I don’t normally write reviews on anything, but since the internets seem to be lacking in them for Mosso’s increasingly more popular rigid aluminum fork, I thought I’d do one.
I bought this fork last fall from eBay for $55 (incl shipping). I didn’t know what to expect of it in terms of performance or durability, but for the price, it wasn’t a bad investment. At the same time, I re-sold my ’06 Rock Shox SID, so the Mosso became my primary fork, and forced me to get used to riding a rigid bike.
The fork only took 5 days to arrive from China, which was pretty unexpected. I pretty much couldn’t wait to get it on my bike, or on the scale. The weight is listed as 695 grams, and I believe it came in at that exact number. However, after cutting the steerer tube down a few inches, it came in at 664 grams, about 1.4lbs less than my SID! So far, so good.
Installation of the star nut was a little tougher than on previous forks, but the real trouble came when I installed the lower bearing race for my Chris King headset. It seems as though the steerer tube was on the high side of factory tolerances, as it took about half an hour of beating on it with a mallet and PVC pipe before the race finally seated itself. I’ve never had that level of trouble on either of my previous forks, both of which were Rock Shox SIDs from different years.
With everything ready to go, I installed it on my bike (a Gary Fisher SuperCaliber frame) and put on some 26" road tires (more on that later).
On thing I noticed right away was how much the Mosso fork lowered the front end of my bike, and with it, the bottom bracket and pedal clearance height. Click one of the images below to see a comparison, and keep in mind the tires with the SID are 2.3", whereas the I have 1.9" tires mounted in the Mosso pic:
Overall, I think the drop was close to 2", which was significant. I made up for it by adding an additional spacer under my stem and flipping my stem over for positive rise. That took care of my comfort, but it still left the bottom bracket about an inch closer to the ground than before. Still, I’m a cross-country rider, so I can deal with a little less ground clearance than a full-suspension freeride type bike would allow.
So, how have I gotten along with the lower, stiffer fork? Well, I had my doubts about going to a rigid set-up, but I’ve since become a believer in it—and on a fully aluminum bike, no less! I have no reason to ever again doubt riders who swear by fully rigid steel bikes and forks.
On the road — riding with my Continental Gran Prix 26×1" tires set at 100psi, this set-up beats the crap out of me. The Mosso fork is made of 7005-series aluminum, which is extremely sitff and unforgiving. I’ve only gone for a handful of rides on my road tires, but each time I’ve sworn I’d never do it again. This time, I mean it!
Steering is incredibly sharp with the lower front end and the bike sprints up hills like a road bike (at 17lbs, it should!). The lower pedal clearance can be a problem on turns if I lean too much and don’t have my inside pedal up, but overall, it’s a nice ride. Where it suffers is with the ultra-stiff, non-absorbing front end. Tires set at 100psi are rock hard, and the fork does nothing to mask road joints or other cracks in the pavement.
Bottom line: if you’re planning on turning your MTB into a hybrid, use fatter tires and less air pressure, or just avoid this fork altogether. It’s just not worth the abuse.
On the trail — With a fork this light, it makes you wonder just how durable it will be over time, crashing down rocky, root-covered terrain. I’m happy to say it holds up very well, and I’ve never once needed to question how tough it is. I don’t use disc brakes, so they may actually cause more flex in the fork under braking, but with v-brakes, it never seems to wander or flex at all.
I ride a local rail-trail quite a lot, and the Mosso has made the experience pretty much perfect. Yes, it does a terrible job soaking up vibratrion, but the sharp steering and light weight make the bike fly like it never has before. Since I ride the rail-trail with my Kenda Klimaxx Lite 1.9" tires set at 50psi, the overall ride is actually very comfortable, and I can only tell I’m on a stiff, rigid fork when I begin to sprint and it takes off down the trail.
I believe I could keep this set-up pretty much forever on a rail-trail and never be disappointed with it.
It’s on real trails where the fork really begins to shine… and disappoint. I ride with 2.3" Continental Vertical Pro tires set at 25-30psi, so that’s all the suspension I get. I thought the Mosso would totally beat me up as I rode over roots and rocky terrain, or even through rock gardens, but it actually performs quite well. It’s only when I hit a section of trail covered in roots that I even remember I’m riding a rigid bike. The rest of the time, I don’t even think about it. I’m sure this is due more to the tires than the fork, but the overall feel is actually quite nice, and is what’s convinced me I never need a suspension fork for XC riding.
The best part is the level of tactile feel you have when rolling over… well, everything. I’m always very aware of what’s under my tires, and I feel a level of control that a suspension fork never gave me.
Where it disappoints is, obviously, with ground clearance, especially during climbs. There have been numerous spots where my pedals have hit the ground, which pretty much destroys a climb as my shoe usually unclips from my pedals. I removed my 46T large chainring in favor of a smaller diameter bash guard, and that made a huge difference, but having the pedals hit the ground so often just won’t do. This, of course, is not entirely the fault of the fork, as my frame was built for an 80mm travel fork. A frame designed around a lower fork would probably do just fine in these areas.
If you’re looking to lower weight on your bike, this fork will absolutely do it. If you’re wanting a comfy ride, it probably won’t, depending on terrain and tire set-up. Used with a properly designed frame, I could see myself riding this fork for years to come and being quite happy with it, but I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone with a frame designed around a 63mm+ travel suspension fork.
I also wouldn’t recommend it to an older rider, or someone sensitive to having their ass kicked by a stiff ride. However, if you can deal with the stiffness, I see no reason not to ride it (personally, I like it, except on the road).
In the end, though, I have plans to switch to a different fork, and either sell this or find a place in my shop to store it for a later date. For $55, it was a fun experiment, and I learned that I love riding without suspension and rarely feel a need for it.
Can be used with v- or disc brakes
Zero maintenance (due to lack of moving parts & aluminum construction)
Difficulty installing star nut and bearing race
Low axle-to-crown height (394mm from axle center to top of crown)