Price: £379.99 (Disc only) £399.99 (V-brake)
Contact: Pace 01751 432929
Approx 25 hours full winter filth riding. Rolling bridleway through to gritstone boulder fooling.
Five section coil spring adjustable from 80 – 100mm of travel. Aluminium open bath damping cartridge with full rebound and compression adjustment. Carbon lower legs, steel stanchions, Magnesium dropouts and twin braces, Hollowbox crown and cold forged steerer tube.
Pace have been following their own evolutionary suspension fork path for over a decade now and this represents the latest stage in their “trail fork” line up.
The materials used are classic Pace. Cast magnesium dropouts are the same as those on their EVO III, Air Force I + II, and the RC31 rigid model (more later) – super light and International Standard (ISO) bossed for disc brakes.
Carbon fibre lower legs are bonded into these with a tweaked weave to increase their stiffness. The sliders glide on PTFE faced aluminium bearings over the chrome plated ground steel stanchions, with twin wiper seals to keep the crap out.
As crown / full travel tolerances are so tight, you can’t run shock boots, but we’ve not had any seal problems with these or previous Pace’s. As usual for Pace, grease ports let you pump lube directly into the bearing surfaces – but stick to about 2 pumps a leg or you risk blowing the seals.
The upper end of the sliders holds the CNC bearing / seal housings and the twin bolted magnesium bridges. The ProClass 2 also uses new CNC brake arms, cantilever off this housing rather than clamped round the steerer leg. Impressively stiff and switchable front to rear, and far easier to remove than the old clamps if you upgrade to discs.
For those wondering why the V’s are behind the crown, running the brakes to the rear means that as the wheel goes through, any rotation of the brakes, clamp or fork leg drags the brakes further onto the rim – increasing power rather than pushing them away. Simple but smart thinking.
Keeping you gliding smoothly above the trail is a five (4 positive, 1 negative / top out) silicone chrome steel spring stack in the left (when sat on the bike) leg and an aluminium chambered open bath damper in the right leg (away from disc brake heat).
The two main springs are different rates to provide a progressive action and the spring stack is further preload adjustable via a screwdriver top cap in the left leg. If that doesn’t get you bouncing right – it’s set for that classic 10 – 11 stone XC whippet – alternative spring weights are available. The fork can also be simply switched from 80 to 100mm (ideal for solving all those Forum “travel” fights) by pulling a supplementary spring from the far side of the spring stack and slipping it in at the bottom of the “active stack”.
The only downside is that the fork is held together by circlip springs, which Pace insist you don’t re-use. Now we’re pretty sure they’re just covering their own back from a liability point of view (circlips can get mangled and give up just when you need them most) but they warn you not to re-use them over a dozen times throughout the manual, so spend a few pence for peace of mind and warranty. The pain with this is of course you need a pair of new circlips (one for the bottom of each leg) every time you strip the fork and more if you want to swap the travel. We’re going to get in touch with Pace and see if we can persuade them to sling in a few spare clips as standard, but until then, if you know you’re going to change the travel as soon as you buy them (they come as 80mm) then get the shop to do it for you.
The damper has been increased in volume to reduce heat build up and consequent damping fade (though with decent oil it’d have to get pretty hot). The rebound damping is a simple twist knob on the top of the right hand leg, while the compression damping (primarily high speed) is adjusted through a small screw in the centre. Damping adjustment is wider than previous Pace’s but can be changed further by swapping oil weights from the ’10’ weight provided – don’t go higher than ’15’ weight though or you’ll damage the cartridge seals.
Holding all this in your bike is a totally new crown (used on the Air Force II and RC31 forks too). The crown is a slim, hollow CNC unit with particularly pretty ‘fluting’ on the top of the crown and further smooth CNC detailing. Unlike previous Pace crowns, the steerer tube is press fitted into the crown rather than held in with small bolts which means less faffing and bolt rounding off paranoia and (hopefully) more security. There’s also a fully bulged steerer to take the lower headset race, so no fighting with shims when you replace the headset either. Hurrah!
Weight with v brake studs and uncut steerer is just over 1600g (3.5lb) so expect to lose a few ounces once trimmed to fit, with more to go if you run discs. mid range rather than superlight but then you’re getting coil spring smoothness and 100mm travel.
How does it ride?
In a word – superbly. Once you’ve settled the fork in and some of the stiffness has gone from the seals, it really is buttery smooth through it’s progressive compression. Small bumps are stifled smoothly and sketchy traction round roots and off camber sections is followed flawlessly, with no judder or spitting out from the front wheel. At the other end of the scale, land it really hard and there’s a slight nudge at full travel to let you know you’re getting your money’s worth but whether you’re packing down big block drops or hammering through rolling undulations the rebound is unerringly smooth.
If you’re used to waiting for slight kickback or forks still rising as you plunge towards the next impact then they’re a revelation, but otherwise you’ll just forget about them totally as they leave you to concentrate on the riding.
Despite their slim looks, tracking stiffness is excellent through the steel stanchions and twin brace. There’s a little more flutter and twist at the tips than a bolt through hub such as the Rock Shox Tullio but they’re accurate and totally predictable even under heavy anchorage.
Apart from the ‘non replaceable circlip’ issue, maintenance is easy and straightforward, with the grease ports keeping them smooth ride to ride between service intervals. The press fit crown also gets rid of all that bolt checking faff, which is very welcome.
As an evolution version of an already de-bugged and well loved fork (the EVO III) the excellent performance of the ProClass 2 isn’t a suprise. The fact they’ve lost a bit of weight, gained a bit of travel and become sleeker looking and more user friendly just makes them even more desirable.
Coil springs theoretically add a bit of weight, but these units are as light, or lighter than any air systems offering similar travel, and significantly lighter than those Marzocchis that offer the same plushness (but not the greaseguard convenience). Throw in a very competitive price for homegrown, handbuilt quality and rapid servicing turnaround, and we can’t fail to reccomend these forks for trail riders looking for superb performance.