It might look unusual, but how will it ride? David checks out the Motion Ride E18 Linkage Fork.
Around 2011, there was a conversation I kept on having over and over again. It concerned an object I carried and used a lot, about which everyone had the same two questions. I got so tired of it, I almost got a sticker made: “Yes this is a Kindle. Yeah it’s alright, I like it. Please don’t bother me I’m reading”.
Eight years on, people ask me about this fork. There’s eyecatching, then there’s the Motion Ride E18 linkage fork, which is in a whole different league. Pop these on your bike, and you should plan on rides taking a bit longer just for the conversations.
Grabbing attention is merely a by-product of the design though, which is primarily aimed at creating anti-dive suspension. Rather than use air, boinging duty is handled by a carbon fibre leaf spring behind the right leg, all then tuned by a damper on the left.
Between all the burly aluminium linkages and terminations, the legs are carbon fibre tubes, bringing this fork in with a confirmed weight of 2.335Kg. Not the lightest fork, but only a few hundred grams more than a Lyrik or Fox 36.
While the E18 looks entirely unconventional, atop it is a decidedly standard tapered steerer that’ll work with any modern frame and headset. Nothing special needed there, fitting it is just like any other fork.
While standard, the alloy steerer seemed a tad undersized, as I was able to push a crown race onto it with my fingers. This didn’t create any issues or headset play during the test though.
As I found previously with that other linkage fork I tested this year, brake hose routing requires some improvisation. Once again, I found my neatly trimmed front hose was insufficient to work its way around linkages.
The only brake I had to hand with enough hose was a rear Brake Force One H2O, so like the lazy bastard I am, I popped that on and wound the hose round the stem a couple of times to take up most of the slack. Ugly, but much quicker than shortening and bleeding.
Motion Ride has made provision for routing hose as much on the inside as possible, with a little stud on the inside left leg, just above the damper. Unfortunately, Brake Force One’s super lightweight hose is too thin. Between that and the hose exit on the caliper, I ended up zip tying it up the outside of the fork leg and hoping I didn’t sever it in a crash.
Setting the fork up is much like any other: set sag, then damping.
Because it’s a carbon leaf spring, sag is set differently. A preload bolt at the bottom on the right side moves an indicator between min and max settings, and an o-ring on a shaft sticking out of the top of the damper indicates travel usage. The manual says 12mm of o-ring travel up the damper shaft is 30% sag, so that’s what I aimed for.
The preload bolt can also be wound all the way out to maintenance mode, which is for changing the spring – the fork should only be ridden with the indicator between min and max.
Spring preload also moves the legs relative to each other, making it more difficult to remove or insert the bolt-up through axle. Dropping the preload adjuster all the way down to maintenance mode will sort this, but obviously you need to record your settings and dial that back in every time you remove the wheel. That, or wrestle with the fork a bit.
Damping has 11 settings, all adjusted by a single collar around the outside of the damper body. These are divided into two groups. Seven clicks are labelled “trail”, and marked for slow to fast rebound settings. The other four are labelled “Turbo Firm” for when you need more compression damping, and in order of firmness go Low, Medium, High, and Road. The Road setting is firm but not a lockout, so if you stand up to climb the fork still bobs quite a bit.
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|From:||motion-ride.com or upgradebikes.co.uk|
|Tested:||by David Hayward for 4 Months|