For a first effort, Cane Creek has totally nailed this fork
The Cane Creek Helm Air has taken five years to develop and is made entirely in the USA. With beefy 35mm stanchions and a chunky wheel arch.
Five years in the making, the Cane Creek Helm Air fork is 100% made in the USA. And while that should have Trump supports waving their red MAG caps with joy, we’re more excited about what’s going on inside the Helm fork.
Travel is internally adjustable in 10mm increments between 100 and 170mm, and the positive air spring has a nifty adjustable seal on a wing nut, which can be set by hand across eight different positions to adjust the spring volume, rather than using plastic volume reducers. The positive and negative air-springs are self balancing, but you also has the ability over ride it and change the balance.
Damping wise, the Helm uses a bladder backed sealed cartridge, rather than the Twin Tube design employed in its Double Barrel rear shocks. There’s externally adjustable high and low-speed compression and low-speed rebound, with a tuning range that’s very useable.
Externally the Helm gets beefy 35mm stanchions and a chunky arch so it’s much like any muscular 170mm-travel enduro fork with. The wheel is secured by a bespoke 15mm D-Lock quick-release axle that slots into a locking retainer tab. The D referring to the profile of the axle keyways that help resist twisting of the lower legs.
Even with all of the adjustment, the Helm never loses sight of end goal, performing superbly from the very first ride. The extra tunability is just the icing on the cake, and you don’t need a PhD in suspension dynamics to get the most from it.
It’s supersensitive to small bumps so grip it first rate, but it fluidity and control across everything from roots to repeated baby-head rock impacts is its real strength. As such the Helm feels comfortable and stable, however hard you smash downhill.
Even thought supple action of the Helm keeps the tyre glued to the ground for grip, it never feels dead, and is dynamic and supportive enough to push against when pumping terrain, or preloading the fork to pop over an obstacles on the racing line.
For a first effort, Cane Creek has totally nailed this fork — it’s mega adjustable if you’re a tinkerer, but it also performs superbly if you just want to fit it and forget it. And it’s still running smoothly after a maintenance-free hammering through a particularly dismal UK winter. Only the mechanism that secures the D-Lock axel lets it down as it’s has become increasing sticky and difficult to install now that dirt has worked its way in.