The Test Bike
Frame: Ibis Mojo
Rear Shocks: Fox RPL (main), DT Swiss XR carbon
Wheelset: American Classic All Mountain
Tires: Conti Rubber Queens 2.4, Schwalbe Fat Alberts 2.4
Brakes: Magura Marta SL, Hayes Stroker Gram
The main competition during my long term test with the EXC 150, was the Manitou Elite and the Magura Thor (both 140mm), so I had some nice ways to evaluate how the fork functions and compares as I swapped back and forth between each of them.
The EXC 150 reminds me a lot of the Magura Thor, it has great mid range feel, and really firms up towards the end of the travel. The major differences are the EXC 150 is a bit plusher, and has better small bump compliance, but it can’t compete with the rigidity of the Thor’s double brace. The EXC 150 is plush, but cannot stand a candle to the Manitou Elite, which is the plush meister. The additional 10mm of travel is really nice to have, and it only takes a minimal adjustment period to get used to the extra height of the fork. I always seem to forget to measure the average maximum travel that I get on each of my rides, but it seems to revolve around 125-135mm. On some rare occasions (especially when I was running lower pressure) I did get the full 150mm of travel.
I took the fork up onto my favorite terrain, the Burn Zone in Monument Colorado. It has a very long section that has rock gardens, sharp turns, small drops offs, gravel, loose rocks, and some interspersed smooth sections. The fork climbs incredibly well up the rocky sections, and the rock gardens did not faze it at all. The fork just stuck like glue throughout the rough stuff. The plushness and the sweet mid travel of the fork were pretty impressive. Small side glances and trail changes did not affect the stability of the fork, it seemed to float along the trail. This is a very good climbing fork. When going downhill through the rock gardens the fork just squished along, fast or slow it seemed to be very comfortable and content. On an occasion, drop offs or hard sudden tweaks, the fork flexed just a bit, but it was usually very stout and stiff. On some drop offs and spots where the wheel got choked between rocks, the fork had a tendency to have some fork dive, adding more air to alleviate this issue caused the fork to lose too much of its characteristics (it got way to firm).
When I did get the fork dialed in, I was pleasantly surprised on how well the fork rode. The fork just seemed to float along the terrain, and I almost forgot I was using a long travel fork until I hit some big obstacles. I can’t recall a fork that just made the easier terrain sort of disappear beneath me. The fork gelled over small undulations, with incredible small to medium bump compliance. On larger bumps, it firmed up comparatively, and there was a tad of fork dive, that tuning did not totally solve. The additional travel, the nice linear travel (small to medium bumps), and the sweet plushness of the fork were very nice.
Here is a split video of a helmet and frame mount, using the EXC 150 fork:
I weigh 155 lbs., and tend to ride a lot of rocky terrain that can really slam suspension pretty hard, and 70-80 psi seemed to work at the best for me. If you use lower pressure, you get more plushness, but the fork dive increases greatly. Increasing the pressure, the fork gets stiffer, with fewer fork dives, but it loses too much of its characteristics. Sag was usually around 25%. I used the rebound and low speed compression slightly positive from the middle setting.