Our Technical Field Agent, Marc Basiliere, reports on this latest suspension fork innovation from… Iceland?
Slotting in somewhere between the natural compliance of a modern rigid fork and the complexity and weight of a full-blown suspension fork, Lauf’s Trail Racer is one of the more interesting designs we’ve seen since the go-go days of the early ’90s. Using two sets of three carbon fibre leaf springs per side, the Icelandic fork suspends the front hub behind its forward-swept carbon fiber legs. The result? A 980g, 29er fork with 60mm of travel and – if only on a technicality – no moving parts.
In the case of the Trail Racer 29in, spring force and damping are non-adjustable. The fork will come in three different leaf stiffnesses for riders of different weights. Oh, and there’s no compression and rebound damping apart from that inherent in the carbon leaf springs. The way in which the Leaf Spring System flexes provides a rising spring rate, running from “stiff” through “stiffer” to “stiffest.” Not a plush trail fork, then. The initially rearward axle path should aid in small bump sensitivity, however, and should “stiffest” not prove stiff enough, there is a built-in bump stop to prevent the sprung dropouts from crashing into the back of the fork leg.
Conceived just over two years ago, the Lauf Trail Racer 29in is the brainchild of composite prosthetic engineer Benedikt Skulason and his friend and industrial designer Gudberg Bjornsson. Within a year, the duo had quit their day jobs to pursue the concept and since then the company has grown to a staff of five. In its first competitive outing, the Lauf fork took first place at an XC race in Heidmork (near Reyjkavik) under Helgi Berg. While Berg’s riding no doubt played a big part, his 8kg XX1- and Lauf-equipped Focus Raven hardtail couldn’t have hurt.
We could see a fork such as the Trail Racer 29in appealing to riders who like the simplicity and light weight of a rigid fork – but not the sometimes harsh reality. The lack of required maintenance should also appeal to those of us who don’t stop for mud. A total of six color schemes are shown on the Lauf website- some quite handsome. While this first fork is clearly aimed at the XC racing set, there are a number of trail and all-mountain riders on the Lauf staff- and if the Trail Racer takes off they’re going to want to ride something.
In order to build confidence in the design, Lauf’s prototype units have seen over 140,000 cycles in the laboratory, apparently without signs of wear. A five year warranty will accompany all Lauf forks when they begin shipping next summer. Price will be US$1220. UK/Euro pricing will put it in line with an XX World Cup SID.
And finally, perhaps this video will help explain things a little better.
And, as if to answer some of the unbelievers. Here’s a freshly shot video showing the fork handling a 4ft dropoff in downtown Reykjavik
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Looks like just what a 29er deserves.
Upside down girvin mentalness. I love the idea and the bat shit crazy thinking that has spawned it but its not pretty is it.
Love it and want one, and a single speed 29er to go with it 🙂
Would be interested to see the effect braking has on the suspension.
Probably no more than dive on a normal fork
Now that is cool. Finally some real innovation in the use of composites instead of replicating metal parts with them. I want to see if they can easily tune the damping and spring rate to suit individuals riders.
Niche whores will be going wild for this
Wow. Simply wow.
I love that – what a good idea, bit pricey…
You can see where the inspiration may have come from http://www.eurospares.com/graphics/orr28.jpg
Where is the damper unit?
Quite exciting- the first real innovation in suspension forks for some time. I like it- will they eventually be making forks for normal wheel sizes? 26″ or at least the new 27.5″ i mean?
I’ll be waiting a couple of years for the price to (hopefully) drop a bit.