Lauf Grit suspension forks are a pretty interesting and unique concept, their looks are as divisive as the pronunciation it’s ‘Loof’ apparently.
One thing’s guaranteed they’ll always be a talking point at the cafe.
Lauf forks might be pioneering in their looks but they use a very traditional system of leaf suspension that’s been seen on trucks for years. With 30mm of travel via 4 carbon leaf springs, they certainly aren’t for Enduro but the name Grit tells you what you need to know about intended usage – these are gravel riding forks.
I tested a pair of Lauf Grit forks on the new Kinesis Tripster Alu, a bike that I’ll hopefully review soon. It’s a bike that pairs well with the fork because they help compensate for an aluminium frame’s harsher ride when compared to my normal Titanium set up. Saying that the Lauf’s would look super classy on the Ti Tripster!
The Grit’s stats
Weight – 900 grams
Travel – 30mm
Rake – 42mmm
Tyre clearnace – 700x42mm or 27.5×2.1″
After getting a feel for the fork I felt they ride more like a fat bike feels than a bike with a suspension fork might feel. It’s hard to explain but the fork isn’t damped in the traditional sense but it certainly doesn’t feel like a pogo stick bouncing up and down as you ride. The shape and design of the leaf blades operate in such a way that the rebound from the leaf springs feels slightly controlled but doesn’t eat the bumps with the plushness of traditional suspension.
Lauf must have developed this fork for the 1000’s of miles of Icelandic gravel back roads because that is what it does perfectly. The fork is ideal for long distance gravel riding because it eats up the fatigue inducing trail feedback and takes the edge off the odd pothole or bigger bump that normally destroys your upper body over a days riding. They don’t like repeated large bumps as they tend to get thrown off line a bit.
They add a bit of weight to the front end of the bike but not a suspension fork size penalty, they’re still 500gms lighter than the lightest Rockshox SID but sit nicely in-between the two conventional fork types. The ride isn’t affected in a noticeable way by the weight over a traditional rigid gravel fork. Braking doesn’t seem to affect them nor cause any noticeable dive either.
As these were test forks it’s fair to say they were ridden pretty hard, we took them on a section of the red at Dalbeattie’s infamous rocky trails. There is a defined noise from bottoming out on big hits to tell you that’s your 30mm done, but it’s fair to say they’re a lot stronger than they look (as you might expect)! After all it wouldn’t be a good test if they weren’t hammered in the best possible sense! I think there’s a weight limit of 110kg on them which even after adding kit seems a respectable limit for all but the biggest riders.
These aren’t a cheap option, but then they are a niche product that’s made to a complex design in an expensive material so I think the retail price of around £700 is probably reasonable when compared to bike kit in general.
I’m intrigued to see how they hold up after a years worth of use and I’m keen to hear of anyone having reliability issues, because a day’s riding isn’t long enough to conclude on those. However with no moving parts they can’t wear and carbon doesn’t fatigue so I wouldn’t foresee any issues. I think in practical terms they are excellent at what they’re intended for and they sure would look fantastic on my Tripster!
I also wanted to touch on the Lauf leaf suspension concept for actual mountain biking. Without rebound damping I just can’t see they offer much of an advantage. Over repeated bigger hits the uncontrolled rebound will be a hindrance as it pops back too quickly. On smooth but loose XC courses I can see they would work well providing a margin of error that a rigid fork doesn’t offer. A search of the web shows some mixed reviews of the longer travel 60mm forks and I can see why that might be, but don’t let this put you of the Grit model as this is for a totally different style of riding and it works very well at smoothly less aggressive trail feedback.
If you’re riding the Dirty Reiver or another epic gravel race/ride then I would seriously consider a set of the Lauf Grits it’ll mean you can run slightly higher pressures and your tyres will roll better but you’ll not fatigue the same. It’s a brave product to luanch as it is so different but I think the rise of drop bar riding on rougher roads has played into Lauf’s hands nicely, it means they should become a more common sight out on the trails!
Thanks to Jack Chevell for the header image, shot at Dalbeattie. Rider Bruce Dalton.