RST has been providing low price suspension forks for complete bikes for over two decades, but now it’s pushing back into the increasingly competitive mid-price market with this new Rogue fork.
In terms of basic chassis and stats the Rogue ticks all the relevant trail fork boxes. The 15mm axle uses a notched collar to tighten into place like an original RockShox Maxle and it’s simple and straightforward to use.
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Interestingly, the Rogue comes in 26in and 650b versions rather than the more normal trail fork wheel options of 29 and 650b, but the 34mm stanchions are the industry standard for all-round trail use. There are 140, 150 and 160mm travel options too. The magnesium lower legs are extended below axle level rather than using the cantilevered dropout design some forks adopt to reduce weight. This makes for a sturdy feeling unit that tracks well enough to keep steering obedient and predictable on more flowing, smooth surfaces.
There’s over 170mm of exposed stanchion despite only 160mm of travel and that means it will jack up the front of your bike 10-15mm more than most 160mm forks. That will slacken your head angle by about a degree and also lift up your bottom bracket height, potentially affecting bike handling adversely. At 2070g it’s at the hefty end of its category but Marzocchi, BOS and the old Fox 34 are all heavier. X-Fusion’s Sweep is significantly lighter at 1785g however, as well as being a touch cheaper.
Initial testing revealed a reasonably smooth fork with a naturally progressive stroke that settled comfortably into its sag but supported well in the mid stroke. Additional volume spacers can be added to increase pressure and progression deeper in the stroke but we didn’t feel it needed them.
The carbon effect fork top lever lets you add increasing amounts of threshold damping right through to an almost full lockout for stand up climbing on smooth trails or roads. The open bath damping cartridge offers a reasonable range of rebound adjustment via the dial at the base of the leg too. However, the use of blue for rebound is a reversal of the conventional colour coding and the lockout lever works in the opposite direction too, which can be confusing unless you grasp this fact.
Unfortunately while the low speed compression damping does its job acceptably well in keeping the fork stable for pedalling and braking work, high-speed hits provoke a really jarring spike in the fork stroke, meaning battered wrists and less control when it gets really rough. This also means it rarely accesses the full amount of travel, leaving it noticeably lacking in high speed control compared with similarly priced options such as X-Fusion’s Sweep and Marzocchi’s 350CR. While just a few years ago this performance would have been acceptable for a mid-range fork, the aforementioned competition means that RST need to up their game before they can really compete in this hard-fought marketplace.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.