I think it’s safe to say the Lauf fork design has become iconic. Now in its third gestation, the leaf spring suspension design has expanded to cover nearly every type of off-road bicycle.
After an original model was designed for mountain bikes dubbed Trail Racer, Lauf expanded into fat bikes with the Carbonara. Now it’s gone a bit skinnier with the Grit fork for gravel and adventure bikes.
If you’re familiar with the design, there isn’t actually much new here. It is essentially a scaled-down and re-tuned version of the Icelandic brand’s other forks. In this case, the 12 fiberglass springs provide 30 mm of travel and are actually stiffer than the other models. These aren’t fiberglass like a boat; they are extremely strong composite materials that give just the right amount of flex.
After a few rides on the Grit I’d have to say it is the most transparent of the three variations I’ve sampled. The original mountain bike version took some re-calibrating of your brain, while the fat bike version is more subdued. This gravel version is almost hard to notice until you start getting into the rough stuff.
It can fit a 700 x 42 tire or a 27.5 x 2.1. Pictured below is a 35 mm tire for some sense of scale. In keeping with the ever-evolving “standards,” it will be available with either a 15 mm or 12 mm thru axle when it goes on sale in August. (Also worth admitting is that my brake housing is too short. Swapping in the Lauf required a longer cable and housing so I cheated and skipped one of the routing points.)
We’ll be putting it through its paces this summer and following up with a long-term review in an upcoming issue. Why not subscribe now and help support your independent cycling media?
After we rode the radical Cannondale Slate with its high-tech suspension fork, and got down and dirty with the Lauf leaf spring suspension fork on a fat bike, it only seemed like a matter of time before the two concepts came together.
Adventure riding is all about taking your bike places that you didn’t think it would go and having the freedom to explore. A suspension fork lets you push just that extra little bit harder and rip down that fire road or pothole street without worrying about every little bump.
Lauf has embraced that concept with its new Grit suspension fork for gravel and adventure bikes. Designed much like the brand’s mountain bike and fat bike forks, it uses a dozen glass fiber leaf springs to provide 30 mm of travel—just enough to take the edge off without changing the nature of the handling.
It’s available with either a 15 mm thru axle or the new 12 mm road standard, and can fit up to a 700×42 tire or 27.5 x 2.1. The 409 mm axle-to-crown and 47 mm offset pair with a tiny amount of sag to create a geometry that closely matches that of a traditional cyclocross or gravel fork. At 900 grams there is a small weight penalty over a standard fork, but being able to rip any descent should more than make up for it.
We have a Lauf Grit on the way and we’ll be putting it through its paces so keep an eye out for more. Consumer deliveries should begin in August and it will retail for $790.
Let me tell you, few things make quite an impression as seeing one of these in person. The Carbonara fat bike fork is the second major product release from Lauf, after the Trail Racer mountain bike fork, first for 29ers and then for 27.5. Hailing from Iceland, Lauf is a small company dedicated to bringing its radical design to market, and so far these suspension forks are its only product.
The very sight of the Lauf design usually results in the peanut gallery unloading in the comments section of its favorite social media network or making jokes about the brand’s name.* Mountain biking wouldn’t exist without experimentation, so hat’s off to Lauf for trying something new.
My first impression after taking it out of the (exceptionally nice) packaging is that it resembles something Ripley blasted out of the airlock at the end of “Alien.” The fork weighs 1,144 grams with the included, bolt-on axle and tapered steerer tube. It has a 494 mm axle-to-crown measurement and uses a 150 mm hub. It retails for $990 and is available stock in white or matte carbon (pictured). For $100 extra, you can order one custom painted in one of eight Pantone colors.
It works by using a dozen S2 glassfiber plates that flex to allow the axle to move vertically. The Carbonara has 60 mm of travel, and there are bumpstops integrated into the design so you can’t overdo it. I haven’t been able to bottom it out in normal riding. Lauf says the resistance is progressive, meaning it moves more easily through the first third of its travel than the last third. The springs slot into the carbon fiber chassis and are bonded in place, and Lauf says it took thousands of trial-and-error samples until they got the desired flex just right.
The Carbonara is available in two stiffness tunes for the leaf springs: one for riders under 187 pounds and one for riders over 175 pounds. Yes, they overlap. It’s not a weight limit, but more of a guide for how you want the fork to perform. The benefit of such a design? Zero maintenance for one, and no performance degradation from the cold. I’m led to believe it gets cold in Iceland.
I’ve mounted it up to my trusty Salsa Mukluk (which has had approximately 258 different build setups at this point) and we’re headed out to see what it can do.
*If you’re still making puns substituting this brand’s name for “laugh,” please stop. That joke is over. It’s the bike industry equivalent of people making “Seinfeld” references in regards to my last name.