Ask MBACTION – Forks & Wheels
REBA, ARE YOU GOOD ENOUGH?
Q: Would you please tell me all you can about the new 2018 RockShox Reba A7 29er with 120 millimeters of travel and a 15×100 thru-axle? I have a Marin Iron Springs 9.5 bought through Performance Bicycle that has the exact same frame geometry as the 2016 Marin Nail Trail 9.6. Only the Nail Trail had a 100-millimeter fork, and my bike has a 120-millimeter fork.
—Luke, who has a really vague fork question
A: The Reba fork comes with some pretty solid features. It has tapered aluminum stanchion tubes that save weight over the steel ones they use in every entry-level fork. It also has a hollow crown and the impressively simple and effective Solo Air system, which you find on many of RockShox’s high-end forks. So, the takeaway is that the chassis and air spring are on par with the best in the RockShox lineup; however, the Reba is not a top-of-the-line fork. RockShox puts its Motion Control RL damper in this fork, which is an older and simpler technology than the Charger damper RockShox runs in its high-end models.
The Motion Control damper was the top offering at one point. It’s an open-bath system that works very well in our experience. It’s simple, smooth and reliable. The new Charger damper is a sealed system that is more adjustable, more consistent and requires very little maintenance, but, as we said, we would not steer you away from riding the Motion Control damper if that’s what’s in your budget. It works well and even comes with a remote lockout option if that’s your thing.
Bottom line: the Reba is the technology that would have been considered “absolutely top of the line” 10 years ago. The new stuff is cool, but with the Reba, you’re getting 90 percent of the performance at half the price of the top-shelf offerings from RockShox.
As for the travel question, we typically recommend sticking with the stock fork travel in most cases. If your frame was designed to accept an extra 20 millimeters of travel, the longer fork will slack out the head angle and raise the bottom bracket slightly. This may sound like a tiny change, but if you’re used to your bike, you will feel the difference with slightly slower steering and a slightly higher center of gravity.
HOW MUCH IS TOO LITTLE FOR CARBON WHEELS?
I have a 1 1/2-year-old Pivot Mach 6. Wonderful bike; I plan to ride it for 10 years. I want to give myself the gift of an upgrade from an aluminum to a carbon wheelset. What am I going to have to spend to get a relatively high-quality set? Can it be in the $1000 to $1500 range? What brands/models do you recommend?
—Pete, who is ready to upgrade and indulge
A: Inexpensive carbon wheels are a bit of an oxymoron. Most single carbon rims will set you back almost a grand, which obviously puts you out of your price range. That said, though, there are some that fall within your budget. Box Components makes a set of wheels that falls right at the edge of your $1500 price range. The .one. wheels come with a 26-millimeter inner width, a quick 10-degree engagement and have the 148-millimeter Boost axle spacing you will need for your Mach 6. We’re actually testing a pair of these wheels for a future issue, and it’s going well so far. Start there.
We have also had great luck with RideFast Racing and their Hotline wheels. RideFast is a newer company based out of Southern California. The Hotline’s retail for $1,400 and are very sturdy. RideFast laces all their wheels in house, uses a titanium free hub body, and a rear hub that is made in California. You can check out our wheel Buyer’s Guide that has some other options within your price range.
Have a question for the MBA crew? You can send your brain busters to [email protected].
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