Cane Creek Helm Work Series 130 – First Impressions

MSRP: $899
canecreek.com

Cane Creek’s new Helm Work Series 130mm (WS130) fork is built around the success of the original longer legged Helm offering a robust chassis with 35mm stanchions but explicitly optimized for 130mm of travel. With a hollow 44mm offset crown, new bolt-on D-loc axle and revised internals, the WS130 was able to shed 100 grams and tip the scales just under the 2,000-gram mark. The Helm WS130 will fit both 29” and 27plus wheels, and we were lucky enough to get a first-hand experience riding the new Helm WS130 fork aboard Guerrilla Gravity’s new US-made carbon Trail Pistol.

Full disclosure, the ride was short, and the sun was dropping so we didn’t have an opportunity to tinker around with settings too much. We quickly set it up based on sag and kept things around the baseline for the majority of the ride. Similar to the original Helm, the WS130 carries over the independent positive and negative air chambers in addition to the manual negative air chamber equalizing system. This system works by adding air to the positive chamber and then pushing a finely machined button on the bottom of the fork leg to charge the negative air chamber by reducing the pressure of the positive chamber.

THE RIDE
To leave the expo area of Sea Otter, we set our sights down a flight of stairs followed by a mellow climb up to the trails. Once the singletrack track emerged, the dirt was hard packed with some loose over hard and a lot of small bump chatter, similar to how braking bumps feel. Ahead of us was roughly a 1.5-mile descent with a fun half-mile section of fast and flowy singletrack followed by a super short pitch and back to a mellower descent with some fun swooping switchbacks.

For the first half of the ride, I had mixed feelings on the WS130. The fork did its job soaking up the small chatter, but I found that the damper felt a little on the firm side. It was almost as if the Helm WS130 was bored with my casual pace. As I picked up speed and started to push the bike a little harder through corners and bump jumping small dirt mounds, I felt like the Helm WS130 began to come alive. Again, based on this short initial ride where I did not tweak any settings, it seems like this fork may be suited best for those riders that fall on the more aggressive riding style.

The second half of the ride takes us up a 1.5-mile climb out of the valley. It starts fairly mellow at roughly 3.5% grade and the last pitch aptly named “Hurl Hill” jumps up to a heart rate spiking 13%. With the fork fully open I was happily able to sit and spin the gradual climb and even throw a few quick out-of-saddle pedal strokes without dealing with much bob. Once we approached Hurl Hill, I quickly reached down and activated the climb switch feature of the WS130 by turning the High-Speed Compression adjuster clockwise to the closed position. Once activated I dropped a few gears and climbed out-of-saddle up the punchy climb with ease. Fork bob, none. Wasted energy, none. All smiles…and heavy breathing.

Again, it should be noted I did not fiddle with settings or adjust the air pressure, so I am sure we could have fine-tuned the fork for the smooth trails of Monterey, CA. Based on this first ride, I am impressed with its desire to want to be ridden aggressively on the descents and performing equally efficient when you need to climb yourself back to the top of the mountain. Although, it should be no surprise that this fork begs to be ridden hard since Cane Creek is based out of Asheville, NC.  The company’s testing grounds is no stranger to long forest road climbs to the top and burly descents littered with old-growth forest roots and massive granite bedrock.

We will be getting a Helm Work Series 130mm fork in to test for a long term review so stay tuned to www.dirtragmag.com and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for some behind-the-scenes action.