A Lauf fork is aimed at a specific purpose; to absorb small bumps faster and smoother than any conventional suspension fork, while being almost as light as a rigid fork and completely maintenance-free. The stiction and slow response of conventional suspension forks make them unable to keep up with high-speed input as brilliantly as the Lauf. These traits of the fork make it a perfect match for XC hard-tails.
No, you don’t. Now pay attention. On a conventional XC suspension fork you definitely need lockout. You need it because there is a substantial energy loss in the suspension movement (i.e. friction and damping mechanism), therefore you want to block all suspension when you don’t desperately need it. Hence, high end conventional XC suspension forks should be lockable. This however puts you in the position of constantly evaluating if you should prefer suspension or energy efficiency. In many cases you end up carrying a hugely overweight “rigid fork” over the majority of a race. This is particularly true for most XC-Marathon races. A Lauf fork on the other hand doesn’t have friction or a damping mechanism. Making it energy efficient by the nature of its design, so it shouldn’t be lockable. This way it can filter out all those small bumps you frequently encounter, without wasting your energy! To keep the suspension from feeling bouncy we set the spring rate of Lauf forks fairly high (hence only 60mm of travel are needed) so in most cases you won’t even notice that it’s moving at all. You’ll just notice how the road smoothens.
If you are doing rough AM riding, yes, then you want dampening in your suspension. You need it to stay in control. You need the dampening to effectively kill the energy charged into the fork in the big hits during AM riding. However, we’re all about XC and energy efficiency here at Lauf. With the limited suspension travel of a Lauf fork you are not charging that much energy into the suspension so that it needs to be absorbed (wasted) by dampening in the rebound. Hence, there is no need for a lockout and you can both have the cake and eat it! If you find this hard to fathom; think of the flexible carbon seatposts on modern XC bikes, have you ever thought that they lack dampening?
It’s going to be way smoother than a rigid fork. However, if it really is rough and gnarly, a longer travel dampened fork will give you better control. Preferably you should match that fork with some rear suspension as well. This is how we at Lauf see it. For a lightweight XC hardtail, use a Lauf. For more rough riding, get a full-suspension bike with a conventional suspension fork.
Like up-side-down forks (e.g. the RockShox RS-1, DVO Emerald, etc.) a Lauf fork has its sides moving independently. The only rigid connection between the right and left sides of the fork is the axle and hub. This is a source of lateral flex with our fork, like on all up-side-down forks. This is one of the reasons why we don’t offer a QR version of our forks. After contemplating and trying various hub standards we decided that the connection rigidity of the 15mm through axle system gives the XC performance we were after.
The Lauf forks come with rubber bump stops on its fork legs specifically made to take the out-of-the-ordinary-hits. The forks have a fairly high spring rate so it will take a quite big hit to get there though.
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