Ritchey WCS Carbon Cross fork £350

Weight-saving, precise-handling 'cross fork

BikeRadar score 4/5

For this amount of money, you’d hope Ritchey’s Carbon Cross fork would be something special. Happily, it is.

For a start, it features a true one-piece carbon construction, trimming weight right down to just 463g with the steerer uncut, including the easy-to-use compression plug. Note that it’s especially important not to over-tighten the stem bolts on the carbon steerer, though the plug does provide some reinforcement for the walls of the steerer tube.

Although it’s certainly in the lighter echelons of top-end full-carbon forks, it doesn’t feel flimsy or wavery in any way.The tapered, bladed profile ensures handling is  incredibly precise.

What’s more, there’s almost no fork chatter – the fore and aft movement of the blades under braking – despite testing them out with powerful Shimano XTR V-brakes.

This is backed up by a reassuringly solid feel in general use riding.

There's no comfort downside though. The difference between this carbon fork and the steel one it replaced is incredibly pronounced over dry, rooty singletrack and stony surfaces.

It's considerably less than half the weight of a steel for too, making the front end of the bike a breeze to loft over obstacles.

 Whether you like running wider rubber for general grip and comfort, or bemoan handfuls of leaves clogging your forks in mid-winter cyclocross races, you’ll love the massive clearances.

We fitted Bontrager’s XR 700x46, effectively a narrow 29er tyre, without any space issues, and didn’t even have to let any air out for the tyre to fit in.

Attention to detail continues through to the quality alloy dropouts and the machined ring on the steerer tube. Fitting the headset race wasn’t an issue; a nice touch is that it’s both integrated and aheadset compatible. 

Looks wise, the Ritchey should stand the test of time because it’s well lacquered for a tough finish, with the glossiness showing off the weave really nicely too.

There’s a cheaper (around £190), slightly heavier version with an alloy steerer tube; the carbon version is available for a limited period for £275.

Fork offset is 48mm.

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