Changing front fork to a suspension fork


New Member
Apr 23, 2003
I have a mountain bike bought in 1989, which was fairly high end at the time. It has deore and deore xt components and very nice rigid frame.

It was born before suspended forks were around and now I want to replace my front rigid fork with a new shock fork.

I see that a lot of the forks today have a diameter of 1 1/8 inches. My bike has, what I believe, is a 1" fork. Was a 1" head tube common on the early mountain bikes?

Is there anything I can do other than buying a new bike and where can I go to find a fork to fit?

Shockless in Vegas


New Member
Mar 15, 2003
yes the 1" fork was common in the 80's and early 90's. almost all road and mtb's had 1" forks.

if you have deore xt components, it would be a waste to throw away your classic xt headset. these are very hard to find.

you can get 1" threaded suspension forks, so you don't need to replace the headset. you can use your old stem and handle bar.

you end up with a classic mtb that has the fuctionality of a new mtb.

don't throw away your old parts. you install the a gain in 10 yrs or so -- then you can sell the bike for more than 1000 bucks


New Member
Apr 8, 2003
Marzocchi and RST are the only companies I'm aware of that still offer a 1" threaded steerer. Depending upon your location, these may be hard to source. Both are decent forks.

One major consideration is that your frame is designed with a certain length fork in mind. Almost certainly any suspension fork will raise the front end, slacken the effective headtube angle, and 'slow down' the steering. You definitely want to go with as short a travel fork as possible.

Then you have to consider the cost of purchasing the forks and having them installed. This could run from 200 to 300 USD.

You need to ask yourself why you want suspension, and if the possible complications and expense are worth it. You may decide it's a better option to buy a new bike designed for suspension, and keep your existing bike as is.



New Member
Feb 4, 2003
You can still find 1" forks but you cannot be picky on brand or model. If you are wanting a specific fork best to buy a new frame.

Also take note that any suspended fork will throw the geometry of the frame. It will simply lift your front end thus giving you a more laid back head tube angle. So if you are like many that love than feel, best not to alter it and go with a more suspension ready frame.

Also you may want to stay with an 80mm fork if you go that route.


New Member
May 6, 2003

I think one question you need to ask yourself (and I wish I had a few years ago when trying a similar modification) is how you intend to use your reconfigured bike. If you are going to ride your soon-to-be-a-classic XT drivetrain the way a hardtail is meant to be ridden, I would seriously reconsider.
The more rugged terrain that a front fork will open up to you takes its toll. Even on a new bike - regardless of how well maintained it may be - things happen... stick gets caught in the rear derailleur, you take a spill and something cracks etc... From a price perspective, after a season of riding you may end up spending $500 between mods and repairs on your '89 - about halfway to a decent hardtail. That at least was my experience.

If, on the other hand, you are just looking for the comfort of a front shock for hardpack at moderate speed and other easy trails I'd say go for it.

good luck