When it comes to budget air-cartridge forks, RST Aerial finds itself one step ahead of the competition for the fact it’s simply the cheapest such fork you can purchase at the moment. Its recommended retail price is about 143 euros, so finding out how it performs may prove to be very interesting.
We tested a 29er version, that features an 100mm travel, steel 32mm stanchions and magnesium lower arms, and while the configuration isn’t bad, the guillotine-like lock-out remote may inflict some injuries upon your finger if you’re not careful.
As for actual riding performance, Aerial resembles its main competitor, Suntour Raidon, especially in terms of sluggish compression, idleness when crossing over small bumps, and left-to-be-desired rebound. For reasons unknown, RST didn’t bother to mount a rebound adjustment, so the only settings remain the air pressure and lock-out, this in turn implying more disappointing performances, which you will discover as soon as you hit the trail.
A longer and more aggressive ride will make the oil spread all over the stanchions, which will collect more dust, some of which will surely end up inside the fork. This means you’ll have to pay more visits to the mechanic for maintenance of the component. Weight doesn’t act as a compelling figure either, the Aerial tipping the scale at 2.6kg (5.73lbs.) nearly 600 grams more than Raidon.
Summing up the story, RST Aerial 29er is a fork we’d buy only if we really had to, in this price range our sights turning more towards Suntour’s Raidon.
Weight: 2.623 grams