Finding a suspension fork for a fatbike is harder than it seems. Luckily, RockShox introduced the Bluto fork to help out all those riders out there trying to get some extra comfort on their bikes. Nathan was one of those riders and he was nice enough to send over a review on the Rockshox Bluto RCT3 Fork. Let's see what he had to say.
I recently upgraded the carbon fork on my fat bike (Pivot LES Fat) to a RockShox Bluto RCT3 suspension fork. My intention is to extend usage of the bike for all seasons in any trail condition.
Installation was straight-forward with the only exception being that it required an adapter to fit a 180mm or higher disc brake rotor. Setting sag took a bit more time. I set the initial pressure to 110 PSI for my riding weight of 175 pounds using the included sag guide and found this to be way too high. I ended up settling on 80 PSI to get the recommended 20% sag. I'm not sure if the lower than suggested pressure is due to some break in period for the fork. However, at this PSI, I was able to use most of the travel without any bottom out.
One important consideration with setting up the Bluto, is that the added suspension allows you to run higher tire pressures for better rolling resistance. With a rigid fork, I usually set the tire pressure to 5 PSI to take away some of the harshness of the terrain at the expense of increased rolling resistance and vulnerability to pinch flats. With the Bluto, I found a tire pressure of 8 PSI was a good balance of rolling resistance and traction in most trail conditions.
Out on the trail, there is a night and day difference with using the Bluto over the rigid fork. The Bluto allowed me to take on the sketchier lines with greater confidence as I would with my 6 inch full suspension bike. Getting airborne was something I wasn't too accustomed with using a rigid fork, but the Bluto would just beg to pop off features and land without the harshness and risk of flatting due to running higher tire pressures. On the climbs, the extra weight was not really noticeable. It was less tiring over extended rock sections given the suppleness of the fork. Contrary to some reviews, I did not notice any flex - the Bluto was absolutely stiff and precise.
Tunability of the RCT3 model is also a plus as there are settings for rebound, low speed compression and threshold. All settings had noticeable effects on the trail. For the threshold, I would set the fork to the lockout position for paved trail and out of saddle climbs, and then fully open for the descents.
All in all, I would recommend the Bluto to anyone who wants to extend the use of their fat bike for all seasons. I originally planned to switch back to the rigid fork for the winter months, but if there is no degradation in performance when the temperatures drop, then it might just be a permanent fixture on the bike.
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