Strengths: I've had no reliability issues with this fork after 2 summers of use. Fork is well damped and appropriately tensioned for my weight.
Weaknesses: Clearly not a high end product, why compare to an $800 fork?
RockShox documentation is poor, I can scarcely find any info on maintenance, parts, etc.
Great for hopping curbs, running over random stuff, and fine for basic off road duty. Regarding heavy impacts, my Dart 2's have a surprising range of travel, and I've never bottomed out. Lockouts work fine, and the lockout version has Magnesium lowers just like the Dart 3. Adjusting rebound and preload, I've got a pretty decent shock, I weigh 150. Works well with squishy WTB velociraptor tires and slicks too. Awesome running Michelin's Wild Run'r, a higher pressure tire with no cushion. Maybe manufacturing quality of these is quite variable? I hear a lot of complaints, I guess I got a really good pair?
Strengths: Great entry level fork, reliable, can take abuse
Weaknesses: little stiff, on temperatures below zero is rigid fork, heavy
This fork came with my bike (Kona Blast 2010), it was great fork, I was everywhere with that fork, and it took pretty much abuse from me, but it was annoying on winter, it was rigid fork,but after time it was upgraded with dual air RS Reba SL.
Strengths: inexpensive, black, absorbs trail shock and not all that heavy. What else do you want?
I have this fork on two bikes. I'm 170lbs and ride semi aggressive cross country. I'm not into high end parts or bling so this fork is perfect. I have had these forks on the two bikes for two years going into three and have yet to have been dissappointed AT ALL.
a Weekend Warrior
from Montreal, Qc
Date Reviewed: January 27, 2012
Strengths: Super easy to service (basic suspension). better fork available for a $100. Good quality materials. Reliable coil suspension and you can tweek the damping by changing for a different density oil weight.
Weaknesses: The fork can't move much under freezing temperature, due to the lowers contracting under the cold. Maybe the magnesium lowers would be better. Lock-out option isn't worth it for reliability issues.
For $100, it's the best choice to make, however, please get something better (lighter, better damping, more adjustments, etc) if you plan on using it for MTN riding. I wouldn't recommend it for heavy riders either (170lbs+) or aggressive ones. For commuting or for a cheap bike for your friend to borrow, or if you need to replace the cheap SR Suntour or RST fork that just blow up and don't have much money, this is perfect.
I have the most basic one, Dart 2 with only preload adjuster. I have put more then 1 355 km (about 850 miles) and over 100 hours on this fork riding since more then 2 years straight. Mostly urban commute and 20% of dirt. Went trough 2 full winters in Montreal, 2 full summer directly on ocean front (MD) and I did the first oil change at about 1 000km mark, after the second summer (1 year). The seals and bushing are still very good, some scuff and blemish on the stanchions (normal for entry-level stanchion quality), but no oil leak or and damage. Paint chips around the drop-outs, and scratch on the lowers from bike rack rubbing everyday I commute.
People have been having problems with those forks are either too heavy, too hard on them (they're not high end forks) or just don't know how to properly maintain them. Plus the cheap lock-out option is another thing that will break easy. In term of durability/performance/reliability vs the cost, it's way ahead of any other forks, such as SR Suntour XCR or RST Gila, which are in the $100 price range. This is the perfect fork for a commuter bike or beginner rider. Cheap and good. For the price, that's about the further your money will go.
You may also want to get the right spring rating if you're very light (-100lbs) or heavier (+160lbs). Stock springs are the black ones, for 100 to 150 lbs rider (just an approximation). If it's too hard or too soft, you should check out the right spring rating first before bashing that fork.
Similar Products Used: SR Suntour XCR, RS Judy Race
Bike Setup: Trail bike and winter bike for heavy duty commute and light trail riding.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: September 9, 2011
Strengths: Looks Good but thats about all
Weaknesses: Everything else, After the first week I lost the rebound, Can't take any hits higher than a curb,
Really, really crappy forks for any type of riding off road, Don't waste the money to buy, comes standard on bikes from LBS and will be the first thing your going to replace.
Straight garbage, straight up!
Not a bad fork, but not a good one either... The lockout has never really worked since day one (brand new), the pre-load doesn't do much and the settings are really worthless to adjust. Other than that it is a pretty free flowing shock which works well on trails, even the rough ones, and handles its own as far as I have had it. However, if one is looking to upgrade, then find something better and more worthwhile...