If you're building up a cyclo-cross or gravel bike and you're looking for a thru-axle fork for the front end, this TRP Carbon Cyclocross fork gives a very good account of itself and is definitely worthy of recommendation.
CX disc forks have been around a while now, and there's plenty of them about, but thru-axle ones are harder to come by. We recently reviewed the Enve Cross Disc fork and Dave Arthur liked the build quality and performance. The TRP Carbon Cyclocross fork shares many of the same characteristics: it's a full-carbon design, the axle-to-crown height is almost the same (397mm to the Enve's 395mm), and it's a similar weight (well, a bit lighter – 450g against 461g).
There are differences too, though. For starters, it's £80 cheaper. The TRP also uses an internal hose route where the Enve has an integrated hose clip that's clever but not quite as neat. And a big plus of the TRP fork is that it has mudguard mounts.
There are three versions of the fork: a 15mm thru-axle one, a 12mm thru-axle, and a 12mm with the mudguard mounts. I'd go for the last option, which is the one we're testing here. The mudguard mounts are simply threaded holes in the rear of the fork; to fit a mudguard you screw in an adaptor. Obviously if you don't want 'guards you can take the adaptors off, preserving the clean lines of the fork. And it has very nice lines, with a two-tone matt black/gloss black finish and an elegant shape.
I fitted this to my Kinesis Tripster ATR. There's a new version of that frameset now – see here – but the old version is still a great bike. The fork was the weak part of the package, though. It was early in the days of big-clearance carbon disc brake forks and it didn't even have a post-mount disc mount (it was an IS mount) and it could be a tad flexy under heavy braking.
Fitting the new fork made an immediate and noticeable difference to the front end of the bike. It's stiffer overall and that's especially noticeable in the lack of rotor rub from the front disc, which was sometimes an issue on the old fork. I'm less convinced there are obvious benefits to a thru-axle at the back of a bike, but the fork really does track better, with the bigger axle holding everything together at the bottom.
Pulling out the wheel for fettling is simple (the fork comes with a DT Swiss axle) and putting everything back together is a much more precise affair. Sometimes with a quick release you'll put the same wheel back in but the disc will be slightly misaligned because you've tightened up the QR a bit more, or a bit less. That wasn't an issue at all with the thru-axle.
Winding in the axle revealed that it felt slightly tight at one part of the revolution, suggesting that the threaded insert was a tiny bit off true. It wasn't ever an issue and it didn't affect the performance of the fork, but it's worth noting. The only other possible issue is that we're still on post-mount here, not flat-mount which is the newer standard. If you're buying a groupset to build up your bike, make sure you get post-mount callipers. You can fit post-mount to a flat-mount fork with an adaptor, but it doesn't work the other way round.
Clearance for 700C tyres is a claimed 40mm, and that seems about right given the fit of 35mm Schwalbe G-Ones within the blades. That might rule out some bigger monster-cross-style tyres but it's fine for general purpose rubber; if you're ever likely to go big then the Enve, which takes a 45mm tyre, might be the better bet.
Overall, this is a really good fork for a higher-end CX or gravel build. It's well made and it performs as you'd want: it's stiff and precise. It's not really giving away anything to the more expensive Enve fork in terms of performance, and the option for mudguard mounts means it's more versatile. Recommended.
Really good internally routed disc brake fork for your next cyclo-cross or gravel build
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road.cc test report
Make and model: TRP Carbon Cyclocross Fork
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
TRP distributor Upgrade says: "With an ever expanding offering of disc equipped road and CX bikes on the market it makes perfect sense for one of the Worlds leading brake manufacturers to design a fork specifically around the disc brake. Using their 20+ years of experience of brake manufacture, TRP have put together the ultimate carbon Cyclocross fork."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Weight: 450g
* Internal cable routing
* 1.5' tapered carbon steerer
* 40mm tyre clearance
* 397mm axle to crown
* Rake 50mm
* Options for 12mm or 15mm DT Swiss Thru Axle
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, an effective upgrade or a good starting point for a new build.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Axle options, mudguard mounts.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Axle thread slightly off true, flat-mount version not available (yet).
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I did, in fact
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's versatile and a good performer, and gives a very good overall performance.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.