I get to try out the coolest things, but only because people know I will try to put it through as much as possible. Miles. Time. Ruts… When The Dirty Kanza crew approached me with the chance to ride a Lauf fork for the DK 200 in 2017 I was totally in. They wouldn’t lead me astray. There must be a reason why Dirty Kanza was behind these forks and it was my job to find out why.
The Salsa carbon Warbird has been my ride for the past year, previously I had ridden the aluminum Warbird, a Trek Boone, and possibly a Kona. Either way I have ridden similar bikes with all sorts of frame material and components. The Warbird has become the one for me. The bike itself does work to keep me chatter free, add in an Ergon seatpost and I am pretty happy as it is. Would it be possible to be more comfortable? Installing the Lauf will hopefully be a comfortable change that will stick
I have been using a 38c tire on gravel for the past 3 years. I don’t like using anything smaller, and luckily the Lauf was fine with that, fitting up to a 42c tire. Beyond that the fork wouldn’t change the bike too much. The rake of the Lauf fork is said to maintain the steering characteristics even though it’s a little bit longer. The Lauf has 30mm of travel. Visually I think the Lauf fork looks weird, and didn’t flow with the Warbird. Getting over the aesthetic I was excited to see just how comfortable I could get.
Besides the changes to the bike I think my body will welcome the new fork. There is a lot of work that goes into making a bike comfortable when starting to attempt long distances on gravel. All of the contact points need to be thought out. Dialing in my saddle, chamois, shoes, pedals, gloves, handlebars...you get the idea. Having about 5 years of experience I have picked out the gear that works for me. Changing up a large component on my gravel bike never seemed like a necessity. Swapping a fork takes time, new brake adaptors, and possibly headset.
Finally ready to ride. The first ride I spent most of my time testing the Lauf. Standing up on hills, turning through messy gravel, and trying to ride with no hands. The differences were expected, but nothing was so drastic that I couldn’t adapt after some more rides. My only big concern is navigating tricky ruts and b-roads. Other than that after swapping out a major frame part the changes seems minor and only positive. My first big ride will be Landrun 100, notorious for being a muddy and tricky course. The first test will be probably be one of the hardest and I cannot wait to push this fork to its limits!