After many years of focusing on rear shocks only, Cane Creek finally broke into the fork market with the Helm Air. And before the initial surprise even wore off, they’ve gone ahead and developed a new coil version for those who want the lively ride of a good ol’ spring.

While the new Helm Coil is officially launching at Eurobike, I got a chance to take one for a spin during Crankworx Whistler. My test model was hidden under a Helm Air’s chassis, so no one got wise to what was inside. The production Helm Coils have been given a distinctly different appearance.

Cane Creek Helm Coil prototype, vertical shot

The Helm Coil offers 160mm of travel, which is adjustable down to 130mm in 10mm increments. The Coil fork features rebound plus High and Low speed compression controls. The Helms will ship with a 55lbs spring, which is intended for riders between 160-180lbs. Currently Cane Creek plans to offer a 45lbs spring for lightweights weighing 130-160lbs and a 65lbs spring for riders up to 230lbs. These numbers are just general guidelines, as precise fork tuning also takes the rider’s preference for compression feel, sag and ride height into account.

The Helm Coil weighs in at 2250g, which is about 200g heavier than the Air version. After riding it, I’d say those who prefer the coil’s inherently active feel might be OK with the weight compromise…

Cane Creek Helm Coil prototype, D-Loc axle latch Cane Creek Helm Coil prototype, D-Loc axle cam lever and tension adjusting ring

Rather than threading in, Cane Creek’s D-Loc axle slips into a set point to prevent over tightening, then a locking latch on the other side secures it in place. An adjusting ring allows you to set the cam lever’s tension.

Cane Creek Helm Coil prototype, crown from behind

The Helm Coil will accept tires up to 2.6” wide. The three threaded holes in the backside of the fork crown may be a hint towards a certain popular bolt-on accessory that’s possibly in development…

Ride impressions:

Cane Creek Helm Coil prototype, Steve Fisher, rock roll

As soon as we dropped in I was enjoying the supple and responsive feel of the Helm Coil. Small bump compliance was excellent; riding over smoother sections of trail was practically like cruising down the street.

Big bump absorption was also impressive, whether taking sharp hits or landing jumps the action was always smooth and linear. The fork didn’t quite make berm holes and brake bumps disappear, but it handled them admirably. Despite the nightmarish conditions of the mid-Crankworx Whistler bike park, I didn’t notice any lack of stiffness from the Helm’s chassis.

Cane Creek Helm Coil prototype, on Cannondale Jekyll

Cane Creek’s Sam Anderson mentioned that the coil fork rides a bit higher in its mid-stroke than the air version, which helps keeps your front end up while you’re creeping down steep rocks or chutes. The bike I was riding originally had a 170mm air fork on it, yet on the trail the shorter 160mm Helm Coil didn’t feel like it skewed the geometry much.

Cane Creek Helm Coil prototype, High and Low Compression knobs

My only issue with the Helm Coil is that I am on the light end of its intended rider weight range. Officially Cane Creek says riders under 130lbs would be better served by their air models, but I am about 140lbs and I was getting about 80% travel from the coil Helm. Consequently I wound up riding with the high and low speed compression knobs wide open, so I can’t really comment on how those settings affect the fork’s performance.

Apparently the company has been toying with tons of different weight springs throughout development, so if demand existed it wouldn’t be much trouble for them to offer wider options.

canecreek.com

8 COMMENTS

  1. The bike industry really needs to pull it’s head out of its a**. We all had coil forks 15 years ago, and we ‘upgraded’ to lighter, better performing air forks. And now they want us to ‘upgrade’ again to more expensive air forks with coils inside? If you’re going to have brand new coils, shouldn’t the be cheaper than the premium air forks?

    It just doesn’t make any sense. It totally depends on the disposable income of complete idiots with absolutely no long term memory. The entire industry just cycles between old technology and new technology. After 15 years, bring back the same old technology with new graphics, rinse and repeat.

    It is a serious turn off to an older, intelligent person like myself. I even wanted to develop new products for the cycling industry, but it’s completely impossible. Nobody cares. They would rather make money off a new tire size.

    I mean, ultimately, I guess it doesn’t matter. But, my incredibly supple Inerter bike will never get built, and the Dynamic Tire Pressure System will never get developed, and laser chain-line alignment tools, tunable mass dampers for high frequency vibration reduction, etc. I think the consumer loses out in the end. We are held hostage to what the corporations are willing to give us.

  2. @jon:

    Chill, dog!

    http://bikerumor.com/2017/08/25/fine-tune-your-rear-derailleur-with-new-linientreu-precision-laser-tool/

    How’d you miss that laser doohicky just a few posts back? The little guys and gals will keep innovating (and mostly going bankrupt) but the tech will evolve, same as it ever was. Riding any bike from 15 years ago vs one of a similar price-point today would be a pretty good demonstration of just how good things have gotten! Keep it up all you crazy weirdos!

  3. Jon,

    I think if they were only offering a Coil fork then you could legitimately complain. Or rather, if everyone in the bike industry stopped offering air, and only offered Coil.

    Additionally, I think the bike industry is about options – giving options to plenty of different rider types/styles/geographical locations. But I could be an unintelligent younger person – I guess it’s all relative.

    Why won’t those products ever get developed? Lastly, I don’t think Cane Creek is a corporation.

    Good feedback though – have a great day!

  4. Cmon? Really?

    1) Nobody is forcing you to buy anything.

    2) Look at any form of vehicle based fun. From car racing to snowmobile to motocross, both air and coil has been used successfully (in modern times) without a clear tip of the cap to either. Its more of a preference and fit thing.

    3) How is a coil actually cheaper than an air spring? Especially some of the new ones with air assist bottom out?

    4) The Helm may be similar to some of the older coils (MRPs new fork is not, nor is Push’s), but the damping, lubrication, chassis etc is far from “the same”.

    5) This is the golden age of mountain biking. I feel sorry for you if you cannot see this. The bikes more capable than the pilots aboard them, even at the top level of the sport.

    So…tell me again how we are all losing out.

  5. I would have never given up my coil fork and shock years ago if it werent for the fact that air spring options are so much lighter (and in some cases the only option)… Having a nice light bike is so nice. Now that bike frames and components are so much lighter I dont mind riding a coil fork and shock since even with heavy coil springs, my bike is many pounds lighter than the bike I was on 5-10 years ago and has more travel… Coil for Life!!

  6. I think is a good thing to have a choice…..i thought that air shock and forks were the future but then i tried a dh coil bike and now i think that my next trail bike Will be’ a coil bike! Why? Because finally i can choose! We all know that coil is more capable than the air and whith less mainteinance…..that is the direction! Simplycity, durability and maybe one day also less weight!

  7. I for one and glad to see the return of coil forks – air forks have got better but a coil cannot be beaten for smoothness IME. I ran some old 36 VAN’s right up until I accepted bigger wheels and they were brilliant; I’ve not really been happy with the air forks I’ve had since (34’s, Deville’s, Yari’s, 350NCR’s or Mattoc’s). I can’t wait for these to be available in the UK.

    The mass swap to air suited the manufacturers – no need to hold stock fo springs, no need to supply extra sprinsg with forks to bikes etc.

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