Mountain bike front fork: everything about MTB front suspension

A front fork is an important part of a mountain bike. There is almost always a suspension fork, so that shocks are well absorbed and the mountain bike quickly stabilizes again. In this guide I tell you everything about the MTB fork and I cover popular brands such as Rockschox and Fox Racing.

Construction of a suspension fork

As I mentioned in the introduction, there is almost always a suspension fork on a mountain bike these days. These ‘telescopic front forks’ consist of different parts. First of all, you have the stanchions, which are also called the stanchions. The outer legs slide over the inner legs. The front fork bridge provides the connection between the outer legs. The wheel axle can be found at the bottom of the outer legs, which also connects the outer legs. At the top there is a crown piece.

mountain bike front fork
An MTB fork from Rockshox, a popular brand. © MTBdex.com

A lockout button can often be found on the top of the triple clamp, with which you can temporarily switch off the suspension. This can be very smart if you are going to cycle long flat stretches, so that little energy is lost.

lock out button mtb front fork
With the lock out button you can temporarily switch off the suspension. © MTBdex.com

Various telescopic forks

There are various telescopic front forks. Although the parts I just mentioned are the same, there could be, for example, a front fork where the outer boats are placed upside down (at the top). These front forks are also known as upside-down front forks.

And then you have probably also seen a front fork with a double crown piece at the top. These front forks – which you will find on downhill mountain bikes, among other things – are extra strong and offer more stability.

Finally, there are also unique front forks. For example, in my extensive mountain bike brands overview I already mentioned the ‘Lefty Fork’ from Cannondale. This is a front fork with one stanchion and outer leg on the left.

Suspension of an MTB fork

It is interesting to consider the suspension of an MTB fork. Almost all front forks have air suspension. This works as follows: there is a cylinder filled with air. When it compresses, the air is compressed. A big advantage of air suspension MTB forks is that it does not weigh much and is easy to adjust. View more information about adjusting the MTB front fork.

Front fork MTB damping

If a front fork only had suspension, your mountain bike would keep bouncing up and down a hilly course. To prevent this, there is also damping in the front fork. Damping can be created because liquid passes through a piston. The energy resulting from the movement is converted into heat, creating an absorbing effect.

Compression and Rebound Damping

When looking at the type of damping, there are two types: compression damping and rebound damping. Compression damping focuses on the sag of the front fork. This damping absorbs large blows and shocks. The rebound damping is aimed precisely at the suspension of the front fork. This type of damping ensures that the suspension is smooth.

Adjustment knobs, often found on top of the triple clamp, allow you to adjust the compression and rebound damping. The compression damping knob is often blue and the rebound damping adjustment knob is red.

Frequently asked questions about a mountain bike fork

Why is suspension fork so important on a mountain bike?

While mountain biking you will have to deal with shocks. To prevent you from absorbing these shocks with your body, a suspension fork is a godsend. A front fork with suspension absorbs blows; the damping ensures that the suspension does not go up and down endlessly.

What is the difference between compression and rebound damping?

Compression damping controls sag. Rebound Damping controls the performance of the front fork.

What are good brands for a mountain bike front fork?

There are a number of brands that stand out. In particular, Fox Racing and Rock Shox forks are very popular for mountain bikes.

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