At Worldwide Cyclery, we’re obsessed with the exclusive, the expensive, and the lovingly crafted, but for riders with a budget on upgrades, spending more than $500 for an MTB Suspension Fork just isn't an option. This is our list of the BEST mountain bike forks you can get for just at or under $500. With options from top brands like RockShox, Manitou, and Marzocchi, upgrading your bike with a new fork should be a breeze. With that being said, let’s take a look at our favorite forks that come in at $500 or less.
The air-sprung RockShox Recon RL with 100mm (4in) of travel is a classic budget fork. But before your mind immediately jumps to “cheap”, you should know that Rockshox isn’t just taking a spring, slapping it in a tube, and calling it a day. The Recon RL features the highly lauded Motion Control damper. This damper allows you to fiddle with the low-speed damper and rebound to get it just right for your trails. It’s available with remote lockout, which you don’t even get on some of Rockshox’s higher end forks. We sell this fork without the remote lockout for $249 and with it for $319. Don't just take our word for it, check out a rider review of this fork.
Here’s another air-sprung RockShox classic for you. The Recon Silver TK is definitely even more classic because the variation we sell the most of at the shop is in the 26” flavor. It recently underwent a diet and managed to shed some weight by using shorter stanchions thanks to some fortifying in other areas so as to not sacrifice any stiffness. The Recon Silver TK is rocking the Turnkey damper that locks out but will still absorb those heavy blows without absolutely destroying your wrists. All of this can be had for $169.
Sometimes coil sprung forks are just impossible to beat. The RockShox 30 Silver TK is just about one of the best options for a budget coil fork. It features a Turnkey damper, which allows you to lockout your fork without fear of breaking it should you happen to ram it into any big rocks. RockShox cleverly built a blow-off valve into this fork so that it’ll still compress when absolutely necessary, saving you from certain disaster. The 30 Silver TK in this particular configuration is available for $169 with either rim or disc brake stopping abilities.
A funny name, a funny backward arch, but some serious performance. The Manitou Markhor really is a no-nonsense, budget-friendly fork. It features a KwikToggle damper that allows you to quickly switch between fully open and fully locked out with essentially the flip of a switch. It’s available for all-wheel sizes, Boost and non-Boost all for a paltry $249.
At this point, we may as well just admit that RockShox is the king of producing high-quality forks that won’t shrink your wallet. The RockShox 30 Gold RL comes in a wide variety of flavors, but what really matters is that it comes with the Solo Air spring and a Motion Control damper tucked inside. It retails anywhere from $349-$439 and is a ton of bang for your buck.
Certainly one of the beefiest forks here, the Marzocchi Bomber Z2 is a living legend. Stout 34mm stanchions, plenty of travel, and a thick crown make the modern classic Marzocchi Bomber Z2 one hell of a budget fork. Capable of fitting a 2.8in tire in the 27.5 version and a 2.6 in the 29er, this fork was meant for simple speed. It has high-speed damping and rebound damping adjustments and a smooth negative air spring. At $499, this is a damn good deal.
The RockShox 35 Gold RL is a contender with the Marzocchi Z2 for the heaviest hitting fork on this list. It has 35mm stanchions, boost spacing, Torque Cap compatibility, and accepts Bottomless Tokens to perfectly dial in your progressivity. The 35 Gold RL features the Motion Control damper with low-speed compression, which fully locks out, and rebound adjustments to tune for your trails. Truth be told, it’s essentially yesterday’s RockShox Pike in budget clothing. In other words, it’s a complete steal at $499.
If you want things that just work well and won’t break your bank, this list should provide you with more than enough options to find the fork you’re looking for. The gold bling and the huge variety of external adjustments are nice, but let’s be real: you don’t need to spend a lot of money to go fast if you’ve got the skills. So if you couldn’t care less what color your fork stanchions are, pick up any one of these forks and surprise everyone at the trailhead with your speed.