SR Suntour Epicon 29in X1 LO RC fork £300

New full-feature fork

BikeRadar score 4/5

This 29er fork is available with the two structural elements that really make a difference to the tracking performance of those inescapably longer legs – a 15mm through-axle and a tapered steerer.

The QR Loc axle is admittedly not perfect, however. The cunning expanding collar engages and disengages really quickly and works well if you’re sliding it through a smooth, constant diameter hub. However, if there are steps inside the hub – common with hubs using switchable end caps for different axle sizes – the cam expands inside and jams, unless you can shove it through with a long Allen key. It definitely makes a noticeable difference to front wheel tracking though, so it’s worth the faff.

Even with a quick-release axle, the stout magnesium lowers and the broad bridge of the Epicon chassis mean it still steers better than most budget forks. With a cut steerer it’s a good weight for a tight-feeling 29er fork too, with only RockShox’s SID coming in significantly lighter – but at much higher cost.

If you’re upgrading from cheaper original forks you’ll notice a big difference in suspension performance. This thing is smooth, and not just on the first couple of dry rides. There was some notchiness initially, but our sample became increasingly plush during the first 10 hours and has stayed consistently smooth through several wet winter months of testing. Suntour have obviously worked really hard on improving their damping for the 2012 model year, too.

The new RC cartridge is 80g lighter but re-valved to give a much smoother and more measured response to larger hits. It can still hiccup in the mid-stroke if you really hammer it down steps, but it takes a lot more frequent or bigger impacts to give it real indigestion. You get lockout and a usefully subtle low-speed compression damping adjuster too. Suntour also offer a 120mm version if you need a bit more length to really laugh stuff off.

It’s a tribute to the general build quality and finish that the fork cleaned up to pretty much brand-new when we treated its host Scott to a thorough spring clean. The Fox-style brake hose guide and metal top caps/adjusters keep it looking neat on the bike as well. 

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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