Introduction by Francis Cebedo
I've used several rigid steel forks and carbon forks over the years. There's nothing like the light weight and steering accuracy of a rigid fork on a 29er. Couple that with a singlespeed and it's a match made in heaven since all your power translates to forward movement as there's none of that dreaded fork bob on hard efforts and out-of-the-saddle efforts.
But rigid forks are… ahem, rigid. And for the uninitiated, they can be a daunting experience on a rocky downhill. The good news is the 29er wheel has come to the rescue and it acts like a half inch of suspension. Couple that with a big tubeless tires and that's another layer of cushion available. And finally, not all rigid forks are created equal. Carbon fiber has a bit of give to it and it dampens vibrations. It also has forward and backward movement that take up some of the trail shock.
The White Brothers Rock Solid is a great fork at a good price point. It is much smoother than any steel fork I've tried. It's got more give too than the Niner RDO fork. The only smoother fork I've tried is the Syncros carbon fork with carbon steerer. But the Syncros brand is in transition to Scott Bikes and the products are hard to get at the moment. So The Rock Solid is a great option and available in many lengths: 425, 445 and 465 mm. https://www.mountainracingproducts.com/white-brothers/rock-solid/ for details. (Edit: 6/22/12 From Paul at White Brothers - "Now also in 490mm for 100mm 29'er conversions.")
I've used them over the years on 26ers, 29ers and 650b. I've never had an issue and I'm sold on the product. The only caveat is I'm only 145 lbs and kind of an XC rider. So I was happy to hear the 'bruiser' of the company, Adam LaBarge was testing the product. Read on and see how it held up to his riding.
Review by Adam Labarge
- Light Weight
- Smooths out jarring rocks and reduces ping-pong effect
- Stay on line
- Looks awesome!
- Very Solid
- No thru-axle drop outs
So you bought yourself a fully rigid 29er and now you are considering upgrading that heavy stock steel fork. Or maybe you are experiencing a bit more vibration and hand fatigue than you were expecting. Steel bikes are supposed to be compliant, right? Or you are just looking for ways to shed some serious weight of the steel stead you ride? I was in a similar position a few months back, so I arranged with White Bros and MTBR to give the 465mm Rock Solid carbon fork a try.
About a year ago I made a big transition in my riding. With great sorrow I sold my Canfield F1 and effectively put 5 years of downhill riding, fullface rage riding and adrenalin-filled shuttle trips, behind me. My future is my 2010 Kona Unit, a steel frame single speed 29er. I've had my Unit for long enough now to know that the stock components do in fact needed some upgrading. So this review is less focused on how the White Brothers Rock Solid compares to other carbon forks, and more for those who might be wondering if this particular upgrade is for them.
Selecting which carbon fork to try was fairly easy. The White Brothers Rock Solid, with its large 34mm stanchions, for that reason and some others, appeared to be the right fork for me. I'm not your average 5-foot 10-inch rider who only weights 160lbs. I'm 6-foot 4-inches and nearly 240lbs. I'd like to say all muscle, but in reality I've got a few, OK 15lbs, I could shed. I ride aggressively and don't shy away from drops, rocks, roots or jumps. In fact for me, hitting that stuff on a fully rigid bike is almost as gnarly as riding Stick-and-Stones on 8-inch downhill bike. Though I admit, the trails here in the East Bay Area aren't as gnarly as some others, but they do have their rough spots. I went with the 465mm length Rock Solid because I wanted to keep the same geometry as the original fork. But the Rock Solid comes in three sizes, 425mm, 445mm, and 465mm with a forth, longer size for on the way. The Rock Solid fork can work with a 24-inch, 650b, and obviously a 29-inch wheel. And unlike the older versions of the fork, the new one can handle disc rotors up to 185mm. With and MSRP of $360, it almost seems like a steal compared to shelling out of a new Fox 40. And it looks badass!
I knew the Rock Solid was going to be lighter than the stock steel fork but honestly I was still surprised at the difference. I was thankful as well. Shedding almost two pounds from the fork meant that the added weight from the Maxxis Ardent 2.4 tire would balance out.
- Dropout: Quick Release
- Brake mount: Disc only - 74mm Post Mount
- ( *Max Rotor Size 185mm or may void warranty)
- Wheel Size: All wheel sizes fit all models.
- Stanchions: 34mm Carbon
- Crown: Alloy, 44mm offset
- Weight: 1.6lbs/.7kg
- Color(s): Black UD Carbon Finish
- Steerer Tube: 250mm x 1 1/8″
- Axle-to-Crown: 425mm; 445mm; 465mm
On the trail the differences between the stock steel fork and the carbon Rock Solid are unquestionable. The Rock Solid is significantly more trail compliant than the stock steel fork. An hour into the ride and my hand still felt fresh. All the little pings from the mirco vibrations were smoothed out. Sideways deflections of trail features are much less jarring with the Rock Solid.. Going through a rock garden no longer feels like uncontrolled ping-pong. Straight on square edged hits are similarly less jarring. Riding down the loose rocky section of Cinderella (a local East Bay trail in Joaquin Miller Park), I actually felt a hair more "in control". Amazing!
With just the fork installed the whole front end of the bike is stiffer than with the stock fork, but the Rock Solid in combination with a 70mm Thompson stem and 32-inch 31.8 Kore handle bars made significant improvements to the solidity of the front. Moving off the Kenda Small Block 8 to the 2.4 Maxxis Ardent in combination with the smoothing effect of the carbon stanchions of the Rock Solid has changed has completely changed the feeling of the front end of this bike. This combination of parts, with the Rock Solid as the foundation component, offers better handling, turner and more stable turning, it is easier to stay on line in rocky or off camber trails sections, and it has significantly improved the quality for of my ride. So is the fork worth the upgrade, oh yeah!