Interbike Roundup

There were a number of noteworthy new products hanging off some of the bikes I rode at Interbike. As with the bikes, these are initial impressions rather than in-depth reviews. But for those riders who are chomping at the bit to hear about the shiniest new products, here are several of the most interesting ones I played with.

SR Suntour Auron 27.5″ fork

The Auron is SR Suntour’s new fork that covers the 140mm — 160mm travel segment. It comes in a few variations, but I rode a 160mm-travel version that didn’t have externally adjustable travel (although that is an option).

SR Suntour hasn’t historically been much of a contender in the high-end suspension market. They made (and still make) many low-end models intended to be spec’d on low priced bikes, but they didn’t offer much at the performance end of the spectrum.

Of late, the company has begun dipping its toes into that high-end market. They’ve have a couple of noteworthy riders on their roster, and they have forks in every travel segment that, at least on paper, look to be competitive options.

The Auron sports 34mm legs, and is available for all wheel sizes. It has a 15mm thru-axle that has a slick collet system—neither side of the axle is threaded, so it can be installed from either side. Once the tension is set, you can install it simply by slapping it into the fork. To remove the thru-axel, you depress the collet and it slides right out. While it seems that this system could get jammed up with mud and dust, it worked well while I was fiddling with it.

The Auron has separate high and low speed compression adjustments (on the top of the fork) as well as a rebound adjustment (on the bottom). It’s an air fork, and it follows the fairly standard air in the left leg, damper in the right leg layout. It uses a cartridge damper that’s easily removed and user serviceable. I give the Auron a lot of credit for having legitimately adjustable compression settings and not just a three-position switch.

Interbike Random Bits, Blister Gear Review.
SR Suntour Auron fork

Initial impressions of suspension are a little tricky because (1) I was testing it on a bike that I wasn’t used to (a Norco Range Killer B), and (2) I didn’t really have time to get the suspension dialed in exactly how I’d like it. With that caveat, here’s how the Auron rode:

Right off the bat, the stroke of the fork was fairly smooth. Not quite as smooth as something like the Rockshox Pike, but on par with the Fox Float 34. While I didn’t ride anything that really taxed the fork’s chasis, I didn’t notice it to be flexy at all.

In the first few corners, I felt like the fork was diving into its travel a bit, so I added some low speed compression which seemed to help. On bigger hits, it didn’t bottom out harshly or blow through its travel, but the test loop I rode only had a couple of hard compressions, so I’d need to spend some more time on it to really be confident in that assertion.

On smaller chatter, the fork did a good job absorbing the bumps without packing up or feeling overwhelmed. The fork didn’t do anything particularly weird, which is always a good thing.

Overall, the Auron felt like it rode a little lower in its travel than some of its competitors. But with some tweaking of the damping adjustments (or air pressure), I might have been able to get it to ride a bit higher.

As with any piece of suspension, durability is always a factor, and I can’t yet say how the Auron will do in the long term. And while I don’t have a final word on the price, I believe the Auron will be quite a bit cheaper than the equivalent Fox and Rockshox options, so keep that in mind if you’re on a budget.

Thomson Dropper Post

The Yeti SB95 I rode was fitted with a Thomson dropper post. The Thomson post comes with three distinct benefits:

  1. It worked flawlessly during my test ride.
  2. It has the normal Thomson two-bolt seat clamp, which works better than pretty much anything else out there.
  3. It’s pretty.

The post has 125mm of infinitely adjustable dropability, which is actuated via a sleek remote lever. You can get the post with an under-saddle actuation lever, but that option only saves a few grams. The remote lever is similar to the Kindshock levers, which I regard as a good thing. It’s a vertical lever, meaning that it operates perpendicular to the bar (unlike, for instance, a shift lever). It has a fairly small throw length and, at least on my test bike, played nicely with the other controls.

The cable (a standard derailleur cable) attaches to a little rocker arm on the side of the post. It’s sleek, and although I didn’t mess with it during my demo ride, it looks like it will be easy to replace when needed.

Interbike Random Bits, Blister Gear Review.
Thomson Dropper Post

The movement of the post was quite smooth, and I didn’t experience any slipping or creep—once the seat was set at a given height, it stayed there. The return stroke is quick enough that you’re not waiting for it, but not so fast as to put your dainty bits in jeopardy.

That said, the downsides of the post are also threefold:

  1. The cable attaches at the top of the post, which means you’ve got a 125mm-long loop of extra cable to deal with every time the post drops.
  2. At a little under 600 grams, the post is at the heavy end of the dropper-post spectrum.
  3. At $450, it’s also at the expensive end of the spectrum.

Thomson has a reputation for making really nice stuff, and it may well be that the extra weight and price of the Thomson mean that it’ll last forever. That’s not something that I can report on yet, but if you have a thing for nice, functional seat clamps and pretty pieces of metal, the Thomson might be right up your alley.

NEXT PAGE: Smith Optics Forefront Helmet 

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