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TPE16: RST carbon fork takes the grind out of your gravel ride. Plus Rebel inverted fork & Elev8 dropper updates

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RST Gravel (5)

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…

RST Gravel (2)

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.

RST Gravel (1)

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 elev8 new head

prototype RST stealth dropper seatpost

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.

RST Rebel inverted trail suspension fork

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.

RST.com

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Chris Trunek
Chris Trunek
7 years ago

HOLY HEADSHOK BATMAN!

will
will
7 years ago

Interesting… but I wish front thru-axle for road/gravel would decide on 12 vs 15mm…

mateo
mateo
7 years ago

@will – It is decided. 12×100. The good news is that 12×100 can be done with end caps, so you only need a single hub for 9mm QR, 12×110, 15×100, or 20×110. Boost (15×110) and fatbike (settling on 15×150 now) are the only sizes that need dedicated hubs.

will
will
7 years ago

@mateo – well good. Still lots of 15mm gravel/cross forks out there though… Anyway, I think this is a pretty cool fork. Good way to get a little suspension on a gravel bike without taking too much away from the aesthetic of a road bike (like a “trekking” suspension fork or a lefty). It’s funny how the old Headshok/ActionTec design never really goes away…

Velociraptor
Velociraptor
7 years ago

I would love to see a headshock with about 1 inch of travel that is fully integrated into the frame. I think it could be made almost invisible.

Tim
Tim
7 years ago
Reply to  Velociraptor

Cannondale made forks like that some years ago- I think they were on the Silk Road series road bikes.

Antipodean_eleven
7 years ago

“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 right of passage of sorts.”

Not really. All of the cases cited were steps up. Sure, there were naysayers but overall, all of these examples were pushing out what was… and I shamelessly early adopted them all (ok, not a dropper yet, or electric shifting).

The first thing that came to my mind was not, “oh we don’t need that” but more “geeze the lines are getting fuzzy”.

So a gravel bike with (some form of) suspension? But then at what point do you ask, why not just go a refined 29er with a lefty, throw on some drops, skinnier tyres? If we are talking tools for the job, then adding suspension (of some form) to a ‘gravel bike’ is probably giving it more capability than it needs, or warrants, and pushes it into the domain of a lightweight 29er, no?

The purity of a gravel bike is that it is what it is. Add something else to it, in this case suspension, to it and it no longer is what it is but something else. Given the choice, I think a well decked out 29er is a better and more capable option… if the sort of grinding you are doing requires suspension in the first place.

Mike
Mike
7 years ago

I’ve actually been contemplating turning my Flash 29er (90mm lefty) into a “gravel bike,” since that’s basically what it is when you just put some skinnier tires on it. I think you can even throw some travel reducers on the lefty to make it like 50mm travel. In fact, I think Cannondale makes a purple version of exactly this already….

iperov
iperov
7 years ago

soft bikes made from shit dont need suspensio

veganpotter@mail.com
veganpotter@mail.com
6 years ago
Reply to  iperov

I think most people that buy gravel bikes aren’t getting them for purity. They want to ride on gravel which tends to not be smooth. Lauf’s forks are selling quite well. I don’t know about this though.

Andy
7 years ago

Looks like a freaky toilet plunger….

Antoine
Antoine
7 years ago

Continuing mike speech, a good carbon 29er hardtail with road tire (and rim ideally) is a very capable road bike. If i had to choose one bike to do it all it would be such a bike, probalbly with a dropper for the tech stuff when out on a mtb ride. With 2 pairs of wheel one can basically do everything.
BTW i still think this fork is a nice idea, complement it with the rear suspension for road bike proposed by canyon on a prototype or something like the BMC TeamElite system and it would make a nice gravel/pave/cx/light mtb/road bike.

typevertigo
typevertigo
7 years ago

A7 Gravel fork seems to have missed a trick. It has the suspension, it has the nice wiring concession for dynamo hubs, but doesn’t have mounts for fenders.

I’d think those latter two features would go hand-in-hand – especially if the dynamo hub wiring features came first. For only a few more grams, why not go the whole hog?

will
will
7 years ago

Well, it is a prototype….

pgm
pgm
7 years ago

I think the shock boot is what’s killing it for me. Otherwise, I’m intrigued.

Definitely agreed with the idea of just using a 29’er instead though if you need suspension. Low speed compression on an XC fork with loads of tire clearance would work well.

Bill Quigley
Bill Quigley
7 years ago

That fork isn’t new, and is different from a C’dale Headshock. Doug Curtiss of Curtlo Frames used to build frames for an earlier version of that fork in thee mid-late 90s. I can’t remember the name of the fork, but his old website had pictures of it alone, and in frame-fork and complete bike configurations, along with a description of how much cush it actually provided. Seems like this is the same thing, resurrected for application to a carbon fork.

Antipodean_eleven
7 years ago
Reply to  Bill Quigley

Both of those were excellent forks. Ahead of their time but I would like to see them come back. I ran the Amp for years on a hardtail until its travel became outdated.

Frippolini
Frippolini
7 years ago

This brings back memories.
When will a re-invented softride stem be launched, or will the re-invented AMP / Girvin suspension fork come first?

Seraph
Seraph
7 years ago

Sweet Headshock, RST.

Cassmaster
Cassmaster
7 years ago

Its lower than a head shock. soooooo NeckShock?

Cassmaster
Cassmaster
7 years ago

Scratch that, I got it now. Future Shock Beard.

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