Review: Lauf Carbonara fat/plus fork

Lauf-CarbonaraLauf hails from Iceland, where I’m led to believe it gets somewhat chilly. Naturally, fat bikes have erupted all over the volcanic island, and the company has adopted its leaf-spring design from its mountain bike fork into a fat bike version. It’s not just wider; it’s completely redesigned with no shared components.

The carbon fiber structure has a massive crown and massive tire clearance—plenty of room for the biggest meat on the market. The manufacturing process is similar to any other carbon fiber component, Lauf says, with the exception of the springs themselves. A dozen S2 fiberglass springs create the flex needed for the suspension to activate. These aren’t fiberglass like your fishing boat, they are a specialized material that is much, much stronger and more flexible. The springs are mounted into slots within the carbon chassis and then bonded into place, a technique Lauf says required substantial R&D work.

The springs flex through 60 mm of suspension travel, and their action is progressive, meaning they get stiffer as they flex. Thanks to the trailing link design there is no brake dive and it doesn’t bob excessively during standing climbing. There are bump stops molded into the fork should you bottom it out, but I either never have or didn’t notice. The fork is available with either regular or light tune, depending on the weight of the rider and the desired compression effect. Lauf recommends a maximum rider weight of 265 pounds.

With previous experience riding the Lauf Trail Racer 29er fork, I had some familiarity with the product, but so far the Carbonara has less of an impact on the riding experience. I mean that in a good way, as it complements the natural feel of the large fat bike tires, and doesn’t introduce any new dynamics. The stiff springs on the Carbonara seem to lessen the boing-factor and it doesn’t have the pogo stick feeling that I expected.

I think the Carbonara suits the nature of the fat experience better than it does a traditional bike. It takes the edge off trail irregularities, but doesn’t track the ground. Instead, it takes the forgiving and supple feel of a soft fat bike front tire and emphases it even more so. In a strictly fat bike application I think like the RockShox Bluto. I might even contend that it’s closer to the former than the latter.

Since it’s difficult to find a demo to try, Lauf offers a four-week tryout period, during which you can return it for a full refund if you’re not satisfied. The price is about a third more than a Bluto, and compared to a rigid carbon fork it’s about twice the price and twice the weight. There’s no denying it’s expensive, but it does come with a five-year warranty and a discounted crash-replacement policy.

Lauf Carbonara Details

  • Price: $990
  • Wheel size: 26×5 or 29×3
  • Travel: 60 mm
  • Hub spacing: 150 mm
  • Spring: fiberglass leaf springs
  • Damping adjustment: none
  • Axle: 15 mm, bolt-on
  • Offset: 51 mm
  • Weight: 1,134 grams