I gave a first impression of this fork back in May 2008, when I got it. Since then, I’ve put ~2,500 miles of road, rail-trail and singletrack riding on it, so it’s about time for an update.
I mentioned in my initial post that it gave the impression of riding on plush carpet, all the while giving you direct feedback of the surface you’re on. With the proper front tire (I typically used a 2.35" Kenda Kinetics Stick-E) set at less than 30psi, I often forgot that I was even riding a rigid fork. The carbon legs do a great job of damping vibration, and have just enough flex to absorb some of the initial shock of hitting roots and immovable rocks.
I only weigh about 150lbs with all my riding gear on, so I can’t give feedback on how well the fork will handle over time if you’re a larger rider–say, 210lbs, which they state as the weight limit for the fork–but I can say that I gave it a decent beating and it never once showed signs of fatigue. At less than 2lbs, and with carbon legs, it doesn’t sound like it could stand up to hard riding over time, but it definitely impressed me.
I spend most of the Spring riding the road, with narrow semi-slick tires pumped up to 60psi. The fork does a great job of damping road vibration, but there’s no hiding it if you hit a pothole. Slimmer carbon legs of a road fork may soak up potholes quite a bit better, but these legs are built for strength, so their damping abilities only go so far. Still, if you only have one bike, I say make it a rigid MTB with one of these great carbon forks, and you’ll be very happy in the long run.
Upon close inspection I can only find one small surface mark in the clearcoat, but it’s nothing to be concerned about. The black finish on the crown and drop-outs is completely perfect, even after a couple wrecks on rocks, and plenty of hits from small shale gravel over hundreds of miles of rail-trail.
The only downside I can find–and I think this may hold true for any rigid fork–is that your body will definitely be a lot more worn out after a ride than with a suspension fork. Riding down rock gardens, while possible, will take a toll on your hands, and hitting large roots square on will begin to hurt your wrists over time. Obviously, riding a rigid fork will force you to learn to ride much smarter, and that will surely help take the edge off overall, but there’s just no way you can avoid every trail obstacle. This fork, as great as it is, can only absorb so much, so it’ll be up to you to do the rest.
In fact, I recently swapped to a suspension fork after a month of trying to improve my speeds around a local singletrack race course. Part of the reason had to do with the punishment I was getting riding this thing at race speeds, and also the fact that a suspension fork’s ability to compress allows it to continue moving forward, as opposed to bouncing upward. Lightness vs. comfort… it was a tough call, but in the end, comfort won.
I’ll still hold onto this fork for general riding, as well as for road use during the wet months, so it’s by no means seen its final ride.
Relatively light, especially when compared to steel rigid forks
Strong carbon legs
Multiple lengths, brake options, and even comes in a 29er size
Carbon won’t last forever, and when it goes, it’s catastrophic
Clearcoat susceptible to scratches, but still quite durable
Harsher ride than a suspension fork
Conclusion: awesome fork, worth every penny of it’s paltry $200 entry fee.
Manufacturer link: http://www.carboncycles.cc