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The adrenaline of riding a mountain bike could quickly go sideways if the bike itself doesn’t have the right components.
As riders, your safety is always first, which is why you’ll need high-quality parts to support and protect you during each one of your rides.
One of those essential components is the suspension fork. The suspension forks are among those parts that go unnoticed for the majority of the time, but they’re there, and their efficiency is undeniable.
That’s why, in this article, we’ll review some of the top mountain bike forks currently available to us.
Even better, we’ll categorize the forks by their price range to make the search easier for you. Let’s begin then, shall we?
Top Mountain Bike Forks Comparison in 2021
Last update on 2021-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
5 Best Mountain Bike Forks under $300
We’ll begin by reviewing forks available below the 300-dollar threshold. Although the price is a bit high, it’s still reasonable enough. Plus, they’re great and worth every dollar.
Manitou Markhor Fork 26″, Matte Black
We’re starting off with the Manitou Markhor Fork, a must-have component for many riders, especially if they’re working on new projects to build a 26-inch bike.
This fork comes with additional decals set in a grey color, in case the red models don’t blend well with the bike.
You may encounter the fork to be plush at first and then linear after a while. In due time, you get used to it and start noticing its benefits such as durability.
Even if the bike takes some bumps over rough terrain, the Manitou Markhor Fork puts up a reliable performance.
The fork comes pre-set for disc brakes, meaning that it won’t be the best choice if your purpose is to replace a rim brake fork.
Other than being long-lasting and efficient, the fork is also quite fancy. For instance, the black stanchions and the blue steering tube look pretty good.
Overall, this fork performs like the most expensive models, except that it’s far more affordable than those.
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RockShox 29” RECON RL A2 Suspension Fork
If this product isn’t among the best mountain bike forks under 300, then it’d be hard to tell what is.
The RockShox Recon Silver RL puts up an impressive performance at an affordable price, providing riders a reliable and strong suspension fork for their rides.
By providing 100mm of travel, this fork is a good pick for anyone looking to upgrade their old suspension. Let’s start with the most noticeable feature, the fork’s build.
Undoubtedly, the materials used for its construction, and its finish, make the fork look incredible.
Once you receive it, installing the fork isn’t hard. Also, to make things easier, there’s a guide included, which helps riders set the right PSI air amount depending on their weight.
Still, a shock pump is an additional tool you’ll need as it’s quite useful for dialing.
Lastly, the purchase includes the rebound key, another convenient tool to adjust the fork and make it respond as needed.
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RockShox 26″ Recon Silver TK Fork
The Recon Silver TK Fork from RockShox is a bike’s component that works wonders as a replacement for old, worn-out suspension forks.
Once set up, the fork quickly displays a comfortable performance on both trail and off it.
Particularly, the lockout feature is one of the reasons to love this fork.
It works great, delivering a lot of versatility for your mountain bike. If you had issues before losing force and momentum, the Recon Silver TK is a fork that won’t make you worry about that any longer.
And the fork is pretty easy to adjust too. If you want to adjust the fork’s tension, you’ll have to use a shock pump, which will inflate it to the PSI needed to support the rider’s weight.
Furthermore, the adjustable rebound is perfect to complement the fork tension’s adjustability.
In general, this suspension fork is an incredible replacement to upgrade entry-level forks.
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RockShox 30 GOLD RL A2 29” Suspension Fork, 29”
If it wasn’t clear before, it should be by now: RockShox is among the top competitors in its field.
Here, we have the brand’s 30 GOLD RL 29” Fork, a lightweight fork with many features you’d only see in more expensive suspension forks.
This fork features RockShox’s classic Motion Control damper, which provides riders with outstanding control over terrains.
Also, Motion Control allows you to make the external adjustment for low-speed compression, all of which is possible by turning a knob.
Additionally, the fork features Solo Air spring, another lightweight solution to adjust the fork as much as needed through the use or removal of air.
Once adjusted properly to match your demands, the fork’s remote lockout makes climbing a fun experience instead of frustrating.
Like most high-quality suspension forks, this one uses aluminum and magnesium materials for its build.
The brake compatibility is for disc only, and besides low-speed compression, the fork offers external rebound too.
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SR Suntour Epixon XC MTB Fork 29″
For the price, you’ll hardly find another fork like this one. Right from the get-go, the fork shows why it’s one of the best, offering an appealing finish and features easy to use.
After a rather quick installation of the lockout, you’ll be ready to go on and enjoy a fun ride on your mountain bike.
The fork features magnesium monocoque and hydraulic damping to guarantee a comfortable ride on any roads.
Thanks to the 120mm of travel offered, the fork quickly becomes a good replacement for that old, worn-out suspension that doesn’t do it for you anymore.
Similar to most other forks here, this one features the air system and hydraulic remote speed-lock, which also includes rebound adjustments.
For more convenience, the total weight of this fork is 1885g. Even though it isn’t the lightest, it still feels comfortable while riding the bike.
5 Best Mountain Bike Forks under $200
Next, we’ll go a bit lower. In this category, you’ll find forks below 200 dollars instead. Despite being more affordable, the products here don’t lose any quality at all, and some of them are equally or even better than the most expensive forks.
BOLANY 26/27.5/29” MTB Bicycle Suspension Fork
The best mountain bike forks under 200 should be adjustable parts capable of adapting to meet your demands.
Luckily, that seems to be the case of this fork offered by Bolany, which offers adjustable air pressure value to support riders regardless of their weight.
Not only is this fork highly adjustable, but it’s quite convenient too. Both assembling and dissembling are easy tasks, allowing you to save some time you could use riding the roads.
While you’re out there, the outer tube’s durability and strength prevent dust from interfering with the bike.
For its build, the fork features aluminum alloy plus magnesium alloy, two outstanding materials that provide resistance and strength on the road.
The fork’s capacity to withstand the pressure from bumps and jumpy surfaces secures a comfortable and more fun experience for everyone.
Besides the fork we’re reviewing here, which features a straight-manual design, there are three other types available, including straight-remote, tapered-manual, and tapered-remote.
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ROCKSHOX 26” 30 SILVER TK FORK
Although it isn’t the most popular suspension fork, at times even overshadowed by the Recon Silver TK, the 30 Silver is still an affordable item worth the money.
It offers the perfect balance between plushness and adjustments that don’t take much effort to make.
The fork features external adjustments such as lockout and damper. While on the road, dialing in the damper, and locking the fork during your rides creates the perfect conditions for a pleasant, fun, and comfortable experience.
Once installed, the fork does a good job over most surfaces. It’s compatible with the classic disc brake system measuring up to 180mm in diameter.
Because of that, the 30 Silver TK is a suspension fork that would be a good choice for entry to mid-level riders.
Other noteworthy features are the QR dropouts, which helps to remove and replace the wheel.
Despite all of its good features, previous customers have complained about the weight support.
They’ve pointed out the softness of the included spring as useless if the riders are on the heavy side.
BUCKLOS LUTU 26/27.5/29 Air MTB Suspension Fork
The next suspension fork comes from BUCKLOS, and its build is one of the reasons why many riders consider it among the best.
By featuring aluminum for the upper tube and magnesium alloy for the lower tube, the fork becomes a long-lasting part of your bike that works as expected.
Aside from the strong materials used for its build, the fork is pretty good-looking too. It features a polished inner tube with a fluorescent logo.
The colors available are black, and a combination of black and gold.Like most other high-quality forks, this one also offers rebound adjustments.
Through the compression damping, riders can adjust the most suitable air pressure value to match and support their weight and the conditions needed for a fun ride.
Setting up the fork is easy, but make sure to check for any malfunction. A customer pointed out a leak that wouldn’t allow the shock to retain the air, which prompted a ticket to the customer support. Fortunately, the brand was quick to answer.
SR SUNTOUR XCT Mountain Bike Disc Fork
SR SUNTOUR offers an entry-level fork with its XCT model. It’s a beautiful fork with an appealing finish and useful features such as the mechanical lockout damping.
The main part of the fork is the coil spring, and the XCT is for disc brakes systems only.And the travel distance offered by this fork is between 80mm to 100mm, during which it’ll cover plenty of surfaces and resist pretty good against bumps.
Additionally, the 9mm wide axle is pretty good, although some customers complained the fork doesn’t have a thru-axle.
With aluminum materials used for its build, the XCT fork is durable and highly resistant. In fact, whether you’re going on a quiet riding or doing more intense activities, the fork puts up with the abuse just fine.
As a downside, customers mentioned the weight, which doesn’t seem to be that good. The fork weighs 5.7 lbs or 2.58 kg, and even though it isn’t much really, you do notice the difference if you’ve tried other forks.
RST Aerial 29 Mountain Bike Disc Fork
The final product is the Aerial 30 RL, a 29-inch suspension fork created by a brand established in the market for decades.
With a good-looking black coating, resistant materials, and some level of flexibility, this fork becomes a suitable choice for many riders.
Just like the best, this fork offers several adjustments like Air Spring and the hydraulic lock-out. The systems featured are two, oil and air, which are useful to adapt the fork to support the rider’s weight.
And the assembly is quite easy, so you shouldn’t have any issues during the process. Once set, the Aerial 29 rides smoothly over many surfaces, reducing the vibrations caused by bumps.
This fork is compatible with disc brake systems. Also, even though it isn’t the lightest component, it weighs 5.29 lbs, which should be comfortable enough for most customers.
Of course, some riders would find this weight to be an issue.
Things to Consider before Buying
Keep the following information in mind before purchasing any suspension fork for your mountain bike.
The Build & Size
Before making your choice, you should know the parts that create the suspension forks. There are five in total, including the steerer tube, crown, axle, spring, and legs.
Most commonly, manufacturers use aluminum and magnesium alloy to create some of these parts, which are affordable and yet reliable materials for the tubes.
However, other models may feature high-end carbon fibers, but they’re far more expensive.
Anyway, the suspension fork requires a trustable build to put up a good performance.
Considering riding a mountain bike could be dangerous, you want the fork to be as resistant and reliable as possible.
Lastly, make sure to get a suspension fork with the right inches measurement. There are many sizes available, including 26 and 29 inches.
Reliable damping control makes a huge difference in the performance of both the suspension fork and the bike.
Without it, the fork would continue to bounce back and forth indefinitely, making the whole ride a painful and frustrating experience for you.
Fortunately, you can control the fork’s movement by pushing fluid, commonly oil, through the valves to dampen the effect.
Generally, that’s how most damping controls work nowadays, and it should work as a reference in case you consider an alternative.
While some suspension forks come with rebound damping, other models may feature rebound and compression damping mechanisms too. Either way, they’re both effective circuits to manage the shaft speeds.
Once you apply force to the fork, it moves. That’s what we know as travel, and it’s a decisive element for a pleasant ride.
Now, if you consider a fork with greater travel, there’s no doubt it’ll offer better shock absorption, but they’re also bulkier.
As you probably guessed it, choosing a suspension fork with the right travel depends a lot on the type of bike you ride.
While greater travel would be good, sometimes it could be bad too, as the additional weight could damage the bike’s frame.
Before picking your suspension fork, make sure the travel is compatible and will do well with your bike.
There are two types of springs you can consider: air springs, and coil-based springs.
The first one, the air spring, features pressure chambers that will absorb the energy caused by impacts.
Coil-based springs have the same purpose, which is to absorb shock, but they’re noticeably heavier than the air springs. That could be a disadvantage for many riders.
Some suspension forks come with both springs included for more versatility.
Lastly, you want to set an estimated amount of money you’ll be willing to spend for a suspension fork.
If you search deeply, you’ll find some models that are way too expensive, and if you don’t know better, you may end up wasting more money than needed.
Particularly, because of that, we’ve created this article; its purpose is to show you different forks available at reasonable prices.
After reading the offers, now you know whether or not these forks meet your expectations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are the most commonly asked queries regarding the best mountain bikes:
What do suspension forks do?
On a mountain bike, the suspension fork helps to absorb the shocks while providing you complete control over the wheel to enjoy the ride.
How to fix a mountain bike suspension fork?
After making sure the suspension fork is what’s causing you trouble, you can try the following.
Remove the screws behind the dropouts to detach the stanchion and pull them apart.
Then, use a dry piece of cloth or rag to remove the grease from inside of the sliders, and outside of the stanchions too. Put everything back together afterward.
Which suspension fork should I buy?
Consider buying one that matches your bike’s specifications. Keep in mind features like the fork’s build, springs, weight support, among others.
Are suspension forks expensive?
You could find some high-end forks that are very expensive. They’re lightweight, efficient, and far better than the most affordable models, but you may not even need them.
Even though cheaper models aren’t as good, they’re still capable of putting a good performance.
Are suspension forks durable?
Yes, all of the forks reviewed here proved to be long-lasting. Despite the amount of force you put over them, they still continue to support the riders during their adventures on the road.
The suspension fork is essential for every bike regardless of their type, be it mountain or standard. Without a high-quality fork, riding the bike wouldn’t be as fun as it is.
Now that you know which the top models available are, you can choose one fork that meets your bike’s specifications and your demands.