SR SUNTOUR DUROLUX 36 EQ 160 REVIEW
Review by Seve Mustone
A while back, SR Suntour asked if we’d like to get our hands on their soon-to-be-released Durolux 36 EQ fork. The goal was for us to have and ride it for several months and conduct a long term review as SR Suntour is well-renowned for their durable and long-lasting products that are user friendly and easy to service. Always up for some new products we had SR Suntour ship the fork directly from Taiwan to our San Diego tester, Seve Mustone, who has been riding the crap out of it for the past five months. From the razor rocks of Southern California to the Montana dust, this fork has run the gauntlet under Sender Seve and lucky for you, SR Suntour is finally ready to drop these forks in front of your eyes. Be sure to read on if you’re in the market for more than just an affordable mountain bike fork, as this thing is ready to buck.
The first thing that struck me when I initially unboxed the SR Suntour Durolux was the presentation and feel of the fork in my hands. Kitted with shiny black 36mm stanchions, magnesium lowers, hollow forged crowns and starting at an agreeable weight of 2,120g, the SR Suntour Durolux is a real looker, but comes in at an extremely wallet-friendly $799.95. As far as options go, the Durolux is available in 150-, 160- and 170mm lengths with a mix of different cartridges.
With SR Suntour’s EQ system, travel is dictated by different length negative air shafts, these can easily be swapped to change travel if desired. The PCS cartridges accommodate any travel setting. This is perhaps the only inconvenience compared to previous air/coil system where travel is changed by 10mm clip spacers on the negative shaft, which is a bit quicker than swapping negative shafts.
I tested the 160mm RC2 PCS cartridge version on a Yeti SB140 that previously was equipped with a Fox 36 Fit4 of the same travel, giving me a good litmus test for how the Durolux would stack up against other forks.
The real star of the show on the new Durolux is SR Suntour’s new Equalizer System. By equalizing the rider’s weight to the spring curve, the system creates a customized feel that optimizes sag and volume control. The end result is a fork that has a coil spring feel while maintaining a progressive and easy to adjust air spring package.
Working in unison with the Equalizer system is the Piston Compensator System that SR Suntour has spent the last 17 years developing, both in the lab and with their WERX team riders. The magic behind PCS exists in the ability to resist cavitation. For the readers that don’t care to look that up in the dictionary, cavitation is the process of air and oil mixing and creating pressure and air within the fork. PCS’s ability to prevent this results in the fork offering a more consistent feel on the trail and requires less service to maintain optimal riding performance. Another way SR Suntour has sought to improve reliability and performance are the bleeders found on the fork legs. If you’re regularly riding at different elevations or just want to press the bleeders to let any air out of your system, like other high-end race forks on the market, the Durolux bleeders make a noticeable difference. The bleed ports also give fork owners an easy way to quickly add lubrication to the wipers.
Another notable SR Suntour feature found on the Durolux is their Hollow Crown Technology. Instead of using a forged crown, Suntour opted to use a one-piece, hollow upper that saves around 35 grams while maintaining a stiff ride characteristic without compromising integrity or durability.
Up until this fork I’d never used SR Suntour’s Q-Loc system. If you’ve ever had to change a tire on one of their newer forks I’m sure you’ve scratched your head trying to figure out their axle system. I was in the same boat at first, but after riding it during the test period I can confidently give it two thumbs up. While it takes a second to get used to, it guarantees compatibility with all hub axle designs and saves a notable amount of time on wheel changes.
The final and maybe most under-appreciated aspect of the Durolux is SR Suntour’s commitment to what they call their Quick Service Product (QSP) Philosophy. They stand by their mantra of less time waiting, more time riding–and that definitely shines through in the Durolux’s ease of repair. I popped my fork open to take a look at the internals and had quite an easy time doing so. Dropping the fork legs to do a basic service like cleaning and lubricating the foam wipers is very easy and approachable for at-home mechanics.
If you’re going to take one thing away from this article, let it be this: Don’t let the price tag fool you, the SR Suntour Durolux offers high end performance at a bargain. It not only talks the talk with a well-engineered package, but it walks the walk by matching up very well to any of the higher end forks I’ve ridden.
On the trail, the Durolux is a master of variable terrain. It’s a model example for suspension that can adapt to whatever is thrown at it, and the new EQ system is to thank. While taking it down some of the more gnarly chutes in Montana, I noticed that it felt right at home cutting through steep scree-laden trails and then riding the jump lines five minutes later just as efficiently without any major adjustment.
In terms of ride characteristics everywhere else, the SR Suntour Durolux stacks right up there with the best of them for how well it rides and handles hits. While I wouldn’t say it’s as stiff as a 36, it comes close enough for me to say I would run it on my bike, especially if I was building something up on a tighter budget. The only real issue I noticed was a little bit of pushback on getting the fork as responsive as I would want it for high speed hits on long sections of chattery terrain like large brake holes or stair-steppy terrain. Beyond those two factors, the fork performed extremely well.
As I mentioned above, the design of the SR Suntour Durolux fork is extremely well thought out. Right down to the included fender that cleanly mounts onto the arch, I was routinely impressed by the degree of engineering that went into the product and really liked the ease of servicing the fork and air bleeder ports. While the Durolux doesn’t necessarily flip the book on its head, it’s clear that SR Suntour tried to push the envelope here from their previous iteration and I have a great deal of respect for that.
The only things I can truly hold against the Durolux are the offset options and the construction of the lowers. As far as the offset goes, the Durolux EQ is only available in 44mm for 27.5 and I would have loved to see a 37mm and a 51mm to round the whole line off. While still being picky, I also noticed that my lowers sustained more superficial scuffs than I would normally expect from owning a fork for a few months. I’d probably just attribute this to the paint or the finish on the fork just rubbing off more easily. Writing that as a complaint feels a little wrong since it didn’t really bother me, but I felt it was worth including because it might be an issue for others.
With 18 clicks of low speed compression, 5 of high speed compression, and 24 of low speed rebound, I never truly felt like I needed it to be dialed in any more. Even though, to be honest, I was expecting that only having 5 clicks of high speed compression would be an issue, I was wrong and was able to get a happy set up well within that range. I had heard that previous iterations needed a little bit more TLC in this department, but it seems that the new SR Suntour Durolux is fixed of this issue. Getting the fork feeling good didn’t take a college degree in suspension tuning either. Set-and-forgetters rejoice, this may be a great option for you.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The SR Suntour Durolux EQ has definitely left me impressed. I wasn’t sure if I was getting into a budget fork or a full blown top of the line contender when I started the test period, but now it’s safe to say it’s the latter.
The real question here is this: would you be bummed if you bought this fork instead of a Fox 36 or a Rock Shox Lyrik? I would have to say: no, I don’t think you would be. The Durolux is one of the best forks that I have ridden and I believe that what it offers performance-wise coupled with the financial savings makes it a fantastic pick. Whether you want to try something different or if you are looking to upgrade an older or lower spec’d bike and want to take their riding to the next level, the SR Suntour shouldn’t just be dismissed as a budget, or second-tiered product.
Those looking for even more performance from the Durolux should opt for the higher end R2C2 PCS forks as they have high speed and low speed adjustability for both compression and rebound and would fight tooth and nail with many of the offerings from Fox and Rock Shox. This fork and the R2C2 are some of the easiest products to recommend as they will allow riders to get high-end mountain bike suspension without high price tags often associated with many MTB forks. Top that off with ease of service, no creaking after six hard months of use and extra cash in the bank…what’s not to like about that!?