I'm in the search for a new long distance touring bike, and I'm surprised that most top models have no front suspension (IDWorks, Tout Terrain, Koga, etc.).
It looks like front suspension is a rarity at the top, but available on middle class trekking bikes. The top bikes with specific long distance touring geometry and specs are less available with front suspension. Some trekking bikes that I've found with front suspension:
- Cannondale Tesoro 1 2014
- Rose Black Creek
- Koga-Miyata Feathershock
- Giant Expedition AT 2013 (not sold anymore)
- Schwalbe's balloon bike concept in general http://www.balloonbikes.com/en/
I have been riding a Cannondale Headshock bike for commuting and touring in the last ten years, and I loved the front suspension. I find it softer on the hands/wrists, especially on long rides. If the suspension is off, and I ride a full day, my hands get much more tired, vs. with the suspension on. Handwriting for example is much harder after a long day of riding, with suspension off.
I had zero issues with the fork, functions since 2004 without issues. I do have a front rack, too. The bike has wide tires (IRC Lover Soul, 26x2.25).
So it seems the benefits are there, there are no maintenance issues (was serviced regularly), racks can be mounted on them, and cost in the upper segment shouldn't be an issue. And the top touring bikes are still offered without front suspension. Why?
Let me ask again: my question is NOT about the pros and cons of using a suspension fork in touring in general, or whether you think I need it or not, or what is my definition of a touring bike, or whether there are touring bikes with suspension or not (there's a lot of them).
My question is:
Why is that while many middle range touring bikes are with front suspension (1000-2000 Euro bikes), then most of the TOP of the line touring models (4000 Euro and above) are without?
My logic would be that if it is offered in mid range, it's also offered on the top bikes, too.
See for example the range of Rose bikes, who are one of those manufacturers who sell among the highest number of touring bikes. Rose has 20 different "Tourenräder" for 1000-2000 Euro, so these middle range touring models are almost all with front suspension. If I look at Tout Terrain for example, from the 10 top of the range models, they only have two model with front suspension, the Panamericana, and all the rest is fixed fork.
- Money: it is not a reason while these bikes are over 4000 Euro anyway, and mid range bikes are with suspension.
- Ease of repair: I see not a reason while disc brakes, carbon drive, hydraulic brakes, XT derailleurs are equally fine machinery that need care, and difficult to repair on site. To me, the dérailleur is the most delicate part of any bike, it gets damaged during transport or hard terrain easily, and very difficult to repair. And anyway, parts can be delivered by DHL anywhere. And again, mid range bikes are with suspension.
- Weight: these bikes are 15+kg, just the Schwalbe tyres are 700-800g each, the pack is around 20kg, so shaving off 200-300g from the bike weight doesn't matter.
- Force: if a fork can withstand downhill, they should handle touring.
So none of these justify why offer lots of mid-range touring bikes with suspension, and then the top range much less.