By Karl Rosengarth
White Brothers XC3
Suspension Type: Judd coil spring.
Damping Type: Hardbody oil cartridge.
Weight: 3.5 lbs. (cut to length).
Lubrication System: Wet bath.
Stanchion Diameter: 31.75mm.
Materials: Teflon impregnated, hard anodized aluminum alloy stanchions; hard anodized billet aluminum alloy brake bridge; hard anodized aluminum alloy crown; Easton® tapered aluminum alloy steerer, hard anodized aluminum alloy sliders, billet aluminum alloy top caps.
Disk Brake Mount: Yes.
Suggested Retail: $550.
Contact: White Brothers, 24845 Corbit Pl., Yorba Linda, CA 92887; 714.692.3404; www.whitebros.com.
Operation: The XC3 has no external adjustments. The Judd coil springs (one in each leg) are designed to suspend riders in the 135 to 180lb. range (approximate). Preload is set by a spacer under each top cap. The non-adjustable cartridge damper provides speed sensitive compression and rebound damping. Active travel is 78mm, with another 4mm in negative travel (expansion direction). The XC3 is designed to be run as is—but if you’re very light or very heavy, or you feel an all-consuming need to switch, $40 will get you lighter or heavier springs. Just gotta mess with the preload? You can run a thicker spacer.
Rider Impressions: The first thing I noticed was very precise steering—no floppy tendencies that some suspension forks demonstrate. White Brothers claims that several design features contribute to the lateral rigidity and precision steering: the larger diameter stanchions/sliders (compared to typical cross country forks), the torsion box crown, the billet brake bridge and the billet dropouts (1mm thicker than “standard”).
Out of the box, the XC3 performed well for me (150lb. body weight). Big hits disappeared without a fuss. The XC3 smoothed out small bumps quite nicely, though I wouldn’t call it plush (not by today’s kooshy air shock standards). Damping discussions make my head spin, so I’ll just say that the damping felt good to me—no pogoing and my front wheel stayed connected to the trail. After the recommended 10-hour rebuild (take apart, clean, lube and assemble) the XC3 felt a bit more plush. During the rebuild, I was impressed that not a speck of dirt had made it past the quad-lip seals on this bootless fork, especially since I’d ridden in sloppy conditions. The seals really worked well. After the initial rebuild, the recommended service interval is about 30 hours. Thanks to the design simplicity, rebuilding is a snap. You should regularly rebuild ANY suspension fork—otherwise grit could build up in the seal area and abrade the top portion of the stanchion tube.
By the end of the test, I’d put over two months on the XC3, and I couldn’t remember having any negative riding experiences. Fortunately, the stock springs worked well for my weight and riding style. My only bad experience happened in our shop—I wanted to bolt a Hayes hydraulic disk caliper to the fork—but it just wouldn’t fit. It turns out that White Brothers sells an adapter ($15). If you run disk brakes (or plan to), check with your dealer on compatibility (a good idea with any fork/disk combo these days).
All White Brothers forks are made and assembled in their California factory, using American made parts. Several little details impressed me: hard anodizing on most internal and external surfaces (light and durable); composite bushings, as opposed to Teflon® coated steel ones that may wear through the coating and damage the stanchions (durability); billet aluminum alloy fork caps (no plastic to break). We could argue all day about the lack of external adjustments, but I say the XC3’s simplicity and good performance is a testament to good engineering. If you’re going to spend $550 on a suspension fork, you’ll need a reason or two: performance and durability work for me. —Karl Rosengarth