No matter how thin, if there is a borderline that separates decent suspension forks from useless ones, then Suntour’s XCT embodies it. Fitted as a stock model for entry-level mountain bikes, it only featured in the 26 inch version, but as trend has changed, the manufacturer now offers it in the 29er version as well.
Compared to the previous generation’s 26 inch model, little to no modification have occured, except for the usual adaptations to the larger wheel size. Even the thread for attaching a catadioptric glass or the hole meant to use for mounting a light were kept. Being a simple and unexpensive fork, its construction is plain: the spring preload situated on the right arm, and on the left one yet another elastomer coil, an option abandoned by the big brands eons ago. And if they’re cutting back on manufacturing expenses, they’re cutting back on performance also, but you’ll figure that out as soon as you’ll use the lock-out-less fork.
As for the actual performance, we could just say it’s at the bare minimum, welcomed if your budget’s tight, but useless if you desire performance. The coil proves to be pretty hard, and suited more to heavyweights, with no trace of consideration to things like smoothness or sensitivity on small bumps. Neither is the travel linear, after the first 50mm the dampening becoming brutal, which may serve as a guarantee that you’ll avoid bottom-outs, but this is a system meant to kick in in the final 15mm of the travel. Strange noises also come out of this 29er version when you pull the handlebar upwards, and stiffness doesn’t even belong in the same sentence with the XCT.
The materials used for building the fork are, as you probably guessed, cheap, although the lower arms are built out of aluminum. Otherwise, it’s an abundance of steel that reveals, when put on a scale, a weight of 2.4 kilograms, and even a weight of 2.8 kilograms for the V-brake mount version. This is similar with a Rock Shox Boxxer double travel, double crown suspension fork. Period.
This title had to go to a certain component, and we reckon that the Suntour XCT is this year’s lousiest suspension fork we tested. From the 100mm of travel, you can practically use 80, that is if you weigh over 90 kilograms. And other than being better than a rigid fork, its performances are at an universal low. However, the bigest problem stands in the fact that bicycle prices rocketed recently, and various famous manufacturers fit forks like the XCT on some of their models. Or maybe Suntour should try harder. Anyway, there’s some trouble somewhere down the line.