Bike forks are specially made to improve the comfort of the cycler. They will have to be fitted onto your bike’s frame. There are a lot of different options out there, each offering a slightly different mix of features.
The benefits of using the right one are that your comfort improves overall and that you are better able to control the performance of the bike. If you take your riding seriously, you probably have one of these already.
Looking for one? There is a dazzling array out there to choose from. In this post, we have reviewed our top picks. We’ve rated them in terms of quality, performance, and features. We’ve included several price points as well so there should be something for everyone here.
Before we get to the reviews, though, let’s look at what you should consider when choosing.
What You Need to Consider when buying 26″ Mountain Bike Forks
This refers to the distance that the fork moves up and down when you are riding. If you check nothing else, check this setting.
The longer this setting is, the more shock the fork will absorb. Aim for a setting of at least 100mm. More may offer a smoother ride, but also means the addition of more weight. Factor this into your equation.
Control is an aspect that is affected by travel. Longer travel settings make your ride a lot more comfortable but at the cost of some control. So it’s important to strike the right balance here, depending on the type of riding that you do.
Using steel would provide an extremely strong and durable fork. Unfortunately, it would also be one that would be far to heavy to be practical. So, some allowances have to be made when it comes to materials.
You will usually find a combination of aluminum and magnesium to produce a decent strength column that doesn’t weigh a ton.
Again, the travel will also have an impact here. Longer travel means a longer stem and more weight. Also, the more travel there is, the weaker the overall fork is.
The cost is something to consider. Don’t think that just because it is an expensive name brand, it will work better. That is not always true. The brand that is best for you is the one that fits your needs the best. That said, do stick with reputable brands.
A decent option is going to cost you a fair amount of money. It is worth spending a bit more if you can and getting a model that allows you to make adjustments over time. This will enable you to have the perfect ride every time.
Are you ready to see which ones came out on top? Let’s go.
RockShox Recon Silver TK 26″ Mountain Bike Forks
RockShox has developed a rep for providing high-quality, professional grade bike gear at a reasonable price. The Recon is further proof of their commitment to top quality and affordability. This suspension fork blends the lightweight chassis by Reba with the stiffness and strength of Sektor.
The movement of the stanchions is effortless thanks to the low friction seals. That means that you get 100mm of completely smooth motion. Want more? You can quickly reach down and switch over from completely active to completely locked out.
If you pay a little more, you can do this remotely from the safety of your handlebars. We do agree that this is a preferable option, especially when you have to concentrate on the trail.
The fork includes the motion control damping tech to help you keep you at the right point each step of the way.
The solo air spring built in means that you have precise control over the addition or removal of air. This, in turn, gives you as much control as you could possibly want.
This offers you a great deal in the performance stakes, and the price is not bad at all.
• 32mm steel stanchions that are stiff
• The crown is a hollow aluminum alloy, and the lowers are made of magnesium to reduce weight
• You can control rebound adjustment and external compression
• Has an air spring
• Fits a 26-inch wheel
• Travel is 100mm
• Motion control dampening is excellent
• Max rotor size is 200mm
• Compatible with disc brakes
• 2 Year warranty
• Weighs 1940g
• Only compatible with disk brakes
Manitou Markhor 26″ Forks
It’s heartening to see that prices in this area are going down, despite the fact that the performance is improving. We can see that clearly with this model. This is an air spring fork that has a steering tube that is straight.
The Kwik Toggle Damper that includes lockout is another reason that this is an extremely useful piece of gear. The stanchions are made from an aluminum alloy and are 30mm. The quick release design is what moves this from good to great.
Neither ascending or descending is going to prove problematic because you have 100mm of travel.
Price-wise, this comes in at a fairly reasonable rate. It’s not the cheapest model, but not the most expensive either. It offers great performance and the ability to make multiple adjustments like:
• Air pressure
• Travel 100mm
• Does have lockout function
• Has a quick release axle
• Aluminum is the main metal used during production
• You can adjust lockout and rebound externally
• Air pressure must be adjusted internally
• This is an Air spring-based system
• Will work with 16mm post mount disc brakes
• Maximum rotor size is 180mm
• Works well for trail, cross country and sport
• Weighs 1656g
• Limited to use with disc brakes only
SR Suntour XCM 26″ Fork
Are you on something of a tight budget? Then this option is bound to make you smile. Coming in at less than half the price of our other models, the price won’t make you want to stick a fork in your eye.
It doesn’t matter if you are using it in a new build, or as a replacement, this budget model won’t disappoint. It has 100mm travel and preloaded adjustment. The 30mm stanchions are made of steel for max durability and are scratch resistant as well.
The lower casing and crown are made of an alloy to try and reduce weight. It has v-brake, or disc mounts so is a little more versatile than the other options. The tube is a standard length but can be shortened as necessary.
This too scores points for this model above the others as the others are not as easy to adjust.
Of course, considering the substantial drop in price, the company couldn’t include everything. These feature a standard coiled spring. You also have to stick with the preloaded adjustments, so if you like tweaking every setting on your bike, this could be a problem.
There is also no lockout function here. Performance-wise, don’t expect the level of performance from the other models. These are probably not going to be the choice of more advanced riders, but for beginners they are perfect.
• Has v-brake mounts and has a post mount that makes it disc ready
• 100mm of travel
• Preloaded adjustments
• Coil springs
• Compatible with quick release systems
• Compatible with post discs
• Maximum rotor size is 180mm if you use an adapter
• Good for Endurance, Trial, Gravel, XC
• Great price
• No external adjustments
• No lockout
• Performance is okay, not great
>> Read also our guide to the best titanium frames for mountain bikes
Mountain Bike Forks – RockShox Lyrik RC2DH 170MM
This is a little more expensive than the ones that we have reviewed so far, but it is made for better performance. With an interesting and useful range of different features, this gets our vote as the best value for money model.
With this model, the designers have come up with something that can does well at both climbing and that allows more agility on a downhill stretch.
This is accomplished by using a DH damper by Mission Control, based on the BoXXer model. This damper boasts excellent external rebound along with high-low-compression. This is accomplished through the use of a port compression piston. This is to enhance compliance with DH standards.
The fork is stout and 35mm in diameter. This stoutness is reinforced by the Power Bulge tech that gives reinforcement the lower part. This enables you to use oversized bushing so that you can increase the rigidity without pushing the weight count too high.
There is also Thru Axle from Maxle to improve torsional rigidity without adding too much weight. Like traveling? This option allows a whopping 170mm of travel. So, all that you have to do is to get out there and smash it.
• Solo air spring
• Travel is 170mm
• You can adjust the High/ Low Compression and the Rebound
• Choose between tapered or straight when it comes to the stem
• The upper tubes are made anodized, low friction aluminum
• The lower section is made of magnesium to reduce the weight overall
• The crown is hollow to reduce weight
• Post disc mount
• Maximum rotor size is 210mm
• Travel gradients are easy to see so you’ll always know what you are running
• The tapered model weighs 2010g so it is heavier than some of our other options
• Expect to pay a fair amount more than with our previous options
FOX 32 FLOAT PERFORMANCE Forks
We always joke around that we have very expensive tastes. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that our top choice is also the most expensive of the lot. But, if you are looking for high performance and versatility, it doesn’t come much better than this fork.
It’s made by one of the most trusted names when it comes to bike gear – Fox. And, in this model, you can see why Fox is such a popular brand. We dare you to take this out on the most challenging runs – they’ll be no match for it.
The Float Evolution air spring provides a plush feel and the tapered steering tube allows for sturdy and reliable handling. The stanchions are as smooth as silk and the magnesium lowers help to reduce the overall weight.
These come with Fox’s Fit Grip damper. This had three positions allowing you more accurate control when the terrain changes. Want to focus on efficiency instead? Engage the lockout. There are different travel lengths and axle sizes to choose from here, so you can get the best fit for your bike.
What makes this really special is that the cartridge system is closed. You are able to adjust low and high compression and you can also adjust rebound. The spring used is unique in that it has a more linear curve. This improves the plush feeling and allows for bottom-out progression to be more tunable.
The system is highly sensitive and responsive.
• Unparalleled performance
• Travel is 100mm
• FIT cartridge system is closed and so give exception compression adjustability
• The Air Springs patented design creates a plush feeling and tunability
• The steering column is tapered for optimal control
• Highly sensitive, even with small bumps
• Lockout feature
• The stanchion and crown are made from aluminum
• The lower part is made of magnesium to save weight
• You can adjust the rebound, compression and lockout externally
• Compatible with disc breaks
• Maximum rotor size is 203mm
• Has a three-position damper that is easy to adjust
• Carries a one-year warranty
• Meant to be used with All Mountain and XC riding
• The price is pretty high
Verdict: Which MTB Forks to Buy
So, that’s a range of forks with prices ranging from cheap to very expensive. Most of the prices are moderate. There is no doubt that the Fox 32 is our top pick. It’s expensive so it’s not going to be the first choice for a beginner, but a more experienced biker will appreciate the upgrade in performance.
Our best value for money option is the RockShox Lyirk. Again, it is a more expensive option but the range of features that you get will usually set you back a lot more money. For reliability and performance at a great price, this comes out on top.
The Suntour puts in a good performance when it comes to a budget model. It’s a great way for beginners to enjoy more enhanced performance without paying a fortune. What makes it great for beginners is that you don’t need to adjust any settings. These all come pre-loaded.
Overall, we’ve looked at a few different options. We chose varying price points and styles so that you get a good idea of exactly what is out there. We hope that this review has been helpful to you in your search for a new fork.