Cotic has nailed its colours to its marketing mast by coming out against the new breed of gravel suspension products.
A newsletter from Cotic just arrived in our inbox with the strapline “Possible ranty handwaving content”. Apart from this strapline sounding like an excellent website tag for our future opinion columns, the newsletter contains some thought provoking statements.
Are you ready to have a Mrs Merton-style heated debate? Get yourself on down the comments section forthwith!
“You might have seen last month the launch of the Fox 32 TC gravel suspension fork. All 90s looks and mighty 40 or 50mm of travel. I haven’t ridden them, or their Ruby XPLR counterparts from Rockshox, but being old enough to have ridden suspension forks with 50mm of travel the first time around, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I can’t see the point.
“uspension is one of those things where you really have to go full Yoda and “Do, or do not”. Despite obvious improvements in construction and damper technology since I was riding Judy XC’s and Pace MXCD’s in the mid-90s, fundamentally 40-50mm of travel simply isn’t enough stroke to take any meaningful impacts, and the setup will always be a bad compromise. Soft enough to ‘patter’ will have bigger hits smashing through, and firm enough for bigger hits will choke the small bump performance because of the lack of travel.
“This is why, whilst we always expected the Cascade to be mostly used fully rigid, when we decided we were going to offer suspension it would be a proper amount, using a properly stiff fork with enough room for a good damper. Even those basic X Fusion forks I have on my prototype up there [see pic above] were surprisingly handy at amplifying the offroad ability of the Cascade. The 100mm travel SID SL fork we offer with the production bikes is a whole other level of good.
“Limiting the travel doesn’t even save that much weight. It’s one of the truisms of bicycle suspension – more travel doesn’t actually weigh that much. It’s particularly apparent here. The weighed weight of the SID SL we have in stock is 36 grams more than the claimed weight of the Fox 32TC.
“For long distance comfort, proper damped control and the ability to do some pretty reasonable level mountain bike terrain all in the mix, I’ll take a SID equipped Cascade every day of the week. For less hectic riding? I’ll keep the Escapade with it’s carbon fork that weighs almost 1kg less than the Fox fork, with a nice light frame that hasn’t had to be beefed up for a longer, but still compromised, 40mm travel suspension fork.”
Perhaps the key phrase to bear in mind from the newsletter is “I haven’t ridden them”. We’ve not ridden gravel bounce very much at all either. Needless to say, we can still appreciate where Cotic is coming from.
Is this stance a bit overly grounded in mountain bike ethos and experience where the general level of amplitude and velocity are arguably significantly higher than your average gravelleur? Or is Cotic comparing 1990s bad apples with 2022 sophisticated oranges?
Essentially though, we’d like to hear what you think. Let us have your experiences, expectations, theories and outright prejudices about gravel suspension.