Electric mountain bikes are becoming increasingly popular among adventure enthusiasts. These bikes are equipped with various features that make them suitable for off-road terrains, such as a powerful motor, durable frame, and sturdy wheels. However, one of the most critical components that provide a smooth and comfortable ride is the suspension fork.
Front suspension, also known as a suspension fork, is a type of suspension system that is located at the front of the bike, between the handlebars and the wheel. It works by absorbing the impact of bumps and rough terrain, allowing the rider to maintain control and stability.
This article will discuss the different types of suspension forks available in electric mountain bikes and their features.
Components of Suspension Forks
A front suspension system consists of several components that work together to provide a smooth and safe ride.
Image courtesy of Blister Review
Stanchions are the upper part of the fork that slides into the lower part of the fork. They are typically made of aluminum or steel and are responsible for guiding the fork up and down.
The crown is the part of the fork that attaches to the frame. It holds the stanchions in place and provides stability and rigidity to the fork.
The steerer tube is the part of the fork that connects the crown to the handlebars. It is typically made of aluminum or carbon fiber and is responsible for steering the bike.
Upper and Lower Legs
The upper and lower legs are the two main parts of the fork that slide against each other. They are typically made of aluminum or carbon fiber and are responsible for absorbing shocks and vibrations.
Bushings and Bearings
Bushings and bearings are the small parts that allow the upper and lower legs to slide against each other smoothly. They are typically made of plastic or metal and require regular lubrication to prevent wear and tear.
Springs are the parts that absorb shocks and vibrations. They come in two types: coil springs and air springs.
Dampers are the parts that control the speed of the fork's compression and rebound. They come in two types: hydraulic and mechanical. Hydraulic dampers use fluid to control the fork's movement, while mechanical dampers use springs and gears.
Lockout systems are the parts that allow the rider to lock the suspension fork in place, preventing it from compressing and rebounding. This is useful when riding on smooth terrain where suspension is not necessary.
Rebound adjustment is the feature that allows the rider to control how quickly the fork rebounds after compressing. This feature is essential to achieve the perfect balance between comfort and control.
Compression adjustment is the feature that allows the rider to control how quickly the fork compresses. This feature is essential to achieve the perfect balance between comfort and efficiency.
Types of Suspension Forks
There are three main types of suspension forks for electric mountain bikes: coil suspension forks, air suspension forks, and hydraulic suspension forks. From the outside, these suspension systems all look very similar, as their encasements and enclosures are nearly identical. The differences are on the inside and how the forks operate. While all suspension forks provide a smoother and more enjoyable riding experience, each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Coil Suspension Forks
Coil suspension forks are the most common type of suspension forks. They feature a spring coil that compresses and rebounds when the wheel hits an obstacle. These forks are reliable, affordable, and require minimal maintenance. However, they are generally heavier than other types of suspension forks and may not provide as smooth a ride as other options.
Air Suspension Forks
Air suspension forks use compressed air instead of a spring coil to absorb the shock and impact of rough terrains. These forks are lighter and offer a smoother ride than coil suspension forks. Additionally, they are highly adjustable, allowing riders to customize the suspension to their preference. However, air suspension forks are more expensive and require regular maintenance.
Hydraulic Suspension Forks
Hydraulic suspension forks use oil to absorb the shock and impact of rough terrains. These forks are highly adjustable and provide a smooth and comfortable ride. They are also lightweight, making them ideal for competitive riding. However, they are the most expensive type of suspension forks and require regular maintenance.
Features of Suspension Forks
The travel of a suspension fork refers to the distance that the fork can compress and rebound. A higher travel provides a more comfortable ride, but it also adds weight to the bike. Electric mountain bikes typically have a travel between 80mm to 200mm.
Suspensions typically are referred to in either "short" or "long" travel:
Short-travel suspensions travel less than 120mm and are the standard for all-purpose bikes and riders. They are perfect for smoother terrain and uphill riding.
Long-travel suspensions travel more than 120mm and are specialized for rougher, downhill terrain, particularly at higher speeds. The more travel distance there is in the front suspension, the more emphasis there is on downhill riding.
Damping refers to the control of the spring compression and rebound. A well-damped fork provides a smooth and comfortable ride by preventing the fork from bouncing excessively. The damping can be adjusted according to the rider's preference and the terrain.
The stanchion diameter refers to the thickness of the fork's inner tube. A thicker stanchion diameter provides better stiffness and durability. Electric mountain bikes typically have a stanchion diameter between 30mm to 38mm.
Q: Do all electric mountain bikes come with suspension forks?
No, not all electric mountain bikes come with suspension forks. Some models may have rigid forks, which are not designed to absorb shock and impact.
Q: Can I upgrade the suspension fork on my electric mountain bike?
Yes, it is possible to upgrade the suspension fork on your electric mountain bike. However, it is important to ensure that the new fork is compatible with your bike's frame and wheel size.
Q: What is the difference between air and coil suspension systems?
Air suspension systems use compressed air to adjust the fork's stiffness, while coil suspension systems use metal springs. Air suspension is generally lighter and more adjustable, while coil suspension is more durable and requires less maintenance.
Q: How often should I have my suspension fork serviced?
It's recommended to have your front suspension system serviced at least once a year, or more often if you ride frequently or in harsh conditions.