An Experiment In Front End Geometry: Fork #4

We’re jumping back into the series here with our last rigid fork in the test, the Willits W.O.W. fork

Blackbuck with a W.O.W factor

The Willits fork is a sort of inbetween fork, in terms of offset. There were three forks with similar axle to crown measurements with the extremes being the On One fork and the Switchblade fork. Here are the numbers with the Willits:

Head Angle- 72.3 degrees
Axle to Crown- 465mm
Offset- 44mm
Wheelbase- 42.7″
Bottom Bracket Drop Range (EBB) 55mm-65mm
Approximate Trail*- 79mm

Changes Made: This set up, with the same axle to crown measurement as the Switchblade, required the same set up as that fork did.

Handling Characteristics: The Willits fork represented a middle ground in terms of offset. Would that translate to middle of the spectrum handling? In the testing I did, it turned out that I was in for a surprise.

It was a remarkably similar ride to the Switchblade in that there was that feeling that I needed to make corrections with the handlebars and use some body english in the twisties. Even climbing and slow speed manuevers were remarkably similar. The only real difference being that it was a slightly less pronounced amount of the same characteristics found with the Switchblade. I found this all rather baffling since in reality, the numbers on the Willits are closer to the On One Carbon Superlight than the Switchblade. The On One fork is markedly different than the Willits in terms of feel though.

Also worth noting was the fact that this set up took me longer to get dialed into than any of the others. It seemed as though a different technique was necessary for different situations and which to choose was difficult to know until I’d been well into my third hour on the set up. Finally things started to click and I felt at home. Maybe I could chalk it up to a bad day in the saddle, so don’t read too much into that!

A Note On The Forks Ride: The Willits W.O.W. fork was reviewed last year here on the site. I can say that the review is still spot on today. The fork did play well with the Blackbuck’s steel feel and if a bit more offset could be dialed into a custom version of this fork, I’d certainly consider it a winning combination.

Final Thoughts: This fork was a conundrum on the Blackbuck. It should have handled more like a “less quick” On One fork, but it turned out being more of a “slightly less slow” version of a Switchblade. Strange that it was this way, but again, I am finding out that the numbers don’t always tell the story on ride characteristics. One still needs to actually ride a combination on their own trails to appreciate what any frame/fork combination might feel like. Added to this, the “human” factor overides much of what you’d expect looking at a geometry chart too. (Although in the case of the Willits, I found “overcoming” the challenge was a bit more difficult.)

*The trail charts I used all gave slightly different answers and of course, your tire selection will also affect the trail figure slightly. Take my trail figures with a grain of salt. Your mileage may vary!

Next: The suspension forks make an appearance on the Front End Geometry series. Stay tuned for more.

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No Responses to “An Experiment In Front End Geometry: Fork #4”

  1. John from Cape Town Says:

    Hi Ted, would you consider testing a DT Swiss XMC 80 or 100mm?

  2. Guitar Ted Says:

    John From Cape Town: Sure! I’d definitely welcome that. I checked out their site, and getting any geometry info seems tough, or it is not there. So, I’m not sure how it would fit in my testing, but we could always do a stand alone review on one.

    I do not foresee that happening soon though. Unless I get surprised. 😉

  3. captain bob Says:

    I’ll take one! Ha 🙂

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