Down The Trail – Long Travel Forks Are Here to Stay

Down The Trail

3-inch-travel forks rule the trails

In the February 1996 issue we put two of the most progressive suspension forks head to head. We dubbed the story “Long Travel Forks Are Here to Stay.” Our prediction proved right, and the 3-inch-travel forks that were “long travel” at the time paved the way for the ones we ride today.

The story: The Marzocchi DH-3 and RockShox DH Go Head To Head

What MBA said in 1996: Suspension designers are no longer shy about pushing the limits of travel. No one will be pinned down saying 2 inches of travel is “correct” for cross-country and 3 inches is for the gravity crowd. Downhill forks are not as downhill specific as they once were.

RockShox Judy DH: The Judy DH performed better than the previous generation, and why wouldn’t it? It had more travel, better damping and an aluminum cartridge that replaced the previous “plastic version of the Exxon Valdez.” (Younger riders may need to Google this reference.) We also noted: “Downhill racers love’em, and cross-country racers will love ’em if they give them a chance.”

The experiment: Sure, there were double-crown, 6-inch-travel, 5-pound forks that no self-respecting cross-country rider would dream of using at the time; however, the MBA test crew took the newest long-travel, single-crown DH forks and mounted them to cross-country bikes to see if long-travel forks could be the wave of the future for a wider segment of riders.

Marzocchi DH-3: Cross-country riders were a bit apprehensive at first but soon were singing the praises of the DH-3. Riders were allowed to be less precise because they could slam things they normally would go around with a 2-inch-travel fork. In singletrack, the fork shined.

Looking back: The writing was on the wall, even if nobody else saw it at the time. MBA was truly testing the first enduro forks, long before the riders who now race at the elite level were even able to stay up on two wheels.




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