What do we mean by the best mountain bike forks that won’t break the bank? Well, we’re not concerning ourselves with fancy, known quantities such as the Fox 36 Factory and RockShox Pike RCT3, instead we’re looking at the best mid-priced MTB forks around. That means forks that are still properly capable, but models that will not make such a massive crater in your wallet.
We’ve covered forks that can handle serious hits, a fork built for serious speed and a few trail forks in between. These are mid-priced models are well worth upgrading to if your current bike is fitted with a budget fork and you’ve got a spare £500 or so in your pocket.
Suntour Auron RC2
Some might be surprised to see Suntour getting a recommendation, but while earlier versions of the Auron had a few issues, the later builds (2015 onwards) of this burly trail or enduro fork are an excellent choice if riding rowdy trails is your thing. The feel is plush and consistent, and it Hoovers up big hits so that you barely notice they were there.
Separate high and low speed compression adjustment lets you get precisely the set-up you’re after and the dials are easy to reach on the crown knobs, should you like to make the odd tweak as you ride.
The Auron is available with 130mm, 140mm, 150mm and 160mm of travel and in 27.5 and 29in versions.
X-Fusion Sweep Roughcut HLR
Much like the Suntour Auron, X-Fusion’s Sweep is a cost-effective fork with performance comparable to fancier and more expensive models. It can take big hits in its stride too, while at the same time being sensitive enough to smooth out trail buzz. Separate high and low speed compression is easy to dial in.
This Roughcut version costs around £100 more than the regular Sweep HLR, we reckon it’s definitely worth it though for the upgraded damping and trail feedback it provides.
The Sweep is available with travel from 130mm to 160mm, and 27.5in and 29in versions.
RockShox SID RL
While this short travel fork is aimed squarely at the cross-country market, its consistent and supportive stroke means the SID can still hold its own through rooty sections and rock gardens as well.
As you’d expect from an XC fork with 32mm legs, weight saving cutaway dropouts and minimal travel, the SID is by far the lightest on test here, weighing in at just over 1.5kg for the 29er version. Travel ranges from 80mm to 100m, there’s a 27.5in model and an option for a remote lockout too.
RockShox Yari RC Solo Air
The Yari is a more affordable and less sophisticated version of RockShox’ well regarded enduro fork – the Lyrik. While its crown and lowers are identical to its fancier stablemate, the Yari has a simpler damper and is slightly heavier, weighing just over 2.1kg.
35mm legs give the Yari plenty of stiffness and control, and it can also take pretty much anything you’re likely to encounter on a trail easily within its stride.
There’s no separate compression controls, just a single crown-top dial. The Yari is available in loads of different travel options of 10mm increments from 120mm to 180mm and will there’s a 29in version as well as 27.5in.
Marzocchi 350 CR
If you’re dreaming of a RockShox Pike but simply don’t have the cash, then Marzocchi’s 350 CR is well worth serious consideration. The 350 CR is as equally capable of taming big hits as the Pike, but it’s performance is slightly less refined.
While the 350 CR is stiff and supportive, it also sensitive enough to smooth out small bumps. Weight is a touch lighter than the RockShox Yari at just over 2kg and the Marzocchi fork has 35mm legs too.
The 350 CR only comes with 160mm travel to fit a 27.5in wheel.