Lauf Carbonara fat bike suspension fork with carbon fiber leaf springs

After teasing it when they showed us their gravel road bike suspension fork in December, the Lauf Carbonara fat bike fork has finally made it out on the snow.

According to company founder Benedikt Skúlason, it’s their most laterally stiff fork ever:

“I was skeptical on how lateral stiff (i.e. soft) it would be (since the fat tires are able to take up huge lateral forces) and also, I was very skeptical on that it might become bouncy, being coupled to the soft fatty tire. These concerns were both put to sleep immediately! It is by far our laterally stiffest creation, yet. The increased spacing between springs, increased hub-width and redesigned stiffer chassis make a HUGE difference. As for any unwanted bounciness, it just plainly wasn’t there. I can tell you that it’s awesome to ride! We are super excited here!”

The basic specs are 150mm axle and clearance for “at least” 4.8″ tires. Weight should be between 1050g and 1120g depending on steerer tube length, including their thru axle. Travel is 60mm, same as their XC TR29 forks, and will be unaffected by temperatures…something that should make many northern fat bike riders happy. The one shown above is a near-final prototype, production models should be very similar. Look for it to start shipping by June 2015.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Now THIS looks like a good application for this carbon leaf-spring fork technology. I’ll be interested to read some reviews in a few months.

  2. BubbRubb and Charlie Best, it’s in fact very well mannered. No troubles with bounciness. In fact, adding the Lauf to the somewhat bouncy fat-tire makes it more relaxed in its response, as the oscillating frequency of the system becomes lower than with a rigid fork. Stay tuned for some unbiased reviews, until then I guess you just have to take my word for that it behaves very nicely 🙂

  3. But I understand your concerns very well! These were the exact same concerns as I had. Therefore we didn’t want to confirm the fork as a part of our family until now. We don’t make any products that we don’t like, and we certainly aren’t planning on doing so in future.

  4. Benedikt, thank you for your frank reply.

    Based on your explanation, I can see how the different spring rates of the carbon leaves and the air and rubber in the tire could actually compliment each other, something I admit I hadn’t considered.

  5. @Ivan, you see no point because you don’t want suspension. It cracks me up when people on BR don’t see a need for a product, therefore they assume the product is crap.

  6. I can see this being a pretty sweet fork for year-round fatbike use. Light, stiff, and unaffected by temperature – if the ride lives up to the promise, that’s a great combo! Will look forward to riding one somewhere this year.

  7. When I first saw the Lauff this is the first thing I thought of. You can get used to the undamped nature of fat tires. This is for hitting things in the snow that you can’t see. Those kind of hits really sting because you can’t see them coming.

    Also, this will have no maintenance issues in the snow.

    Genius!

  8. One thing to keep in mind that rider induced bounciness (which is what many feel on a fatbike) requires a system with a natural frequency close to the rider input. This fork plus tire may be technically undamped, but it put the natural frequency of the system outside normal rider induced forces (essentially what Benedikt stated)

    Great design for a fat bike.

    Benedikt – on the subject of damping, are you guys experimenting with any damping materials bonded to or inserted into the carbon spring (i.e. zertz, countervail)? Seems it could help on certain applications.

  9. @JBikes – I don’t believe that either Zertz or countervail are designed to dampen input frequencies caused by something like suspension, and I think that a fat tire probably already absorbs those…

  10. randall – my thought was if integrated or bonded to a leaf spring, that spring will be damped more than if left plain. But you are correct in that both those materials are technically designed to dampen at much higher frequencies.

    fwiw, I’m not married to the two materials, just the idea. I just threw those out as they were the first to come to mind.

  11. I am curious as to whether there is a weight limit. It would be very nice to have a bit of suspension on the front of my fat tandem.

  12. I love hydraulic damped suspension forks, but this looks like a great idea for winter fat bike service.

    These are a bit odd looking, but if volume ever got up to the point that price could be ~$750, I think sales would soar. At least to me!

  13. Technically, there is *some* inherent damping in a generic flexure due to material deformation. But, *I think* you can enhance the damping effect with composite materials by working with the layups and fibre orientation.

    This is a excerpt from a white paper on the issue:
    “Theoretical and experimental studies of the dynamic material properties of short aligned carbon fibre-reinforced plastics are described. It is shown that, by correct choice of fibre aspect ratio and volume fraction, the damping of composites can be improved whilst retaining high modulus of elasticity. ”

    Also, you could technically add some kind of friction damper to the assembly. That might work well in this application. Of course, you would occasionally have to replace the friction material.

  14. yeah, but friction damper = stiction damper and would greatly compromise the whole lauf concept.
    Interesting research on the ability to alter damping characteristics based on carbon fiber layup. But I wonder what frequency this is targeted at. The effect is already well known to frame makers. Giant for one uses lay up to provide differing damping and flex in their Defy range compared to their TCR.

  15. The frequency can be tuned with tyre pressure depending on wheel/tire size, weight, terrain and riding style.
    The fork is exciting and fun, some more testing will be done but i find it to be a sucsess after riding it very hard.

    Cheers.
    Helgi Berg Friðþjófsson

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