Over a year ago, S&M Bikes sponsored flatland pro Chad Johnston (who single handedly has pioneered a new form of pegless flatland riding) contacted me about some new flatland-specific forks that S&M were prototyping. Chad asked me if I would like to try out a pair when they were available, and of course I said yes.
Before S&M's range of American-made products reach the production phase, they are rigorously tested for any and all kinks that might come along. And as it turns out, manufacturing a flatland-specific fork in Southern California with double butted tubing that tapers from 1.25" in diameter at the top, to 0.75" near the dropout, is a project in and of itself. It took time to get it right, while also ensuring that the dropouts would work well for Chad's pegless riding, as well as the variety of different diameter flatland and street pegs currently on the market.
And if that wasn't enough, I asked for forks with brake mounts. Yes, I'm a dinosaur in BMX terms and still use a front brake. Brake mount tacking, cable routing through an extruded 6061 steerer tube insert and 6mm Allen head compression bolt -- all of this takes time to perfect.
Last week, I picked up a pair of the first run of production forks in black with brake mounts. And the wait was worth it -- the setup went together with ease. And the forks ride amazingly well on top of simple installation. The hugely noticeable factor with S&M's new flatland forks, dubbed the Fastpitch Fork, is the stiffness. The fork legs and steerer tube are rigid and don't flex under the rigors of flatland riding. The result is a snappier front end and less balance correction during front wheel tricks, both huge factors in flatland riding.
But these forks aren't just made for flatland either. If you're a street rider that's into nose wheelies, hang fives or quicker steering setups, the S&M Fastpitch forks are an extremely good option to consider. The 13mm of offset provides for quicker steering and easier push up during nose manuals, and the 172mm steerer tube allows for higher stack heights than other varieties of S&M forks. The forks are post weld heat-treated for strength, and the complete package weighs in at just two pounds.
I realize that the flatland market is not a huge cash cow and that sometimes it can be nerve-wracking simply finding the right parts for the job. For the past several years, with the help of Chad Johnston, S&M has produced some of the best flatland products on the market, and it's great that they continue to push flatland technology, even if it takes some time to get it right.
S&M's Fastpitch forks are now available directly from S&M or in S&M dealers worldwide.