WREN Fork Review

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WREN Fork Review

Postby RMXByker » February 6th, 2017, 9:05 am

I was looking for a suspension option for my Fatboy and came to the quick realization that there just aren’t that many choices out there when it comes to 150mm forks that can accommodate 5” tires. You really only have 3 choices; Bluto, Lauf or the Wren Sports fork. Everyone of these forks has worked on finding there niche in the fat bike world. The Bluto is known as the standard for fatties that need mid range travel while the Lauf is known for being lightweight but low travel. Then there is the Wren fork; which is building a following as a high travel, rigid and smooth fork. Being a suspension enthusiast, I quickly gravitated towards the Wren. Not only did I like the qualities I have seen with it, but its just plain cool looking also with the inverted design and carbon fork guards!

So I decided to reach out to Wren via email and got a response from Kevin the owner. Later on I called the contact information from their website (http://www.wrensports.com) and a gentlemen named Russ answered the phone. Little did I know at the time that Russ is the suspension guru for setups and teardowns at Wren. I chatted with Russ for a short time and he said that I would be hearing back from Kevin. Wow, seriously, the owner of the company will be calling me back. This just shows the type of customer service these guys give you!

It wasn’t that long after a conversation with Kevin that I had a beautiful 150mm hub fork with 110mm of travel sitting at my doorstep. Keep in mind that Wren does offer several different hub widths and travel lengths for other frames. Take a look at their website for more detailed information.

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Lets start with the way the Wren was packaged. If this fork got damaged in shipping I’m thinking it would have had to been run over by the mail carriers semi. Double thick cardboard box encasing individually wrapped in plastic components with thick layers of bubble wrap around all of that. I don’t know what it is about good packaging that makes me happy, possibly it's the fact that my stuff arrives ready to rock.

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So what’s in the box;

Wren Fork
15mm Thru Axle
Carbon Fork Guards
Fork Guard Clamps
2 Hose Guides (hose routing)
2 Travel Clips (10mm and 20mm)
Wren Fork Manual
TwinAir System Explanation

So what are the specs of this fork;

Hub Spacing: 150mm
Tire/Wheel Size*: 26" x 5.0", 27.5" x 4.0", 29" x 3.0"
AC Length: 530mm (adjustable to 520mm, 510mm or 500mm)
Travel: 110mm (adjustable to 100mm, 90mm or 80mm)
Steerer: Tapered - 1.125" ~ 1.5"
Crown: AL6066T6 forged
Stanchions: AL7050 hard anodized, 36mm
Uppers: AL7050 hard anodized, 43mm
Dropouts: Forged
Axle: QR15 included
Brake: Post mount
Offset: 45mm

First thing is first before the fork even sees my bike, I needed to check out the performance of it. The best way anyone can test the true fork performance is using a tool called a suspension dyno. The Wren was setup on the dyno and many runs were executed to learn about the properties of the fork. We looked at things like base adjustability, seal drag and other properties. These graphs can’t be shown here but I will say this much; I’ve yet to see another fork with the amount of user adjustability right out of the box as this one. It was quite incredible to see what you can do with this thing if you have a bit of knowledge of how the TwinAir system works in conjunction with the compression and rebound adjustment on the other leg. You can go from minimal amount of resistance to absolute lockout (our Dyno wasn’t too pleased with this setting) when adjusting the compression side and from snails pace to full blown cheetah return on the rebound side.

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After seeing the performance on the dyno I was incredibly excited to get it on the Fatboy to check it out. Installation was a breeze. I did have to re-lace a new hub into the stock Fatboy wheel, I decided on a Hope, and throw on a headset crown race on and take a bit of the steerer tube off. Just something to remember if you are going to be converting a rigid Fatboy into a trail slaying machine equipped with the Wren. I left the fork with the 110mm travel for the initial installation which puts it at a AC length of 530mm. This can be adjusted using the travel clips that came with the fork.

Wow, what a sight once I got the fork on the bike. The travel felt incredibly smooth with absolutely zero stiction during the entire length of travel. This surprised me a bit as well because the fork really has not been broken in yet. I expect this only to improve with time which is incredible. I really have never felt a fork this smooth, even when comparing to the motocross stuff I’ve been around. The fork just fit. The looks, the scale, the whole package was exactly what I was looking for. I just couldn’t wait to get it out on the trails.

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One thing I noticed was the AC length seemed a touch longer than what I original wanted. Huh, that's an easy change according to the instructions on Wrens YouTube site (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvLdCPausWo). I simply needed to open up the left leg and put in a 10mm travel clip. This took all of about 10-15 mins and I never even pulled the fork off the bike. The process was incredibly easy for any at home bicycle mechanic. The only thing that standard bike mechanic may not have is a good 26mm 6 point socket to loosen the retaining nut on the left leg. Other than, standard tools apply. Just remember to bleed all air out of the TwinAir system before loosing the retaining nut!

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So what is the effect if you change the travel length of the fork;

110 mm of Travel – 530 mm AC
100 mm of Travel – 520 mm AC
90 mm of Travel – 510 mm AC
80 mm of Travel – 500 mm AC

Now that I got the AC length to something I preferred, its onto the fork setup. I myself typically find I like a bit of a stiffer fork with as much rebound as I can control. I decided to keep the TwinAir system balanced so I pumped both sides to 70 psi with equal amounts of strokes from a shock pump. Then I set the compression to the middle adjustment and the rebound about 2/3 of the adjustment. Just feeling the fork travel out by hand in my shop and a few driveway test runs gave me some confidence that this will be a great starting point.

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I had to wait a few days to get a decent riding day here in Michigan but wow was it worth it. We had a perfectly groomed 25F day and I took full advantage. First noticeable impressive was how the bike responded to all the little whoops and holes in the trail. They became unnoticeable to me which allowed a lot more focus to be placed on larger obstacles and turns. I also was concerned that I would notice the additional weight when compared to the carbon rigid fork but it turns out that became unnoticeable as well very quickly. Another noticeable difference was the stiffness. I have ridden a few Blutos myself and this fork is just far more compliant in hard turning. I don’t get that uneasy feeling of the fork legs flexing and then snapping back into place. I heard others complain about this with the Bluto and I really believe that the additional size to the stanchions along with the inverted design eliminates this on the Wren.

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The fork was noticed by a lot of people out on the trail. It seemed people really gravitated towards the inverted design and the large stanchions. Every person that took it for a spin brought it back with a huge smile on their face and really liking it.

Overall, my general feeling is that if you are looking for a fork that can accommodate any riding condition you may throw at it rather it be roots, chunky rock, smooth singletrack, snow etc. this is the fork you need. You will not be disappointed with the smoothness and plushness it can provide to any type of riding. The ease of maintenance will be a huge plus for do-it-yourselfers as well and like I said earlier, it just looks cool.

But I know a lot of you will be thinking, what makes the Wren that much better than lets say a Bluto? For me it comes down to quite a few things. First and foremost for me is the inverted design with the huge keyed stanchions (36mm Stanchion that insert into 43mm Sliders ) providing excellent stiffness. Next up is the amount of adjustment you can get with the TwinAir setup and the compression and rebound adjusters. You just cannot get this type of range from a Bluto. Also, the ease of maintenance and ability to change the travel length simply is a huge plus. Lastly, it can accommodate a 5” tire.
http://www.BoughnerRacing.com

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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby Happy2BRiding » April 21st, 2017, 9:19 am

How's the fork been treating you over the past couple of months? Are you happy with it?
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby jmf003 » April 23rd, 2017, 7:55 pm

Happy2BRiding wrote:How's the fork been treating you over the past couple of months? Are you happy with it?


I'm not the OP but I also recently bought and installed a Wren fork. I'm very happy with it. Super configurable, very stiff, not too heavy, and absolutely incredible customer service. Installed on my Farley 9.6 the total bicycle weight is under 30 lbs.

If you read comments from around on the Internet, you'll find one person complaining about the Wrem fork having too much torsional flex, the same complaint some people have with the RockShox RS-1. Whatever flex is there, I can't feel it. Fat tire sidewall flex might be overwhelming whatever extra torsional flex might be there. The guy complaining about the Wren's torsional flex doesn't seem to own a Wren fork, so it's possible he's just trolling.

Manitou announced a new fat bike fork this past weekend, the Mastodon. Specs on that fork look good but aftermarket availability is not clear. If they are available, they'd be worth checking out in addition to the Wren fork.
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby RMXByker » April 24th, 2017, 6:19 am

Sweet to hear another person in Michigan has gone the WREN route! I've gotten a few more rides in myself on the dry dirt and continue to be impressed. I really like the amount of adjustment I can use and the ease of using it. Its smooth and the full lockout is completely locked which I appreciate. I do notice the weight slightly but its worth it for me to have the fork.

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http://www.BoughnerRacing.com

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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby deuxdiesel » April 24th, 2017, 1:42 pm

I also own a Wren 110 x 150 fork that I run on my Bucksaw. It is certainly an improvement over the Bluto, but not exponentially so. It does work better in the cold than the Bluto, and has less stiction, but it is also a bruiser as far as weight. It added a pound to the bike over the Bluto, but it is a pretty heavy set-up as is, so not a huge deal. I think weight would be more noticeable on a hardtail than a full-suspension, but it will stay on the Bucksaw for now. Mine did come with some damage to the post mounts after they gnawed their way through the box, but nothing too bad. I just went ahead and installed it, knowing that I'd probably ding it up eventually. I hope the Manitou is an improvement with lower price with less weight so that it drives the market to create more options.
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby Happy2BRiding » April 24th, 2017, 1:49 pm

Thanks for the feedback guys. The added weight is what I'm most concerned about. Unfortunately I think my elbows are to the point of either add a suspension fork and deal with it or sell the bike. And the catch is this is for a 135mm spaced front wheel so Wren looks to be about the only option.
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby jmf003 » April 24th, 2017, 3:27 pm

Happy, my 110x150 Wren fork weighs 2103 grams per the company. The Bontrager carbon fork I took off weighs 780 grams per my digital scale. That's a 1,323 gram/ 2.9 lb weight penalty. I find the weight noticeable but not all that bad since it's non-rotating, sprung mass. I took more rotating, unsprung mass out of my setup by going tubeless (2 lb savings) and using a custom wheelset (1.4 lbs) and that made a much bigger difference.

Deux, Manitou is releasing Pro and Comp version of the Mastodon. The Pro version is as heavy as the 150x150 Wren fork (2200 grams) and costs $849 per Bikemag. The Comp is even heavier (2400 grams) and has less desireable internals but costs less: $649.
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby mxkeid » April 24th, 2017, 10:00 pm

I just installed a Wren 110x150 on my Fatboy over the weekend. I personally have liked the handling characteristics the added weight and fork action have provided while cornering. It feels like I am able to carry more speed and hold any line I choose. It feels like the steer inputs are quicker as well. I have noticed that it only takes very small adjustments of the rebound/compression knobs to make changes to how it performs. Have others had the same observation? So far I have been extremely satisfied with its performance smoothing out the trail and absorbing those wrist jarring square edged hits the rigid delivered.
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby RMXByker » April 25th, 2017, 5:44 am

mxkeid wrote:I just installed a Wren 110x150 on my Fatboy over the weekend. I personally have liked the handling characteristics the added weight and fork action have provided while cornering. It feels like I am able to carry more speed and hold any line I choose. It feels like the steer inputs are quicker as well. I have noticed that it only takes very small adjustments of the rebound/compression knobs to make changes to how it performs. Have others had the same observation? So far I have been extremely satisfied with its performance smoothing out the trail and absorbing those wrist jarring square edged hits the rigid delivered.


Yep. I've noticed all the same as well. Been really nice to have the extra capability on my Fatboy. One thing to note on mine is that I've dropped it down to 100mm of travel. I've played with it in every available amount of travel and seem to have settled into the 100mm preference for myself. You running yours at the 110 I'm assuming?
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby mxkeid » April 25th, 2017, 8:16 am

RMXByker wrote:Yep. I've noticed all the same as well. Been really nice to have the extra capability on my Fatboy. One thing to note on mine is that I've dropped it down to 100mm of travel. I've played with it in every available amount of travel and seem to have settled into the 100mm preference for myself. You running yours at the 110 I'm assuming?


Your assumption is correct. I am running it in the stock configuration as received. So far the fork feels good to me in this setup, so have not considered messing with that adjustment yet. Are you running your limit spacer in the 100mm/AC position or just the stroke position? What performance characteristics did that improve for you?

Have you experienced any "odd" feelings when hitting any objects? There is a log feature on the trail I have been trying the fork out on. You approach and hit at it an angle of 45 deg or less. I haven't been able to isolate what is occurring, There is definitely some sort of "torque" influence taking place at the bars. It is the only place I have felt it on any obstacles I have hit. I am planning on mounting a camera looking down on the fork/tire to see if can pick up on what might be happening.
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby RMXByker » April 25th, 2017, 8:20 am

mxkeid wrote:
RMXByker wrote:Yep. I've noticed all the same as well. Been really nice to have the extra capability on my Fatboy. One thing to note on mine is that I've dropped it down to 100mm of travel. I've played with it in every available amount of travel and seem to have settled into the 100mm preference for myself. You running yours at the 110 I'm assuming?


Your assumption is correct. I am running it in the stock configuration as received. So far the fork feels good to me in this setup, so have not considered messing with that adjustment yet. Are you running your limit spacer in the 100mm/AC position or just the stroke position? What performance characteristics did that improve for you?

Have you experienced any "odd" feelings when hitting any objects? There is a log feature on the trail I have been trying the fork out on. You approach and hit at it an angle of 45 deg or less. I haven't been able to isolate what is occurring, There is definitely some sort of "torque" influence taking place at the bars. It is the only place I have felt it on any obstacles I have hit. I am planning on mounting a camera looking down on the fork/tire to see if can pick up on what might be happening.


I've got the 10mm limit spacer on mine currently. For performance, I didn't notice a big difference. The reason I dropped it the 10mm was it seemed a bit tall and slack in the front for my liking. More of a preference change for overall aesthetics and feel than really a big difference in performance.

I haven't noticed anything odd in the feeling of the fork in the stuff I've ridden. I struggled a touch getting the bouncy feeling in a few rock gardens under control but again, its a lot to do with my setup. I prefer to run an extremely aggressive rebound on all my suspension and it was a bit of work tuning that along side my tire PSI's to get the feel I was looking for.
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby mxkeid » April 25th, 2017, 8:41 am

I am wondering if what i am feeling isn't do to low tire pressure. With the Rigid fork I would manual into this feature allowing the tire to skim over the top of it, so have nothing to compare too.
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby RMXByker » April 25th, 2017, 8:45 am

mxkeid wrote:I am wondering if what i am feeling isn't do to low tire pressure. With the Rigid fork I would manual into this feature allowing the tire to skim over the top of it, so have nothing to compare too.


What type of pressure you running? I've been running between 7 and 9 psi with my 4.6 GC on my Fatboy. That seems to be the best area for pressure for me.
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Re: WREN Fork Review

Postby mxkeid » April 25th, 2017, 9:09 am

RMXByker wrote:What type of pressure you running? I've been running between 7 and 9 psi with my 4.6 GC on my Fatboy. That seems to be the best area for pressure for me.


I am currently running about 9-10 front and rear on 3.8 Fast Tracks. I was lazy and didn't check with a gauge and went by the pump reading. It may be lower than I think. Something I am going to more prudent on my next ride.
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