I really liked my first experience of trail centre riding with rigid forks and would like to stick with them. I was actually faster in the smoother sweeping singletrack, enjoyed the more positive tracking (less understeer), and oddly, I was more confident and comfortable over drop-off's as well, especially multiple drops.
The not so great stuff (apart from an overall lack of fitness) was my hands hurting like hell after a few hours. They were fine on the majority of sections, but those fast, hard packed sections were terrible. You know the ones, loads of fist size rocks compacted into the trail giving a supper bumpy ride, and some of the fire road sections. Even slowing down didn't help much.
Not having suspension forks, on the right sections, was BRILLIANT. The bike was faster and handled better than ever before. I could just do with a bit more comfort for the sections in between.
So, keeping in mind I like the XC stuff and faster/smoother sections, what would you recommend based on your experiences, for helping with the in-between sections but not messing up the rest of my ride? I was thinking:
Titanium bars (won't change anything except comfort perhaps?).
Fatter tyre (not sure I want to do this as I don't need a fatter tyre for any other reason though, and don't really want extra weight. I love the Conti Explorers as well, and they only come in 2.1")?
Gel type grips (any noticeable difference?).
Cheapest bang-for-comfort option preferred to start with, as I'm not a wealthy man