When I first heard about this new concept, somewhere in summer, I wasn’t exactly feeling enthusiastic about it, but rather skeptical. So, naturally, I used the Eurobike Demo Day opportunity to ride it, although those German trails aren’t exactly demanding, afterwards having a couple more chances to convince myself of its capabilities. My opinion didn’t shift dramatically in the end, but I discovered some reasons that make the fork something to take into account. If you’re a 29er owner, don’t need to much comfort and have a pocketful to spend, that is.
For starters, I’d begin by making clear the difference between the Trail Racer’s technology and the conventional forks’ mechanisms. The Trail Racer doesn’t use air cartridges, springs nor even does it have round arms or stanchions, for the simple reason that these wouldn’t find use. Lauf’s invention is more of an hybrid, a fixed fork genetically altered to handle small bumps when crossing over them.
Sensitivity is hardly one of its trademarks, a normal implication given the leaf suspension, similar to that found on automobiles. No rebound adjustement can be found neither, although the fork hastly returns to its standard position after damping, nor can you tune the preload. In exchange, the Trail Racers is available in 3 versions, with different resistance levels according to your weight.
Personally, memories of short travel forks from the mid-90’s are brought back in my mind by the Trail Racer. In this sense, the Lauf fork stands as a clever substitute of the fixed fork, as it makes a ride more pleasant when mild bumps sit in your way. The leafs are hard enough to not allow a bottom-out situation happen, even when jumping from a height of half a meter. At least in my case, my weight of 67 kilograms will never put in difficulty the Trail Racer, which has a major up-side in the fact that it doesn’t require maintenance and can withstand about 140.000 shocks.
The 60mm of the fork’s travel make it an efficient system when it comes to absorbing vibration and small shocks, but it lacks the needed performance if you plan on riding serious off-road courses. Smooth working doesn’t exactly represent this fork’s strongest point, yet it compensates through its weight of 990 grams. Costing 1$/gram (that’s 990$, just to be clear about it), the Lauf Trail Racer 29 stands out as an ideal model for mild off-road trails, with the mention that it won’t provide too much comfort, but will help you better control the overall weight of the bike. Also note that it’s available only for 29 inch wheels and more info can be found on the manufacturer’s website.