Tinkerers have tried a bevy of tricks to keep their MTB fork stanchions clean over the years, from neoprene covers to fender shapes aimed at saving the seals. When the sky sings its annual requiem to sunshine, the best way to protect those smooth suspension components from wear is to set them aside. This is where lightweight rigid forks like the 29″ Mountain Fork from Enve get to work. At $625, this carbon fiber fork will need to endure several wet seasons to make up for the stanchion coating that it can save. After riding it inappropriately on countless rough trails during my testing, these fibers seem up to the task.
The simply named Mountain Fork weighs about 785g with the steerer cut and the mini fender attached, significantly dropping weight at the front end of the bike. That lower weight can quickly be added back by attaching bikepacking gear to the three accessory mounts on either fork leg. Gear mounting cages like the Salsa Anything HD or the Blackburn Outpost integrate directly with this fork for maximum snack storage. Only Boost fork models come with accessory mounts, so it might be worth swapping the hub or using an adapter kit if your current front hub is 100mm wide.
Mounting the Mountain Fork is wicked simple. With the steerer tube cut and the crown race in place, most home mechanics will be able to tighten the stem bolts and mount a brake caliper in less time than it takes to read this review article. The only tricky bit comes with aligning the caliper, as the feathery alloy adapters included with the fork can take some time to find their happy place.
Below the gear mounts, the fork can be ordered with Boost or non-Boost axle spacing, and the offset is adjustable between 44 and 52mm to fit frames built around those specs. Swapping the dropout position takes a matter of seconds, as the alloy chips simply slide out of the fork body once the axle is removed. I tested the Mountain Fork on a Cotic Solaris Max frame that’s designed for a 120-140mm fork with a short offset, and I kept the dropouts in the 44mm position accordingly. I did try a ride with the dropouts in the 52mm position, and the bike felt a little unruly, with awkward and unpredictable steering. In the 44mm slot the front end steers the same as it would with a 120mm squishy fork, with some added trail vibration. This adjustability should future-proof the Mountain Fork through a few different frames in case owners decide to purchase a bike that’s designed around a different offset.
Now back to the slop discussion. We’re all considerate humans here, so I’ll skip the mud riding disclaimer and let you make that decision. If you can ride local trails in the mud without destroying anything then you know the childish joy of sliding sideways into a deep rut. It’s equally exhilarating for the mind and terrible for expensive bike parts. We are essentially gluing grit to moving parts and letting them self-sand into obsolescence. This is why some folks ride rigid single-speeds through the winter months, saving the convertible hotrod for sunny days. I’ve always kept a rigid fork around for this exact reason. Not only are there fewer moving parts to destroy, but the weight savings is welcome when there’s a kilo of mud slathered across the frame.
If all of your friends are buying gravel bikes to take in the nearby dirt road scenery a rigid fork can transform nearly any short-travel hardtail into a gravel-grinding machine without adding another bike to the stable. While any bike can be ridden on dirt roads, with or without suspension, a lightweight rigid fork will make your hardtail pedal more efficiently, with no suspension to eat up the watts. Additionally, while your buddies are chatting about their 45-55mm “monster gravel” tires, the Mountain Fork can fit up to a 29 x 3″ tread with the fender installed.
The final dirt-road advantage of this fork is that it allows you to maintain the same comfortable body position you enjoy on the trail while grinding away those smooth road miles. The bars and saddle can stay put, allowing you to dial in one bike fit and keep it throughout the year rather than shifting things around to accommodate drop bars. Finally, if you’re training for an event, maintaining your race position while building muscle and endurance will help that fitness transfer back to the trail.
|Price||$625, available at Enve.com|
|Weight||719g with the fender, before cutting the steerer|
|Axle to crown length||490mm for the boost version in the 44mm offset, 470mm non-boost|
|Steerer tube||300mm long uncut, tapered only|
|Offset||44 or 52mm|
|Max tire size||29 x 3.0|
|Max Rotor size||180mm|
|Accessory mounts||Three per leg on the boost model only|
When it comes to overall handling, the Mountain Fork feels fairly similar to a modern cross country fork on smooth terrain, despite its low weight. The engineers at Enve clearly put some thought into the carbon layup, as it flexes and dampens vibration just enough on smoother surfaces and maintains a solid base to push against when climbing out of the saddle. As expected, the rigid fork forces you to ride differently, choosing lines more carefully and bunny hopping larger obstacles to smooth out the track. This will certainly not be the fork you install to beat a previous descent time. With the focus shifted toward adventure and enjoyment it will allow for good times on the trail or gravel, and less time servicing forks.
I have an Enve carbon fork on my cyclocross bike, and the difference between the two is patently clear. The Mountain Fork has more fore/aft compliance to smooth out rougher terrain, where the CX fork makes the front end feel similar to a road bike. There seems to be very little lateral flex in the fork legs, which gives it a precise feeling in mud and loose terrain. That same stiffness can cause the front wheel to skip and slide under heavy cornering pressure, making tread choice and PSI key variables to consider when riding with this fork.
Enve says the Boost version of the Mountain Fork should be compatible with frames designed around 100-140mm of front travel, while the non-Boost fork is recommended for 80-120mm frames.
The Mountain Fork is a sweet tool for bikepackers, gravel enthusiasts, and mud lovers who can afford one. It can help make two bikes out of one, with little time between conversions, and might just refresh your perspective of the trails you know too well. Should there ever be an issue with it, the brand’s Lifetime Incident Protection will replace the fork with a new USA-made carbon wheel holder, free of charge. To state a single complaint, I do wish that the fender followed the tire about twice as far toward the ground, but that’s an easy modification that a piece of black plastic or carbon fiber and epoxy will take care of.
⭐️ Find the Enve Mountain Fork at Enve.com.