The Mountain Bike Industry, in fact the cycling industry in general is one of the most interesting - with developments and innovative technologies being developed all of the time. There are times however, when many different cyclists, for many different reasons - choose to shun the most innovative and newest technologies in favour of the older technologies. A couple of the most obvious examples of this include, road cyclists choosing to use V brakes VS newer Disc brakes, as well as mountain bikers converting their air suspension forks, to coils.
Increasingly, a number of mountain bikers are choosing to convert their air suspension forks to coils from air - with the use of widely available coil conversion kits. Although there is a small weight penalty in using a coil fork vs an air fork, riders are choosing to return to the old methods in search of a better, faster and more comfortable ride. The same argument and debate, can be applied to air shocks, as well as forks - which we will cover in a seperate post.
Air Forks Explained
Air Suspension Forks use an air chamber, the pressure of which can be adjusted - and acts as a spring. One of the biggest benefits of using air suspension forks is how easily they can be adjusted - depending upon required travel and stiffness, as well as rider weight.
Air forks are best suited to cross country and all mountain disciplines of mountain biking, where maximum travel is not required, unlike in downhill mountain biking. Air forks work on a progressive spring rate, which translates to a stiffer suspension fork with less travel, the more pressure is applied to it. Whilst this is OK in itself, it can mean that air suspension forks can struggle with big hits - although many air forks today, have been designed to minimise the effects of big hits.
Air Forks are also more complicated to maintain and operate - than a simpler coil suspension fork that we will look at below.
Coil Forks Explained
Coil Forks, not surprisingly - use a metal coil as the spring, housed within the fork.Coil forks are often favoured by downhill and enduro riders who make bigger hits and impacts. Coil forks have some advantages over air suspension forks too, which has led to a number of mountain bikers converting their air suspension forks into coal forks. The main advantage of coil forks is the ride that they provide, coil forks are smoother - and provide greater performance where maximum travel is important.
Another advantage of coil forks, is that they are cheaper compared to their air counterparts. Coil Forks are however, more difficult to adjust on the fly compared to air forks - and some knowledge of mechanics is required to swap between springs with different tensions and travel.
Which fork type is right for you?
The right type of fork depends on a few different considerations. If your own personal weight fluctuates - you may be best off sticking with an air suspension fork - which allows you to adjust your suspension quicker, and easier.
If you ride cross country, stick with air forks - they are easier to use, and provide good performance across all but the extremes. If your bike takes some big hits and impacts, use a coil fork - they are stronger and you cannot beat the coil setup for bigger hits.
At Westbrook, we stock and supply a massive range of both air forks, and coil forks - as well as the increasingly popular coil conversion kits. If you are wondering what the best choice is for you, get in touch with us - and we will be happy to recommend a fork type, based on your riding requirements and preferences.