This Lauf True Grit first ride is written by Peter about his experiences on the Lauf True Grit , as well as an accompanying video overview by Contender Bicycles.
After seeing more than a few Lauf Grit forks come through the shop I was excited to get out and ride one for myself. Normally, we have installed these forks as upgrades to current cross and gravel bikes like the OPEN U.P. and Cannondale SuperX. Thankfully, Lauf offers a complete gravel bike frameset based around their unique leaf spring suspension fork and new Grit SL fork, Called the Lauf True Grit gravel bike. Lauf was kind enough to leave us with a demo bike in which I rode as soon as I was able.
Taking the True Grit for an hour-and-a-half spin on the same trails that I previously tested an OPEN U.P. and 3T Exploro gave me a good taste of what this unique front-end could do for a gravel bike. For a fair comparison, I have ridden each of these with the same 700 x 40c Maxxis Rambler tubeless tires, an excellent tire for our local terrain.
First off, the Lauf Grit SL fork is modified to lower the peak stresses on the fork, while the 7mm shorter leaf springs provide further lateral and fore/aft stiffness compared to the standard Grit fork, while also losing around 50g as well. The fork does not claim to offer the “full-sprung, bump eating, rock taming” suspension that we find on our modern mountain bikes. Instead, through the use of carbon leaf-springs and no moving parts, this ingenious fork is tuned to temper the rocks and ruts typically associated with gravel roads. The Grit SL fork aptly does the other-half of the job that all shocks and suspension are designed for, improving traction and control to allow piloting the bicycle more quickly and comfortably over a wide variety of terrain. Instantly I noticed that the front of the bike felt securely planted on the trail with a substantial reduction in bumpiness and vibration transmitted to the bars. This allowed for smoother riding and better directional control on the rocky, rutted combo of dirt, snow, ice and mud in which I found myself.
Recently I was able to ride the Lauf on the Little Wildhorse route in Delle, Utah. There I pedaled over everything from chunky rocks, smooth hardpack, off-camber cattle trails and actual gravel. The Maxxis Rambler 700x40c tubeless tires provided great traction while the True Grit fork kept the front-end from bouncing out from under me. The fork’s leaf-spring design puts 30mm of suspension to work keeping the front-wheel on the ground and filtering out the vibrations that can slow you down. This version of their fork adds improved lateral stiffness to the mix giving the True Grit exceptional directional control over quickly changing terrain. The feel off-road is like running a 2 inch knobby tire without the penalty off added rotational weight or sluggishness on pavement.
After an hour-and-a-half of riding I knew that this would be a great advantage on longer rides. The Lauf Grit SL fork greatly reduces the fatigue that a rider experiences from pushing to keep the wheels on the ground over many miles of rough terrain. With summer in full swing, I look forward to getting out on the Lauf True Grit for many more long rides.