Willits WOW Fork: First Impressions

Willits WOW Fork

I have mounted the Willits WOW Fork on the front of my Raliegh XXIX+G. It’s been tested so far on some rutted, rooty, and rough single track. Here’s my first impressions and some info on the fork.

The moniker, WOW stands for “weird or what” and is a great jumping off point for discussion on this steel fork. It has a classic “old skool” look with it’s unicrown construction and curved blades, but that’s about where the familiar territory ends. One of the first things you notice is how the blades bend backwards from the crown and then sweep forwards. (It almost looks as though you made an unscheduled head on meeting with the imoveable object) Then there are the hooded drop outs that look pretty stout and heavy. The disc brake mount is a beautifully curved piece that sweeps into the left fork blade higher up than any other disc brake mount I have ever seen, presumably to help distribute stress along a greater area.

Once beyond the looks, the fork didn’t seem all that heavy in the hand. To be sure, it’s CroMoly steel, and no featherweight, but it didn’t feel anywhere near the territory of say, a Karate Monkey fork, for example.

This was evidenced by my weighing of the fork with an eight inch steer tube, star nut installed, and headset race at 1080 grams. Lighter than the On One Superlight steel fork it replaced and about 100-150 grams more than the carbon forks I have tested.

The first ride or two was a bit different because I could sense that there was some flex that was taking the edge off things but I couldn’t see the blades flexing backwards as I have observed with the carbon forks I have tested. Could it be that the fork was truly flexing vertically? A true single track thrashing was in order! Perhaps then I could decipher what actually was being transmitted to my hands.

As I said, the trail was very rutted and rough. A perfect venue to test out the claims of vertical compliance. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the fork was taking a big edge off medium trail bumps and really felt good in little dips and “g-outs”. I then had a bit of a reminder about steel forks from “back in the day”.

I had a steel hardtail in the late 80’s that had a CroMoly steel, curved bladed fork. It was a flexy fork that would “load up” in a corner and release it’s energy all at once, throwing you to the dirt if you weren’t ready for it. Well, the WOW fork absorbs trail chatter just fine, but that energy has to be released and when it comes out, it does so with no rebound control. That means you might be in for a wild ride if you can manage to get the fork to suck up a big enough bump, like I did. (And yes….I did go down!)

Once you realize that this is how the fork works, it’s either a blessing or a curse, depending on your trail. This day’s ride was a ride full of medium, to higher frequency trail chatter that was custom made for this fork. The higher fequency stuff was still transmitted and not muted as a carbon fork would do. This gave me a feel for the trail that a carbon fork can not. Carbon feeling dead in comparison. As an aside, my tires were Weir Wolf LT’s at 30psi front and rear. Obviously, tire choice is a big influence on how this fork will feel.

I’ll put in more rides on this fork and come back with some more thoughts in a week or two.


No Responses to “Willits WOW Fork: First Impressions”

  1. SPOKES???? Says:

    30 psi? i would never put a weirwolf over 20 psi in the front with a rigid fork. lower that air pressure. it is worth the flat tire once a month (if that) for the ride quality.

  2. Captain Bob Says:

    I wonder how much rider weight would play in the feel of that fork? I bet with your size (not that your huge) that it would “load up” more than it would for me being around 30 lbs light.
    I may have to ride with you sometime soon to compared it with my Origin 8.

  3. Cloxxki Says:

    Thanks for that early review!

    I’ve had KM forks ready for use, less brake studs (but still the mounts) as light as 1082g. So the WOW is perhaps an ounce lighter at the same steerer length. Doesn’t make the WOW heavy though, it reminds me the KM isn’t such a porker, at least it’s fork.

    Surprised about the spring-back! Never considered that.

  4. Guitar Ted Says:

    SPOKES???: Uhh……maybe you don’t weigh 240lbs either! I have had the WeirWolfs at 25 psi in the dry dirt and as low as 20psi on ice and snow. At that low a pressure and at my weight, the rolling resistence is really high.

    That said, it was one ride. I probably will attempt a lower pressure at some point, but for me, 30psi isn’t too far away from the “sweet spot”.

    Captain Bob: I kinda launched it onto it’s nose trying to get it to load up. I was trying to see where the limit of control was. I found it! You are right though about a lighter rider not being able to do that as easily, but then again, it wouldn’t work as well either. 🙂

    Cloxxki: Off topic: I need your e-mail for a response to the use of 69ers in UCI competition that I’d like to send to you. g.ted.productions@gmail.com Thanks!

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