The 7 Best Mountain Bike Forks Under $300 in 2020
Mountain biking is certainly not easy – riding on rock-strewn terrains can be uncomfortable, particularly if your bike doesn’t have a sophisticated shock absorption system in place. Having quality suspension can considerably enhance your performance and ensure a positive riding experience by offering a high degree of control, even on rocky terrains. After all, suspension forks are one of the most important components of your mountain bike.
So if you’ve been wanting to upgrade the suspensions of your MTB, now is the time. But how can you find the best mountain bike forks under $300 in 2020? We encourage you to read this article to discover the best mountain bike suspension forks available in the market and learn everything you need to know in order to make the right decision.
With travel of 100mm, ZTZ Kashima front fork for mountain bikes offer a great value-based performance to make your mountain biking experience as smooth and comfortable as ever. The forks are made of lightweight and magnesium-aluminum alloy and are layered with KASHIMA anti-scratch lubrication coating to ensure long-lasting lubrication. Moreover, the matte black design with silver/gold inner tube allows you to ride in style.
ZTZ Kashima MTB forks are specially designed with a straight upper tube of 28.6mm, inner width of 100mm and with an inner tube of length 32mm, these forks are ideal for a mountain bike with 26" wheels. All in all, ZTZ Kashima Mountain bike front forks are an amazing option if you’re looking for a powerful fork upgrade under $300.
- Weigh only 1700 grams
- Anti-scratch coating
- Perfect of 26” wheels bike
- 100mm stroke
- Shoulder control
- None identified
Contenders For The Best Mountain Bike Forks Under $300 in 2020
- ZTZ Kashima Mountain Bike Front Fork
- SR SUNTOUR Mountain Bike Disc Fork XCT
- Manitou Markhor Mountain Bike Fork
- SR SUNTOUR Mountain Bike Disc Fork XCM
- SR SUNTOUR Mountain Bike Disc Fork XCR
- ZTZ Mountain Bicycle Shock Absorber Front Air Fork
- RST Omega TNL 26" Suspension Fork
Another great set of suspensions under $300 are XCT Disc Fork by SR SUNTOUR. These entry-level suspensions are available in 2 different models, with a travel of 80mm and 100mm respectively. Weighing around 2.58 kg, SUNTOUR XCT forks are slightly heavy and plainly designed but that doesn’t undermine their performance.
These forks feature a 9mm axle, coil springs and mechanical lockout damping system to absorb shocks efficiently. The lockout feature also allows you to adjust according to the road conditions and enjoy a comfortable riding experience. SUNTOUR XCT Bike forks are compatible with 180mm rotor and can perfectly fit a 26” MTB.
- Available with different travel ranges
- Suited for 26” wheel bikes
- Feature mechanical lockout damping
- Weighs 2.58 kg
- Component quality is average
If you want to rescue your old mountain bike and give it a completely new life, consider replacing its suspensions with Manitou Markhor bike forks. Not only are these set of lightweight bike forks super affordable but they also feature the same TWI-Piston Chamber (TPC) rebound damping mechanism as in more expensive Manitou suspensions.
Talking about the specifications, Markhor forks have a travel of 100 millimeters. These suspension forks are designed with 30mm alloy stanchions and 1 1/8-inch straight (or 1.5-inch tapered) steerer and hence, are best suited for 29ers. Moreover, Manitou Markhor forks offer a 9mm open quick-release dropouts for easy tire removal. Overall, Manitou Markhor MTB suspensions are a great choice to opt for if you're under a budget.
- 100mm travel
- Best for 29” wheel sizes
- Kwik Toggle compression damping
- Air pressure and rebound adjustments
- Impressive quality
- None identified
Another incredible set of mountain bike forks from SR SUNTOUR are their XCM suspensions. XCM forks by SUNTOUR have a 30mm stanchions for greater stiffness and strength and with a pitch of 130mm, these forks are set to offer the best performance. The fact that SUNTOUR suspensions incorporate these features at a lower price than most of the fork models available in the market gives the brand an edge over other competitors.
SUNTOUR XCM disc forks have travel of 80mm, which is sufficient for trail riding and entry-levels bikers. XCM forks are labeled as quick service products which means that they can easily be fixed by replacing the entire cartridge if there's a problem.
- Weight less than SUNTOUR XCT
- 80mm travel
- 130mm pitch
- Quick service
- Reliable performance in 27.5” bikes
- Slightly heavy
A step up from the XCM model from SR SUNTOUR is the XCR fork range, which again is a great option if you need to purchase quality suspension forks for your bike under a budget. Like XCM, these forks also have 30 mm stanchions for added stiffness and but XCR suspensions are quite lighter than those from the XCM range, ensuring improved handling.
SUNTOUR XCR features travel of 100mm to smooth out your ride and elevate your mountain biking experience. Moreover, flexibility in the remote lockout, external rebound, and preload adjustment gives you more control over your ride. After all, there’s a reason mountain bike enthusiasts love SUNTOUR XCR forks on their babies.
- For 26” mountain bikes
- Durable steel steerer tube
- 100mm travel
- Supports disc brakes only
These surprisingly amazing and durable front fork suspensions by ZTZ are a must-have if you fully want to enjoy your mountain biking adventures without punching a hole through your pocket. Made of lightweight aluminum alloy material, ZTZ MTB Shock Absorber Front Air Fork is available in 3 different sizes so you can pick one that best suits your needs. Moreover, the suspensions have a stylish design and are available in red and black color options.
ZTZ Shock Absorber MTB forks feature a double air chamber for maximum shock absorption and pressure balancing. Overall, these sets of suspensions are a great choice if you want to transform your riding experience under a budget of $300.
- Strong yet lightweight
- Available in multiple sizes and colors
- Brilliant performance
- None identified
The last pair of suspensions under $300 to make it on our list of best suspension forks for mountain bikes are the RST Omega TNL. These incredible suspensions are designed with 28.6mm steel stanchions, cold-forged aluminum crown, and magnesium outer legs that have a sleek satin black finish.
RST Omega TNL forks have a 9mm axle coil spring to make them more versatile. They work best on 26” bikes with either disc or V brakes so if your bike fits these specifications, we recommend that you opt for Omega TNL suspensions for your MTB. Also, these suspensions have a lockout feature but you might feel that it doesn’t offer enough settings in the middle. Other than that, RST Omega TNL forks have everything you need to make your biking experience smoother and shock-free.
- Durable material
- Compatible with 26” bikes
- Adjustable damping
- Limited lockout settings in the middle
Bike manufacturers understand the importance of good suspensions in ensuring your safety and determining the quality of your overall experience. For the same reason, modern MTB models are being equipped with high-quality suspensions for top-notch performance. Although rigid bikes don’t have any inbuilt suspension system, you can still get them equipped with good forks with the help of your mechanic. Moreover, you can even upgrade a hardtail bike to a dual suspension bike without investing a lot of money.
To get a good value of your money, it's crucial to have a keen understanding of how MTB forks work and what features they have to offer so that you can make the right decision according to your riding requirements. In this comprehensive buyer's guide, you will learn about the considerations you need to keep in mind when on the lookout for suspensions for your mountain bike.
The first thing you need to do when buying suspension forks for your mountain bike is to determine the price range and limit the options available to you. Since you've already determined a budget of $300, you're through with the hardest part of buying the right MTB suspension forks. And being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t get quality suspensions offering excellent control and performance since manufacturers are continuously innovating their designs to offer cost-effective yet quality suspensions to bike riders. Hence, it’s possible to get high-performance suspension forks under a low budget with the same features as those found in the expensive ones.
The Basic Structure
Suspension forks mainly consist of 5 parts: the steerer tube, crown, axle, springs, and legs. The upper part of the fork is the steerer tube, which fits into the head tube. Steerer tubes made of carbon are generally cheaper while those made of high-end carbon fibers are light yet expensive. Tapered or oversized steerers can also be used for additional stiffness, but only if the head tube is appropriately sized.
Fork legs are the movable part of the suspensions. The lower fork legs are held securely to avoid unnecessary movement whereas the upper legs, or the stanchions, are connected to the springs and damping mechanism. Also, modern bike forks feature oversized stanchions with diameters up to 40mm for extra stiffness.
The lower legs are suspended in the crown of the fork for greater strength. Single crown forks consist of a cross brace below the head tube to house both the legs while double-crown forks have an additional cross brace at the top of the head tube for greater rigidity.
Modern fork axles slide through the hub and are attached to the front fork for increasing tip stiffness and improving steering accuracy. Most MTB use 15mm to 20mm thru-axles that can be securely clamped or screwed tightly onto the fork leg for better performance.
MTB forks springs are responsible for minimizing the effect of uneven, rocky terrains by absorbing shock and making your ride much more comfortable. Air springs have positive and negative pressure chambers which soak in the impact when riding on technical terrains. Similarly, coil-based springs also work to maximize shock absorbance but their slightly heavyweight might make put them at a disadvantage. Some MTB suspensions also feature both air and coil based springs for greater efficiency.
Travel is the distance the forks move when force is applied to them, resulting in a smooth and comfortable ride. Ideally, greater suspension travel indicates better shock absorption and thus, the travel range varies with each type of mountain biking style. The travel ranges according to common biking styles are as follows:
- Cross country bikes have suspension travel between 80mm to 120mm.
- Travel of trail bikes is between 120mm to 140mm.
- Suspension travel for enduro bikes lies within a range of 150mm to 170mm.
- Downhill bikes have a travel range of 180mm to 200mm.
Thus, it's important to choose suspensions according to your biking requirements, since the ones that offer greater travel are generally bulkier. Although this can improve shock absorbance, the added weight might prove damaging for your bike frame. Moreover, some forks can be adjusted to modify the travel. Keep in mind that an increase of travel by every 10mm modifies the head and seat angle by 1 degree, which stabilizes your position and makes steering easier.
Greater travel makes it harder to control the bike and without a reliable damping system, the forks keep bouncing back and forth on the springs. However, the fork movement can be controlled by pushing a fluid, generally oil, through a series of valves and altering the rate of flow to damp the effect. This is the underlying principle behind most of the damping controls available today.
High-speed damping caters to high-impact collisions like those from jump landings while low-speed damping deals with forces that are applied slowly, for example when making turns or braking. Most suspension forks feature rebound damping while some are equipped with both rebound and compression damping circuits for managing different shaft speeds.
Decent MTB suspension forks are crucial for a positive riding experience but many people find it difficult to find the right forks for their bikes. If you are one of those people, use this article as a guide to make the right choice under your budget.