While the Rockshox Bluto fork I’ve been using on my Salsa Bucksaw since day 1 has been effective, it’s been a bit underwhelming. It worked fine on my local xc trails and winter rides, but when I’d ride more rowdy trails, it really began to show its limitations.
It’s a little flexy, and I could deal with that under most conditions. Burping air out of the fork was a problem, though. Finding that halfway down a long, gnarly downhill that your fork has suddenly lost air and that it’s now mush and bottoming out far too easily isn’t good. Thankfully I had my shock pump when that happened, but that initiated a drive to look for other options.
Wren Sports acquired the old FOMN (Fork of Many Names) that was used/branded by Carver, 11nine, and others a few years ago. They’ve been making improvements to it pretty steadily. I have been aware of it for some time, but early issues kept me away. It seemed like Wren had made some pretty significant headway by making solid improvements recently, so I was willing to buy one to address the issues I had with the Bluto. Nobody else was really making an effort to address those issues. The Fox 34 plus fork would have worked for the Bucksaw, but would have required a new hub and a front wheel rebuild in order to use. If I was building a Bucksaw new today, it’s probably what I would have chosen. But I’m already invested in the 150mm front thru axle standard.
So far, I’ve been pretty pleased with that choice. For the Bucksaw, I got the 110mm travel, 150mm hub spacing version of the Wren with a tapered steerer. Salsa is pretty adamant about keeping the axle-crown at or below 511mm.
Currently available forks compatible with fatbikes and their dimensions:
|Manufacturer||Model||Travel (mm)||Axle-Crown (mm)||Rake/Offset (mm)||Stanchion Dia. (mm)||Weight (g)|
The Fox 34 would keep the A-C closest without going too much shorter, but would require the aforementioned wheel rebuild. I opted for the Wren 110 as the next closest alternative. The Wren does add about a pound compared to the Bluto, but at least it’s not rotating weight. And, the inverted design of the Wren reduces unsprung weight, which should improve suspension performance.
I notice a couple things after a few rides on the Wren, with some pretty rocky terrain. The Bluto suffers from a fair bit of wheel deflection. I wasn’t aware of it at first, because I didn’t have a really good comparison on the same trails. But comparing the feel of the Wren to the Bluto, it’s definitely noticeable. That wheel deflection never caused me to crash, and it never ruined a ride, but I noticed once I rode the Wren that I was making a lot of small steering adjustments with the Bluto, and I had to learn to stop that with the Wren, because the bike tracked more precisely.
I also noticed improvements with small bump absorption with the Wren. I’m still playing around with suspension settings to get it exactly how I like it, but the Wren is much more sensitive to small bumps.