Maverick SC32 fork
Maverick’s six-inch, dual crown DUC32 upped the ante for travel, stiffness and lightness. The new single-crown SC32 steps down the travel but keeps the rest.
The SC32 provides five inches of air-sprung, oil-damped suspension. A lever on the right leg locks the fork down to three inches for climbing, and an inset aluminum knob controls a narrow but useful range of rebound adjustment. The fork’s low profile provides five inches of suspension with a ride height comparable to other four-inch forks.
Like all things Maverick, the SC32 isn’t cheap — but it’s a finely made piece of machinery.
Forty-millimeter upper legs, 32-millimeter lower legs and a wide stance make the fork look heftier than its 3.5 pounds would suggest. The 27-millimeter axle tapers to 24 millimeters outside the hub, where each quick release clamps all the way around more than an inch of gnurled metal. The resulting setup is twice as stiff as a 20-millimeter axle, which allows less material to be used elsewhere in the fork (says Maverick). The inverted design keeps the bushings and seals bathed in lubricating oil.
Paul Turner, founder of RockShox and Maverick American, says that for a bike to inspire confidence, the fork must be stiff in the directions that matter. Fore-aft stiffness matters, he says, because braking and bumps tend to bend the fork backward, which moves the steering axis back and forth and constantly changes the bike’s handling. Lateral stiffness matters, because cornering forces tend to tilt the wheel upright, which forces the rider to lean more then re-correct when the wheel straightens up.
Turner says torsional stiffness doesn’t matter, because actual riding rarely loads a fork that way. That’s good, because with the front wheel held in place the handlebars can be tweaked back and forth very easily.
You’ll feel the SC32’s stiffness in high-G berms.
From the first turn, the SC32 corners unlike other five-inch single crown forks. It takes a few turns to get used to a fork that isn’t flexing — even the excellent Fox Talas flexes noticeably more than the SC32 — but in short time the rider forgets about flex and just charges. The suspension is plush at first and ramps invisibly to the end of the travel. The SC32 provides pinpoint handling and absorbs tiny to tremendous hits in a perfectly forgettable way. In the mind of the rider, the SC32 basically disappears — except in the way it dials up the confidence.
Some riders complain that the SC32 feels wishy-washy in BMX start gates (torsional flex), and a few aggressive dirt jumpers have reported reliability problems, but Maverick says the fork isn’t intended for those uses. That said, the SC32’s preciseness and lightness make it a dangerous weapon for mountain cross and dual slalom competition.
The SC32 combines the weight and height of light five-inch forks with the stiffness and suspension quality of heavier all-mountain forks. This combination makes it a great option for mid-travel trail riding.
In a sketchy turn like this, a bit of flex is welcome, but once you learn to use the SC32’s stiffness, you can corner harder than ever.
Intended use: Aggressive XC with a bit of XC and all mountain
Fork price: $600
Hub price (also available from Chris King): $135
Weight: 3.5 lbs
Build height (axle to crown race): 494 mm
Ride height (with 25-30mm of sag): 464-469 mm
Contact: (303) 415-0370
A toned-down version of this review ran in the May issue of Mountain Biking magazine.