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Reply to Is a front shock suspension a must have for the canal surface overall ?

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Reply to Is a front shock suspension a must have for the canal surface overall ?
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BobK from McLean on 11/21/2020 4:59:03 PM:
Just gave a Trek Verve3 a test ride on the canal to see how it handles without front shocks on some of the embedded rocky surfaces near me and found that its a pretty rough ride without front shocks, so just wondering if you have found that front shocks are a must have for most of the canal surfaces as the catch22 is, I don't think I can use a front baggage rack with a front shock suspension.

Willy from Alexandria,VA on 11/22/2020 8:43:52 AM:
I do not think a front suspension fork is necessary to traverse the C&O. I've traveled the length of the C&0 5 times in the last five years with the same no suspension bike (1996 Mongoose hybrid). If anything- it's getting easier because the park service has been resurfacing sections with a crushed limestone surface similar to the GAP trail. Go for it! Happy traveling!

BobK from McLean on 11/22/2020 9:52:26 AM:
Thanks Willy great to the hear that!

Rivnuts from Homestead,PA on 11/22/2020 3:23:40 PM:
Like Willy from Alexandria, I have made the GAP/C&O trip 6 times in the last six years on bikes without front suspension. Four of those trips were self-supported where the bikes were packed with tools, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, camp stove and small amounts of food. The bikes have been road bikes or modified versions thereof with wider tires and 36-hole rims. I typically use a handlebar bag on the front. I’ve not felt the need for front suspension. However, maybe I don’t know what I am missing having not owned or used a bike with suspension.

WKR from Brunswick, MD on 11/22/2020 4:57:20 PM:
I actually lock out my suspension forks when on the tow path. I think suspension is worth it for serious trail riding but is more annoying to me for things like the canal (bouncier ride).

BobK from McLean on 11/23/2020 7:39:09 AM:
Well on my previous ride to White's Ferry I was using my Gary Fisher, which does have a front suspension and I never noticed any rough riding anywhere along the path, but with the Verve, it was pretty rough going in that stretch from 495 to DC, so this weekend I'll try letting some air out of the tires and see if that helps, thanks again all for the very helpful info!

GSK from Springfield Virginia on 11/23/2020 5:46:23 PM:
Hi BobK, just a thought to keep in mind. We used to ride the trail every year on some old steel framed road bikes and had no real problems even loaded down. About 10 years ago we switched to aluminum framed Novara Safaris (no shocks) and have been riding the trail every Fall on those. But if we’re on a day ride we usually take our suspension bikes since the aluminum framed Novara’s are pretty stiff unloaded. However, when we load them up for our thru trips (with camping gear and the works) they ride a lot smoother. You might want to try your Trek loaded with gear and see if it doesn’t make a difference in how it rides.

BobK from McLean on 11/24/2020 8:37:51 AM:
Actually I do plan on carrying 2(2 liter) bottles of water on the front rack when I do my Cumberland ride, so I'm going to carry those water bottles when I do another test run this weekend and also see how well the front rack holds up with all that bouncing around, thanks for the info GSK, all!

BobK from McLean on 11/28/2020 3:43:48 PM:
Did a test run on the canal with 2(3 liter) water bottles on the front rack and that definitely smoothed out the ride on those rocky surfaces by about 50%, so that’s a big relief! but definitely got spoiled by those Gary Fisher Rock Shocks so I may rebuild the GF just as a backup, thanks GSK, all!