The moment I started riding my bike fitted with the new Lauf fork, thousands of scenarios depicting the way I’ll die started pouring. I took the time, listened to some of the most awful versions, but went after all to actually ride instead of talk, taking the risk of testinf the fork on an enduro trail.
First thing’s first however, so let’s introduce Lauf (again). A group of guys from Iceland saw things in another manner: why use a stanchion-based suspension fork, when you can have something about as twice as lighter (anyway, about twice), that sheds serious grams off your bike. Of course, things aren’t that straight-forward, and, like any other product on the face of this planet, it bears some setbacks. At least it looks impressive with its carbon body and 12 blades, 6 on each side, that are responsible for shock absorbtion, the whole rig resembling a pair of fangs ready to bite. It may come as a hard to believe fact, but its weight reaches only 965 grams, far less than any fork that includes a suspension system ever built so far. And the manufacturer further proves that it knows what it’s doing by offering several versions according to the weight interval you find yourself in.
Tarmac roads feel like home for this fork that offers a smooth ride over that even terrain, closely resembling the feeling of that the lack of suspensions provides. The place where Lauf really kicks in is, however, light off-road such as lowland forests, dirt paths or trails and so on, all these being under the control of the 60mm travel. When you reach the mountain, things will unavoidably change. To see exactly how much and where exactly is the limit of this component, we chose an enduro trail that quickly took the Lauf to its maximum. Successive jumps, tree roots and rocks as well are the biggest enemies of this Nordic invention. Reduced comfort, the wheel going all over the place and top handling skills that put the bike back on track are some of the situation you will frequently encounter while riding on difficult terrain. Not least, it’s quite exciting on the other hand, taking you back to the days when mountain biking was about riding downhill on a fixed fork, without any further comments or objections.
However, the Trail Racer isn’t exactly stiff, and when cornering, this issue becomes clear. The lack of a brace makes the construction flimsy because from the steerer down to the axle there is only a single section, quite lengthy. At least the 27.5 inch version does perform better in terms of stiffness that the 29er one tested a couple of years ago.
Since we chose an enduro trail as a proving ground for the fork, it’s well worth mentioning that the adrenaline rush peaks when you let yourself fly down a steep downhill. Normally, you’d think twice before doing such a thing, but we had to tick this box as well, and during the enterprise the feeling is uncommon, mostly due to the fact that the handlebar sits lower. Of course this is so, since the travel shrinked from 100mm to 60mm, still you can’t help feel it’s nothing short of a suicide run, unless you shift your center of gravity towards the rear.
All in all, the experience on the Lauf Trail Racer was interesting. On roads and on fields, the fork’s great, not only because it provides resonable handling, but also thanks to its weight. As for actual mountain biking, you’re either an experienced rider or you stick to simple trails. Not least, Lauf probably hit the soft spot of weight weenies with this product.