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My wife has a Marin Bobcat Trai with 'In-Sync 266' suspension forks. She is not convinced they help her in any way so I was wondering if it is possible to change them out for non suspension forks. We are planning a cycle tour that will involve very little, if any, off road trails.

  • Does the fork have any movement if you lean your weight on the bars? If not, its probably lost all its oil and can't move anyway. A google for a manual or specs turns up blank, but also look for a lockout control which will turn the suspension off. It might be on top of one of the fork legs. – Criggie Jul 13 '16 at 9:12
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    You can certainly replace it with a rigid fork, though you should try to match the axle-to-crown distance to the current one, so as not to mess with the geometry of the bike. – Will Vousden Jul 13 '16 at 12:10
  • Another option is to somehow lock the suspension. Never tried it, but something like clamping pieces of innertube rubber to the piston shafts using spiral hose clamps should work. Or cut pieces of plastic drain pipe of the right diameter, then cut a slot in the side so that they snap over piston shafts. (Either approach will likely muck up the piston "boots" a bit, but shouldn't cause immediate permanent damage to the pistons themselves.) – Daniel R Hicks Jul 13 '16 at 12:21
  • None of those options would lighten the bike, however. That may be a bit of a consideration prior to a tour. – Deleted User Jul 13 '16 at 18:14
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Yes. This can be done.

There are some important considerations that you should make, however, before the change. Frames are generally built with a particular amount of travel in mind. The frame geometry is "optimized" for a fork of that travel. Adding one with less or more travel can change the geometry, handling, and feel of the bike. Many rigid fork manufacturers these days make various versions of a fork meant to replace a suspension fork of specific travel and keep frame geometry the same, or as close as possible. Additionally, the fork will need to have whatever axle spacing and brake setup that you have on the current suspension fork.

All of that before installation, which will generally require some specialized tools to cut the steer tube to the proper/same length and then clean up the cut. You'll possibly also need some headset parts if the old ones can't be removed from the old fork without damage. Lastly you'll need to do a headset and brake adjusts after the fork installation. All of those tasks are relatively simple, but best left to someone who has done it before, or supervised by someone who has done it before.

  • You can cut and finish the steerer with a regular hacksaw and a file. Won't be the cleanest cut, but it doesn't matter that much once it's hidden by the top cap. – Will Vousden Jul 14 '16 at 10:40
  • It matters if you don't cut it straight and the top cap doesn't sit flat on the top of the tube. Using a hacksaw is fine. However, you also need to use a guide. You need a round file to do the inside of the tube. None of those are what most people have laying around. – Deleted User Jul 14 '16 at 12:13
  • The top cap shouldn't touch the steerer tube at all; if it does, it's not actually loading the headset and you need to add spacers. If it's seriously wonky, then the top cap bolt might not be able to reach the star nut/expander (or the stem might not be able to grip the tube properly), but you'd have to make a real mess of it for that to happen. Ideally it should be flat, of course, but it's not that big a deal if it isn't :) – Will Vousden Jul 14 '16 at 14:15
  • That said, I suppose a wonky cut would make it difficult to insert a star nut. – Will Vousden Jul 14 '16 at 14:18

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