MRP's new Baxter fork is the latest entry into the still rather niche world of suspension for gravel bikes. Much like Fox's Adventure Cross unit, it's a conventional telescopic design with 40mm of air sprung and properly damped travel, adapted from a cross-country mountain bike fork.
We first saw it at Eurobike but the lovely people over at Ison Distribution have finally got them in stock and we've got our mitts on one of the first to land in the country. The Baxter looks to be broadly based on the MRP Loop, with 32mm diameter upper legs, just like the Fox AX. One leg contains the air spring, which is adjusted to ride weight via a single valve on the top of it, while the other contains a damper that's adjustable for both rebound and compression, the latter offering a full lockout.
The fork comes with your pick of a 12mm or 15mm diameter quick-release through axle, though Ison only has the 12mm item in stock, so our test unit has a reducer sleeve on the axle. There's said to be clearance for 40mm tyres if you're running 700c wheels, while anyone using 650b hoops can squeeze a tyre up to a stonking 2.5" wide in there. If monster-gravel-cross wasn't a thing before, you can go and make it one now.
The fork is disc brake only, with a mountain bike style Post Mount fixture for a 160mm rotor. Our fork tips the scales at 1.62kg, making it a fair bit porkier than the AX at 1.39kg. Much like the Fox, the ~425mm axle-to-crown length might play silly buggers with your bike's handling by jacking up your front end and bottom bracket height a fair bit.
Of course, Lauf's Grit fork is a popular unit for the gravel race crowd, with the unconventional leaf sprung design allowing 30mm of bounce with a much more reasonable 415mm axle-to-crown length. It also weighs just 1.04kg, while the design means there's no seal friction to overcome. The flipside is that it can't be adjusted and there's no damping to speak of.
When it comes to cost, the Baxter will set you back £750, while a Lauf Grit is £799. We still don't have a UK price for the Fox AX, but it's $819 in the US. We'll be passing it on to resident gravel-groveller Dave Arthur for a proper test, so check back soon for that. Seeing as we have all its rivals in the office at the moment, we'll be doing a head-to-head of all three too...
You might also like: