Blog

Back To Blog

Your guide to uncommon MTB forks

By Bruce Lin

Published

Whether you’re racing across fire roads, jibbing down flow trails, or dropping into the gnarliest features at Red Bull Rampage, you want a good suspension fork on your side. Most riders are familiar with the two major players — Fox and RockShox — but if you want something a little different for your bike, there are plenty of other manufacturers making great forks. Here’s what you need to know. 

SHOP MOUNTAIN BIKE FORKS

Cane Creek forks

Cane Creek Helm AirThe Cane Creek Helm Air on a Knolly Fugitive.

Made in the USA and more tunable than a grand piano.

Cane Creek is better known for its headsets, but in 2005, it revolutionized suspension tuning with its Double Barrel shocks. It used twin-tube technology with four-way adjustability to give riders more freedom to tune shock performance. In 2017, Cane Creek brought this adjustability to the fork game with its Helm forks. These are built by hand in its facility in North Carolina.

Fork

Travel

Stanchion

Weight

Price

Use

Helm MkII Air

130-160mm

35mm

2,080g

$1,049.99

Trail / Enduro

Helm MkII Coil

130-160mm

35mm

2,340g

$1,049.99

Trail / Enduro

The Helm MKII is the latest revision of Cane Creek’s Helm fork. It includes a redesigned damper featuring a new compression and mid-valve circuit for increased support and control while a new seals and damper oil reduce friction and provide a more supple ride-feel. Like the previous version of the Helm, it comes in air- and coil-sprung versions with adjustable high- and low-speed compression and adjustable travel.  

DVO forks

DVO Diamond D1 Boost

The DVO Diamond D1 in factory green on a Foes Ridgeback 29.

The spawn of Marzocchi — not the new Marzocchi, the original freeride fork maker.

DVO founder Bryson Martin was also the founder of Marzocchi USA and the man behind the legendary Bomber forks that spearheaded the freeride movement of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. After leaving Marzocchi in 2012, Martin launched DVO, which is short for “Developed Suspension.” DVO forks are instantly recognizable thanks to their signature green colors. 

Fork

Travel

Stanchion

Weight

Price

Use

Onyx SC D1

160-180mm

36mm

2,250g

$785-$1,074

Enduro

Diamond D1

140-170mm

35mm

2,100g

$749-$1,024

Trail / Enduro

Diamond D2

140-170mm

35mm

2,150g

$699-$724

Trail / Enduro

Sapphire D1

120-150mm

34mm

1,900g

$675-$924

XC / Trail

DVO Diamond D1 boost fork Santa Cruz HightowerI (foreground) enjoyed using the DVO Diamond D1 on my personal bike.

DVO forks use the D1 damper with adjustable high- and low-speed compression damping and an externally adjustable OTT (off the top) function. OTT allows riders to fine-tune the initial stroke without affecting the mid or end stroke of the fork. This means the fork can be extremely supple over small bumps, while still having enough support to prevent bottom-outs during hard impacts. The D2 damper simplifies things and decreases cost with low-speed compression adjustment and an internal OTT adjustment.

Notable riders: Remy Metailler, Rae Morrison, Brian Lopes, Reece Wallace

Lauf forks

Lauf TR Boost forkThe Lauf Racer (later replaced by the TR Boost) on a Niner Air 9.

Looks weird, but ultra-light and ultra-reliable. Plus, Iceland.

The striking carbon fiber Lauf fork comes from Iceland and rides on S2 Springs made of military spec glass fiber. Due to fewer moving parts, Lauf forks are lightweight, durable, and require zero maintenance. They’ve become popular among riders looking for the lightest, simplest, and most reliable fork possible.

Fork

Travel

Stanchion

Weight

Price

Use

TR Boost

60mm

N/A

1,000g

$990

XC

Carbonara

60mm

N/A

1,100g

$990

Fat bikes

Lauf forks provide only 60mm of travel, which Lauf considers the sweet spot for its damper-less springs. Nothing else here matches the simplicity and weight of Lauf forks, making them an appealing option for XC racing and bikepacking. They do a great job of smoothing out bumps and chatter but will get overwhelmed with bigger impacts. For gravity mountain biking, traditional telescopic forks are still preferred.  

Manitou forks

Manitou Machete forkThe Manitou Machete on a Specialized Fuse Comp 6Fattie.

The OG fork brand, just ask Johnny T. 

Manitou created the first production mountain bike suspension fork (though RockShox may argue it was the RS-1). The original Manitou fork was built in 1990 by Doug Bradbury. Legend has it that John Tomac requested one immediately, and soon every racer wanted one. Today, Manitou forks are recognizable thanks to the patented reversed fork arch

Fork

Travel

Stanchion

Weight

Price

Use

Mezzer Pro

140-180mm

37mm

2,032g

$1,099.99

Enduro

Mezzer Expert

140-180mm

37mm

2,062g

$849.99

Enduro

Mattoc Pro

140-170mm (27.5) / 100-140mm (29)

34mm

2,033g

$899.99

Trail

Mattoc Comp

140-170mm (27.5) / 100-140mm (29)

34mm

2,222g

$579.99

Trail

R7 Pro

80-120mm

32mm

1,648g

$979.99

XC / Trail

R7 Expert

80-120mm

32mm

1,812g

$819.99

XC / Trail

Mastodon Pro

100-150mm

34mm

2,152g

$949.99

Fat bike

Mastodon Comp

100-150mm

34mm

2,354g

$724.99

Fat bike

Machete

100-120mm

32mm

1,885g

$464.99

XC / Trail

Most Manitou forks are separated into Comp, Expert, and Pro models. Higher-end models provide more adjustable dampers and lower weight. Manitou produces a large number of fork models, including many entry-level offerings not included here. They are great options for riders looking for performance on a budget.

Marzocchi forks

Marzocchi Bomber Z1The Marzocchi Bomber Z1 on a Banshee Titan.

Italian freeride flair tangos with Fox's proven internals.

Italian manufacturer Marzocchi was founded in 1949 and specialized in motorcycle shocks. In the ‘90s, the mountain bike spin-off, Marzocchi USA, became the fork manufacturer of the freeride movement with the legendary Bomber fork. After a brief disappearance, it was acquired by Fox Factory in 2015 and the latest generation of Marzocchi shocks and forks now benefit from Fox technology. 

Fork

Travel

Stanchion

Weight

Price

Use

Bomber Z1 Coil

150-180mm

36mm

2,525g

$779

Enduro

Bomber Z1

140-170mm

36mm

2,249g

$729

Enduro

Bomber Z2

100-150mm

34mm

2,030g

$519

Trail

Thomas Genon Marzocchi Red Bull RampageThomas Genon riding Marzocchi at the 2021 Red Bull Rampage | Photo by: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool.

The current generation of Marzocchi forks are essentially budget versions of Fox’s 36 and 34 forks. They use the two-way adjustable Grip damper found on Fox's Performance Series forks. They are affordable, reliable, and easy to set up, making them ideal for riders who shred hard and abuse their equipment. Plus they’ve got that old-school freeride mojo.

Notable Riders: Wade Simmons, Cam Zink, Tyler McCaul, Reed Boggs

MRP forks

MRP Ribbon AirThe MRP Ribbon Air on a REEB Sqweeb.

Small-batch forks, made in 'Murica and proven in the rough Colorado desert.

MRP stands for “Mountain Racing Products” and it builds and assembles components in small batches in Colorado. Everything is designed and prototyped in-house by a small team, then tested and perfected on the rugged trails of Colorado’s Western Slope. It is known to support its products long-term and still has spare parts for forks from 10-15 years ago

Fork

Travel

Stanchion

Weight

Price

Use

Ribbon Air

120-170mm

35mm

1,900g

$1,049.95

Trail / Enduro

Ribbon Coil

140-170mm

35mm

2,160g

$1,049.95

Trail / Enduro

Ribbon SL

110-130mm

35mm

1,790g

$989.95

XC / Trail

Raven

120-170mm

35mm

2,020g

$849.95

Trail / Enduro

Loop TR

120-150mm

32mm

1,900g

$869.95

XC / Trail

Loop SL

80-100mm

32mm

1,770g

$829.95

XC

MRP Ribbon CoilOur Warehouse Manager, Steve, loves shredding his MRP Ribbon Coil.

The Ribbon is MRP’s star product, winning Pinkbike’s suspension product of the year in 2017. It uses MRP’s Ramp Control, FulFill independent positive and negative chamber air-spring system, and PSST pressure relief valves in the lowers. The Raven shares the Ribbon’s chassis but has a simplified damper and air-spring system. The new Ribbon SL is a lightweight version designed to compete with the Fox 34 Step-Cast and RockShox SID Ultimate. 

SHOP MRP FORKS

Öhlins

Ohlins RXF36 The Öhlins RXF36 on a Specialized Enduro Coil 29.

The Swedish king of racing brings F1 and MotoGP tech to the trails.

Motorsports fans may recognize Öhlins suspension from its presence and success in Formula 1, MotoGP, and other top-level racing series. The Swedish brand branched out into mountain bike suspension in 2015 and quickly found success with three downhill world championships and two World Cup overall wins under Loic Bruni of Team Specialized Gravity. 

Fork

Travel

Stanchion

Weight

Price

Use

RFX38 M.2 Air

160-180mm

38mm

2,320g

$1,250

Enduro

RFX36 M.2 Air

150-180mm

36mm

2,159g

$1,250

Trail / Enduro

RFX36 M.2 Coil

120-170mm

36mm

2,300g

$1,250

Trail / Enduro

RFX34 M.2

120-160mm

34mm

2,050g

$1,250

Trail

Fabio Wibmer OhlinsTrials and YouTube star Fabio Wibmer rides Öhlins. 

Öhlins forks are premium offerings, and that is reflected in the prices. All its forks use twin tube TTX damper technology which provides high- and low-speed compression adjustment and has been thoroughly proven on Öhlins’ motorsports products. Öhlins is very selective with sponsorship, and in the mountain bike world, it backs some of the best current riders and teams.

Notable riders: Loic Bruni, Finn Iles, Fabio Wibmer, Matt Jones, and more.

Honorable mentions

Ineos Grenadiers Tom Pidcock SR Suntour suspension forkWorld Cup winner and Olympic gold medalist, Tom Pidcock, rides SR Suntour forks. | Photo by: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool. 

The above manufacturers are the main fork brands (beyond Fox and RockShox) that riders will encounter in the U.S. Asian brands like SR Suntour, X-Fusion, and RST are left off the list. We simply don’t see many on new or used bikes. There are also a few European brands like DT Swiss, Formula, BOS, and Intend which are rare, but might find their way to our shores. 

SR Suntour is worth an extra mention because it was a major component manufacturer competing with Campagnolo and Shimano during the ‘60s and ‘70s. It reemerged in 2011 as a suspension manufacturer, building forks for brands such as Marzocchi and DVO. Its own forks have had success in top-level racing, winning world championships and World Cups under Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, and recently, Olympic Gold under Tom Pidcock. It sponsors some big names like Brett Tippie, Carson Storch, and more

Henric Avancini Cannondale LeftyHenrique Avancini racing the Cannondale Lefty Ocho fork. | Photo by: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool.

Then there's Cannondale's famous single-sided Lefty fork. The Lefty has been around in various forms for over 20 years. In its current form, the Lefty Ocho, it's a solid XC and trail fork. To learn more check out our in-depth article on the Cannondale Lefty

Finally, I can't finish this list without mentioning the short-lived Trust Message and Trust Shout linkage forks. They were both innovative and divisive. To learn more about Trust forks, check out our article on the Trust Message and the history of linkage forks.

Final thoughts

Uncommon MTB fork guideHow to choose?

If you’re on a budget and don’t need a lot of tuning options, Marzocchi and Manitou are the top picks on this list. Most riders won’t be able to discern any difference in performance compared to more expensive forks. 

If you’re a tinkerer who understands suspension tuning and cares about adjustability, Cane Creek and DVO have high-end damper technology that will allow you to dial in your fork for your riding style and terrain. 

For riders big on American-made products and who want to support smaller manufacturers, Cane Creek and MRP are the home-grown favorites. 

And if you simply want the best of the best, it has to be Öhlins. No other brand here matches its racing heritage and competitive success. You’ll need to pay to play though. 

Finally, if you don’t feel like branching out and prefer to stick with the established names, check out our in-depth Fox vs. RockShox comparison and MTB fork guide to find out which is better for your ride. 

What’s your favorite MTB fork manufacturer? And who did I forget to mention? Let me know in the comments!

SHOP MOUNTAIN BIKE FORKS

Shop used mountain bikes

Recommended stories

Road Bike accessories: 7 essential pieces of road biking gear
Road Bike accessories: 7 essential pieces of road biking gear
So you've bought a new road bike (or you’re about to). Before you set off, make sure you have a helmet, cycling shorts and jersey, clipless shoes and pedals, a flat kit, and more. Here's a checklist for the essential beginner clothing and cycling gear you need to enjoy riding your new road bike!
Read More
Giant road bike buyer's guide
Giant road bike buyer's guide
Great performance for less money: Giant and LIV road bikes deliver. From the all-around TCR race bike to the comfortable Defy. Here's your guide to Giant and Liv road bikes.
Read More
2020 Yeti ARC vs. original: More similar than you think
2020 Yeti ARC vs. original: More similar than you think
Yeti Bikes produced a limited quantity of special 35th anniversary ARC bikes. These Turq carbon hardtails are modern marvels with Fox 34 forks, SRAM Eagle, and tons of anodize bling. Seems worlds apart from the 1992 Yeti ARC, right? Maybe, but these two mountain bikes have five key similarities.
Read More

1 comment


  • If Lauf would add a 200 gm damper to their XC fork, they could find some actual market share there.

    Shame about Trust, just tried it at the absolute wrong time.

    Steve on


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Newsletter Sign Up