I went ahead and ordered my Carbon Cycles eXotic carbon fork this week due to my lack of self-control and patience. But before I work on my personality issues, I thought I’d pass along my first impressions of the fork.
I ordered from CarbonCycles’s eBay store on Tuesday, and received the package on Friday; total price with shipping was $190. The first thing I do after unwrapping any new bike part is put it on the scale. eXotic’s claimed weight is 850 grams (1.9lbs), though it actually came in slightly higher than that with an uncut steerer tube. It’s not a huge difference, but it’d be nice if manufacturers would more accurately post the weight of their parts.
Compared to my aluminum Mosso fork, the eXotic’s crown is a full 2" taller, bringing my bike’s front end up to where it was when I had an 80mm Rock Shox SID. At the same time, I gained back an inch of lost pedal and bottom bracket clearance, so I shouldn’t smack my pedals while climbing over rocks and roots any more than I did with the SID. Pedal clearance (or lack of it) was actually the number one reason why I decided to switch to a new fork.
Visually, the eXotic looks great. The carbon wrap on the legs is awesome, with a high-gloss protective clearcoat. Since I have an older frame, I still use v-brakes, thus I had to order the fork model (CC-F0245) with the v-brake posts. The machining on the posts is top-notch, as is the rest of the fork. It’s no wonder that White Brothers and Origin-8 licence these forks under their own brands (and sell them for a mark-up).
Set-up was simple; no harder than any other fork install if you’ve ever done one. In fact, it was much easier since I didn’t have to adjust air pressure, compression, rebound and sag. Low maintenance is definitely a plus when riding a rigid fork.
When I installed the lower bearing race on the Mosso, I needed my wife to hold the fork for me while I spent 15 minutes banging the race down against the crown. Chalk it up to manufacturing tolerances, I guess, but that thing just about found itself thrown threw a window before I finally got the race on. With the eXotic, I was able to tap the race into place on my own and with very little effort, the same as both SIDs I’ve previously owned.
With the race on I cut and filed the steerer tube, then took a quick run to the bike shop to get a star nut installed (I bent my homemade bolt-and-nuts install rig on the Mosso last winter).
Some pics before my first ride:
After months of the Mosso beating me up, I had high expectations of the ride quality of carbon; the 7005-series aluminum of the old fork isn’t exactly known for damping vibrations like carbon fiber is. I had about a 10.5 mile ride in various conditions: gravel rail-trail, road, and rocky single track.
The carbon didn’t feel much different on the rail-trail than did the aluminum, save for the higher, more comfortable front end. On the road back to my car, I purposely hit every expansion joint I could find, and my hands were no longer beat to death as before (it’s no wonder roadies prefer carbon to aluminum).
Where it really shined is on rocky single track, which is the stuff I ride most. The only way I can really describe the ride is that every rock and root felt as though it was covered in plush carpet. In other words, I could still feel the texture of everything I rode over (unlike a suspension fork that soaks up everything), but it felt lightly padded. In my opinion, it’s the perfect compromise between comfort and control.
One thing I didn’t notice is any flexing of the carbon legs. It could be due to my low weight (~150lbs) and/or the shorter 26" fork legs, but many other reviewers have found the 29er version has a noticeable (but still welcome) level of flex.
I’ll get more riding in this weekend and over the following weeks as the temps go up (finally) and trails dry out, and I’ll report back as to how well this thing is holding up. It’s maiden voyage definitely impressed me, though.
Manufacturer link: http://www.carboncycles.cc
For more images, visit my gallery & specs page: http://gearinches.com/blog/photos/exotic-carbon-rigid-fork