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I have a trekking bike with a 63mm fork which has a lockout feature enabling the control of the suspension.

Can you explain when should I lock the fork, in what position and why?

One obvious example would be when climbing hills, one should lock the fork in minimum suspension (almost no suspension, the fork is stiff/hard as if there is no suspension at all). The reason is to prevent that the part of the energy is lost on the amortization...

But, what are other examples? What should one do when going down the hill? Or going really fast?

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Thanks for the answers, I know about bumpy surfaces and uphill rides, but I'd like to know should I lock it when going down the road, or going really fast, ...? –  muerte Sep 2 '10 at 15:01
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5 Answers 5

Any time you're climbing and can handle the obstacles without suspension. The force of your foot gnashing down the pedal is going to compress the suspension, thus sapping some of your precious force (and thus, speed). Also good for any time you don't need suspension due to good surface quality. For example, the well maintained fire-road leading to where you want to ride.

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On my hybrid, I keep the front suspension locked at maximum height when I'm on the road/flat cycle route. If I go off a flat route onto a more lumpy one, or get to a particularly bad section of road for pot holes (like the A6 as you come into Little Hulton from Horwich) then I unlock the suspension.

when I have the suspension locked at maximum height I feel as though I'm getting more power for my energy expenditure (although this is totally subjective and could be completely the opposite to what is actually the case), and it feels like it takes more enbergy to do the same stretch of road when I have the suspension unlocked.

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Anytime the fork bob is robbing you of power. That can include flats, sprints, climbing... Best advice is probably to try it out on all the terrains you ride and decide where it works and where it doesn't.

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Elite athlete road bikes do not have suspension but top competition trail bikes do--that should tell you something. Suspension is for giving the best possible contact with the road and therefore safety and rider comfort but it comes at the price of weight and energy waste as you pump away on the pedals. A rocky downhill route--use a bike with suspension; a hilly but smooth road course--grab that bike without the suspension. My regular route is a combination of both: I bushbash for short sections through sand, mud and tree roots but most of the way is smooth tar with scream descents and hard climbs, thus I have a hybrid with a suspension lock on the front forks. While the road bikers get away from me on the smooth, I quickly overtake them on the rough sections.

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As others have said, you should lock it out when you want to put more power to the wheel. i.e. a flat road, moderately smooth trail. Being robbed of energy isn't as bad on a hard tail, but on a full sussy it is noticeable in various situations. I always lock out when climbing, especially if you stand while climbing. For descending I always have the fork unlocked. Tire pressure will also play a role. If you can run lower psi then you may not need the fork as often. Personally, When I'm trail riding, I always have the fork unlocked. If I come to steep climb, I lock it. If I happen to hit a fast flat section, I will lock it out. If I'm on the road I lock it out. Of course it all depends on personal preference. Try different things until you find what feels right.

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