the motion required for entry and exit without needing to worry about tipping over in front of your buddies. Once it starts to feel natural, head to a grassy field for a little more practice, and then you can take your newfound skills to the trails. - Mike Kazimer
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