Rodeo Labs Spork 3.1 Review: Lighten Up!
You know the feeling you get when you’re waiting for a delivery and checking your mailbox daily? The anticipation of something new and exciting, just niggling at you, while checking delivery numbers and schedules until that special day when you find a delivery note attached because the service couldn’t deliver. Your package will be ready for collection in 1-3 business days! Argh.
I headed straight up the hill to collect my new delivery, and as the postal worker handed over my much-anticipated package I could not believe how casually he passed it over the counter, single-handedly, passing me what felt like an empty box. Sure the size was about right for a fork, but was this something else I’d forgotten about? Had I ordered some peacock feathers, or maybe Rodeo Labs had forgotten to put my order in the box? The ease and carefree manner in which the package was being handled was more in line with a box of cereal than a bicycle component.
I gave the box a gentle shake, and sure enough, it felt like contents were present, but could this fork really be this light? It felt like there were more grams in the corrugated cardboard packaging than the item that it was carrying. This would be my first taste of carbon, having always been drawn to steel frames for the classic-looking lines that give a nod to bikes of the past. I’d always associated carbon with road bikes and was something I felt happy to negate from the periphery. Why would I care about the extra weight of a component when I’m carrying a kilo of camera gear and the same in hot sauce when fully loaded?
It turns out that loaded touring isn’t the only form of riding a bike, and my current life circumstance has me more often riding weekend gravel with pals, as well as the odd weekday road ride. My Surly, midnight special that had its winter coat on, 650b wheelset, and heavy fenders had served its wet season commutes well but it felt like time to make it a vehicle that could feel more at home on these weekend rides and allow me to keep up. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a lighter setup?
I unwrapped the Spork 3.1 fork, and wow, they looked stunning. A beautiful matte black with multiple rack mounting points and a gloss Spork graphic that makes a relatively serious component feel a bit more fun. The fork offers internal cable routing to add to the stealthy aesthetic and extra mounting points for an eyelet system that allows you to fit nearly any front rack you can imagine. Especially good for those who like to ride with a front pannier set-up.
It wasn’t until the fork was fitted that I was really aware of what a difference this change was going to make. After becoming used to the weight of the carbon fork in my hands and now holding my old steel fork, I was shocked. The difference in weight was nearly a third! The original Surly fork came in at 1254 grams, compared to the Spork 3 which comes in at 495g! A saving of 759 grams, the equivalent of 2 full beers, or an ultra-light shelter, or any other key part of your riding system. I try not to be too much of a weight weenie but that’s a bonus in anyone’s eyes.
The difference is significant and you notice it immediately once on the bike. Steering is much more lively and acceleration has definitely improved. My initial ride involved joining the Squamish Gravel Cycle Club for the final leg of their annual Triple Crown event. It was an unplanned encounter that took my original route of 100 meters elevation, to nearly 1000, up some of the steepest gravel roads Squamish has to offer. After agreeing to what I knew was going to be an hour of grinding and sweating and spinning out on hot FSRs (fire service roads) covered in dust, my Midnight Special was feeling surprisingly at home. I was definitely lacking a comfortable gear ratio but the extra weight from my old fork had proven to be the perfect training tool. What you spend on carbon forks, you save on a new drive train.
They were good on the way down too. The route was steep and fast gravel, with frequent baby heads and potholes. It was a fun time, but with 40 people on the final descent of a Triple Crown no one was holding back and it was hard to ignore that energy. The forks felt great and worked great in combination with my new Hunt Gravel wheelset and Ultradynamico Rose Race tires. I felt super confident the whole descent, this was my first experience with a carbon fork, and had no idea what to expect. I hit rocks and holes that had no effect on the fork and felt fine. The Spork is designed to withstand pretty much all types of terrain loaded or not so there is nothing to worry about here.
You'll probably love them or hate them—in terms of shape, I personally think the Spork’s are one of the nicer forks I’ve seen. But as an addition to my steel Surly, I also think the forks are a sweet-looking addition and I get compliments on the daily. I like the overall look they give my bike with a slightly more aggressive stance on a more classic-looking frame. The matte black is stealthy, although I’m a bit worried about how easily the forks might mark. The Spork branding is also pretty and on point with the rest of Rodeo Labs' playful vibe. They can also be supplied with a googly eyes option too.
My Nitto rack sat on the forks perfectly and seemed to blend in quite well. I also tried the Menything cages, which looked good but could only be mounted at 2 points. This may or may not matter to you. The stealth cable housing is also a really nice touch and I like it more and more every time I notice it.
|Proper clearance for tires up to 650b x 2.4″ and 700c x 55mm (29 x 2.2)|
|Weight: 495 grams|
|Optional eyelet kit for extra rack compatibility|
|A modular endcap system that allows for native use of either 15mm or 12mm through axles with no need for shims or adapters|
|Internal dynamo routing along the drive-side fork leg|
|396mm axle to crown and a 45mm rake allowing for compatibility with a wide range of existing gravel and adventure framesets|
|Purchase includes a fork and axle of your choosing|
Rodeo Labs is a brand with fun and adventure at its core. Their range of products shows years of experience in adventure cycling, and the Spork 3 is no different. Lots of features, great looking design, lightweight, and extremely durable.
The forks are an investment of $595 CAD but are a great way to drop weight from your bike and make it look great at the same time, especially if you’re looking for more mounting options. It is a great-looking fork and makes my bike work really well, what more could I ask for?
|Mounting options for many bags and racks|
|2 mounting points on fork|
|Fairly large investment|
|You won’t want a steel fork again|