Fork Authority

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The humble suspension fork is responsible for so much progression over the history of the mountain bike. Whether it was 63 mm of travel on a mid-90s NORBA Nationals DH bike or an overbuilt Monster T on an early 00s freeride sled, suspension forks have helped keep our bikes comfortable and under control. They’re also one of the best upgrades on your new bike since you’ll save a ton of money on a fork upgrade with a new bike build versus upgrading down the line.




LSC, PSI, EVOL, WTF?

Before we dive into the bigger differences between each of our fork upgrades, below are some common terms you’ll see when comparing forks.

Springs - There are two kinds of springs on forks these days, air and coil. We discussed the ride differences between each in a previous Dispatch. We typically find that people prefer to have their forks set up more progressively than their shocks in order to ride higher in the fork travel, which increases confidence in choppy terrain.
  • Rockshox DebonAir and Fox EVOL are both modern air spring designs that feature larger negative spring air chambers for a softer feel off the top and more linear spring performance (similar to a coil).
  • MRP FulFill is a dual-air system that lets you independently adjust the air pressure in the positive and negative air chambers. When the negative air chamber is set at higher air pressure than the positive chamber, the fork will feel softer off the top and quickly settle in to the sag point.
  • Coil springs are available for the MRP Ribbon and we are able to order and install PUSH ACS-3 coil conversion kits into any popular Fox or Rockshox fork. (Note that both of these come with a corresponding upgrade cost).
Dampers - Spring rates are set to control the weight of the rider, and the fork’s damper adjustments are used to fine tune the spring behavior. If your suspension feels off, check your spring rates first before adding too much damping. A properly set up spring and damper will feel lively and controlled. Too much damping will make the bike feel very dead and not much fun at all.
  • Rebound damping is secondary to proper spring rate, and the two are closely connected. Rebound controls the extension of the spring in order to allow the fork to quickly return to the sag point. The higher your spring rate, the more rebound damping you’ll need to allow for a controlled extension of the spring. Most forks only have Low Speed Rebound (LSR) available via a knob on the bottom of the right leg. Any time you increase your spring rate, be sure to increase rebound damping at the same time to balance the ride.
  • Compression adjustment offers additional support by slowing down the spring as it tries to compress during each impact. Setting compression is largely a personal feel based on the balance between support and comfort you want to achieve. Most forks only offer Low Speed Compression (LSC), but some of the higher end Rockshox and Fox forks include independently-adjustable High Speed Compression (HSC) as well. You’ll use LSC to increase support during bodyweight shifts like braking, pumping, out-of-the-saddle climbing, and G-outs. HSC is used to offer support on impacts that very quickly compress your suspension like square-edged hits, babyhead rocks, and roots.

Fork Comparison

Rockshox Pike RC and Lyrik RC - These forks would be upgrades on a Ride 2 or standard equipment on a Ride 1 or Race build kit. Rockshox forks are always so easy to set up for riders who just want to ride their bikes. There’s also terrific support available around the world with parts readily available to most shops. The reason these forks are on the front of the vast majority of bikes is that they work for the vast majority of riders.
  • Fork adjustments:
    • Spring rate via air pressure with DebonAir high-volume negative spring
    • Bottom-out control with internal bottomless tokens
    • Low Speed Compression and Low Speed Rebound
  • Why we dig it:
    • The RC damper is simple, reliable, and offers a great ride-feel compared to the more advanced dampers in Rockshox’s other forks.
    • We like to travel with our bikes, and it’s good to know that you can get parts just about anywhere for Rockshox forks.
    • It’s very easy to set up with sag gradients on the fork stanchions and pressure recommendations on the fork leg.
  • Bonus info:
    • Why don’t we offer the RCT3 option? Quite simply, we don’t think it’s worth the extra dough. The RCT3 damper is identical to the RC damper (so performance is the same), and the threshold adjustment (the “T3”) just isn’t that useful. You might as well just close the compression circuit on the few climbs you might want a stiffer top stroke and save yourself $100+. For this reason, we put the savings into higher bang-for-buck components on the Race builds, like the Bike Yoke Revive dropper post.
MRP Ribbon - The Ribbon was named Pinkbike’s 2017 Suspension Product of the Year and features a highly-adjustable air spring that rewards riders willing to spend time dialing in their fork setup. The FulFill dual-air spring and Ramp Control work together to let you fine-tune a supple feel off the top, a supportive feel through the mid-stroke, and the right amount of progression to slow the fork down as you get close to bottoming it out.
  • Fork adjustments:
    • Spring rate via air pressure with independently-adjustable negative spring pressure
    • Tool-free bottom-out adjustment with Ramp Control dial
    • Low Speed Compression and Low Speed Rebound
  • Why we dig it:
    • Assembled in ColoRADo (duh!)
    • The tunability offers versatility for a lot of different riding styles and terrain for the tinkerers among us.
    • Lightweight and stiff compared to the competition
Fox 36 Grip2 - We’ve been consistently impressed with these forks each time one of our riders has ordered one. In typical Fox fashion, every piece of the fork is immaculately machined, and it truly feels like a premium fork when you unthread the air cap or reach down to click each of the many adjusters. It is a racer’s fork, offering a ton of support for harder riders and excellent performance, but some riders find that this support feels harsh at slower speeds.
  • Fork adjustments:
    • Spring rate via air pressure with EVOL high-volume negative spring
    • Bottom-out control via volume-reducing spacers
    • Independently-adjustable High Speed Compression, Low Speed Compression, High Speed Rebound, and Low Speed Rebound
  • Why we dig it:
    • We like goin’ fast, and this is the fork for the fastest racers.
    • Lots of adjustments on the damper to increase support and control where you need it
    • Incredible attention to detail in manufacturing and rider experience
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