The RockShox Bluto might be the fork that comes to mind for fat bikes, but it’s not the only one. In addition to the more typical telescopic forks of both standard and inverted designs, there are few folks doing things a little differently. Like the guys from Lauf.
Looking at suspension in a completely new way, Lauf has made a lot of noise by combining the age-old idea of leaf springs with modern carbon manufacturing. The result is a super light fork that offers supple suspension, without adding much weight or complexity. It also makes it practically maintenance free, which on a fat bike that is ridden through the worst conditions imaginable, might be worth it by itself…
I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for creative packaging which is probably why I like the way the Lauf ships. The Carbonara is available in two different spring rates – Regular (over 80kg/176 lbs) and Light (under 85kg/187 lbs), with a maximum rider weight limit of 120kg/265lbs. In this case, the fork is a Light spring which is denoted with a green leaf that peeks through the leaf-shaped cut out on the box. There’s also a silhouette of the fork with the details, and of course a hidden message on the inside. Each fork includes a cloth bag with the zip ties for the brake hose routing and the expander plug for the carbon steerer tube.
All Lauf forks are based on their S2 leaf springs which are made from “military spec S2 glassfiber” and bonded to the other pieces of the fork. The axle then floats in the middle of the two groups of springs making for a completely maintenance free suspension system. The Carbonara offers 60mm of progressive travel with bump stops built into the fork if you bottom it out (you will). One of the benefits to the design is that since very little of the fork actually moves, the Carbonara adds only 260g to the unsprung weight which serves to improve small bump sensitivity and rebound speed. Made to play nicely with other fat bike forks, the front axle is a 150 x 15mm thru axle that bolts in with a 6mm Allen.
Built with 180mm post mount disc brake mounts, the minimum rotor size for the fork is therefore 180mm. It’s important to note however, that if you plan to use a brake with quad pistons like the Magura MT7, it will probably not fit. My Magura MT Trail brakes use a four piston front caliper, and the caliper itself hit the carbon of the Lauf fork. Because of this, I had to use a 180mm post mount adapter in order to run a 200mm rotor so that the caliper was spaced away from the fork. It’s not that big of a deal in the end, but if you are buying a rotor and adapter to use with this fork, keep that in mind.
Otherwise, it’s pretty straight forward. The fork uses external routing for the front brake hose with zip tie mounts along the left leg. The full carbon steerer is a 1.125-1.5 taper with an uncut length of 250mm. With a claimed weight of 1,100g with a 175mm steerer and axle, the Carbonara was right on the money at 1,120g with the axle and an uncut steerer. The stock for the Otso Voytek was already pretty light, which made it more impressive that the Carbonara only added around 300g to the total weight.
Important numbers include a 51mm rake, and 494mm axle to crown measurement with tire clearance for 26 x 4.8″ fat bike tires or 29 x 3.0″ plus. Retail price is $890 and is available in two stock colors of Naked Matte and Full White, while additional custom options are offered with a 4-6 week shipping time.
After getting it in, figuring out the brake issue, and getting it installed, the timing was nearly perfect for our first real dose of winter. After riding it non-stop until temperatures warmed up and melted away the snow, I can say that first impressions are very favorable. I won’t spoil the whole review too much, but if you’re looking for a bit of cushion for the front of your fat bike without having to ever worry about maintenance, the Lauf Carbonara looks pretty tasty.