When we head into a booth at a trade show we first ask, “what’s new?”, then before we leave… “got anything hiding in the back?”. The annual Taipei show is a place more for making business deals than showing off new products, (like Inter/Euro-bike.) And in
many most cases, it’s where companies go to see what is lining up for the next production run (2017 season in this case), so it’s not unusual for there to be things hiding behind closed doors intended for product manager and OEM buyer eyes only.
That said, RST showed us their updated and pretty much final Elev8 dropper post, gave us the low down on where they were with their highly anticipated Rebel inverted trail fork, then brought out this carbon gem above from hiding in the back…
The masses are surely gathering around like it’s 1990 to say “our bikes don’t need suspension”, but let’s pretend that like when the original Rockshox RS-1 came out, (or 29ers, or droppers, or 8, 9, 10, 11 & __ speeds), a suspension gravel fork will probably be scoffed at before then being accepted. A bicycle industry rite of passage of sorts. RST has been making aluminum and steel single shock “fork-crown” suspension forks for some time for trekking and commuter bikes, delivering between 25mm and 35mm of travel.
The carbon A7 Gravel fork (above) stands far out past their other single-shock forks being that it’s carbon, uses the light and increasingly popular 12mm thru axle, will be available with a tapered (or straight) steerer, and will boast a sizable 50mm of travel. The target weight they’re shooting for is around a kilo (1000g/2.2lbs). It has a simple pre-load adjust and is oil dampened. There is no lockout but I suppose cranking it down will be a simple and effective way to hold it still.
Disc brake only; I noticed some unusual mounts on the back of the non-brake side fork blade. Turns out, like on their trekking forks, the mounts are designed to run a wire for a dynamo hub to your lights. Without even having to ask why, I thought this was a nice addition for just a few gram trade-off. No information on price, availability, or final axle-to-crown measurement as this was their very first functional prototype.
RST also had what appears to be a mostly final version of their more wallet friendly dropper post (top pic). The latest and most finished looking version has lighter saddle clamp than the older version’s (bottom right). Both internal and external cable routing will be available in April at the same $250 price.
Their Rebel Inverted fork is also close to being finalized. They didn’t have anything different from previous coverage to show, but they were tweaking the lowers’ thru axle interface to improve fork stiffness and to further prevent the lower stanchions from twisting.