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Gravel Bike Suspension?! | Meeting Lauf In Iceland

Gravel Bike Suspension?! | Meeting Lauf In Iceland


(heavy metal pounding) (air rushing) – Suspension on gravel bikes is a thing. Now it’s fair to say
that these guys, Lauf, are probably the pioneers. Certainly they are the most distinctive. Once you see a Lauf fork, you
will definitely remember it. And they’re based right here in Iceland. And when they found out that we were over here to do some riding, they invited us to come and hang out and they’ll hopefully
explain a little bit more about how this works. They’re based right here
in downtown Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. Population at just 128,000 people, 200,000 in the wider capital district, and that’s 2/3 of the entire
population of the country. Now you might get the idea
if you can see the amount of Gortex being worn around here that it is a little bit chilly,
but don’t make the mistake, it is in fact late summer. And they are just in here. No, that’s the pub, up a bit. No, that’s the tattoo
parlor, up a bit more. There you go. Look, Lauf, over there. We caught up with the guys
here yesterday evening, pizza and beers, so they
should be expecting us. Hello, good morning. – [Gudberg] Look who it is. – Alright, this is Lauf, come on in. So we’ve got Gudberg here. Hey man, morning, you alright? And Benedict. So these guys are the founders of Lauf and Oleg over there is
working on sales, right? – Yup.
– Cool. And you also have three
people out of the office on gravel bike GT, spot riding? – [Benedict] Yeah, they’re out there having fun.
– Yeah, racing in the US and Belgium. – Nice, so six people
in total at the moment? – Yeah, usually only
three or four right here. Yeah, the other people’s traveling, visiting shops and doing races. (whip cutting through air)
– Alright then, a quick tour. So in here we’ve got a workshop. In there we’ve got a little test lab. (electronic beep) (hammer banging) (electronic beep) There, of course, clearly workspace. What I particularly like, guys, is the fact that there is less workspace than there is socializing
space because we got a bar over there and we’ve got
a kitchen, and then in here, I’m just gonna give you
a very quick rundown just to make sure you
know exactly what Lauf do. So the forks, already seen these. So this is the mountain bike fork, the TR Boost, that was product number one, although this is the
second iteration of it. Then, the Carbonara
for fat bikes, clearly. And then, of most
relevance to us, I think, it’s the Grit fork. So this is the gravel bike fork. And then now the Grit SL, which is the latest version
of a gravel bike fork. And this, very excitingly, which is their first
complete bike as well. So this is the True
Grit, their own frameset, and we’ll find out a little
bit more about that later on. First though, we wanna
know how does that work? (mellow urban music) Benedict, can you explain please, firstly, how the forks work. The basic principle behind it. – So, yeah, basically it’s
all about controlling flex. Depth flex is pretty easy. You just use a soft material, basically. Basically you’re gonna
have a flexing component. But to control the movement of the tire, that was the real challenge. So that’s why we have, that’s why we came up this exact design, having the springs spaced apart. So lower stack of springs
and upper stack of springs, this gives it lateral stiffness,
that’s the whole idea. – Okay, and so the axle
of the wheel is there and then those are leaf
springs, am I right? – Yeah, those are leaf springs, yeah. – And so the path of the axle is literally straight up, straight down? – Yeah, pretty much straight, yes. But initially gonna move
slightly backwards, slow, perpendicular to the
surface of the springs, but then it’s gonna
straighten out a little bit so it makes it extra
sensitive in the beginning toward small bumps, and
then it straightens out. – [Simon] I mean, do you call
each one of those a spring? – Yeah, springs, ’cause
that’s what they are. So a lot of people think
they are carbon springs and we don’t bother
correcting that. (laughs) – Okay. (laughs) – (laughing) It’s happening everywhere in reviews all over the internet. But if we would use carbon fiber for it, it would be way too brittle. It would just snap on a big impact. So the material we use is a super high-performance glass fiber. (hammer banging) – Okay.
– So it’s done in the same way as a carbon fiber in bikes. You have epoxy and then
you have the fibers. We just have glass fiber
instead of carbon fiber. And, yeah, this fiber can
flex maybe twice as far, or at least twice as far, as a regular carbon and just won’t break. So these were samples
we made back in the days just to fatigue test springs, but they also do a good job of explaining why the fork kinda looks as it does. So if you just have, let’s say if you make up
normalish looking fork, but you wanna make it really forgiving, so you’d make it slim in some dimensions to make it forgiving towards impacts. And then you basically
end up with this system, so it can flex like this,
but it can twist also. You can feel this, this
is yeah, really noodly. – It is very noodly, yeah. Okay, so you’ve just
cut one of your springs? – Yeah, it didn’t break. Yeah, (laughs) it don’t break. (laughing) I’ll catch it, no worries. So here how we arrange them. This is not the full
distances, as you can see, compared to the fork but
still just this short distance gives you a really stiff
feel, so this is what. – Yeah, I don’t have the biggest muscles, GCN viewers know this, but still. That’s quite incredible, isn’t it? I guess one of the
important things is to note that there is less travel on a Lauf fork than on a telescopic fork. So on the Grit gravel fork, it’s what? 32 mils, or what? – It’s like close to
30, so it’s like 25, 30. – [Simon] Okay, and then
on the mountain bike forks, it’s what, 60 mil?
– Double that, roughly. Yeah, so they should never
go further up than that. Two reasons. It would be a huge fork when you need to have these really long
springs and the weight is gonna approach
somewhat telescopic forks. So just construction wise it
wouldn’t make a lot of sense, but also just the function
of it because the response of forks make them better suited
at dealing with small hits. So the high frequency
stuff gets ironed out, but slower and bigger impacts,
it won’t do much for that. – [Simon] Can you talk me through and show me some of the early prototypes? – Yeah, come over here to
our prototyping department. (Simon laughing)
– Cool. (mellow urban music) Now if I were to guess, I’d say that that was
probably an early prototype. I bet this is that? – Yeah, so this is the first
rideable, in a way, prototype. And this is not light, and think about it, here we were trying to make the lightest suspension fork in the world. (Simon laughing) (laughing) It doesn’t feel like it. – No, so what you made it out of? – So this is here aluminum, everything, but up here we have a kilo of steel. Yeah, this fork tested
just the main concept, yeah, guiding tire up and down. But, obviously, we had to
work on the weight a bit. So next logical step was
to make it out of carbon. And that’s where–
– So presumably that’s your passion, the composites. That was proof of concept,
but it was always gonna be about carbon fiber.
– Exactly, yeah. So this is the first carbon fork we made. So this was made just
here in-house, by us, up in the attic here. There’s more room we could borrow there. After work we were coming here and cutting carbon prepreg
and laying that into molds, and then inflating bladders
in the parts to cure it. An oven we also built, I
can show you afterwards, a big oven we made. – You built an oven. – Yeah, like a huge oven
and we carried it up to the fifth floor up a small, like a round staircase, up there. It was really tricky to get
it up, but yeah. (laughs) So this is a mold for our next iteration after the one I showed you
previously, this one here. And here we are focusing
on how to make the pockets for the springs properly,
attachment pockets. So we make those with these inserts here. So these here, pas-sets, are
used in the layer process. So you attach them to the fork and lay up all around these. – That looks like quite fine work. – Yeah, yes it is. – Does that headset race show a bit about the weather in Iceland probably? (Benedict laughing) Then I start to kinda feel it comes out in my cyclocross bike at
the end of the winter. – Yeah, maybe it does. (Simon laughing) This is normal to me. – Yeah, exactly. So bangs look like after
two weeks in Iceland, yeah. – The key thing was to make something really simple and lightweight, something to be able to fall in between rigid forks
and telescopic forks, and part of that is zero maintenance. So there are no pivots or nothing, so. As long as we design the
springs and make them properly to make them last forever, which they do. With our latest forks, they work forever, and if not, we have a really
long warranty on them. But nothing can fail in this and you don’t have to maintain anything. It just, yeah, goes and goes. – Yeah, how do you test the springs? Can you talk me through
some of the tests that you? – Yeah, we do a lot of tests, we– – In your test lab right?
– Most importantly fatigue testing. Can I show you that? – Yeah, let’s go for it,
fine, let’s have a look. (mellow jazz music)
(hammer banging) (Simon laughing) That’s really strong stuff, isn’t it? (hammer banging) (machine whirring) – So, yeah, this is the room
we do a lot of our testing in. – I’ll tell you what, it looks more like a torture chamber than
anything the most, look. Dare I ask what? – This is a torture machine, I mean, fatigue testing and testing in general. It’s torture of– – Oh, I see, it’s like a
running road, that’s the bump. – Yes, we call it the
hamster wheel, this one. And we mount the fork up
here with a tire and all, just like complete test
because most of the tests that, for example, time after winter
and with testing testers, basically official bike component testers, they focus on just the part itself. Here we wanted to test it with the wheel and everything, just to be completely sure. And then we just make different bumps here and make it rotate at different speeds, and they hit the wheel here. Yeah, so this is from the
length of it I’m gonna guess that this is probably a
gravel fork spring here. So we flex them to roughly 70% of where we have the
bump stop on the fork. And we need them to
do, require them to do, 100,000 cycles of that without losing 10% in original stiffness. A lot of it goes into
just quality controlling what we do here because always when we make springs with
our vendor in Europe, they make springs and
send us sample of it, and the remainder goes to
our fork vendor in Asia. So we always test what they
are producing forks out of. But this has probably
taken us about four years to really dial in how to make
it because it’s really tricky. You need to maintain pressure
while you’re curing it, but at the same time
you need to have exact, really, really exact, thickness of it. If it’s off by just .1 millimeter you get a way different stiffness
and it just, yeah. It’s unrideable, too soft or too hard. – Given that you’ve kind of
brought technology to cycling maybe that hasn’t existed
in this field before, has some of this gone on
to the frameset as well? – In one way, obviously, just because we have our fork we wanted to make a geometry that
was dialed in for the fork, but that’s maybe not
a revolutionary thing. It’s just a frame that fits really nicely onto a fork and works well in gravel. But then in terms of
maybe material experience, we come from a different
angle than other bike makers. So we have been using this
material for a long time and have been learning lots
and lots of things doing that. – Interesting, can we
take a look at the frame? – Yeah, let’s go. (mellow tropical music) (hammer banging) (Simon chuckling) – My hammering technique
leaves a bit to be desired. (cameraman laughing) So here it is, the True Grit. Now this could probably have been out for just under a year now, is that right? – [Gudberg] Yeah, a
little bit under a year. – Okay, and so you’re motivation
for doing it, I guess, was to build the perfect
frame around your forks ’cause I guess when you’re
adding in them in the suspension the front of the bike
has to lift up slightly to allow the front wheel to move. – Yeah, exactly. When we did the bike we, like we say, we started with a fork
and descend off from that. And it’s a little bit
longer than rigid forks because you have this
little bit of suspension, so this one has about 30 millimeters, so it adds about 20 millimeters
to the axle to crown, so it’s a little bit taller. Instead of entering gravel
from road bikes side of things, like you say, we entered from
mountain bikes side of things since we’re mountain bikers. So we have a long top
tube and shorter stems and then a slack handle. – So, actually, if I
stuck a 135 little stem on that and a pair of flat handle bars, I’d basically be riding. – Basically.
– The mountain bike I had back in the mid-’90s.
– Basically. Cable running is essentially tubes. So this frame is kind of a new technology. The whole front triangle is a one-piece. Usually you have joints
around the head tube, joints around the seat
tube, and bottom bracket, and then just tubes between. But this one is a one-piece front triangle and then the rear triangle, we’re using simple ideas
and reliable solutions. We go for, like for the bottom brackets, easy internal routing. – I think I can hear
(people cheering) people cheering in the conversation when you just mentioned
friendly bottom brackets. When you mentioned beer, now I’m wondering whether
this bike is custom built for Dan Lloyd because
there is a bottle opener where you would normally
have a front derailleur. So, is that like a standard? – Yeah, gravel and beer kind
of goes together. (laughs) – Yeah, so it would very go. If anyone is still not entirely sure about the benefits of 1x, if you’d replace your front derailleur with a beer bottle opener, then maybe that’s gonna convince you. I haven’t unfortunately spent nearly enough time riding this bike or this fork, but I can certainly give
you my first impressions because I was super intrigued to actually try this out for myself. And in use, it’s maybe
less about what you feel from the fork as what you don’t feel. So, I’m looking at the road and I’m seeing all them things
that I would normally expect to then feel translated
through the handlebars, and they just don’t really
come to the handlebars. It’s a bit like having a
really, really soft tire from an absorption perspective, but yet, with none of the squirm, none of the roll, and none of the actual
damage to hitting your rims. So that probably will be
my best synopsis of it. Clearly, you need to spend
loads more time on it, but there we go. That’s what it feels like
to ride in the short term. There is, however, one bit of this bike that we can thoroughly
road test and, Gudberg, I believe you’re gonna
demonstrate for us right now. The bottle opener. – Full one. – Okay.
– Alright. (bottle cap clanking) – Here you go, mate. – Nice, thanks very much. And this is home brew? – Home brew from Lov-ett. – Fantastic, ooh, whoa. (Gudberg and Simon laughing) Great, well okay. Right, anyway, cheers Gudberg. – Sorry!
– Did you wear shorts just to make me look like a
complete Southern softie? – [Gudberg] Kind of a practical joke now around here for visitors. – Well, fair play for wearing shorts ’cause it is freezing cold. (Gudberg laughing) Okay, well, Gudberg, thank
you so much for, what, lending me your bike, letting
me take it for a spin, and also showing us around
the HQ, as Benedict as well. – Thanks for coming over. – Hey, that is cool, man.
– It was nice messing around. – We better wrap things
up before the snow comes ’cause it certainly feels
like it’s on its way. And you can put some trousers
on, as well. (laughs) – Thank you. (laughing) – Just to start, you start your freezing, you’re utterly, bitterly cold. Anyway, if you wanna see
some more from Iceland then do make sure you
check out the epic ride that Neil Donoghue and
I were able to go on. And also before leaving, do make sure you give
this a big thumbs up.

100 comments on “Gravel Bike Suspension?! | Meeting Lauf In Iceland

  1. This sounds okay. I wouldn’t mind seeing a touring bike with a mono-seat-stay made similarly using one set of the leafs. It would need to be replaceable or unbreakable if it’s part of a frameset.

  2. Not a fan. I would go with a Cannondale system(weight aside). I don't like the moving/flexing parts being exposed to mud, rocks, sticks and so on.

  3. that is very interesting concept!
    so… what are the advantage of Lauf suspension from ordinary air suspension which can be found around 100~150$ on aliexpress?

  4. I've always been fascinated by these forks. Thanks so much for the in-depth look Si. I want one now more than ever. #GCNforever!

  5. If you don't understand how this works on first sight and need someone to explain it to you then you are a genuine waste of carbon.

  6. The road bikes do get more and more "modern" …"real" disk brakes, suspension forks ….if you lycra guys put on straight bars you´ll end up with an xc mtb…. g hmmm even the true roadies end up with mtbs some times…

  7. hard to understanding why not make a steel, cr-mo and aluminium versions of this fork
    for more people have a chance to use without break the bank to have one !!!!

  8. I think pairing a Lauf fork and Moots mini-soft~tail would yield an very good gravel and rough urban street bike. Easy enough to graffiti up a Moots frame so it would be less likely to get stolen. Not much of a way to disguise a Lauf fork though … But good tech all around 🙂

  9. I'd love to see Lauf bring this technology to stems. They could create something like the old Softride stems, but with materials that won't really wear out over time. And then you wouldn't need a special fork, could use whatever brakes you want, whatever handlebar you want, etc. It would be awesome for touring and commuting bikes.

  10. If you just use a bigger tire, let's say 700x35c and drop the psi to 40/35. Wouldn't it feel smooth and forgiving as well? 25mm of travel is too small.

  11. Cool idea. I might have missed it but did they mention if the springs are replaceable if broken or easy to swap depending on weight?

  12. Just buy a lightweight XC Mountain Bike FFS. Why people are becoming obsessed with bloody gravel bikes is beyond me. Now all of a sudden they want suspension and dropper posts. This is what mountain bikes are for. Stop crossing the boundaries between mountain bikes and road bikes!

  13. There is an old military car – GAZ67 which has the same principle on the front springs. There It was done not because of good life. But here it looks very well, solid and modern.

  14. Man… I really liked the facial expression while trying to bend the leaf springs LOL.. same face I make on the toilet while constipated for three days 😉 anyway thanks for the segment.. been thinking about buying a Lauf fork for my gravel grinder..

  15. I'm ok with QR . In fact it gets harder and harder to find a good gravel-bike without Tru -Axle . Otherwise you have to go to top of line frame with convertible drop-out like the Kinesis Tripster ATR .With this frame you can swap out the replaceable inserts in the frame to switch to quick release .

  16. i wonder if they would be able to apply the same idea to rear suspension as well, a full suspension gravel bike sounds good to me

  17. Road bikes are for the road. Mountain bikes are for off road. There is no need for daft excuses for suspension like this if the lines stopped being blurred! Even if you dont want to ride rough stuff and stick to fire roads a decent XC bike will be far better for the terrain rather than a road bike pretending to be something it isnt.

  18. It's as if Dr. Sheldon Cooper was into cycling and came from an actual First World country.

    Wonderful video! You won me over PRIOR to the bottle opener. 🙂

  19. It's so awesome to see what technology and time was spent making an awesome product. I love my grit Lauf and I get a lot of (WTH is that !?) Whenever I ride.

  20. Went into my local shop looking for a more comfortable gravel bike for this 60 year old guy. Shop Mgr. showed me the True Grit, thought he was out of his mind to point me toward this gimmicky contraption. Let me take the loaner for a trail ride. I couldn’t stop at 15 miles, kept going to 20, then 30 and then 40 miles. LOVED every second of the ride. Returned it, tried it again the next weekend and loved it even more. 2 days later I was the proud owner of an awesome True Grit! I love, Love, Love the ride and handling on this bike with tubeless 40’s. Invested in a set of Stan’s road wheels and tubeless for them as well. This is my go to bike.

  21. so.. if i get a this job… go up from the 70 hours i work a week to 100 or so… in a year i could get a new bike! god i hate youtube… it makes me lust for things i don't need 🙂

  22. What good is a fork with no damping? I'd rather have one of Cannondale's old HeadShok forks for the Silk Road bike.

  23. I rock one of these on a hard tail lynskey. It's great for XC trails and I weight around 210-230 most of the time. Not meant for hardcore trails but can still handle fairly rough ones if u are skilled. It does suffer from a little flex at the axle which takes time to get used to.

  24. These are so innovative! I'm curious about how the fork will stand up over time – sag being a huge concern of mine. Really awesome work!

  25. Hi guys, I love the channel, always the best ones! What do you think about seatpost and handle bar suspensions? Are they worth it? Would you make a video about it? Thanks again!

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