Every time I rolled up to the trailhead with this fork on my bike I got questions. It’s interesting to note the negative stigma that surrounds budget friendly suspension brands. While everyone loves a top of the line brand name, we believe that many riders would never be able to tell the difference on the trail.
We’ve all watched that beginner rider creep down a green trail aboard a Factory level Fox fork. At the same time, I know a lot of skilled riders that kill themselves to buy top of the line stuff when they could shred just as hard on a mid range option and be able to eat something other than Top Ramen. What’s my point? People need to get over the idea that you can only be a legit rider on certain name-brand products. Most of the time a more budget friendly option will still get the job done!
The RST Stitch Coil is a prime example of that type of product. Thanks to the 20mm through axle and the borrowed DH fork chassis, stiffness abounds. Most options in the price range don’t offer the same level of rigidity, giving the fork a far more premium feel that inspires confidence when charging hard. However, the fact that it uses 20mm dropouts and non-Boost spacing is going to be a real issue for aftermarket consumers. We’d wager a large majority of people who would consider buying this fork aren’t already running a 20mm hub on their all mountain bikes, which means any savings in the fork purchase would only go towards buying a new wheel or hub and wheel rebuild. This could be the Achilles heal of the fork in our opinion.
Both the rebound and compression adjustments make a noticeable difference in the fork’s behavior and are repeatable no matter how many times you turn the knobs. The location of the compression dial also makes it easy to rotate to the fully on position during climbs. The adjustments work well and offer a nice tactile feel while turning the knobs.
While stiffness and big hits are handled with ease, small bump sensitivity and compliance are not the Stitch’s best traits. Because the Stitch has such a stiff chassis, it relies entirely on its damping abilities to soak up rocks and other chatter. Coming off a Factory 36 and Cane Creek Helm Air, the RST Stitch transmits noticeably more chatter, which leads to reduced traction on the front wheel. Smooth jump trails were the Stitch Coil’s strong suit, but rough, rocky single track was not.
At the same time, both the aforementioned forks are double the price of the Stitch Coil. Compared to everything else in the same price point, the performance is above par with the group, even though it does leave some things to be desired. The coil sprung fork definitely shines in other aspects.
The Stitch excels in mid range support and big hit absorption. The coil spring gives it a smooth feel. On jump trails with hard berms and g-outs, the Stitch had no problems keeping up. In a bike park or flow trail setting, the progressive ramp and stiff chassis of the RST Stitch are very welcome and make it easy to recommend.
The coil spring also adds reliability and takes away the guess-work of setting up the correct sag and air pressure. For a rider looking for a simple set it and forget it suspension design, the two adjustment knobs on the Stitch Coil are easy to understand and manage.