Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Truth

The Niner Carbon fork.
I've heard, actually read mostly, people wax on about the magic damping (not dampening) qualities of this and virtually every other carbon fork.  How "plush" they are.  How compliant they are.  How they erase trail chatter.

Right here and now I'll calling bullshit.

The Niner fork is remarkable.  It is incredibly light, yet still durable.
In my particular case, I like what it has done to the geometry of my Swift.
Being 15mm shorter it not only lowers my bars, but ever so slightly steepens the head angle enough to subtly sharpen the handling.

Does it absorb rocks and roots better than the Singular steel fork?
On the contrary the Reynolds blades of the standard Swift fork do a better job of this.  Better in that they flex enough to take some of the edge off edges. That flex translates into some slow speed brake chatter, but not something that has ever had a negative effect.
So I guess the Niner gets the nod in the braking department.

Neither is a suspension fork (which IMO is good).

Knowing that the Niner fork doesn't possess all the magical properties purported would I buy it again?
It depends.
If I wasn't racing?
 Probably not.  It just doesn't offer anything extra to enhance regular trail riding for me (and it is all about me).
Racing though, I'm hoping to notice that 1.25 pounds it saves over the steel fork, although I think I'll mostly notice that when taking it out of the workstand or carrying it up the basement stairs.  For most race courses I think what it has done to the geometry will be advantageous, so I've got that going for me.
Which is nice.


Mookie said...

1.25# is less than 1%of the total weight (you + bike + water), so go with the fork that you feel handles better.

Side note: Doug converted me from weight weenie-ism in AZ.

Hill Junkie said...

This lighter, stiffer fork will likely cost you time in anything except a pure hillclimb. Fractional percent weight savings rarely return advertised value. Especially things like onion skin sidewall tires. Is it really worth 9 races where you flat or DNF only to get lucky in one race, shave a few seconds off your time, and come in 17th overall instead of 19th? My Titus weighs 27 lbs. I doubt if I put parts and tires on it that break all the time it would make any difference in race outcomes. I would feel more smug taking it out of the stand though. Either you got it or you don't. I get a kick out of pack fodder Cat 4's racing with $2000 carbon tubular wheels...

CB2 said...

Don't get me wrong I like the fork. I doubt it will cost me anymore time than any other rigid fork. Which is kind of the point; at a certain level a rigid fork is a rigid fork.
Any difference is very subtle.

Honestly though, I got sucked into the hype. The cheap carbon fork I put on my KM was an improvement over it's stock fork, but the Swift's fork set a higher bar for the Niner fork to get over.

Lowering the front end 15mm has made a great improvement in my position and the geometry is an improvement for the type of riding I do. Something I didn't know I was looking for but happy I found.

No buyer's remorse.

Alby King said...

Such timing. In a way you are the wrong guy to ask: Fat Tire Classic - rigid or Susp?

I agree with the handling comments. I have a Kona Project and the Niner carbon - the Project is just better for practical purposes.

CB2 said...

Such timing is right Alby, as I'm procrastinating actually getting to work!
Winding Trails is actually a great course for a suspension fork. It doesn't have anything truly gnarly, but lots of roots across the double-track sections. Having a suspension fork or even a full suspension bike lets you just sit and hammer over them.
I'll probably still ride it rigid, but that's because I'm too lazy and won't have enough time (with all this procrastinating) to put my suspension fork on my bike.

fabian said...

Glad you wrote this one Charlie. I wonder if it's not as good as the cheap carbon fork on your KM?

CB2 said...

It's better than the eXotic fork. The eXotic was competing against the stock KM fork. The eXotic's biggest over the KM is stiffness.