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My old city bike is getting worn out and I'm considering getting a new and better bike. I will use it for my daily commute (paved road - very uneven in places) and the occasional trip outside the city on unpaved roads. I have decided that a cross-road bicycle/29'er is what I'm looking for. I have created a check list with a few points:

  • Large wheels (29'er/cross-road)
  • Good brakes (hydraulic disc brakes)
  • Front suspension with lockout
  • Remote lockout of the suspension

For the price/quality level I'm considering it seems that remote lockout is a very special feature. So far I've found a single model with remote lockout (the Trek 8.5 DS) but I'm still undecided if I want better brakes and suspension than this model offers.

I've never had a bicycle with front suspension before but to me it seems like a no brainer to get remote lockout. I expect to have the suspension locked on my daily commute, but I know several places on my route where I would think having an unlocked suspension would be nice.

What are my best alternative?

  • Keep looking for a bike that satisfy my needs including having a remote lockout? Being unsuccesful doing this made me come here for advice.
  • Look for a bike that satisfy my needs with the possibility of having a remote lockout mounted aftermarket? I don't know if this is possible without a significant cost increase which detracts from this solution.
  • Forget about the remote lockout and just keep it locked for my daily commute just as I do today where I have no suspension at all?
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Remote lockout is something I never heard of before reading this question. I must say that, considering you can already reach the lockout while riding, remote lockout seems to me to be gratuitous. It'd be like getting a remote for your car radio. –  Neil Fein Feb 11 '12 at 17:09
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@NeilFein ride some of the singletrack of the US East Coast and you may eat those words ;) I do agree that a remote lockout is overkill for a non-dedicated hybrid bike though. However, I highly recommend a standard lockout on any suspension fork, sans downhill bike forks- even moreso on less expensive bikes. –  joelmdev Feb 12 '12 at 1:41
    
@jm2 - Good point, I can see how it could be handy on a trail that's rough only in patches. –  Neil Fein Feb 12 '12 at 3:42
    
I don't even use the front lockout. I keep it always on. I don't feel it makes any difference while going uphill: it doesn't bobs anyway. –  Look Alterno Sep 11 '13 at 12:27

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

First off many forks have a remote lock out as an add on. Fox and rock shox especially. If it has a lock out, a remote lock out is likely available.

Secondly, a nice fork that is set up properly for your weight shouldn't need to be locked out all that often. I have had a variety of great fox and rock shox forks that i only lock on long, steep, grueling climbs where I am standing and pumping. This was more needed on a single speed. If you plan to sit and spin up a hill you dont need the lock out at all.

Out of the last 5 forks i have had, all had a lockout, but only one with the remote. While the remote is convenient, I have never found it difficult to reach down and lock out on the fork while riding.

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A remote lockout option is nice for changing terrain when you do not wish to stop to adjust the lockout suspension. As a commuter, you may find yourself stopping normally for various traffic intersections. It is at this point you could make an adjustment to lock or unlock the front fork before continuing the next section of your route.

It may be possible to physically reach the lever on a non-remote lockout fork during riding; however, this isn't necessarily a great idea for a few reasons. One is safety, but also many front forks without the remote lockout are not designed to be adjusted under load. You could damage a non-remote lockout fork by attempting the adjust it while riding. Many manufacturers place their manuals online, so you can research a particular fork to better understand its capabilities.

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As ChrisW, unless you're riding ovr pave regularly you don't need suspension for a commuter IMO. On One (UK & EU) sell 29" compatible carbon rigid forks that will improve ride quality over steel / ali forks. Bontrager (I thknk) sell aftermarket 29" forks too.

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A remote lockout might sound like a good idea in theory but in practice you will find it largely unnecessary for the type of bike you're considering getting. That's not to say that it wouldn't be nifty to have, but I think you'll find that you will use it so rarely that you might regret limiting your purchasing options based on that feature.

Remote lockouts are useful on mountain bikes because they allow you to quickly change between a more efficient platform for non technical flats and uphills and a more forgiving platform for downhills and technical sections without ever having to take your hands off the bars. That said, I know some mountain bikers with remote lockouts that use them all the time and I know some that barely use them at all. The inconvenience of having to take your hands off the bars to twist the knob on the crown typically isn't that significant. Many mountain bikers find remote lockouts totally unnecessary.

For a hybrid style bike (that is a very general term, btw) I personally would worry that it's just one more thing to go wrong. If I were you, even if I liked the idea of a remote lockout I would consider it a bonus feature but I would by no means base my purchase choice on it.

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With really good tires you might not need suspension at all. I put Marathon Plus tires on a hard-tail for commuting, and find that the heavier tire gives me confidence and suspension to ride harder than before over broken pavement.

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