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What affects the reliability of bike more, better suspension or heavier tyres?

I have bought a hardtail (Rockrider ST520) with 80mm front travel and 27.5 x 2.0 all terrain tyres.

The bike is meant for slightly rugged trails but I intend on taking it out on some fairly rough ground, it will probably hold as I am only 60kg but what upgrades are possible to increase its strength and reliability, should I invest in a better fork or heavier tyres?

I'm a college student so finances are how you would expect them to be.

  • Image of the terrain I am speaking of, the path ahead has more stones and ditches. ibb.co/q5n4gxR – R Narwar Jul 13 at 12:27
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    On that trail you don't need to worry. I'd take my tourer on that and rougher (example), with no suspension and 32mm tyres (though I'd put my grippy 35mm tyres on if I had some advance warning). Admittedly it's based on a cyclocross design, but I'd also take my (again non-sus) hybrid down it. – Chris H Jul 13 at 12:40
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    I would make sure you carry "enough" to cope with problems while riding, so a decent on-bike toolkit. And keep up with your maintenance, only replacing parts that are worn and need it. – Criggie Jul 13 at 18:48
  • FWIW I ride my road bike with 700c 26mm tyres along paths rougher than that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ – Lamar Latrell Jul 13 at 20:28
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There's no point replacing the fork. A better fork will be more robust but replacing a major component is not cost effective. A better fork will cost a significant fraction of the whole bike as a separate component. If you want a better fork you should have spent the money buying a higher spec bike in the first place.

Wider tires are relatively inexpensive and will definitely help smooth out the trails. Go tubeless if your wheels allow for it as this will allow running lower pressure without risking pinch-flats.

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  • I could buy some decent 27.5 rims for 70£, won't those be more reasonable to buy. What gives way first tires or bent rims? – R Narwar Jul 13 at 12:22
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    Tyres are consumable, while rims should last years except for really hard knocks. Don't crash hard, and get your weight off the saddle when dropping off anything higher than a typical road kerb, and they'll be fine. Bigger tyres, run softer, will protect the rims anyway. Upgrading rims/wheels to tubeless on an entry-level hardtail wasn't worth it when I considered it for mine a couple of years ago – Chris H Jul 13 at 12:33
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    @RNarwar Same argument applies as for forks. If you are talking about just rims not wheels don’t forget you have to have the wheels rebuilt and you may need different length spokes. You would be better off just having your existing wheels professionally re-trued and tensioned. – Argenti Apparatus Jul 13 at 12:39
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Determining the weakest point is impossible to say. What is going to fail first will depend on the terrain, speed and the aggressiveness of your riding style. If you are new to mountain biking your perception of what is rough ground will be far different than that of a more experienced rider. So just ride it until something fails. You have what is best described as an entry level bike. The weakest points are typically the fork and the wheels. They are also the most expensive individual components on the bike. When those components fail a new quality replacement can be near the cost of the whole bike. At that point the most cost effective repair may be quality used parts or a used bike that already has heavier duty parts.

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I would say that it is difficult to point a single (or a pair, or even 4) component that will make your bike more reliable.

I suggest you to check youtube videos from the United States of people doing mtb trails or rough roads on Walmart bicycle&similar cheap bicycle. You will be surprised at how much abuse they will get, and you may get some idea about what to upgrade (in short: possibly everything, practically almost nothing?). Even some cheap aluminium rims may take much more abuse than you expect, at least impact-wise (drops, steps, roots, rocks and so on...), although they will probably be off-centered after a few tens of kms and worn out after few thousands km).

Your bike is an entry-level, inexpensive all-rounder (knowing Decathlon&Walmart stuff, I guess your is a fairly priced bike, with a decent quality/price ratio, while Walmart bikes have often a very poor quality/price ratio ... and they are very cheap :) ! ).

Instead of going from tarmac to old glacier beds (what do you mean by failry rough ground? can you add a picture or a description?), I would suggest you trying your set-up step-wise, i.e. travelling further and on more complicated terrain. Keep in mind that if you have a major failure, you may end up walking home ...

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    I have uploaded an image of the trail under the question, it goes a bit off-road later and gets worse (better in this context). – R Narwar Jul 13 at 12:29

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