Written by Wally Wallace Wednesday, 21 August 2013 17:48
Carver Bikes has officially released the Trans-Fat Suspension Fat Bike Fork, and Bikeman couldn't be more excited. For every person that says "a fat bike doesn't need suspension" there is someone who wonders "what if my fat bike had a suspension fork". Bikeman remembers people poo pooing the original Rock Shox RS-1 and Manitou suspension forks as unnecessary back in the day and we all know how that turned out. The Fat Bike craze continues to grow, and oddly enough, so does the choice of componentry. So lets take a tour of the salient features, peruse some images, then talk shop for a moment shall we? Okay good!
First, some detailed specs:
- Available with a 1-1/8" or tapered steerer
- 7050 Aluminum Steerer & 34mm Stanchions
- 6066 Aluminum Crown and Dropouts
- Adjustable travel: 80mm, 100mm, or 110mm
- Weight: 4.6 lbs
- Clearance for 4" tires on 82mm rims max (122mm between upper legs)
- 506mm axle to crown (484mm w/sag) at 110mm travel
- 476mm w/sag at 100mm travel
- 460mm w/sag at 80mm travel
- 45mm offset
- Rebound control on bottom of fork leg
- Compression and lock out at top of fork leg
- Post mount disc brake mount for 160mm rotor
- 1/18" or tapered steerer available
- 15mm Thru-Axle
The fit and finish of this fork is really quite nice. The knobs all have the same quality feel you've come to expect from the big boys like Fox, Rock Shox, and White Bros. The air spring is housed in the left leg and all the damping oil and guts can be found in the right. The lockout and compression damping adjustment can be found on the top of the right leg with the rebound damping control knob located on the bottom of the same leg. The most striking feature right out of the box is that it's an inverted style fork with massive upper legs and corresponding beefy lowers. While they haven't tried every conceivable configuration out there, it appears the max tire size is a 4" tire on a 82mm rim max. The disc brake mount is for a 160mm out of the box but you can get adapters to go 180mm or even 203mm. The supplied skewer has a straight forward screw cap at the end that lets you easily adjust the right amount of clamping force.
The first question we are asked most frequently is "how does it ride?". Well, we have had initial impressions ranging from "interesting" to "wow" to "where's my wallet" from those who have tried it. A lot of test ride derby conversation turns to finding the right blend of tire and shock air pressure. That's more art than science and will undoubtedly be debated for the rest of time. As always, a nice middle ground in terms of pressure on both tire and fork results in a nice well rounded ride. Overall the fork feels solid and stable with smooth damping qualities. Naturally the front end weighs more than if you have a Carbon O'Beast Fork on there, but when you get the pressures set up right you can "preload" the shock and tire to get the front end up in a jiffy much like on a skinny tire bike. Where it really shines is on the downhills and through nasty rooted, rocky terrain. With three levels of travel to choose from you can change the way the bike feels based on your preferences and needs. We have one mounted up on a Ti O'Beast at 100mm of travel and it feels balanced in handling, ie quick enough to negotiate technical climbs and stable enough to let it hang out on the descent. We have a few employees that have mounted these up to their rigs and long term reviews are forthcoming.
Outside of that, we did find a new unexpected use for the fork on one of Carver Bikes top secret new models due to be released very soon. If you think you know what the image below is of, post it in the comments!
While we can't be certain, the hand in the picture looks to that of a well known deity anointing it the next , next big thing...
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