The 5 Best Mountain Bike Forks Under $200 in 2021
Biking on uneven terrain filled with rocks, gravel, and mud can be quite uncomfortable, especially if your mountain bike is not equipped with an appropriate shock absorption system. To cater to this issue, suspension forks have evolved over the years to offer a safe biking experience to the riders. In fact, MTB suspension forks are now better than ever and thus, upgrading the forks of your bike is a good idea. But how can you pick the best mountain bike forks under $200 in 2020? If this question has been running through your mind, you’re at the right place. In this article, you will find the best forks available in the market along with a buyer’s guide to help you make your choice effortlessly.
#1 Bike Air Fat Fork - Snow Fat MTB Fork
With a sophisticated travel of 100mm, these Snow MTB forks offer the best value-based performance to make your mountain biking experience as smooth and comfortable as ever. The forks are made of lightweight, corrosion-free aluminum alloy but that doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on their performance. From trail riding to downhill biking, they can be adjusted to function optimally over a complete range of environments. Snow Fat MTB forks are specially designed with a 135mm spread to perfect 26 inch tire mountain bikes. Overall, it's a great option if you're looking for an affordable yet powerful fork upgrade.
- Made of corrosion-free aluminum alloy
- Weighs only 2270 grams
- 100mm travel
- Adjustable hardness and softness
- Only suited for 26” MTB bike
Contenders For The Best Mountain Bike Forks Under $200 in 2020
- Bike Air Fat Fork - Snow Fat MTB Fork
- Zyy Carbon Fiber Suspension Fork
- RST Aerial 26” Disc Remote Lock Fork
- Whool Locking Suspension Air Forks
- RST Aerial 29” Disc Hydraulic Lock Fork
#2 Zyy Carbon Fiber Suspension Fork
Another great set of suspensions under $200 are carbon fiber hard fork by Zyy which, as the name suggests, are made of durable 3K Carbon Fiber. These forks are available in 2 different sizes, 26 inches, and 27.5 inches but the later ones are also compatible with a 29er. Moreover, Zyy's carbon fiber forks are ultralight, weighing between 500 to 515 grams only but can handle everything you throw at them. Talking about the design, the head tube has a length of 30 cm with a 28.6 standard straight tube size which can be fitted with 34/44 mm tube frames. Moreover, Zyy carbon fiber suspension fork supports disc brakes with up to 7mm discs.
- Sleek design
- Compatible with different tire sizes
- Supports large disc brakes
- None that we could find
#3 RST Aerial 26” Disc Remote Lock Fork
When it comes to pocket friendly air-cartridge fork, RST Ariel Air knocks out its competitors for the fact that it’s much cheaper than other similar models available in the market. Aerial 26 is equipped with an impressive Air spring, TNL/ML damper along with Mechanical/ hydraulic lockout to offer the best performer any MTB rider can wish for – that too under a budget.
Moreover, you can fine-tune your setup with the help of remote lockout by adjusting the aluminum levers and the barrel adjuster. The forks in this range have magnesium casting and 32mm stanchions to offer the perfect balance between lightness and stiffness. Moreover, travel of 120mm ensures a smooth mountain biking experience even on the most rugged terrains. That's not all – RST Aerial forks have a 1.5 inch crown that can support both straight and tapered steerers.
- Air Spring technology for maximum performance
- Magnesium casting for lightness
- 32mm stanchion
- 120mm travel
- Only suitable for post mount disc brakes
- Slightly poor rebound adjustment
#4 Whool Locking Suspension Air Forks
If you’re looking for suspension forks under $200 for your fat bike, look no further than Whool’s Locking Air Fork which is specially designed for 4” tire snow mountain bike. Whool air gas forks are made of strong aluminum alloy, weighing only 2450 grams so you can expect them to offer optimal performance in a diverse range of conditions without adding too much weight to your bike. Moreover, you can also use them for bottled axle or quick release but either way, you won't be disappointed. With an impressive travel range of 120mm, Whool Locking Suspension Air Forks are fully adjustable so you can modify the travel according to the terrain you intend to ride on.
- Weigh only 2450g
- 120mm travel, adjustable
- Bottle axle/quick release
- Stylish design; white color
- Only suitable for fat bikes with 4” tire
#5 RST Aerial 29” Disc Hydraulic Lock Fork
Apart from Aerial 26, another amazing suspension fork by RST is the Aerial disc hydraulic lock fork for 29” tire size. Like Aerial 26, Aerial 29 has magnesium casting with 32mm stanchions but the travel is 100mm instead of 120mm. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a smooth and comfortable ride since optimal performance is ensured. RST Aerial 29 features an Air Spring, allowing you to achieve an adjustable spring rate more naturally as compared to a traditional steel coil spring. Moreover, the Air Spring also weighs less than its traditional counterpart. Hydraulic damping system with compression adjustment allow for turn and lockout but mechanical and remote lockout can also be used. Overall, the RST Aerial range is hands down an amazing option if you want to replace the forks on your MTB under a budget.
- Sleek design
- Includes Air Spring for better performance
- Perfect stiffness with magnesium casting
- Travel less than RST Aerial 26
- Only suitable for post mount disc brakes
Quality suspension forks can significantly enhance your overall performance and riding experience. In fact, modern suspensions offer the highest degree of control on rocky terrains and steep descents. But what exactly should you look for in MTB suspension forks? This buyer’s guide will present a breakdown of what you need to know about MTB suspensions so keep on reading and learn about the things you should consider when buying nifty new suspension forks according to your riding style.
In order to determine the required features of suspension forks you want for your bike, it’s important to understand their basic structure.
The steerer tube is the upper part of the fork that fits into the head tube. It is either made of carbon or steel alloys, but the ones made from carbon are quite expensive. Tapered and oversized steerers are also available to provide extra stiffness, but check your bike’s compatibility before opting for them.
The crown of a suspension fork suspends between the legs of the fork to provide strength. While most MTB forks have single crowns, downhill bikes are usually equipped with double-crown forks for enhanced stiffness and strength.
The axle, attached to the front fork, improves steering accuracy while augmenting tip stiffness. Modern forks use 15mm to 20mm thru-axles that can easily be screwed into the fork leg. The lower fork legs are secured to the braces to hinder unnecessary movement, while the upper legs, the stanchions, house the spring and damping mechanism. The stanchions can be as long as 40mm for extra toughness.
Travel refers to the distance moved by the suspensions when force is applied to them and forks with greater travel absorbs impact more smoothly and efficiently. Every type of mountain biking style comes with its own challenges and so suspension fork for mountain bike are designed such that they offer the desired travel for the various biking styles. Cross country bikes require suspension travel between 80mm to 120mm while trail bikes have suspension movement between 120mm to 140mm. Likewise, travel for enduro bikes lies within a range of 150mm to 170mm while that for downhill bikes is between 180mm to 200mm.
An addition of 10mm travel shifts the head and seat angle by about 1 degree and allow for stable steering. However, forks with long legs are bulkier than the usual ones to handle the extra leverage and higher impacts but this added weight can damage the bike frame. Therefore, it’s recommended to replace your bike’s forks with those offering almost similar suspensions. Some adjustable forks can also be modified to tweak the fork travel as required.
Degree of Damping Control
Since travel is directly proportional to the comfort of your ride, why shouldn’t we always opt for suspensions with high travel? Well, the truth is that greater travel reduces the degree of control you have over how fast the suspensions compress and recline back. Rebound damping is crucial in order to ensure that the fork returns back to its natural position instead of bouncing back and forth. Similarly, compression damping slows down the spring and absorbs the impact to minimize its impact.
The springs in MTB forks are either air-based or coil-based. Air springs use negative and positive pressure chambers to absorb shocks and thus, they can efficiently tackle with sharp rocks and uneven surfaces. Coil-based springs are heavier but they work just as well to maximize shock absorbance. Some forks also use primary air springs coupled with secondary coil springs for greater efficiency.
No matter how perfect your suspension fork is, it will be useless if it doesn’t fit the bike wheel. MTB wheels generally come in three different sizes and each of them requires a specific fork size so make sure to check your wheel size and narrow down your search to the required fork size.
Another aspect buyers tend to ignore when buying new suspension forks is their compatibility with the braking system of your mountain bike. Although most forks are compatible with both rim and disk brakes, some models are designed only for post mount brakes. However, it's recommended to look for forks that offer both types of mounting systems for greater flexibility.
Strength And Weight
It's essential to determine the right balance of fork strength and the weight you require or otherwise, you'll be carrying extra weight for no reason. While lighter forks are suitable for cross country riders, longer and more durable suspension forks are recommended for more technical biking styles.
Selecting the right forks will not only protect you from unexpected shocks but will also boost your control over the bike. Of course, finding the perfect MTB suspension fork under $200 is tedious but keeping these factors in your mind will dramatically ease up the task for you. Understanding your mountain bike and intended riding style is immensely important if you want to make the best choice so be sure to give yourself some time before making the final decision. Do check out our list of best MTB forks under $200… who knows you might discover something that fits your requirements within a budget.