Didn't see that one coming.
Cane Creek are not entirely without history or a footing in the suspension fork world. They helped fabricate the original RockShox RS-1 when that pioneering product began to take off.
This new fork reminds us of Öhlins’ forks. Partly because of the stealth black with gold accents and partly because it reminded us of those Cane Creek’s Double Barrel shocks that were made in partnership with Öhlins.
Cane Creek Helm specification
- Travel factory set at 160mm. Optimised for 140-170mm of travel. Can be adjusted (internally) from 170mm down to 100mm. You get 2x 10mm spacers in the box.
- 35mm stanchions.
- 15mm thru-axle.
- 15mm x 110 Boost spacing (can be spaced down to fit non-Boost forks.
- 44mm offset.
- High and low speed compression adjustment.
- Low speed rebound adjustment.
- Positive and negative air springs.
- Internal adjustment for tuning the ramp-up (or not) of the end-stroke.
- Closed cartridge mono-tube damper.
- 2,070g claimed weight.
- Clearance up to 2.6″ tyres.
- $1,100 list price (no UK price as yet).
There’ll be a limited number (300) of ‘Launch’ models in a zinging blue colour. The regular Helm forks will be in matt black.
The accessory-free volume adjustment will be of real appeal to a lot of riders; “With an accessory free, 8-position static piston the HELM can be dialled in to handle any trail and any rider“, say Cane Creek.
How do you adjust it? “Helm’s air spring curve is adjusted internally by an indexed rod and static piston assembly, no additional parts need to be purchased/installed to perform this change [referring to rival methods such as RockShox Bottomless Tokens]. Air volume can be adjusted by removing the air valve assembly out of the left leg of the fork using a 30mm wrench and moving the static piston up or down the indexed rod to achieve the proper spring curve.”
Why no use of Double Barrel tech?
Cane Creek explain: “Helm is a completely new product from Cane Creek, and therefore has a different approach to damping relative to our Double Barrel technology. Due to the leverage ratio of your bikes frame design, a rear shock can experience around 3 times the amount of force the rear wheel experiences. Whereas the forces applied to the front fork are not amplified by a linkage or pivoting system, the fork and wheel movement are directly connected by a 1:1 ratio.”
Twin air chamber design
“Give your bike the advantage it has always wanted. HELM’s unique air spring system provides unmatched ride quality, traction, and accessory-free adjustability. The high volume air chambers allow for instantaneous off the top suppleness, superior mid-stroke support and unbelievable tracking.
“Staying true to Cane Creek’s ideology: #EveryRideIsDifferent. Our engineering team isolated both the positive and negative air springs; enabling the rider to independently control the air pressures and feel throughout the entire stroke of their fork.”
How is the negative air pressure set?
“During inflation through the air valve on the left leg of the fork, an additional step is required for properly setting sag with appropriate negative air pressure. Charging the air valve only adds air to the positive chamber of the air spring. To inflate the negative air chamber, charge the air valve of the positive chamber at the top of the fork, a button on the bottom of the left leg opens a valve and transfers air from the positive air chamber to the negative air chamber.”
How is the negative spring pressure adjusted?
“Because the two air chambers are isolated, the rider can set different air pressures in the differing chambers for the desired feel. First, inflate the positive air chamber, then press the negative air chamber equalizer button. Once the two air chambers have the same amount of pressure, either increase or decrease the amount of air in the positive chamber. The negative air chamber will remain at the original psi relative to the change in positive air pressure.”
What about 29ers?
Cane Creek: “29 inch tire size Helm forks will be available in the future.”
Cane Creek appear to be in the process of uploading videos to YouTube. Here’s what’s on their page at time of writing…
Air volume adjustment
D-Loc axle assembly
Internal travel adjustment
The nature of this ‘product launch’ is a bit odd. It almost feels as though Cane Creek are trying to do it by stealth or something!
Anyway, great to see another fork alternative on the market. Looking forward to having a test rid eon one soon.