RST Suspension Stitch Coil Fork
Words and Photos by Chili Dog
At Interbike 2017, Neal Arnett showed us the new RST Stich Coil. Intrigued, I asked him how soon until I could get one to throw on a test bike. Shortly after I got home an RST box was sitting on my doorstep.
While fantasizing about the best is always fun, left to our own devices, that kind of stuff is far out of our budget. Luckily there are brands out there making some solid and affordable alternatives for the every day rider. The RST Stitch coil seemed like a good candidate and we were interested to try it out. It’s a fork targeted at an aggressive rider who needs a stiff chassis, but doesn’t want to drop the coin on a $1,000 fork.
RST’s Stitch Coil fork is aimed at the aggressive all mountain crowd. Proving its charging intentions, the fork’s internals, 36mm stanchions and chassis are borrowed from RST’s dual crown Killah fork. As a result the fork only accepts a 20×100 front hub. We had to dig around to find a front wheel off an older DH rig we had laying around. To further add to the stiffness of the chassis, the fork has a tapered steerer tube. Travel choices are 160-, 170- or 180mm and wheel size options are 26 or 27.5.
RST uses their ORC+ damper, which offers low-speed compression control with an internal high-speed compression shim stack. Rebound is adjusted via a hydraulic adjustable cartridge. The compression adjuster has 20 clicks of adjustment, rebound 17. There are also two seal vents, which allow the user to eliminate pressure built up in the fork.
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.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The RST Stitch Coil is a stout all mountain fork with a stiff chassis and a simple, reliable damper. While it does not rival a top of the line fork in all areas of performance, it is a stand out in the category in terms of stiffness and overall ride characteristics. To us the biggest fault is in the 20x100mm hub sizing as we believe this will prevent it from being a plug-n-play option for many consumers currently looking for an easy fork swap.
It lacks in small bump compliance and sensitivity, but excels when it comes to big hits with hard charging riders. If you’re an aggressive rider on a budget that wants a stiff chassis and solid performance, the RST Stitch may be your best bet. The price also won’t leave you resorting to single ply toilet paper.
Spring Weight as Tested: 0.68kg
Stiffer Than Competition
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