The all-new Lauf Grit leaf spring suspension fork for gravel bikes could end up being their best product so far…and I really do like their Trail Racer XC fork. I’ve even ridden their Carbonara fat bike fork and see the merit there, too. But after just one rider on the Grit, I’m having more fun than ever on our local cyclocross and gravel trails.
Using half the travel of their XC fork, the Grit’s 30mm of suspension is tuned to sag about 6mm once you’re on the bike, which sets the axle-to-crown only slightly higher than a stock fork on most gravel and cyclocross bikes. The result is just enough movement to soak up the small roots, rocks, washboards and imperfect pavement sections that otherwise jar and vibrate your hands and arms into fatigue. Or just cause the wheel to skip around when traction is key, like in fast, sweeping turns down a mountainside service road.
Did it change the bike’s handling? Yes, slightly, but not in the way I expected…
Besides the travel, the fork uses a narrower steerer tube, tapering from 1-1/8″ to 1-1/4″. It comes with a custom 1.5″ crown race adapter to fit standard tapered head tubes, too.
The oversized crown uses the narrower, broader design of the Boost-spaced Trail Racer fork, which is stiffer than the original 100mm axle version of the TR. That means very good lateral, torsional and fore-aft stiffness.
The Grit switches to a Flat Mount brake standard, so you’ll need an adapter to run a standard caliper. But, read the fine print…
It’s designed around a 160mm rotor minimum. So, to run a standard disc brake caliper on a 160mm rotor, you’ll only need the 140mm spacer. Like Lauf’s other forks, pretty much every measurement and spec you’d need to know is printed somewhere on it.
Bump stops protect the legs from the axle sections, but I don’t believe I’ve used them yet. Why? Because the guys at Lauf say you’ll know it when you do, it’s loud, and I haven’t heard a peep from the fork yet.
On the scale, my preproduction test fork with uncut steerer came in at 918g. The included expansion wedge and 1.5″ lower bearing adapter (crown race) and two zip ties added 54g, and the disc brake caliper spacer added another 30.
I put the fork on a Pivot Vault CX bike, who’s stock fork with the same expansion plug (FSA) and a Maxle came in at 582g. Add up the Lauf parts and that’s a difference of 410g (0.9lb).
Here’s what the bike looked like before…
…and after. Granted, the Pivot’s kinda racy looking, and the Lauf detracts from that a little, but not too bad in my opinion. Other opinions may vary. I’m probably going to switch it to my Moots for long term testing, but wanted to try it here first.
Even though the differences in A-to-C are minimal, Lauf’s founder Benedikt Skulason said Pivot’s 390 A-to-C is among the lower ones he’s seen, but I didn’t notice any negative effects to the bike’s fit or handling from the additional ~19mm. What I did notice was a very, very slight additional heft to the steering, but only when riding straight down a paved road and intentionally jiggling the handlebar. I presume it’s because most of the extra material sits behind the axle, but honestly, I never noticed it while riding normally, just thought it was worth mentioning in case you plan on taking the fork through a slalom course for hours on end.
On my ‘cross test course, there are roots like this. I’m usually riding this section uphill, but there are similar clusters of tree legs throughout the course on flat, up and down hill sections, most of which are taken at speed. With the Grit, I could plow through them much faster and without bottoming the tire on the rim. On the front anyway. I feel bad for my rear tire and rim. Or, rather, Pivot’s rear tire and rim…that bike is in on long term test. And with the fork taking the brunt of each impact, the front tire no longer bottomed out, but the rear certainly did. Thank goodness for tubeless.
This particular uphill section is actually a better test of this fork than ripping down root sections. Normally, I’m trying to hammer up this climb, which requires trying to both lift the front end up and over some of the more twisted sections while also pedaling hard. With the Lauf, I could roll more of them without lifting so much, so I was faster and more efficient.
The Pivot came equipped with TRP HyRD calipers, which took a bit of fiddling to get running smoothly on the fork. As with the TR fork I have, I had to file the brake mounts slightly to get the caliper better aligned with the rotor. Keep in mind, this is a preproduction unit, so I can’t comment on final production quality. Lauf acknowledged this issue on early versions of their XC forks and corrected it. We will be swapping this one for a full production fork once they’re available in late May.
Long term testing will decide if it was just excitement and placebo effect or not, but my first ride on the Grit felt faster and better than any other ride on this course. I’m only switching it onto my Moots because I have other plans for the Pivot (like ‘cross racing and a diet), and because I’ll have to send it back eventually. If smoother and faster and more efficient sound like things you want from your gravel grinder adventure bike, then this is definitely worth a look.