If you’re looking for a fully featured long travel fork but don’t want to sell a kidney to afford one, then the all-new Durolux could be the answer to your dreams. Not only is it hundreds of pounds cheaper than big name rivals, but this R2C2 model offers more tuning and tweaking potential than any of them with both high and low speed compression and rebound adjustment from the sealed cartridge damper.
The chassis now uses 36mm upper legs to beef it up over the outgoing model and it’s also only available for the 650b wheel size. There’s a hollow-forged aluminum crown and the legs are black anodised, while the lowers are cast magnesium. In use, this makes it impressively stiff and it tracks very precisely through gnarly terrain, with no hint of flex or squirm.
That precision is helped by the 20mm thru-axle on the model we tested, though it’s possible to use a 15mm axle with a reducer kit. The axle to crown length is a bit longer than most, raising the handlebar and bottom bracket height noticeablely. At 2,360g it’s also a fair amount heavier than the circa-1,900g benchmark of a comparable RockShox Pike or Fox 36.
There are some nice touches however, with a bolt-on mini mudguard and quick-service lube ports for keeping the seals fed with fresh oil. The latter is part of SR Suntour’s policy to make servicing the fork as simple as possible for the end user. That means that the damping cartridge uses an internal floating piston rather than a bladder to compensate for the change in oil volume as the fork moves through the travel. It does mean a little bit more internal friction, but Suntour reckons that the design is much more reliable as well as being easier to bleed properly to ensure consistent performance.
While the fork is air sprung, it uses a coil negative spring for similar reasons of simplicity. It does add more weight but that’s a compromise Suntour has been willing to make. It’s also possible to alter how progressive the spring is adding up to three volume spacers, while overall travel can also be adjusted from 160mm up to 180mm in 10mm increments.
While having adjustable high and low rebound damping is probably overkill, as a whole the damping adjustments are set within a useable range and make a noticeable difference to performance. You’ll want to dedicate a bit of tuning time when you first get set up on the fork, but we found it was easy enough to get there or thereabouts and then alter settings to suit what we were riding.
The adjustment dials are made from aluminium, but they’re not the most positive feeling and we also had an issue with a high-speed compression adjuster being seized tight on the first fork we received. Again, the latter is likely to have been a one off issue and the former isn’t too much of a deal breaker when price is considered.
The damping is extremely impressive, offering plenty of support and never feeling like it was totally overwhelmed, even on really rowdy terrain. Okay, it’s not quite as supple and sensitive as the best out there on small bumps, with noticeable chatter and traction loss on choppy flat corners or rooty off-camber sections. It can also feel like it chokes slightly if you hit sustained, high-speed big hits, but that’s splitting hairs considering the price differential between this fork and its pricier rivals.
The quick-release 20mm axle is pretty fiddly to use, with a design that requires you to undo the lever and give the other end a half-turn to lock it closed before extracting it. It’s better once you get the knack of it, but it does have a tendency to open as you’re halfway through removal and then get jammed in the hub. Keeping it clean and lightly greased helps, but if you’re used to the faff-free function of a Maxle or Shimano 15QR, it’s not the best.
Overall, it’s hard to fault for the money and when you consider the performance per pound — or more accurately, how many pounds extra you’d need to spend to get those last few fractions of performance that the spendy rivals offer — it’s really very impressive. While some SR Suntour forks have been a mixed bag with reliability in the past, the Durolux stood up to a sound beating in our test period and we’ll keep running it long term to make sure.