- Pace RC31 fork
- 01751 432929
Remember rigid forks? Once upon a time, forks weren’t telescopic, didn’t have springs inside and were made of steel. In this age of suspension, there’s a whole generation of riders who’ve never known the joy of riding rigid…
Perhaps ‘joy’ is pushing it a bit. But rigid forks do have a number of advantages. They’re light. They’re simple. They’ll offer tons of mud room. They’re impervious to mud, water and grit. And they’re cheap. Or at least, they used to be. But Pace’s RC31 lays claim to being the ultimate rigid MTB fork, and cheap it’s not – you could buy a good suspension fork for less.
So why would anyone want one of these? Well, all the other rigid benefits apply in spades. The RC31 weighs under 700g thanks to a cold-forged Hollowform crown, 7075 aluminium steerer, carbon fibre legs and magnesium dropouts. The 2004 model also features safety tabs on the dropouts, a first for Pace but a sensible move given the ongoing quick release/disc brake controversy (for the record, we’ve been running this 2003 model for several months and the front wheel hasn’t shifted…). Our test fork is 420mm long, making it suitable for bikes corrected for 80mm travel suspension forks – the 2004 model is 20mm longer in response to the increasing number of bikes designed for longer forks.
The thinking behind the carbon fibre is twofold. First, it’s light and strong. Second, it can be laid up to allow flex in certain directions but not others. Pace has taken advantage of this to build a fork that’s stiff sideways and torsionally but has a bit of give fore and aft to take the edge of the bumps. It’s clearly not suspension, but if you have painful memories of wrist-jarring oversized steel rigid forks then the RC31 will come as a pleasant surprise.
A side effect of this compliance is a degree of aftwards tuck under heavy braking, but it’s not as distracting as you might think. It’s not flutter or twang, just a gentle easing aft as you brake and an equally gentle return. You quickly get used to it, although if you’re heavy and brake really hard this may not be the fork for you. The effect was exaggerated on our fork by a 185mm disc rotor, which is covered by the warranty but not necessarily recommended. V-brake mounts are also available as an optional extra.
Then again, if that’s you then this fork probably won’t appeal to you for all sorts of other reasons. While it’s undoubtedly strong, it is extremely light so if you’re likely to subject it to a pounding you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. And really, if you don’t ride with a degree of finesse then you’re not going to get on with any rigid fork. But if you’re light and/or ride light and want an accurate, super-light, good looking fork that doesn’t care that it’s winter, then the RC31 is well worth a look.
Verdict: Yes, it’s mad money for a rigid fork and it’s not for everyone. But it is probably the ultimate rigid fork and makes a lot of sense over the winter months. The saving in suspension servicing alone could go a fair way towards paying for it, but when it comes down to it this is either something you want or you don’t. And only you know which…