Shortly after our exhaustive fat bike coverage this month, including a review of the RockShox Bluto fork, Mike Dunn, US Brand Manager for RST Suspension, got in touch to let me know that they were working on an answer to a question I had asked. Namely, I had wondered aloud what all of the owners of older steel fat bikes with straight steerers were to do if they wanted to upgrade to a suspension fork, since the Bluto is only available with a
straight tapered steerer.
Well, RST has a working prototype of their inaugural fat bike fork, which will be available with both a tapered and a 1 1/8″ straight steerer. However, Mike did warn me that “most of the early fat bike frames were designed to run unicrown forks so they don’t have the necessary downtube clearance needed for the crown/ knobs not to hit the frame.” However, undoubtedly there’s still a certain percentage of straight steerer fat bikes that can indeed run a suspension fork… if only there was one available. And RST aims to fill that niche.
According to Mike, the Renegade fat bike fork will boast 120mm
150mm of travel, but will be internally adjustable to 80, or 100 as well or 120mm. Sporting a 15mm quick release thru axle, the Renegade will be air sprung by an “OCR damper with adjustable compression and rebound with lock out.” This is a full-size fat bike fork and is compatible with 4.8″ tires. Since it’s a prototype, a few things such as weight and price are still up in the air, but RST is shooting for a target weight with tapered steerer and thru axle of less than 5 pounds, and a projected MSRP of $575. RST is planning on an early 2015 availability for this new fork.
While it’s impossible to truly compare the Bluto–currently the only production fat bike suspension fork on the market–to the Renegade until we get to test both of these forks side-by-side, the Renegade boasts a wider compatibility thanks to the straight steerer, and it will retail for a good bit less than the Bluto, which hits the register at $643-711, depending on the model.
Also, while you might note that the Bluto is just a hair under four pounds, which is definitely less than the Renegade, the Renegade’s stock configuration features 150mm of travel–placing it in an entirely different category than the Bluto, which tops out at 120. In fact, it’s almost impossible to compare these two forks, despite the Renegade’s adjustability down to travel levels comparable with the Bluto, with the Bluto essentially the equivalent of a cross country fork and the Renegade the equivalent of an enduro fork. Just imagine a Salsa Bucksaw with a 150mm-travel fork instead of a 100… oh yeah!
Edit: one of the previously-quoted stats was incorrect. Instead, the maximum amount of travel on the prototype Renegade tops out at 120mm. This puts the Renegade directly in line with the Bluto and the geometry that other suspension-optimized fat bikes are designed around. Stay tuned for an in-depth review of the Renegade once media samples are available!
Thru axle? But most (of us) straight tube frames have drop out axles! Cost of upgrading the front wheel to accommodate the fork would add up. Current fat bike owners with straight tubes might consider just buying a new bike with a Bluto/Renegade on it instead of upgrading. Guess you can have everything! 😉
With the other “straight headtube” owners above, RST is totally missing the market with this… This needs to be available in QR…. Who the hell owns a straight 1 1/8 head tube frame with 15mm front wheel anyways….