36 and Lyrik Killers
There are now 10 alternative suspension brands vying for your money. Here’s a look at features and functionality and what makes them worth considering.
RockShox and Fox dominate the suspension fork market just as Apple and Android do with phones, taking the lion’s share of sales, both OEM and aftermarket. Or so it’s been in the last decade, but things could now be changing as the competition gets hotter in terms of both performance and price.
1. MRP Ribbon
Like the Cane Creek Helm and Ohlins RXF, the Ribbon is now available coil sprung. You get three rates in the box and there are a further two (extra soft and extra firm) available after market. Travel is internally adjustable in 10mm jumps and the Ribbon gets a Ramp Control feature, to tune bottom out, and the new PSST pressure-relief valves that let you bleed off excess pressure that’s built up in the lowers. Best of all is the Outcast arch design, the webbing is on the front of the brace so it’s less likely to collect mud.
2. X-Fusion Trace 36 HLR
To boost stiffness and eliminate creaks, X-Fusion’s Trace 36 HLR comes with a unique one-piece crown and steerer assembly. It also gets a new bolt thru axle and Nvolve wiper seals to help reduce seal drag, while upping the sensitivity. The Trace still has the cartridge based Roughcut Damper is independently adjustable high and low speed compression and rebound damping adjusters. Maximum travel is 170mm but you can drop this easily using a built-in travel adjust system.
3. Cane Creek Helm
Like the Lyrik, the Cane Creek Helm gets beefy 35mm stanchions but it’s held together by a stiffer D-Lock 15mm axle. It’s also much more tuneable, with independently adjustable positive and negative air-springs, which means you can tune the ramp up in the same way as adding or removing tokens. the fork is super sensitive on small bumps but is unfazed by bigger impacts. There’s a coil option available and you also have a choice of offsets. The Helm looks great, works amazingly well and, at £950, undercuts the Lyrik slightly on price.
4. DVO Diamond D1
DVO’s unique feature is its Off The Top (OTT) negative spring adjustment, which you can you can tune by using an ordinary 5mm Allen key. Turning the adjuster, preloads a small negative coil sprung and allows you to reduce the brake away force needed to get the fork moving, which will increase the small bump sensitivity and grip. The Diamond also has a whopping range of tuning with over 30 clicks of high-speed compression adjustment and at £850 it’s great value for a fork with this level of performance.
5. Suntour Durolux 36
Suntour is synonymous with affordability and, although the Durolux 36 is budget priced, it’s uses some high-end tech. The spring technology is a bit like the DVO with a main air spring and coil negative, the different is Suntour offers the negative coil in several different rates. Riders can also tune the spring with tokens and there’s also a simple travel adjust feature built in. The new RC2 damper is super smooth and the fork also has one of the quickest QR axles out there.
6. Ohlins RXF 36 EVO
Previous RXF 36 fork we’re great on the big stuff but they lacked suppleness. Not anymore, the new EVO version gets a reworked piston and new SKF seals that allow it to ride high in its travel for good bump absorption but with improved small bump sensitivity. The fork still gets the twin tube TTX dampening, forged crown/steerer assembly and seven different spring rates. Best of all these EVO upgrades are retrofittable to older RFX forks.
7. Marzocchi Z1 Bomber
With its 36mm diameter uppers and beefy lowers, the Z1 Bomber is a Fox 36 in disguise. It even uses the same crown and steerer, spring assembly and Grip damper featured on the mid-range Fox Rhythm. It’s a bit weighty but that’s just in keeping with its hardcore history. It looks great in this red livery and at £749, it’s cracking value too.
8. Manitou Mattoc Pro Plus
Adjustability is the name of the game with the Mattoc Pro Plus. You can tune the beginning, mid and end-stroke air pressure adjustment from the IRT spring assembly. As well as bottom out control, the Mattoc also has independent high and low-speed compression damping adjustment. You also get a Hexlock SL 15mm axle to boost stiffness, adjustable travel from 140 to 170mm, three offsets, and a sub £800 price tag.
9. Formula Selva R
Formula’s new Selva R is one of those forks that ticks all the boxes – internally adjustable travel, 29 and 27.5in wheel sizes, 35mm stanchions, dual air spring and several different axle options including a bolt thru 20mm. But there’s more – how about Neopos compressible rubber tokens to tune the spring curve? How about seven different expansions for the CTS damper that you can fit in about 5mins with some simple tools?
10. DT Swiss F535 One
We hardly have enough space to talk about what’s going on with the F 535 ONE. First off, it has position sensitive damping, which means in the first part of the travel it’s super supple, which is great for the small stuff but then it starts to build compression as it gets deeper into the stroke. It’s a dual air fork but there’s also a secondary coil to increase sensitivity. It’s incredibly sleek with all the dials and control knobs are hidden from view. Four different travel options, 27.5 and 29in wheel sizes, stealth black (our favourite). Definitely a fork to take on the big boys.