If you’re a regular reader, you may remember that I had the chance to punish the Suntour Auron fork on the Mag 7 Ride in Moab last year. Well, Suntour sent me home from Outerbike with an Auron of my very own, and after coming up with a variety of creative ways to put this fork–and myself–in harm’s way over the past several months, I’ve logged enough miles and enough crap-my-pants moments to write an authoritative review of this fork.
My review from last October includes more detailed specs but here are the basics. This is a 150-160mm-travel fork (tested: 160) with 34mm stanchions for 27.5/650b wheels. It weighs 1,930 grams.
The Auron features one air pressure adjustment chamber, rebound speed adjustment, and a compression knob. However, this isn’t the quick three-setting compression adjustment/lockout you might expect, but rather features about 20 clicks on the knob so that you can dial in the correct compression setting for your riding style, and then forget about it.
The fork comes equipped with SR Suntour’s innovative Q-loc quick-release through axle, which doesn’t utilize threads.
Out on the Trail
Specs are all well and good, but I really wanted to see how this fork would perform during a long-term test before I wrote my final review. And now, after months of riding, I’m finally ready to write!
I’ve logged hundreds of miles on the Auron, shredding on my local gnarly trails like Uncle Nasty, and traveling across the state of Colorado as well. Over the past two weeks, I’ve spent four days punishing both my bike and my body during the first two stops of the Big Mountain Enduro series at Snowmass and Durango. To get a taste of what I’ve put this fork through, check out my race reports here:
My initial impressions from Moab held true all the way through my test: the Auron is supremely supple! There is zero stiction off the bat, no wallowing, smooth action throughout, and essentially zero noise. Some other brands of forks might ride smoothly, but there’s often a lot of noise from the suspension working. I never realized how much noise until recently, when I was shocked to realize how quietly my suspension was operating, and how much quieter that made my bike as a whole!
Once I got my rebound (set close to center), compression (I ran about 4-5 clicks from full open most of the time), and air pressure where I wanted them, I was easily able to achieve ideal sag. With these settings, the fork was extremely smooth off the front (as I’ve already mentioned) but it’s also very progressive at the end of the stroke. Through the middle of the stroke there’s some progression, but I felt like the fork (with the way I set it up) ramped up very quickly at the end of the stroke. This was great to guard against harsh bottom outs on big drops and bad jumps, and despite using all of my travel on multiple occasions (according to my O-ring), I never felt any harsh impact at the end of the stroke.
In addition to smooth action, the Auron is absurdly stiff. I’ve jammed it sideways into rock garden corners, railed berms, cased jumps, shredded drops, and basically flogged this fork every which way. I’ve had zero issues with side-to-side or fore/aft flex: the wheel just goes where I point it!
Let’s cut to the quick: I really have only one possible complaint against the Auron, and that’s the compression adjustment. Unlike your standard 3-setting compression knob, the Auron’s compression knob has about 20 clicks in it. This is great when you want to add just a click or two of compression to help the fork ramp up more and to guard against bottom out. But if you want to lock out your fork on the fly, that’s pretty difficult to do. In fact, since I didn’t ever really want my compression full-open, I didn’t want to deal with twisting the dial all the way closed for just a bit more efficiency on the climb, due to the headache at the top of the descent resulting from finding my previous compression setting. So, I chose to run this fork open (about 4-5 clicks from full open on the compression dial) all the time. This made some out-of-the-saddle climbs a real bear. Still, we’re talking about a 160mm all mountain/enduro fork here, and what you really need to be focused on is how it performs when it’s pointed downhill.
The single most unique feature which sets the Auron apart from other forks on the market is SR Suntour’s Q-Loc 15mm through axle. Unlike the other major brands, this through axle doesn’t need to thread into one end of the fork. This makes it much easier and faster to install and release, and eliminates the chance of stripping or otherwise damaging threads in such an expensive component.
It’s pretty difficult to explain in writing exactly how this axle works, so check out this video from Suntour for a visual explanation:
I have come to absolutely love this axle! Obviously I wouldn’t recommend buying a fork just because it has a fantastic, intuitive through axle, but couple this with the fork’s already stellar performance, and it’s clear that Suntour is more than comfortable with reevaluating, and improving on what the rest of the industry seems to have taken for granted.
Changing the Cartridge
The Auron is branded by Suntour as a Quick Service Product (QSP), and I’ve been told by many people that servicing the Auron is truly easy: simply open it up, remove the cartridge, and swap a new one in. While I had zero maintenance issues with this fork during my test, here’s a video from Suntour showcasing how easy this maintenance truly is:
The Suntour Auron provides deliciously supple action, great progressive travel, and fantastic stiffness–all while running completely silent. Innovative factors such as the Q-Loc through axle and QSP cartridge help set the Auron apart from the competition. And while I might gripe about the lack of an easy lockout on this fork, with this superb performance and the unique features hitting the cash register at $300-400 less than forks from Fox and RockShox, it’s hard to complain about anything!
Thanks to SR Suntour for providing the Auron for review!