Product Review: Wren Inverted Fat Bike Suspension Fork with Extreme Winter Damper

I first came across Wren Inverted Suspension Forks before attending Interbike '17.  I contacted Kevin Wren from Wren Sports before heading out to Las Vegas for the convention because I wanted to meet with him and learn more about his product.

I set up an appointment to meet with Kevin and his partner Russ Johnson at their hotel and invited a friend of mine, Charly Tri (owner of My Bike Guy) who was also in town for Interbike.  We sat there with them for about two hours and learned all about their fork design, their Extreme Winter Damper and asked many question that they answered for us.  It was a very informative meeting and I was eager to try out their suspension fork in some very cold Minnesota Winter riding conditions.

Kevin and Russ have had their forks tested all over the world in some extreme climates and were interested in my feedback during a full Minnesota Winter which can see temperatures all over the board.

Not long after our meeting and some follow up technical support questions I had for them regarding tire and wheel size, since I have four different wheelsets and a variety of tire choices, they sent me out the Wren Fatbike Suspension Fork for a 150mm Hub that had 110mm travel.

Out of the package supplied by Wren Sports was the 110mm travel Inverted Suspension fork with 150mm thru-axle, carbon bash guards to protect the stanchions and their Extreme Winter Damper.  To ensure proper installation of the fork and damper I brought them and my bike into Penn Cycle for the work to be done by one of their service professionals, thanks Eric.

During the Fall when the weeds die down is my favorite time to do a little bushwhacking off the beaten path to see where my bike can take me.  This can be a very rough ride on a hardtail fatty with all the varying terrain, tree branches and logs.  I had been used to riding these areas for the past couple of years with a carbon fork, but now I had the opportunity to try it out with the Wren suspension fork.  What a difference it made, it really smoothed out the little bumps and made the big branches and log crossings more comfortable with a lot less jarring on my shoulders, arms and knees.

When bushwhacking I like to ride the biggest tires possible for my bike's clearances (Bontrager Barbegazis-27.5x4.5) to give me maximum flotation over the very bumpy and sometimes soft forest floor.  This is something I could never do with my Rock Shox Bluto fork.  On the 110mm travel Wren suspension fork, I left the 10mm safety clip and added the 10mm travel clip giving me 100mm of travel in order to have the proper tire to crown clearance.  Thanks Wren for engineering a fork that can accommodate these new larger tire/wheel sizes.

The first real test came on December 30th this past Winter when the morning temperature dipped to -17° F.  I loaded up my bike onto my rack and drove to a swampy area with two creeks and some great Winter bushwhacking.  Even though my bike was stored in an unheated garage, the bike and fork became acclimated to the temperature during the drive to the swamp.  This would be the coldest day that I tested the Wren fork.  There would be another day later where the temperature dipped to -11° F where I also did some extreme cold testing.

During both of these subzero rides, the Wren suspension fork with the Extreme Winter Damper was put to the test on both bumpy and smooth terrain.  The fork still worked in these temperatures but was not as quick responding as in temperatures above 0° F.  The ability for any suspension fork to work in these temperatures without seizing up is a real challenge, but Wren has seemed to figure out how to keep it working despite negative temps in the teens.

In late January I got a chance to roll the groomed singletrack of Cuyuna to test out the Wren fork in an environment with much more rolling terrain than here in the Twin Cities.  The temps were in the high 20's° F that day and the Wren fork performed flawlessly smoothing out the ride with all the dips and rollers I rode along.  This was the first Winter in 3 years on this bike that I had front suspension and I really enjoyed the added comfort level.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed riding this last Winter with the Wren Inverted Suspension Fork.  Their TwinAir System made it easy to dial in the feel I wanted for the conditions I would be riding giving me the proper rebound and compression for a smooth ride.  The Keyed Stanchions kept the fork running true preventing twisting and the Extreme Winter Damper that was installed was able to tackle temperatures that other suspension forks would not work properly in.  The ability to accept a large number of wheel/tire combinations with the installation of travel clip(s) to ensure a proper safety (10mm) for muddy or snowy conditions to prevent buildup in the tire/crown gap was also a big selling point for me.  I was always a rigid fork rider in the Winter until I tested this fork and from here on out I'll be using it every Winter to come.

The suspension fork used for testing in this review was installed on a 2016 Trek Farley 9.6.  This fork is available with the standard damper for mountain bikes in 100mm or 110mm hub widths with 110mm or 150mm of travel and for fatbikes with 135mm or 150mm hub widths with 110mm or 150mm of travel for $899.99 direct from Wren Sports.  For more information on the Wren Extreme Winter Damper and pricing, contact Wren Sports via their Contact Page.
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