The rumor mill has finally bumped up against reality, and the long-awaited, long travel fork from Italy’s Extreme Shocks (EXT) is ready to smooth out your ride. The ERA is an air-sprung, single-crown 29er fork that’s currently available in a 44mm offset, with 140, 150, 160, and 170mm of travel. This race focused suspension component favors stiffness over weight savings, at 2280g for the uncut 170mm 29″ model, with a suggested retail price of €1,480.
Readers who have tried the brand’s Storia or Alma coil shocks know that EXT is paying attention to what racers need from their dampers. A main aim for the ERA fork, according to EXT, is that the fork should maintain a higher average ride height at any given time to better preserve the bike’s geometry and give the rider a better platform to work with. Let’s have a look inside.
The air spring
EXT started off with automotive racing suspension in 1986, and made their first mountain bike shock in 2014. They were reportedly the first company to introduce high and low speed valving in the car racing world. Today you can find their coil-sprung dampers mounted beneath EWS and World Cup racers across the circuit.
The ERA’s HS³ air spring uses two positive air chambers, one negative, and a negative coil spring to achieve maximum support. According to EXT, “A single positive chamber makes mid-stroke support [challenging] without the need for additional spacers that can make the end stroke of a spring too stiff.” Instead of adding volume spacers to ramp up the stroke, EXT added a second positive chamber that can be precisely tuned and is said to increase support around the sag point while allowing for a more linear overall stroke.
In terms of friction and stiction, EXT said that the “HS³ also uses dedicated EXT grease to reduce friction in low and high-velocity movements and an integrated coil spring inside to completely avoid the feeling of stiction giving more accurate feedback through the tire. With the same objective, HS³ adopts Superfinish Steel Chromedshaft that reduces surface roughness by five times to avoid every lack of response caused by friction.”
Externally, the damper in the ERA looks like any other, with high and low-speed compression knobs, and a low-speed rebound dial at the base of the drive-side leg. On the inside, it has some unique features that reportedly support its supportive intentions. The high-speed compression (HSC) circuit adjuster controls two separate shim stacks that are meant to increase the influence of HSC adjustments without sacrificing low-speed traction control.
Like most brands, EXT sacrificed weight savings for chassis stifness, and they added a little heft in their damper as well. “[The] ERA is equipped with areally high flow piston with better control of dynamic response and allow the Ø22 mm cartridge to completely avoid cavitation that minimizes, to the lowest level possibility, any lag in dynamic oil flow and hysteresis. The Ø22 mm piston gives you about 35% more oil volume related to other competitors’ cartridges, which means more weight but also means increased consistency of the damper during long descents.”
Finally, EXT added chassis stiffness to the ERA via the crown and magnesium lowers. Their forged aluminum 7050 T6 crown is said to be 20% stiffer than the competition, under frontal and lateral loads. The 36mm uppers slide into lowers with an asymmetric thickness that EXT claims also increases the fork’s frontal stiffness.
A coil version will be out in the near future. For more info, or to order your ERA today, head on over to the Extreme Shocks website.