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Kit Essentials: 140mm Suspension Forks AKA Best Modest Travel Trail Forks. Which fork for real world riders on real world trails? Benji brings us the results of his real world test.
Words by Benji, photos by Amanda
140mm forks appear to be something of the forgotten forks out there. All the hype and attention goes to Enduro and XC race forks. Zeb this, 38 that, SID the other. The middle ground often gets overlooked. But for those of us looking for a new fork for their shorter travel full suspension trail bike or their hardtail, 140mm is where it’s at.
What’s the best one of those sort of forks available these days? With this test we’ve tried not to factor in things that racers are often preoccupied with. Namely, weight and chassis stiffness. In our opinion, the weight differences between 140mm travel forks are pretty much irrelevant. Performance is what counts.
We’ve also not overly focussed on how stiff the forks are. This is partly because we didn’t think any of the forks were flexy to the extent that it became an issue. If you find modern forks flexy, you’ll already be looking at 36 or 38mm stanchion forks. This is not that sort of test.
This is a real world test for real world riders on real world trails. We’ve concentrated on bump absorption, traction levels and adjustability on offer. And we’ve done so with an eye on how the forks felt on all different types of trails, at all different types of speed. Forks like these have to be comfy and grippy at slower speeds but not dissolve into airy fairy vagueness when speeds, gradients and roughness increase.
Let’s go get our boing on!
As is often the case when dealing with modern mountain bike products, each and every of these forks are great. Almost all of them are extremely expensive too. Thousand quid forks are now clearly a thing.
Which quickly brings us the first of the three forks that we’re going to recommend most. The defiantly not-£1000 Marzocchi Bomber Z2 RAIL. Even if it wasn’t significantly cheaper (£579) than the other forks here, there’d be still plenty of cogent arguments as to why a large proportion of riders would be better served by this fork. It’s simpler to set up and it has the best chassis stiffness of any of the forks in this test.
The second fork we’re recommending is the MRP Ribbon Coil. Despite what you may think, it’s probably the most complicated fork here. You do need to know your suspension basics when setting up the Ribbon Coil. You need to know what does what, and what effect is being caused by what (is it Ramp Control? Low speed compression? Spring rate? Rebound?). And you need to be fine with taking a fork apart a bit (to change springs). But chances are, if you’re coil curious, you probably are of-a-type. In other words, you’re a suspension geek. And as such, you’ll flipping love life with the MRP Ribbon Coil. Nothing rides like a coil. It’s well worth the effort.
The third and final fork we’re recommending is the Fox 34 Float Factory GRIP2. Its air spring and damper are in perfect harmony. Loads of adjustment, each of which are sufficiently broad. It’s the stiffest Fox 34 so far too. It’s not a 36 or 38 for sure but it’s more than up to the job of trail riding duties. Comfy, grippy, supportive, capable, predictable, adjustable. It’s the best all-round trail fork currently available by quite a margin really.
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|Tested:||by Benji for Singletrack World Magazine Issue 147|
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