It has been a while since I last tweaked around with my bike and the itch is starting to get intense.
My previous hack was late 2010, when I swapped my old Cane Creek Cloud Nine 7.875” x 2.0” rear shock with a Marzocchi Roco Air 8.5” x 2.5” shock effectively increasing rear travel from 5.5” to about 6.875”. My Cannondale Prophet allows you to do this and still keep the intended geometry intact. However, I left the Lefty front end of the bike untouched with 5.5” travel. It still rides great, and I’ve never felt the need to make any changes until the intense itch of making my bike even taller. Hence the idea of fitting my TALAS 36 (160mm) fork from my old hardtail started to creep into mind. After some thought, I figured it’s time to scratch that itch. Measurements showed that the Lefty would not fit my old hardtail due to the frame’s long headtube. The quest for a new fork begins… I managed to get my greedy greasy hands on some old school, ahead of its time at the time fork from a generous source in an indefinite loan deal. Ridden hard in the past, unclean, unserviced, seals dead, bushings dry covered dirt and grime from 15 years ago pretty much sums up what I had. Exactly what did I get my hands on? Ha!
Noleen coil shock providing 76mm or 3” of glorified stiff travel
Now, to get down and dirty in order to get this fork up running and clean, a total dis-assembly is required.
In pieces, literally.
First up, were the dead nylon seals cum washers. All 12 of them had to be replaced. Most were hard, some deformed, some flakey. The local seal shop sorted me out with some Teflon ones…or twos as you can see from the picture below.
Old nylon one on the right. New teflon twos on the left.
Why twos? Well, standard sized seals just don’t come with the width. I figured the internal diameter (ID) has to be snug, which is what the smaller one does, and at the same time these would act as washers as they will be pinched when assembled – hence the larger one to help spread the load. I could get these seals custom made to size, but it would cost 3 times what I paid for both standard sized seals. Multiply that by 12 seals and it makes the decision an easy one.
Smaller one fits snug, larger one helps spread the load.
Next up was the main shaft which fits into the fork legs itself. It appears clearly worn out and definitely would have had some play in it if not replaced. I dropped off the old shaft to the local machine shop and requested for it to be made of 6000-series aluminum. For some reason, this particular aluminum grade is pretty hard to come across here. Or maybe it’s just that the shops I deal with do not go anywhere near high-end machining. Machine shop guy didn’t even know what grade aluminum he has. He told me he could ask around for 6000-series aluminum if I wanted, but it could take some time, or I could make do with whatever aluminum he had and have my new shaft tomorrow. Another easy decision made.
New shiny shaft on the top, old worn out one in the middle.
New parts in place, some grease, Permatex (Loctite similar), and time…
Awesome look of the white Teflon seals!
New rubber O-rings for lower shock mount
Ready to Rock!
And rock it did. Rock my bones off that is. I really don’t remember the last time I felt this beat up after a ride. It could be that I haven’t ridden for quite a while and hence the questionable fitness of my good self, but I’ve been off the saddle for longer before and the first ride with a modern front suspension doesn’t leave me this battered. Car park tests indicate a rather smooth squish with the rebound adjustment on the Noleen shock still working. I had it dialed in and then headed to the trails. The fork is very reactive to bumps but I suspect the main culprit is the limited travel it had. The Noleen shock also ramps up in compression after going through approximately half of the travel. After doing the math, I seem to have ridden on a 3” shock, with 0.5” for sag, 1” small bump and another 1.5” for the harder hitting stuff. This makes you concentrate a whole lot more and making you pick trail lines with greater scrutiny in order to avoid the spills. To add to the challenge, I had to run v-brakes up front due to the lack of discbrake tabs on the fork. It has been a long time since I last rode v-brakes, and I went into this thinking that I had 26” rotors. First descend kicked that notion out immediately. Overall, there were no spills on this first ride, just a very tired and beaten up physique. There were a few extremely hairy situations like the last descend down triple-deck on Carnival trail. I can’t remember the last time I felt so exhilarated after clearing a trail feature. My next ride will be on my Prophet for sure, but I’m not giving up on the Girvin just yet. I’m just curious how the Prophet will ride with a TALAS 36 up front. Then I’ll get back to riding my bones off the Girvin. I now see my hardtail as an excellent bike to sharpen riding skills as it isn’t as forgiving with the Girvin up front. There’s no denying that you’re riding something from the 90’s, and tough as it is, riders still rode the same trails back then. They just didn’t have the privilege to plough through trails like we do with our modern long travel suspension bikes. If they picked the wrong line back then, they paid for it – with skin and blood. Here’s to retro riding!
2001 GT Ruckus 1.0
26” rotor brakes
Close-up look at the linkages..