By Ryan LaBar
Most of my experiences with mid-level suspension forks have not been good. Usually the damping is off, or the spring rate is a bit funny, or they resemble a loud, squishy boat anchor that leaks oil. Basically, they are usually the first things I recommend to upgrade on mid to entry-level bikes.
So, when my latest test bike (a GT Distortion 2.0) came with a RockShox Sektor TK, I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the fork choice, that is, until I rode it.
And ride it I did. I did not hesitate to go for big hits to put the fork through its paces. In fact, the first real hit that the Sektor took bottomed it out hard—there was a new staircase on my ride to the trailhead that was much steeper and longer than it looked. On the trial, the Sektor's damping and spring rates felt spot on for a 150-millimeter travel fork. I rode everything on this fork from smooth flowing single track to steep, rocky descents without a hiccup in performance or leaking a drop of oil. The fork's stiffness and smoothness were also solid. I was able to brake and corner with confidence, and without ever thinking about or noticing the Sektor.
The Sektor's performance could be due to all of the trickle-down technology RockShox packed into it. It features the Power Bulge bushing re-enforcement for added stiffness and durability, the Solo Air spring and the solid, Maxel 15-millimeter through-axle. The fork's weight isn't bad either, sitting at just over 4 pounds.
There were a few things I didn't like about the Sektor though. At the top of it travel there was a bit of a knocking feel that could be felt when lifting the front end up over rocks and such while climbing—this could be felt even more with the fork locked out. Additionally, the indexing on the rebound knob didn't feel as refined as on RockShox higher-end forks.
I also managed to shear the bolt head of the brake hose mount, while putting the fork back on my bike after taking photos for this review. This could have been partly my error, but it could also be because of the small size of the bolt. Or the bolt could have been defective. Regardless, a zip tie will work just as well here instead, but wont look as clean.
All this being said, the Sektor TK (which stands for TurnKey damping) is not available to the after market; meaning it's only available on complete bikes. Too bad.
The Sektor RL, however, is available for after market sales—at least according to RockShox's website. This fork features everything the TK has, but also has RockShox's Motion Control damping (instead of TurnKey), which might eliminate the knocking feel (and could improve the feel of the rebound knob's indexing) present on the TK.
The Sektor RL retails for $488, and, if its performance is anything like the TK (I'd assume it is even better), it's quite the value for the price.