At the Winter Bike Connection event in Massa Marittima, Italy, we caught up with the guys from SR Suntour. They had two new forks available for testing; the 170mm travel Suntour Durolux R2C2 and the Suntour Axon Werx RL RC cross country fork, both of which received an air negative spring update for 2020. We tested the latter on board an Orange Stage 4. Travel is adjustable between 100mm, 110mm and 120mm. We ran it at 100mm on the fast, flowing rocky trails of Tuscany.
Feature image by Winter Bike Connection – Rupert Fowler
The Tech: SR Suntour Axon Werx 34
- Intended Use: XC/Marathon
- Travel: 100mm, 110mm, 120mm
- Damper: RL RC Piston Compensator System
- Positive and Negative Spring: Air/Air
- Crown/Lower: Forged/Magnesium
- Claimed weight: 1,577g
- Stanchion diameter: 34mm
For this model year, the Suntour Axon Werx is Boost 15mm x 110mm, with 34mm stanchions replacing the previous 32mm stanchions, and an air negative spring replacing the previous coil negative spring. Damping is provided by Suntour’s RL RC Piston Compensator System (PCS). The damping cartridge allows for adjustment of both low speed compression and low speed rebound circuits. The PCS is Suntour’s refined damper platform designed to prevent air mixing with the oil, known as cavitation. It was being used on the WC circuit by SR Suntour riders, on the 32mm stanchion coil negative spring version. With this damper cartridge, the riders saw an improvement in softness and smoothness of the fork.
With its new air negative spring, the Suntour Axon Werx makes use of an equalizer system, which is essentially a small port that sits between the positive and negative air chambers, allowing air to pass between them. This allows the balance of pressure between the positive and negative air chambers, to allow the fork to overcome stiction at the beginning of the travel. The Axon Werx equalizes at your chosen level of SAG, allowing the fork to be ready to move freely about this position when the trail demands. It improves the fork’s sensitivity for those small but fast and repetitive hits.
The Suntour Axon Werx gets a much larger positive air chamber for 2020. Its previous iteration had only 3.5cm-4cm of available space for volume spacers or tokens, meaning its progressivity wasn’t super tunable. The fork now has space for up to 7 volume spacers, and comes with three as standard. It is therefore much more tuneable in terms of its bottom out control and top stroke suppleness.
First Ride Impressions
We ran the fork with 100mm of travel, and hit some fast flowing rocky trails. The first thing we noticed was the smoothness of the fork. It was buttery smooth over rough terrain with excellent small bump sensitivity, credit to the equalizer system and the resulting optimal ratio between positive and negative air chambers. However, with only 3 volume spacers, the fork was diving through the travel too easily.
To make the fork a little more progressive, we added an additional volume spacer while slightly lowering the pressure to maintain the 25% SAG level. This improved bottom out resistance but the fork was still diving somewhat. We then added a couple more clicks of low speed compression damping. The fork then held us up nicely in the travel, maintaining the geometry of the bike, providing great traction. With room for up to seven volume spacers, the Suntour Axon Werx has more possibilities for a refined setup than its previous coil spring iteration.
We had a lot of fun on this bike. It was refreshing to ride such a capable short travel bike, testament to the quality of the Suntour Axon Werx fork.
Pricing and Availability
The SR Suntour Axon Werx 34 comes in gloss black only with a 2 year limited manufacturing warranty. One will set you back €1199. The lower-end Axon 34 Elite, with the choice of 44mm or 51mm offset, is also available. The carbon steerer is replaced by an aluminium steerer, but the carbon hollow crown remains, as does the air negative spring and RL-RC PCS damper. It starts at 1900g and is priced at €739.