Over the years mountain bike forks have become more expensive. Even though you can get less expensive forks there must be a reason for the expensive forks. So I looked into this more.
Why are mountain bike forks so expensive? Mountain bike forks are expensive because there is more travel, the travel is adjustable, and the stanchions have a larger diameter. The dampening is better, increased control, and higher quality material is used. They have high and low speed circuits, they are lighter, stiffer, and the stanchions slide better.
These high end forks are used by mountain bikers for specific purposes. Let’s see what they are so you can do the same.
What Are Expensive Mountain Bike Forks Good For
- Mountain bikers ride on rough terrain such as rocks and roots. They also go on jumps and over drop offs. Having enough travel on your fork is important in order to be able to handle the rough terrain. There are forks with as much as 150mm to 200mm in travel.
- Not only is it important for you to have enough travel but being able to adjust the travel is just as important. Too much or too little travel can throw you from your bike. More expensive forks allow you to adjust the travel in 3 different positions, depending on the style of riding.
- Stanchion tube diameter is important depending on the type of riding you will do. Stanchions absorb impact vertically without moving laterally. The more impact you will experience the wider stanchions you should have. Stanchion diameters can be as wide as 40mm.
- Mountain bikes have to have dampening otherwise the rider will be bouncing around the trail like a rubber ball. Higher end forks have a damper rod and oil bath which controls the speed of compression and rebound. Plus their damper is proprietary, they designed it, and it has a trademarked name.
- Along with having better dampening, more expensive forks have dampening which also has high and low speed circuits. These circuits are speed sensitive to the fork. The fork can react to sharp edged hits and softer edged hits. The high speed circuit is for sharp edged impact, and low speed circuit is for softer impacts to an edge.
- More expensive forks are lighter and stiffer. The light forks can make your bike 2 to 3 pounds lighter than a bike with a low end fork. Stiffer forks are better for hard cornering and rock gardens. The fork will not flex laterally.
- Forks made from quality material like carbon will have stanchions which slide up and down better. They are more resistant to scratches and abrasions which could allow air inside. Lower end stanchions can get scraped up more easily.
- High end forks have a tapered steer as opposed to a straight steer on lower end bikes. The tapered steer is 1 and a half inches to an inch and 1/8. Lower end will be 1 inch and 1/8 straight steer. Tapered steers are stiffer and lighter. They flex less under impact.
What Are the Most Expensive Mountain Bike Forks
- The most expensive mountain bike fork we have seen so far is the Message Boost Fork by Trust Performance for $2,700. This fork has 130mm of travel, and the lower material and crown material are both made of carbon.
- The steer tube diameter is tapered going from 1 and 1/8 inches to 1 and a half inches. The damper is made by Trust Performance and designed in-house. The damper is also adjustable and can be set to 3 different positions. The spring type is air as opposed to coil.
- This fork is best used for trail riding. It is compatible with 27.5 inch wheels and 29er bikes. The fork only needs to be serviced every 250 hours compared to 50 hours for lower end forks. The design of the forks offers a 15mm boost of the axle increasing stability.
RS-1 ACS Solo Air
- The next fork is the RS-1 ACS Solo Air by RockShox for $1865. It has 120mm of travel. The stanchion material is made of fast black coated aluminum. Both the lower and crown material are carbon fiber. The stanchion diameter is 32mm.
- This fork is made for cross country and trail bikes. The spring type is solo air and the damper is called accelerator. The damper is adjustable and offers beginning stroke rebound. The steer tube diameter is tapered from 1 and a half to 1 and 1/8.
- The fork is compatible with 29 inch bikes and not 27.5 or 26 inch. It has the firmest lockout of any RockShox fork. It has a 27mm torque tube axle for more stiffness and a 15mm thru axle. This prevent torsion flex when riding on high impact terrain.
- The Factory Boost Fork is by Fox Racing for $1699. This fork has 203mm of travel. The stanchion material is made of Kashima-coated aluminum. The lower material is made of magnesium and the crown material is made of 7000-series aluminum.
- The steer tube diameter is a straight 1.125 inches, and the stanchion diameter is 40mm. The spring type is Float and the damper is called Fit Grip 2. These are their own in-house designs. The adjustment of the damper uses 4 way valve control. The is high and low speed compression and high and low speed rebound.
- This fork is for all-mountain, enduro, freeride, and trail riding. Its Grip 2 damper has a lower friction level for an increase in traction and handles small bumps more precisely. The Fox Evol air spring improves traction and handles riding over rocks and roots more easily.
- The fourth manufacturer of mountain bike forks is MRP and they make the Bartlett Boost for $1289.95. This fork has 170mm of travel. The stanchion material is made of aluminum. The lower material is made of magnesium and the crown material is aluminum.
- This fork is compatible with a 27.5 inch bike. The steer tube is straight and has a diameter of 1 and 1/8 inches. The stanchion diameter is 35mm. The spring type they use is called Fulfil which allows for positive and negative adjustment of air chamber.
- This fork should be used for enduro, freeride, and bike park riding. It dual crown design increases precision and chassis stiffness. The damper is twin tube and not open-bath or a mono-design, this improves performance and riding control.
What Do These Forks Have in Common Which Make Them More Expensive
First, the travel is fairly long for all forks, going from 120mm to 203mm. This means more material must be used to make the fork.
The material used to make the forks is high quality. Two of them Trust Performance used carbon. The other two Fox Racing and MRP used magnesium and aluminum.
The two most expensive forks Trust Performance and RockShox used a tapered steer tube. The other two used a straight steer tube.
Three out of the four forks are compatible with 29 inch mountain bikes and one for 27.5 inch bike. Less expensive forks are more compatible with 26 inch bikes.
The manufacturers don’t mass produce these forks. They have proprietary designs which they have created themselves. Specific features of the forks are trademarked.
All these factors will lead the rider to have a better riding experience in terms of bike performance. The terrain will be handled more easily because of the more advanced technology and higher quality materials used to make the forks.