Hello guys. I hope you can settle an issue for me. I have been mtb’ing for around seven years now. I have a Cannondale Scalpel 1000 (2002) model. Recently I fancied something a little more rugged and aggressive, so I asked my LBS to custom build me a Cove Stiffee FR, with a freeride kit and Fox Vanilla RLC forks (2007, 140mm of travel). Again this bike is a sound machine for that aggressive style of riding and has handled all that I can throw at it. My only reservation is the rattle that seems to come from the internals of the fork. At first it sounded like the headset had come loose. The bike went back to my LBS for its first service, and I raised my concern with them, explaining that they operate ok, but there is this an annoying rattle, mainly when I hit the washboard type stuff out on the trail. On a big hit or smooth surface there is no noise. They said they would check it out. When I picked the bike up they said the headset needed a tweak which is to be expected from new, but the forks are sound. They did say that some fork rattle is to be expected from a coil sprung set of forks, but they test rode it and reckoned all was well. I then took the bike out to my local trails and yes, the same rattle! Having only ridden bikes with an air sprung system, I have to take their word for it. What do you guys think? Am I being palmed off, or should I follow it up with Mojo suspension? Please ease my paranoia!
John, Tamworth

All coil sprung forks have the potential for their springs to rattle or click inside the forks, normally noticed at full extension/topout or when the fork is just starting to compress and subsequently load the coil spring. Spring noise is either a result of the ground spring end (top or bottom) moving slightly against its “seat” or from the compressed spring bowing slightly and rubbing against the inner wall of the suspension leg.
Whilst not unheard of, it is unusual for Fox forks to be
particularly noisy as the spring seats tend to be a good fit and Fox also fit a protective Plastic “wrap” around the middle portion of their spring to help prevent excessive noise from the metal to metal contact you get when the spring deforms under compression, as
mentioned previously.
It is particularly odd that your forks are noisy as the 2007 Vanillas have a better spring seat than older models; that, along with the new seat also incorporating a centre guide to keep everything lined up nicely.
As there’s only a spring in the left, non-damper leg, it would be worthwhile removing the preload top cap from the forks and lifting the spring to check that the plastic wrap is there.
If you have a rogue set of forks where the “wrap” is missing,
get your local shop to contact Mojo who will be able to remedy the situation. If everything looks fine, after reassembly ensure you set a couple of turns of preload on the fork to tension the spring — not too much though and also check that the rebound isn’t way too quick as this may be causing the fork to “topout”, possibly allowing the spring to rattle until it is loaded again.
If you try these measures and are still unhappy with forks get your shop to liaise with Mojo, the Fox importers, who will gladly help sort out the problem.

Whilst attempting to cycle the South Downs Way last week, I fell victim to an uneven chalk farm track, and
consequently fractured my shoulder and grazed the usual bits and pieces. Prior to the spill, I noticed that the front shocks appeared to be fully compressed quite easily. I am 17st and built like a brick outhouse and have since been advised by local bike
shops/gurus that my front suspension is too light. The bike is a stock 2005 GT Avalanche 1, non disk with XC Pro forks with lock out. Is it possible to upgrade the fork internals, if so what do you recommend.
Carl Anderson, email

The original Suntour XC Pro forks fitted to your GT Avalanche were like almost every other fork on the market today, set up for the
imaginary ‘Mr Average’ rider,
i.e. 5ft 10in, 12.5 stone of “average” ability, riding average “terrain”. Being built like the proverbial brick outhouse is certainly going to be stressing your forks to a degree their designer didn’t envisage.
It is possible to improve things by fitting a harder spring in the left (non-lockout) leg; your local bike shop can order these from the Suntour distributor, Greyville, for £10.95. At this price, it is worth giving the harder spring a try to see if it makes a big enough difference for you. If you do decide to look at purchasing fresh forks I would suggest looking at an air or air-assisted fork, as these will allow you to set an air pressure to match your weight. Unfortunately, all current coil sprung forks will be set up as standard for this Mr Average again, so would need changing to harder springs from new.
Your current Suntour forks have 100mm of travel so I would stick to replacing them with something in the 100-130mm range. All the major manufacturers have air-sprung/air-assisted forks in this range and the price range from each manufacturer can vary quite a bit so budget will help narrow your choices down a bit. Bearing in mind your ‘outhouse’ physique I would certainly put some of Marzocchi’s forks onto your shortlist as their reputation for being robust and reliable is well deserved.

Hi, next year I am going to uni and I am looking for information on professional bicycle mechanic courses so that I can hopefully find a job in a bike shop. Any information would be welcome.
Marcus Brown, email

The industry recognised and promoted qualification is ‘Cytech’ which is broken down into three NVQ levels. There is an emphasis on practical experience combined with some theory as opposed to being structured like a degree in the traditional sense.
To get a fuller picture of what is involved visit