The air-sprung RC41 Fighter is the longest travel fork in the Pace range but it's still remarkably stiff and light for XC/All Mountain work. The hollow carbon-crowned lower legs give outstanding steering and braking stiffness for a QR axle fork, and it stays smooth even when you're cross-threading deep ruts or trying to catch ledges. A stiffer 20mm through axle version is imminent but wasn't ready in time for this test.
The single air spring is super plush and linear (it's noticeably better than Pace's coil forks) and the fork flows beautifully over big blocks or tiny ripples. Rebound and compression damping provide fine impact collection control - but don't stray from recommended factory settings.
Pace don't recommend the Fighter as a big drop fork - it weighs less than many 130mm travel forks - but we've been pounding our original hard for a year without trouble. The automatic pop-up Launch Control 2 lockdown has been better sealed for 06, though our latest example was slightly inconsistent with its release pressure. Our long-term 05 forks have been sweet but we have seen seizing and Launch Control 'creep' on other riders' forks. Pace's customer service is first class though, and sorted forks are world beaters.