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Another newbie fork / brakes upgrade question

Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
edited May 2013 in MTB buying advice
Hi, wasn't sure whether to put this in here or beginners, guess it could go in either. The story so far, in a nutshell is that I've got a 2007 Carrera Kraken, standard, other than new bars and 20mm shorter stem. I bought it new for a paltry £220 at the end of 2007 and rode it half a dozen times on towpaths and bridleways, then it's been in my garage ever since.

I dragged it out again recently and decided to have another go with it. I intended to leave it standard until I'd decided whether I was getting into it, since it's a decent beginner bike and I'm the weak link, rather than the bike. So far I'd been out three times before Sunday, when i went to Gisburn Forest and did the red 8 route, plus a couple of black sections (Hully Gully's a blast, lol) and the Hope Line descent. I really enjoyed my day and have been bitten by the MTB bug, which leads me to the purpose of my thread.

I'd like a full suspension bike, but funds don't currently allow, so I'm thinking that a couple of upgrades (without spending silly money) would give me a more than capable bike to learn some skills on, which I can then keep as an XC / backup bike if I do later buy a full suss trail hound. I have a couple of hundred quid I've been saving for a rainy day, until I found something worth spending it on, and figure the first areas to look at upgrading are the basic XCR fork and the Tektro Io cable discs (lack feel, need a good two finger squeeze and are a pain to keep adjusted).

I can get the 2013 Reba RL solo air fork for £230 in 100mm or 120mm flavours, but I've seen the 2013 Recon Solo Air TK crown lockout for a crazy £110 (brand new, boxed, genuine stock from UK distributor, with shock pump) in white (I don't really want white, but can live with it as the black is £40 more).

So - I know the Reba is better (and 500g lighter in 100mm flavour), but how much better? Is it twice as good? I had a good bounce on a Recon Silver Solo Air in my LBS (on a Cube) and those felt really good - smooth and plush, I was surprised how good they felt for a budget fork.

If I go for the Recon then the other £90 could get me a pair of the Deore M596 brakes that seem so popular and well regarded. My logic is that, while the Reba is the better fork, the Recon plus M596 pairing would give me a better all round upgrade, with more benefit than just upgrading the fork. I don't want to regret not buying the Reba later, but tbh, the Recons are so cheap in that offer that I could sell them later and hardly lose anything. Gisburn is pretty representative of the kind of terrain I'm wanting to ride - trails rather than marathon XC stuff.

So, opinions please?...

Posts

  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Reba 120mm. Damping and and adjustment are a cut above the recon.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    If it was me, I'd be getting the Recon and new brakes. But depends on you - I have a Recon Gold and it does what I need.
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  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    supersonic wrote:
    Reba 120mm. Damping and and adjustment are a cut above the recon.

    I know the Reba's the better fork, but is the difference small, or night and day? Would I be ok fitting the 120mm (my XCR is 100mm)? I thought maybe the slightly slacker head angle that the 120mm would give could be an advantage, but would it censored up the handling on a frame designed for a 100mm fork?
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    cooldad wrote:
    If it was me, I'd be getting the Recon and new brakes. But depends on you - I have a Recon Gold and it does what I need.

    How do you find your Recon (as far as I can see the only difference between silver and gold is the lighter ally stanchions on the gold)? I'm thinking that having the Recon Silver and the brakes would give me a more advantageous upgrade overall (and a more balanced spec overall) than just the higher spec Reba fork with my standard brakes (which aren't great, lacking feel and are a pain to keep adjusted). I Don't want to buy a fork that's not good enough for the terrain I want to ride, but I suspect that the Recon will be plenty good enough for my newbie (lack of) skills, and it's so cheap (in the white finish) I could sell it later and lose sod all money if I wanted to upgrade.

    When funds allow I'dreally like a full suss trail bike, but my thinking is that with some sensibly priced upgrades my Kraken will be a good bike to learn some skills on (rather than just buying a fulls susser and relying on the suspension to do all the work for me), and still be a keeper as a decent XC bike if/when I bought a full suss for trail riding. I could add the Recon Silvers, Shimano brakes and a pair of the Stans Crest/Flows from Superstar and the whole bike would still only owe me £650 in that spec.
  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    Depends what the a2c is. Some frames are good within a range.

    Not night and day but there will be a difference. Buy the best you can afford and warrant. One thing is for sure either of those forks will make the bike feel like new.
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    Depends what the a2c is. Some frames are good within a range.

    Not night and day but there will be a difference. Buy the best you can afford and warrant. One thing is for sure either of those forks will make the bike feel like new.

    What's a2c?

    Buying the best you can afford is always good advice in any field, I just don't know whether I'd be able to exploit the performance advantage of the Rebas, or whether to just go for the Recons, which seem like a stupid bargai at £110, even if I don't want white forks. As you say, I'm sure either fork will be a big step up from my XCR (which did seem a bit out of its depth in some places at Gisburn (much like myself, lol), lacking control and damping.
  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    Axel to crown - how long the fork is.

    Like we agree they are both a big step up. The law of diminishing marginal returns sets in, so only you can decide.
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    Axel to crown - how long the fork is.

    Ah, I see. Doesn't seem to be listed on Rockshox website for the Reba, but it's shown as 493mm for the Recon 120 and 473mm for the Recon 100.
    Like we agree they are both a big step up. The law of diminishing marginal returns sets in, so only you can decide.

    Aye, in the end it's my decision, I just want to try make it a more informed decision by drawing on the experience of those more experienced than myself. I know what you mean about diminishing returns - I wouldn't be any better rider on a £6000 bike than a £1000 bike, hence my wondering whether at my level I'd be able to exploit the advantage of the Reba over the Recon, or if I'm better off spreading the cost over fork and brakes.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    If the brakes are that bad that they are seriously holding you back, then the logical choice woulf be to change them.

    The recon tk is well made, and will last, but the performance isn't that different to the XCR (when working well). The Reba gets Motion Control damping and dual flow rebound, which allows you to dial in compression damping (prevents bob and dive), and is more composed over multiple hits.
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    Cheers. Your money would go on the Reba 120mm then?
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Yes, then save for new brakes.
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    Cheers. It would be ok fitting the 120mm to my frame?
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Yep, the Kraken is fine with 120mm.
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    Ta, thanks for the advice. The 120mm is the crown adjust version, whereas the 100mm is the poploc, but I'm not bothered about that, I doubt I'd use it anyway.
  • mcnultycopmcnultycop Posts: 2,143
    Poploc is just unnecessary clutter. I wish my Rebas didn't have it.
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    That was pretty much what I thought tbh.
  • Greer_Greer_ Posts: 1,716
    Haha whereas I use my poploc constantly for fireroad/road climbs - I run my fork quite soft though so it does bob when pedalling uphill. +1 for Rebas though, I'm starting to wish I spent the extra over recon golds!
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    Greer_ wrote:
    Haha whereas I use my poploc constantly for fireroad/road climbs - I run my fork quite soft though so it does bob when pedalling uphill. +1 for Rebas though, I'm starting to wish I spent the extra over recon golds!

    I have no intention of ever racing (or road riding) though, so if I want to stop and flick the crown lockout switch for a fire road climb then the few seconds lost don't matter.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    I think it depends on your expectations and riding style/skill/location.
    I ride mainly natural singletrack, which in the softy south is not very rocky. I also ride quite slowly, try and keep my wheels on the ground, and not fall off, as these days I just go splat, it hurts a lot, and takes a long time to fix.
    So for me Recons are fine, and a lot better than the elastomer horrors of the past, and the rigids on my retros.
    They are light, reasonably damped, and sproingy.
    I do ride with people who are a lot better than me, and have correspondingly better bits and they actually use them. On me they would be wasted.
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  • Greer_Greer_ Posts: 1,716
    Fair enough! I use the lockout more when just riding though, rather than when racing! It comes in handy because I have a habit of dropping into trails/rock gardens and forgetting to turn the lockout off!
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    cooldad wrote:
    I think it depends on your expectations and riding style/skill/location.

    Expectations - just want to enjoy my riding, it's all new to me, I don't want to start taking it too seriously and squeeze the fun out of it. I've been riding motorbikes 20 years, but they just don't light my fire like they used to, but I really enjoyed Gisburn on Sunday. My legs were shot by the end, and I suffered for it later, but I had a great day, and more fun than I've had riding powered two wheelers in ages.

    Riding style - yet to be established. Currently pointing bike in roughly the right direction and hanging on (chanting "heels down, heels down" to myself in my head on descents), lol.

    Skill - see above, none yet.

    Location - trail centre type riding's what's appealing to me. So far been to Stainburn a couple of times and Gisburn the once, both of which are typically rocky northern terrain. Most XC stuff up here's pretty rocky though too - northern geology.

    I know what you mean about not bouncing as well as you get older. When I was a kid I'd launch myself off anything on my BMX, but I still like getting a bit of air, with pedals or engines:

    16912.jpg

    I enjoyed dicking about on the jumps at the bottom of the Hope Line on Sunday, although I'm sure it looked a lot less impressive than it felt, lol.
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    Greer_ wrote:
    Fair enough! I use the lockout more when just riding though, rather than when racing! It comes in handy because I have a habit of dropping into trails/rock gardens and forgetting to turn the lockout off!

    That could get painful, lol. I've never used the lockout on my XCR fork yet tbh.
  • Greer_Greer_ Posts: 1,716
    I grimace every time I do it - the fork makes horrible noises! I had XCR's before I upgraded to the Golds - difference is night and day!
  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    Greer_ wrote:
    I had XCR's before I upgraded to the Golds - difference is night and day!

    That's what I'm hoping for. Can't complain with the XCR fork, given what I paid for the bike, but it was definitely finding things a bit hard work on Sunday on the bumpiest sections and wooden boardwalk (I was surprised how bone shaking and hard work it was pedalling over that stuff).
  • 97th choice97th choice Posts: 2,305
    The XCR really isn't a great fork, the fact that it's seen as an upgrade to other suntour forks shows how bad their low end stuff is, although their radions and epicon are decent budget buys.

    When it comes to falling off I'm not sure I'm much younger than cool dad, that said I bounce pretty well. But the bruises do hang around a lot longer than they used to.
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  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    I turned 40 in January, so not as reckless as I was when I was younger (I used to feel ok wearing a No Fear t shirt under my leathers, 'cos my riding backed up the logo, lol, but I feel a bit daft with it on the cheap skate shoes I bought from Sports Direct for pedalling). Back in the day my old riding buddy used to call me Captain Scarlet, after walking away from a couple of sizeable bike crashes and a double roll in a car without so much as a scratch, but I don't want to test whether my powers of indestractibility have stayed with me in my advancing years, lol). I had two minor falls on Sunday, but only my pride was hurt (second one was in the very last section and down to being knackered - my legs and concentration were both past their best).
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Babies. I am a million years old. Or feel like it sometimes anyway.
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  • paulneenan76paulneenan76 Posts: 777
    I did a similar upgrade to my Kraken - link in signature - and would suggest you go for Reba's (could be used again when building up a FS frame) and Deore m596 brakes (superb - the biggest uplift in performance over my Tektro cables), and a new wheelset from superstar (the difference here is also a step up). Having said all of that, before changing anything else I changed the stem to a 80mm oversized, the bars to oversized wide risers (both Lapierre from the bay £20all in), some half decent pedals, a decent saddle, and some ODI Yeti Grips - this transformed my riding from sh*t scared nervous OTB nooby, to, f*ck it, lets try the downhill lines at FoD have a go hero!! Controls are very important you see ;)

    This bike will take your riding further if you are clever with your upgrades/changes - and it could leave you with a nice component group for building up a full bouncer.
    Family, Friends, Fantastic trails - what else is there

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  • Kowalski675Kowalski675 Posts: 4,412
    I did a similar upgrade to my Kraken - link in signature - and would suggest you go for Reba's (could be used again when building up a FS frame) and Deore m596 brakes (superb - the biggest uplift in performance over my Tektro cables), and a new wheelset from superstar (the difference here is also a step up). Having said all of that, before changing anything else I changed the stem to a 80mm oversized, the bars to oversized wide risers (both Lapierre from the bay £20all in), some half decent pedals, a decent saddle, and some ODI Yeti Grips - this transformed my riding from sh*t scared nervous OTB nooby, to, f*ck it, lets try the downhill lines at FoD have a go hero!! Controls are very important you see ;)

    This bike will take your riding further if you are clever with your upgrades/changes - and it could leave you with a nice component group for building up a full bouncer.

    If/when I graduate to a bouncy bouncy I'd probably buy a full bike and leave the Kraken intact as an XC / spare bike, rather than canibalise it, but funds don't allow that currently and I can see the logic of using the hardtail to learn some skills on, rather than buying a full susser and just relying on the the suspension to do the work for me.

    I've changed a few bits already. I've fitted a bargain price 90mm FSA XC190 stem and 680mm inch rise bars (NC-17 LR254) and Giant Sole-O lock on grips. I stuck with 25.4 bars since the original stem's quite high rise (17 degrees), so swapping to a 31.8 fatbar stem would've dropped the bars lower than I wanted them, since most are typically around 6 degree rise. If I fit the new forks I'll cut the steerer 20mm longer than the XCRs so I have the option of swapping to a 31.8 stem and wider fatbars later, with scope for height adjustment (the Superstar bars and stems look good value - I probably could've got the bar height I wanted with their 40mm rise 750 bar). I was slipping all over on the original pedals, so I've just swapped those today for some Wellgo B54s, which look lovely and, based on a quick spin round the street, are grippy as hell - I'm not gonna be slipping around on these buggers. The original saddle I like, seems pretty comfy for my bony censored .

    Unfortunately, after washing and lubing the bike today I noticed that the bottom bracket doesn't sound healthy, and is creaking under pedalling (it was fine before last Sunday's ride). It's only done about 100 miles from new, at most, so that's a bit dissapointing.
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