#WhichIsFAster? “Bar budget and race performance this is not a hard question – 120mm is a better ride all round. Buttery smooth, plush, luxurious come to mind.
So what exactly are we comparing? In my case, it’s the Fox 32 Factory step cast with Fit4 damper vs. the Fox 34 Factory step cast with Fit4 damper. The difference in weight is 200 grams. On the mountain, compared to the 100mm the 120mm fork eats rocky descents, and is more forgiving of rider error; often overlooked in a longer travel fork is technical climbing ability – of course it’s not going to help you – at all – on relatively smooth terrain but on seriously rocky stuff it definitely takes the edge off. You don’t get that jarring dead-stop effect that is often the final straw that flicks you off your bike and on those sections once you’re off, you’re off. I can already hear those expensive carbon soles crunching through the Attakwas kloof.
So, a 120mm feels great, but what about race performance? Will it make you slower? Here I should leave a little disclaimer that this is not a perfectly controlled experiment but it’s extremely close, as good as it gets with actual race data. Before comparing my data with and without a 120mm fork I better tell you how this all happened in the first place. Like most XC/marathon racers I’d always been focused on getting my bike as light as possible. Yet, in August 2018 James and I packed away our trusty race machines (Trek Top Fuel 9.9s) in
So, back to the data then. We’re looking at the Piket-Bo-Berg one day race – which is as MTB as it gets, 63km of single track with
Having had the privilege of riding these otherworldly trails since 2015, I knew the trails well by 2017 at which point our experiment starts. In 2017, I raced a standard Top Fuel 9.9. In 2018 the only thing that had changed was the 120mm fork (no dropper post yet, which in 2019 would add another 410 grams to my current bike, which weighs in at 11.6kg with all the
So will it make you faster? Seemingly not, but maybe… On this type of terrain it,
What about ultra-endurance and stage racing? My dad has this old 1970-something navy blue Toyota bakkie, the one with the red stripe down the side. She’s called Pandora. Well, driving Pandora for a picnic on the mountain is cool but driving from Cape Town to Mozambique in one go? It’s bronco bro.. (sorry dad for insulting your beloved blue bakkie in public). The point is that you will spend more energy stabilizing on a 100mm bike on rough terrain. Energy, you might have sent to your pedals had you had a plush
I have a hunch, one that can’t be measured unfortunately, that for rough terrain ultra-endurance racing, especially stage racing, a 120mm will save you in the end; your power meter won’t tell you how much energy you’re spending away from the pedals so that’s just my two cents. The Cape Epic next year promises to have plenty of rocky monsters perhaps just waiting to be tamed by a 120? So what do you guys reckon, should I stay on a 120mm or go super light next year?
Happy riding, see you on the trails!” – Katie Lennard
Katie in action at the Swiss Epic & Attakwas
| IMAGES: Supplied by Katie via zcmc & Swiss Epic |