Cheap, Fat, Fun : Luna Lander Fat Tire Air Suspension Fork Reviewed

About a year ago Eric at Lunacycle decided that he really wanted to provide a quality fat tire front air suspension fork for the Sondors ebike. The problem is that every single air fork on the market uses through-hub axles and not a standard vertical dropout axle. In order to mount a through hole fork on the Sondors ebike the consumer would have to swap out the hub on the front wheel or get an entirely different wheelset. After some back and forth Eric ordered hundreds of a new air fork that he was convinced would be successful in the US market. I have to admit that the Luna Lander Fat Tire fork has exceeded my every expectation and is by far the nicest $195 air suspension fork (available here) I’ve ever ridden. Although the market is now crowded with fat tire suspension forks including Rockshox Bluto, Renegade RST, and Wren Inverted forks I have yet to test any fork that provides the Luna Lander’s level of performance at anywhere near the price.

The Luna Lander fatbike fork comes with a remote lockout, vertical dropouts and accepts most fat bike tires smaller than 4.9″

I’ve been testing the Luna Lander for almost 6 months now on a variety of different ebikes. It seems to fit most of the tires I throw at it and with many hours of riding I have not had a single issue with it. I don’t do anything maintenance wise with my forks other than wiping down the stanchions before every ride and making sure that there is sufficient air in the fork. This article is about the last 6 months of testing and why I think that the Luna Lander is the best value in fatbike forks on the market right now, even though it is currently not serviceable (although they might be in the future).

Luna Lander fork shown as a must-have trail riding option for the Luna Rhino cargo bike

One of the first times I tried the Luna Lander was on Curt Fisher’s Luna 72v 3000W Rhino Cargo ebike. We were going to go riding and it was the only ebike he had to loan me (don’t ever loan me your ebike). Although the Rhino was ridiculously heavy (over 60 lbs) and had no PAS system I still found myself having a really fun time on the trails with it. I can’t even imagine taking a cargo bike singletrack riding without some kind of suspension for on it, even if it was a fat bike. I was impressed at the performance and that it had a remote lockout system which is a nice feature to have and allows you to lock the fork in place from a switch on the handlebars. I had a great time and didn’t feel out of control any more than I usually do on that particular ride. Somehow I managed to not break the bike.

Luna Lander fork has plenty of clearance for 29 inch wheels, I just ordered a 29 plus Panaracer Fat B Nimble 3″ tire that should easily fit with room to spare

Two years ago I installed a $89 steel spring Luna fat bike suspension fork (review here) that I was pretty excited about. Although it worked well the first year during warm weather, in the wintertime I took it out on the trails and the grease on the stanchions thickened up and the fork just completely stopped working. Long story short, that fork ended up in the trash and I chalk it up to a failed experiment. I’ve had most of the steel spring forks I’ve owned die after 2-3 years and so that is pretty much what I expected to happen. That being said, I still have high hopes for the Luna Lander as the oil seems much less thick and not so much like grease and although I have not yet tested it in the snow. I’m really hoping it doesn’t have the air leakage problems that the Bluto fork does (fingers crossed). I have 2 Bluto forks which I love (review here) but they just don’t work right in the wintertime and I don’t have the time and inclination to swap out the seal sets for ones that actually will work in cold weather. I’ll post an update to this article after I thrash on the Luna Lander in the snow for a couple of months this winter.

The Luna Thin ($219) is very similar to the Luna Lander, only designed for normal sized tires & 100mm hubs. The Thin is for tapered head tubes and through axle hubs.

The Luna Lander is about 2 lbs heavier than the Bluto but is also $400 cheaper. Suspension forks that you pay more than $500 for will almost always have a rebuild kit available, but the Luna Lander does not. My bike mechanic says you are supposed to rebuild the seals on your forks every year. I do it religiously about every decade without an issue. I find that more important than regular rebuilds, is storing your bike inside and wiping the stanchions off before every ride, and never ever putting the bike on the outside of your car when there is salt on the roads. An ounce of prevention will save you hundreds of dollars on bicycle maintenance.

Pros

  • Feels similar to much more expensive Bluto forks
  • Oil Air fork at a steel spring fork price
  • Straight steering tube 1 1/8″
  • Direct post brake mounting system for 160mm rotors (no adapter needed)
  • Fits tires smaller than 4.9″ (advertised size not actual size) on 80mm rims
  • E30-minutenute swap out with Sondors efatbike rigid steel fork (video here)
  • Remote lockout
  • Insanely cheap at $195 (most other fat air suspension forks are over $500)
  • Only fat tired air fork I know of that has normal quick release vertical 135mm dropouts
  • Extremely durable
  • 120mm of travel is perfect for singletrack riding, not really enough for doing huge drops or jumps
  • 6 month warranty

Cons

  • For 180mm rotors will need to space the caliper out
  • 6+ lbs (Bluto is ~2 lbs lighter )
  • Not serviceable at this time
  • 4.8 Surly Bud on a 100mm rim did not quite fit and rubbed a little bit, but on a 80 mm rim it fit with less than 1/8″ on both sides
  • No rebound adjustment

Surly Bud shown on 80mm rim with marginal little tire clearance

If you’re looking for an inexpensive fatbike air suspension fork for a 1 1/8″ Straight headtube and already have a front tire with 135mm Quick Release dropout width then the Luna Lander is going to be your best bet. Even with thrashing on this fork for several months I had no issues and no air leakage. I’m not sure why fat bike suspension forks are so ridiculously expensive and hard to find, but the Luna Lander is a game changer for sure.

Ride On.

 

7 thoughts on “Cheap, Fat, Fun : Luna Lander Fat Tire Air Suspension Fork Reviewed

  1. Will probably order a Luna Lander, of coarse the stock tire is 4.9 x 26′ so since these are targeted just for the Sondors I imagine they should work with enough clearance? Also, would it be a good idea to order a new crown race and install that on the new fork and just leave the old one on the old fork so it’s less hassle if you want to swap back and forth?

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    • Different manufacturers claim wildly different tire widths on their tires. The Sondors ‘4.9 inch’ I’m quite certain will fit in the lander but the 4.8″ Lou will on a 100mm rim will not. On a 80mm rim a Bud or Lou will fit with less than 1/8″ of clearance on both sides. I updated the article to reflect this. It’s frustrating that the manufacturers don’t standardize the tire sizing system.

      Karl

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  2. It’s expensive as hell, but the Manitou Mastodon looks like the best fat fork solution I’ve seen. Supposed to be cold and heat tolerant and support 5″ tyres.

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