The Helm fork is still relatively new
, but Cane Creek has been working on a coil-sprung version since last April for those riders who prioritize the increased sensitivity of a coil setup over the weight savings and near infinite spring rate tuning of an air fork. ''There are riders who love the unmatched traction of a coil fork and people who prefer the infinite adjustability of an air fork,'' Brent Graves, President and CEO of Cane Creek said in the release. ''Now they have both options from Cane Creek.''
The Helm Coil is based on the exact same 27.5'' chassis that the air-sprung version uses (a 29'' fork is in the pipeline, by the way), including their clever 15mm D-Loc thru-axle. Cane Creek says that the fork's travel ''is optimized for 130mm to 160mm,'' and this is adjusted by way of a moveable spring perch on the compression rod. Travel can be tuned in 10mm increments. Once inside the fork, the operation can be done by hand by lifting the perch off of the split ring, repositioning the ring, and then sliding the perch back down over top to lock everything in place. The design is similar in theory to their tool-free air piston setup to change how the fork ramps up.
One neat detail about the new fork's travel adjustment system, besides that it can be done by hand, is how Cane Creek has designed upper and lower spring perches that rotate to prevent spring binding. Both perches see Derlin contact points used that are free to rotate in either direction, much like how we see aftermarket rotating spring perches on some rear shocks.
Those who own an air-sprung Helm will likely be able to convert the fork to a coil setup, and Cane Creek is also working on a solution to allow people to go the opposite direction.
At the top is the air spring assembly from the current Helm, and at the bottom is a prototype version of the coil spring assembly from the Helm Coil.
The fork employs the same mono-tube sealed damper used in the air-sprung Helm, complete with external low- and high-speed compression dials at the top of the right fork leg and low-speed rebound at the opposite end.
I've spent a considerable amount of time on the air-sprung Helm (yes, a long-term review is in the works) so I'm very familiar with how that fork performs, and I managed to recently spend a day on the new coil-sprung Helm during Crankworx as well. How do the two fork's compare? The firm, controlled damping that the Helm is known for is still present, as you'd expect given that they share the same parts on that side of the fork, but the ride is noticeably different. The Helm Coil is more active and supple, and not just at the top of the stroke - it's something that can be felt at any point in the travel, which is what coils are known for.
The Helm Coil features the same damper that the air fork uses (left). The lower spring perch can be repositioned by hand to adjust travel between 160mm and 130mm in 10mm increments (right).
The coil-sprung Helm is built using the same 35mm chassis as the air fork.
The Helm Coil will be offered in a single color, the silver pictured here, and it will retail for the same $1,100 USD that the air fork sells for. Cane Creek is aiming to have the Helm Coil in shops before the end of the year.