DOWN THE TRAIL – MBA’s Guide to the Ultra Forks

MBA’s Guide to the Ultra Forks

The August 1996 issue included our big gear guide featuring some of the biggest suspension forks in the business. A host of downhill-specific forks were nearing production, and the demand for 6-inch-travel forks was growing faster than anyone had ever imagined. This was the chance to see the future of gravity racing and many of the technologies that would eventually be passed down to the riders who climb hills as well as descend them.

Foes F-1: Foes Fabrications equipped each of its forks with an Italian Formula disc brake unit. The fork’s CNC-machined dropout could accept other brakes as well, but was best engineered as a complete package. The inverted-type fork got 5.5 inches of travel and had unique, three- stage coil springs and a pressurized oil damper.

Cannondale Moto 120: This was the upside-down fork that forever changed the face of downhill racing. It was one of the first double-crown forks that was actually available to the public. The fork got 4.9 inches of travel and came stock on many of Cannondale’s long-travel machines of the time.

Hanebrink: Hanebrink’s coil-sprung fork featured a unique, sealed section of rubber to quell friction and noise internally from the springs hitting the sides of the stanchion tubes during compression. This thing seriously looked like it belonged on the front of a dirt bike more than it did a mountain bike.

Manitou’s DH King: This bad boy sported twin damping cartridges that were externally adjustable and had spring-washer valving and a universal brake adapter. The fork had 5.5 inches of travel and cost a whopping $1100.

RST DHXX: Designed by Bob Barnett, RST’s upside-down unit was a serious commitment to downhill racing for the company. The fork was internally adjust- able from 4 to 8 inches of travel, cost $1000 and was controlled with an air spring and hydraulic damping.

White Bros. DC110: DC referred to “Dual Crown.” This 4.7-inch-travel beast was more standard for the time and featured the option to run rim brakes thanks to the cantilever bosses. We can hardly imagine a time when it was acceptable to run rim brakes on a DH course. Times have changed.


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