ENVE quietly unveiled its new carbon GRD thru axle fork at NAHBS 2015 by supplying Moots Cycles and Stinner Frameworks with the fork for their show bikes. The ENVE fork was one of two thru axle cyclocross/gravel forks unveiled at NAHBS, the other being the TRP thru axle cyclocross fork, profiled here.
The fork isn’t just another thru-axle cyclocross fork, but rather a fork that attempts to serve the gravel market specifically with geometry that splits the difference between ENVE’s cyclocross and road forks. What that means is a shorter axle-to-crown distance (382mm) and perhaps less rake than the cyclocross fork, but more than the road fork.
The early prototypes suggest ENVE’s GRD fork will be a 382mm axle to crown, and possibly a 45mm rake, pretty much right between ENVE’s road forks, which sit at 367mm axle-to-crown with a 43mm rake, and the Cross Disc, which is 395mm long with a 47mm rake.
Despite the shorter axle-to-crown distance, the bike still features plenty of clearance for wide tires, with room to spare around the 38c Challenge Gravel Grinder clinchers. Moots’ Jon Cariveau was excited about the new fork’s shorter axle-to-crown distance and its potential to help the company build smaller bikes for his smaller customers.
Of course, most noticeable to readers are not the measurements or clearance, but the thru axle compatibility and removable carbon fender.
The fork will adopt the emerging “road disc thru axle” standard of 12mm x 100mm, which supports Zipp’s decision to offer caps for both 15mm and 12mm thru axles with its new 202 and 303 Firecrest Disc wheels unveiled on Friday. It’s a smaller axle that may better satisfy the weight weenies, but will also frustrate the off-road cyclist hoping to finally have dual-purpose gravel/mountain bike 29er wheels.
The fork will also buck the trend in cyclocross to use 160mm front rotors, and will instead, like the Ritchey straight steerer disc fork does, default its post mount position to fit a 140mm rotor.
The biggest eye catcher on the new ENVE GRD fork will be a rain and mud spray catcher in the form of a removable carbon fiber fender. It installs (and removes) in just seconds, as demonstrated by Moots Cycles’ Cariveau here:
Yes, it’s carbon, and yes, it’s ultralight. In your hand, it feels like it weighs next to nothing. Pair it with a quick release SKS X-Blade or S-Blade rear fender and you’ve got rain protection that installs and removes in seconds.
It’s a sleek, streamlined unit, at least when shielding the high volume Challenge Gravel Grinder 38c tire, but we’re curious how it will handle mud, since the lower portion of the fender tightly hugs the tire, offering little clearance between the tire and fender. Perhaps it will be effective in scraping mud off the tire, just as Aztec Rim Rakes were designed to do on rims.
Price for the ENVE carbon Gravel Road Disc fork is still TBD, and because it’s still in prototype form, it’s not yet on ENVE’s website. Stay tuned as we bring you more details on the ENVE Composites GRD fork as they’re released, and check back soon for profiles on the Moots Dirt Road Prototype bike and Stinner Frameworks cyclocross bikes.