Off-the-wall developments in suspension forks are few and far between, so it’s no surprise that the Lauf TR 29 – which we took an initial look at a few weeks ago – turns heads with its 60mm of travel supplied by a series of leaf springs.
Lauf is keen to point out that the TR 29 is very much a cross-country and marathon race fork, and with a weight not much more than its unsprung rigid cousins at 1050g, it’s clear to see how it might appeal to the shaven-legged sector of mountain biking.
The monocoque carbon uppers feature a full carbon tapered steerer, while the wheel’s axle is secured by a 15mm axle to two lowers that attach to the uppers by way of 12 glass-fibre leaf springs. These leaf springs give the TR 29 60mm of travel; not much but enough to take the edge off the hits.
This 60mm is obviously undamped, both in compression and rebound. Lauf says this is because 60mm isn’t enough to need damping, but as a result it can feel a bit ‘boingy’.
BikeRadar's testers can't remember another piece of kit getting the amount of passing attention lavished on the Lauf
Leaf springs offer no friction, and with friction being the killer of small bump sensitivity in most forks the Lauf excels here. It’s odd to say, but it’s a joy on rough fire roads, completely taking out any buzz from the ground.
Take it into anything more demanding though, and its weakness starts to show – it’s incredibly laterally flexible. We raced with it at Ben Nevis, including parts of the World Cup course there, and when things got fast and twisty, it didn’t take long for it to be overwhelmed with steering accuracy being a particular problem.
The result is that the Lauf is definitely a niche product. If you ride predominantly smooth fast trails with a rigid fork, you may find the addition of small bump sensitivity and a little extra traction thanks to the wheel tracking the ground better a bonus. Faced with the realities of UK cross-country racing, the Lauf really felt out of its depth on the racecourse.
The Lauf fork can be ordered direct from www.laufforks.com. Worldwide shipping costs US$65.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.