It's not unusual for new mountain bikes to be unveiled at the Crankworx festival in Whistler, British Columbia. What certainly is unusual, though, is a carbon fiber bike that premiered at this year's event. Made by Calgary, Alberta-based Structure Cycleworks Ltd., the SCW 1 does away with a traditional suspension fork, and replaces it with a linkage-style suspension.
So, what's wrong with just doing things the normal way?
"The telescoping suspension fork has been highly refined over the past quarter-century, but will always suffer from two major drawbacks: instability under load and friction," Structure Cycleworks CEO Loni Hull tells us. "The former is a result of all three principal measures of steering stability – head angle, trail, and front-center length – decreasing as a conventional fork compresses, making the bike least stable when the rider needs it most."
That situation is reportedly addressed by the SCW 1's 150-mm-travel Without Telescoping Fork (WTF) chassis, which relaxes the head angle, increases trail, and maintains a more consistent front-center length. It's also claimed to be subject to approximately 40 percent less brake dive than a traditional telescoping fork.
"The friction issue arises from a telescoping fork attempting to do double duty as a structural element and shock absorber, attempting to slide on bushings while the fork is subjected to heavy bending loads, causing sticking and binding," Hull continues. "Structure has removed these bending loads by mounting all moving parts on low-friction bearings designed specifically for bicycles and by using a custom-tuned rear shock absorber for front suspension duties."
If you're interested in giving the SCW 1 a try, though, you'd better start saving now. Plans call for a frame, fork and shocks package to go for US$7,000, while complete bikes could sell for over $13,000 – they're expected to weight about 30 lb (13.6 kg). Delivery of the first units is scheduled for the summer (Northern Hemisphere) of next year.
For another take on a mountain bike with a linkage-style suspension, check out the even weirder-looking Scurra Hard Enduro. And if you like the idea of keeping your existing bike and just swapping in a linkage suspension, then you might like the Motion France Dynamic fork.