Sometimes, there are contradictions and tensions in the message when talking about ‘new innovation’ and ‘heritage’ in the same sentence, unless you are a marketeer and you use heritage as ‘the hook’ for selling a new innovation. I’m using the two separately in this post, but both will be complimentary to each other. I’ve dedicated this post purely to the testing of the newly manufactured replacement, Cannondale HeadShok fork boots, so the format is simple; Context, fitting, riding performance and an overall view.
The 4th ‘Interesting Interview’ in the series was with Roc Fu from China (see link at bottom of this post), and it illustrated his desire to apply innovation of thinking to a suspension part; the rubber boot that protects that piece of suspension heritage, the Cannondale HeadShok. These new boots are designed to stretch over the fork tube for ease of fitting and are very, very difficult to puncture. I took delivery of my order recently and the first two that I fitted were to my Cannondale Raven. Roc Fu’s initiative of producing these boots in different colours was just perfect for my Raven. The red boot looks great and balances out the red parts at the front and rear of the bike, after all, fashion is important. I thought that the clear boot that he has produced would ‘probably’ fit that great Fox rear shock and protect it from everything the back wheel throws at it. I was correct as it turns out.
Firstly, both boots were fitted in just 40 minutes. The front boot fitted in super-quick time, had matching cable ties, including a spare, and was done without pulling apart the whole suspension insides of that HeadShok. Equally quick, the rear boot went on easily and was a perfect fit (lucky break) for the Fox shock. Testing in the workshop proved that the boots compressed perfectly and were quiet in action, and didn’t fold awkwardly when compressed. This bike is also wearing a relatively new innovation on its wheels in the form of Terra One Rider T1 tyres (or tires, depending how you spell it), which are designed to respect and fit on heritage mountain bikes.
The black HeadShok boot I that removed to replace it with Roc Fu’s red boot was the original, and not split or damaged. What I did notice when I compared the original boot with the new one is that the new one feels more supple, and is thicker and stronger in the areas where the boot compresses. The new boot is slightly slimmer than the one that I removed, but it looks great, grips the forks and the HeadShok well, and fits into the flanges perfectly. It also didn’t distort when I pulled the cable ties tight.
The rear shock boot was a bit of an experiment. The Fox shocks on these bikes are great, but the slider barrel is very exposed to everything that the rear wheel can throw up at it. It needs careful cleaning and light oiling to keep it running perfectly, so I thought that a boot would be useful. Bearing in mind that this boot was designed for a HeadShok, I was amazed how well it fitted, gripped the metal barrel and body, and hasn’t needed a hole put into it to allow airflow during compression. If I wanted to have this bike just as a show bike, I wouldn’t put the boot on it. However, this bike gets ridden regularly, and in all conditions, so it makes sense to ‘protect where possible’.
Riding and Performance
The test ride was in my local Swiss, Pre-Alps region and as it is late March, there is still some snow around, muddy single tracks and some recently dried out farm tracks. I haven’t got much to say other than both boots worked perfectly, were nice and quiet in their action and didn’t twist or distort. What was great, was at post-ride bike wash time. The bike was quite muddy, so I was really pleased to hose the dirt off that rear shock boot knowing that all was well underneath it. Neither boot got stained from the dirt or the from the bike Muc-Off cleaner I use either.
There was one issue that I discovered on the ride, and it was a new creaking noise. I like silent mechanical working, so I can get paranoid about a creaking noise. Anyway, it wasn’t the bike or the new boots, it was my helmet. I did double check that it wasn’t my actual head that was creaking, which I discounted quite quickly, so now I need to fix the helmet creaking. In case you haven’t read about the Terra One tyres that I’m using, you can read about the first ride on the prototypes that I did with their designer in the link below as well. If you want to get some ‘new innovation’ tyres on your ‘heritage’ MTB and want to buy some, click on the T1 logo in the sidebar.
If you have a Cannondale with a HeadShok, it is key to keeping it dry and well-greased, so having the availability of these new boots is really great. I know Roc Fu is working on replacement boots for the Cannondale Moto and Lefty forks as well as a fatter version of this HeadShok boot. He has an eBay shop (link below) and is also building his own eStore with some other innovations to keep the bikes in our cycling heritage on the road or trail. In the meantime, I’ll get back to trying to locate that helmet creak!
Read the Roc Fu interview here https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/the-interesting-interview-series-no-4-roc-fu/
Roc Fu’s eBay shop https://www.ebay.com/itm/363329540263
Prototype Terra One Tyre test post https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/testing-round-prototype-rubber-products-the-rider-t1/