Our "Rider Review" article series features the honest reviews from verified purchasers of Worldwide Cyclery. They contain the photos, thoughts, feedback & overall review you are looking for.
The suspension is one of the biggest factors for ride quality when looking at bikes. An air-sprung fork can really help improve your bike especially if you're bike currently has a coil-sprung like our friend Chad's did. Read on to learn why this might be the next upgrade for you.
I’m a newbie. I bought my first bike, a Trek FX1 in June of this year (2020). However, a whole month later, I decided I wanted more of a “mountain” bike, so I went with a Trek Marlin 7. Yes, this is an entry-level bike, but as I said, I’m a newbie… and while I now realize (and even knew back then, just didn’t know “what”) an $800 bike isn’t really an expensive bike… But, it’s what I got. And to be honest, with my skill level, I’m pretty happy with it, especially after the upgrades!
I’m one of those people that, when I get into something, I want to learn as much as I can about it… considering this, it turns out well that I went with an entry-level bike, as it gives me a lot of reasons to upgrade parts. Which I did. After upgrading stock pedals and grips, I wanted more… and what’s better than upgrading from a spring fork to an air fork?! It’s actually a pretty easy upgrade, however, it has changed my bike drastically!
Being an entry-level bike, I didn’t want to put a fork on it that was worth more than the bike and being a straight taper head tube, there are only so many options anyway. So, I settled on the RockShox Recon RL, which is offered in a variant with a 1 1/8” straight taper, and even a 100mm QR axle. This is just what I needed, so I ordered it, along with a Park Tool Star Nut setter and a Rockshox Shock Pump to help me get it all set up. And as usual, Worldwide Cyclery came though with good prices, the most awesome follow up emails, and most importantly, fast free shipping!
Installing the fork was pretty straight-forward, however, after the fact, my bike was definitely improved! First off, the fork is an exact replacement for my bike with a 100mm QR skewer axle. The wheel fit perfectly, the 160mm post mounts for the brakes were exact and the steerer tube fit perfectly in the 1 1/8” head tube. Besides this, in use, the fork does a great job of providing more of a plush ride than the stock spring fork. The compression dampening works well, and the clicks are both audible and tangible, so there’s no doubt as to what setting they are on. Pumping up the air shocks is just as expected, and over the last few weeks they have held the pressure I initially set them to.
I also like that the Recon RL’s come with a rebound setting, however, this is where I am a little disappointed. The Recon’s don’t come with the nice red knob to adjust the rebound setting, instead, they come with a simple 2.5mm removable Allen wrench. My problem isn’t exactly with the Allen wrench, but more so the fact that the wrench never really worked for me. When turning the wrench it never felt like it was changing anything as much as just spinning. So I removed the wrench and noticed that the end of it was stripped/rounded off. I ended up using my long Park Tools Allen wrench and this worked fine. I could feel each of the 5 clicks which adjusted the amount of rebound. And to make matters worse, when trying to remove the wrench the metal part actually pulled out of the plastic housing at which point I had to use a pair of pliers to pull the metal wrench part from the tube. I have looked to see if I could get another wrench sent to me from SRAM, however, it seems that I need to contact my LBS about this… so I guess I will just set it and use a Park Tool wrench to make adjustments as necessary… unless Worldwide Cyclery wants to go out of their way to send me a replacement? :)
Despite the problem with the Allen wrench, this is still a great fork, and I have recommended it to a number of other folks with similar bikes. At $250 it’s not free, but for those of us with entry-level bikes, it’s a great fork that doesn’t cost more than the bike. The trails I have been riding aren’t very technical, however, they are riddled with roots. I set my rebound to 1-2 clicks from fully opened and my compression setting 2 clicks from being fully opened. With water and gear, I am about 220 pounds and set the air pressure to 125 pounds and this results in a reactive ride that still absorbs all the root bumps. I’m very happy with this fork and these settings and besides the tires (Minions, also from Worldwide Cyclery) this has been one of the best upgrades. So, if you’re looking for a good fork on and entry-level bike, definitely check this one out, chances are you will be happy you did!