- Merida carbon rigid fork
Rigid forks are a bit of a growth industry right now. Whether it’s a technology backlash, the pursuit of light weight or just people looking for a change we don’t know, but stacks of manufacturers are turning out high-end carbon fibre rigids. Latest into the fray is Merida, with a somewhat different take on the idea.
The majority of carbon-legged rigid forks available are just that – carbon fibre legs bonded into aluminium crowns. Merida has eschewed that approach, instead choosing to make something along the lines of the traditional unicrown fork, but in magic blanket’n’glue rather than metal. And just for added distinctiveness, it’s added secondary “crowns” ahead and behind the fork legs.
These serve a number of purposes, some more convincing than others. In theory they’ll add a little stiffness, but they’re pretty slim compared to the main body of the fork so are unlikely to contribute all that much. Probably the main positive effect they have is a visual one – to partially fill in the otherwise yawning gap above the tyre on rigid forks designed to replace suspension ones. They’re still high enough to deliver ample mud clearance, though.
At the bottom end, a pair of stout forged dropouts are bonded on to the carbon legs. This is the first rigid fork we’ve seen with a post-style caliper mount – whatever you may think about the relative engineering merits of IS and post mounts, with most brake manufacturers now producing “post-native” calipers, the radial mounts offer the neatest and lightest solution.
On the scales the Merida forks come in at 750g. That’s a little heavier than, say, a Pace RC31 (aka DT Swiss XRR), but they’re also noticeably stiffer, particularly fore-and-aft. Most of the bending in a fork occurs around the crown, and Merida has made that the highest-volume section, so it’s all pretty stout. It’s not too punishing as rigid forks go, though.
Ups and downs
Positives: Distinctive, light weight, stiff, postmount
Negatives: Strangely pointless multiple brake arches, expensive
With winter on the way, we expect that a number of riders will be thinking of de-suspensioning their bikes – gritty mud and telescopic forks don’t mix, and once the trails get soft enough your suspension isn’t doing much anyway. Merida’s rigid fork is a little bit different from most and a solid performer – well worth considering.