Sunday, August 15, 2010

Halson Suspension Fork - When Inverted Bumpers Ruled

Met an old riding pal today for a mountain bike ride, been at least 10 years since our last ride together. Back in the mid '90s, we rode together quite a bit, along with a gang of fellow coworkers. I'll take some credit for rounding up the riding action at that time and coaxing a few mountain bike purchases. In the heyday, we'd all meet once a week or so for a shared ride. Fun times.

Brian was one of the riding regulars during that era, and continued to ride some after we all parted ways from our shared employer. It's been awhile since he's dusted off the bike however, so with a little coaxing once again, we finally hooked up today for a ride. Son Ian and I reacquainted Brian with our local trails. Despite the 90 degree weather, we had a fun ride. Brian is one of those dudes with a BMX, skateboard, and skiing background, that does well technical wise on the mountain bike - in spite of the lack of riding time. He would do well racing, as I've told him before. He may give it a shot eventually.

Brian still rides the Cannondale that he picked up in 1995, complete with Halson suspension fork - now vintage material. I thought Halson made a cool fork back then - trick for the time. Bumper technology, similar to Manitou forks of that era, but with a inverted design - like a motorcycle fork. The fork legs housed by the fork crown, with the fork sliders below. This allowed a stiffer, less flexy fork. Since disk brakes were yet to be widespread, it worked with cantilever or v-brakes, pretty tricky with the inverted design. As per the era, a whopping 2.5" inches of travel. It all seems pretty quaint now, compared to modern suspension forks.

At the time I considered buying a Halson fork, 'cept my Manitou 3 fork worked just fine - thank you. It is impressive this Halson fork survives 15 years later and still works. I joke with Brian he'd be shocked (Ha! Get it?) how well a modern fork would feel in comparison. Since he's never ridden a modern bike, doesn't know the difference. Ignorance is bliss.

In any case, he can still ride pretty damn fast on the ancient steed, can only imagine him on something newer. He considering going for an upgrade. That would be interesting to see, since he digs air time and the old Cannondale ain't really suited for that.

Magazine write up on the Halson fork from 1995. The company eventually folded, as did others during the suspension revolution heyday.

The complete bike as ridden in 1995 and 2010. Despite the vintage fork, v-brakes, and gigantic bar ends - Brian is still pretty quick on it. It's not what you ride, it's how you ride it.

The ride today seemed to get my old riding pal back on the bike track. We're looking to hook up for more local riding action - just like old times - except now I have an 11 year old son to join us. That makes it all even better.

I'm looking forward to future adventures and may try to coax a few others "out of retirement". Heh, heh.....


  1. Wow, I started riding MTB in 95 and the Halson fork is one I never knew about. Thanks for diging something up from the past and getting your longtime friend back on the trails.

    So true about "it's not what you ride but how you ride it".

  2. Awesome your a true advocate of the sport.
    Brian, seems some are just "naturals"

  3. Lots of fork (and rear suspension) designs came and went during the '90s. Some were junk, others okay for the era. The Halson fork was a pretty nice fork.

    I've been riding mountain bikes since 1984, so have witnessed the whole progression of technology. On a similar note, I also was involved with dirt motorcycles and motocross in the mid to late '70s. A similar deal to mountain bikes with a suspension revolution that occurred in a short amount of years. Interesting times and fun to be around.

    I will take some credit for getting some people riding. I really dig seeing people get hooked on it. I'm just spreading the word - you know how fun all this is - just want other people to enjoy it as well.

    Yeah, my pal Brian (and a few others I know) are "naturals". If they trained a bit and rode more often, would really be flying.