Review: White Brothers Loop TCR 29er Suspension Fork
After putting thousands of miles on several different forks you learn what you don’t like, what you can adapt to and what suits your riding style perfectly. The White Brothers Loop TCR 29” fell into the latter category for me. I’ve been riding it since December 2011 and it’s been a great fork for my fast XC riding style, improving my bike’s comfort factor and performing flawlessly.
I mounted the 100mm White Brothers Loop 29” fork to my 2008 Kona Hei Hei 29 which originally was mounted with a Rock Shock Reba. The Loop 29 paired well with the bike’s original-but-recently-rebuilt Fox RP2 rear shock.
As with any quality fork you can tune it to your riding style and liking. Air spring pressure, rebound, compression damping. What differentiates the Loop is their patent-pending Aura Damper’s magnetic threshold valve. This magnetic threshold valve allows the fork to react to a bump/obstacle without the rider having to change the settings on the fork. You can be riding along with the compression adjustment turned clockwise to its end point where two magnets are approximated and the preload is at its stiffest. When the wheel hits an obstacle the magnets separate, opening up the compression valve to soak up the bump, then they immediately come back together again creating the same stiffness you wanted in the first place. This feature is helpful if you were to forget change the setting for a bumpier trail or, more likely, come into a surprise drop, descent or rough section. When the shock comes “alive” it absorbs the obstacle well then quickly returns to your preset baseline.
Two different factors affect the way Threshold behaves -Bleed and Trim. The Bleed simply allows some of the oil to bypass the magnetic threshold valve until oil pressure has built up enough to open the valve. More bleed gives you greater small bump sensitivity while less bleed decreases bump sensitivity. You can also adjust the Trim which is the actual level of magnetic force being exerted on the compression valve. A larger rider like me will need to decrease the trim a bit -a very little bit (1/8th turn suggested) with a 2mm allen key slightly clockwise – increasing the threshold force. The combined effect is a finely tunable platform.
Another feature of the Loop is the “QtapeR15.” The left drop out is conical and receives the tapered axle assembly. As the conical shape drop out and axle come together it creates a very stiff, torsion resistant axle system. This feature really seems to improve the performance. Steering felt stiff, and if the lower end of the fork is stiff, suspension movement is improved since the legs aren’t twisting independently and putting side loads on the stanchions.
32mm diameter, and the lowers are cast magnesium that looks both svelte and stout.
One thing I noticed with the Loop 29 is that the shock is loud! Not screaming at you loud, but in most all of the compression adjustment settings I heard an obvious “squish” that I am not accustomed to when using other shocks. It’s not annoying, but it is there to be sure.
I liked the adjustability of the Aura Damper as it allows for quick and easy customization of the fork to your riding style and terrain.
As far as durability is concerned, I have ridden the Loop TCR 29” for several months in the rather wet Pacific NW and am pleased to report that the fork has stood up the challenges facing any rider who spends time in these woods. I purposely have not serviced the fork to test the durability factor. It performs as well today as when I first installed it.
One issue is that few bike shops carry White Brothers forks, and so they may not be as familiar with the internals for quick adjustments. That said, info is generally available for any brand online, and few shops do fork and shock work in-house anyway. The jury is still out regarding long term durability of the Loop 29 as it is new to the market. In my preliminary testing it seems as tough, and as smooth, as any of the other major players on the market for 2012. I plan on keeping it on the bike through the summer and will report back later in the year.
Weight: 1.990 Kg (4.39lbs)
- Travel from 80-120mm and 120-140 (internally adjustable)
- Adjustable rebound compression and threshold
- QTapeR15 15mm tool-free through axle
- 1″, 1 1/8″, and tapered steerer options
- White or Black with color matched crowns available