The Different Suspension Choices Offered On Commuter and Leisure Bikes

By: Stephen Tern

Searching through the range of hybrid bikes available in the market, you will probably ask yourself whether the suspension options offered by various models are worth considering. In actual fact some makers do not really offer the option. Ranges such as the Bianchi Camaleonte or Specialized Sirrrus are aimed primarily at the more road-going fraternity. That said, what are the options actually on offer?
Basically there are two types of module - front suspension forks and suspension seatposts. Hybrids, unlike mountain bikes do not come with rear suspension. Rough off road use is not their strong point - if that's what you want to do, then an MTB is maybe a better choice for you.
Front Suspension Forks
Suspension forks are by far the most widespread types of suspension fitted to hybrids. Generally equipped with a coil-spring mechanism, they have a travel typically in the range 50 - 60mm.
There are various refinements available, based on price. A very handy feature to incorporate is 'lockout'. This allows the legs to be fixed. This is excellent for cycling on smooth surfaces and means that the suspension does not soak up pedalling energy.
Scott likes to fit its bikes with supension forks - they feature on nearly all of their models. Have a look at the Scott Sportster range if you feel that this is the way you want to go. In the Kona Dew range, the FS model is fitted with a suspension fork as well.
Suspension Seatposts
A less-often seen component on standard hybrids is the suspension seatpost. Many people, myself included think that this is a surprise, given how efficient they are in combatting rough roads. Most are operated by a coil-spring, although more pricey posts use an elastomer compression system. They will typically have an adjustment to deal with different weights of rider.
The Kona Dew FS is one of the few bikes you will find which offers a suspension post in its standard spec. They can naturally be retro-fitted at any time - they are widely available. Be careful to buy the correct diameter post though.
So what are the advantages and drawbacks of suspension systems?
There's no doubt that suspension of some kind is superb if you spend a great deal of your time off smooth roads. A bike with suspension allows you to head off into the countryside whenever the mood takes you.
But be conscious that a decent suspenson fork will push up the cost of your bike. In addition, there will be a weight penalty and the suspension springs will absorb some of your pedalling power. Go for a fork with lockout, and remember to use it.
You can fix a suspension seat post to your bike at any time. The weight is not appreciable, and they are not that pricey.
Just do your research and thinking - then go for the option that best suits your style of cycling.

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Check out the Specialized Sirrus or Kona Dew ranges as great examples of road and trail-friendly hybrids - in-depth reports from Tern Cycling Reviews.

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