Halloween is officially over in North Carolina, and instead of slasher flicks, Cane Creek is slashing prices. Specifically, the price on their excellent suspension fork, the Cane Creek HELM.
After starting with just the HELM 27.5″, Cane Creek went on to most recently introduce the HELM 29″. Both are premium level suspension forks and have been priced accordingly. Even as good as both HELM models have proven to be, $1,100 is still a lot of money for a suspension fork. So when Cane Creek got to the point where they had paid off many of the initial costs to produce the forks like tooling, they decided to roll those savings into the price of the fork rather than their bottom line.
Cane Creek claims that thanks to the offset cost of initial tooling and increased efficiency in their assembly process that they can now produce each fork at a lower cost. Which allows them to drop the price to just $899. They stress that this is the exact same fork as before. No corners have been cut, no material changes – it’s the same product. Just at a more affordable price to get more people riding their forks.
The price change takes effect immediately, and applies to both 27.5 and 29″ forks in both air and coil versions.
Hands On: Helm 29 Air
Conveniently, just before we found out about the price change, I was in Asheville, NC to check out the new A35 stem from Industry Nine. During that trip I decided to pay a visit to Cane Creek as well, since they too had new product in the form of the Hellbender 70 headset range. After seeing the 2019 Specialized Stumpjumper on the back of my car, Cane Creek offered to set up the bike with their suspension including the newest HELM 29 Air. Based on my experience with the HELM 27.5, I couldn’t resist – and from initial impressions the HELM 29 is just as good. Maybe better.
With an uncut steerer and the D-Loc axle, the fork comes in at 2105.7g in a 150mm travel configuration. However, the weight shouldn’t change much between travel configurations since the same fork is capable of running 100-160mm of travel, though it’s optimized for 130-160mm (the fork ships with 140-160mm out of the box). Just like the 27.5″ version, the travel is easily adjustable in 10mm increments with travel spacers (two spacers are provided with the fork, and you can purchase more if needed). Like all the other HELM forks, the 29″ version uses 35mm stanchions.
Not only is the 1.5″ tapered steerer tube laser etched with length measurements, there’s also a reminder – measure 2x, cut once!
Fitted with independent high volume positive and negative air springs, it’s important to remember to equalize the two chambers via the equalizing button on the bottom of the left fork leg. After removing the protective cap, unthreading the gold dial and then pushing on the button opens the negative chamber, equalizing the positive and negative chambers. Note that this will decrease the pressure in the positive chamber slightly, so it may take some back and forth to achieve the desired pressure. Technically, this allows you to independently set the positive and negative air springs, though Cane Creek says most often the best set up will be equalized.
The fork also offers 8 levels of air volume adjustment without additional parts – just unthread the air top cap (once you’ve let out all of the air in both springs), and move the air volume adjust piston to the desired setting.
For a more detailed explanation on the internals and adjustments, check out my story on the original 27.5″ HELM here.
As for damping adjustments, the HELM features external high speed and low speed compression adjustments, as well as external low speed rebound adjust.
Once again, the fork uses their D-Loc thru axle with 15 x 110mm Boost spacing. The keyed axle is said improve the torsional stiffness of the fork lowers, and uses a locking collar on the non-disc side with a brass clamp washer on the aluminum cam lever for the disc side.
Cane Creek lists the HELM 29 as having clearance for tires that are 64mm wide and 749mm tall for 29″ or 75mm wide and 739mm tall for 27.5+. In real world terms, that means that this Maxxis Minion DHF 29 x 2.6″ tire mounted to an Industry Nine Enduro 310 carbon wheel has plenty of clearance with a D.Fender.
Fitted with 180mm post mount brakes, in this case an adapter is needed to run the 200mm rotor included with the Stumpy.
Just like the 27.5″ fork, the first thing you notice with the HELM 29 is the silky smooth suppleness straight off the top. Right out of the box with very little adjustment, the HELM immediately feels at home. Those positive feelings continue as you hit the trail with an impressively supportive and precise front end feel that is at least on par with, if not better than most of the competition. If there was one word to sum up the HELM, it would be ‘supple’. But at the same time, if you’re a charger, you can tune the fork to work just as well for you. I have no doubts that the HELM 29 will fare as well as the HELM 27.5, but I’m looking forward to get more time on it and the DB Air IL on my bike as well – more on that in a later post.
Available only in Dark Gunmetal Grey for the 29″ version, the forks are available now for the new price of $899.