Cane Creek HELM Air – 1.000 $

Ever since they released the iconic Double Barrel line of rear shocks, Cane Creek have held a highly desirable position in the suspension arena. For years we waited for a fork, we asked and asked, and finally they made one! The Cane Creek HELM Air is a burly looking fork, with a substantial chassis wrapping around the 35 mm stanchions. Each fork is hand-built in the USA and every single fork gets a thorough test on the dyno before it’s sent to the customer. The stats are impressive, available in 27.5” and 29” with internally adjustable travel from 100 – 160 mm, the gunmetal grey exterior looks tough and ready for action. Tuners will delight with the adjustability of the helm, not only can you independently adjust the positive and negative air chambers, but the token free, 8 level volume adjuster lets you fine tune the suspension curve to be more or less progressive. There are a lot of nice touches that we really like, such as the graduated cut marks on the steerer, but nobody found much love for the D-Loc axle, the small retaining lever is uncomfortable and awkward if it’s muddy.

On the trail, the Cane Creek is a superb performer, the chassis stiffness is immediately noticeable, combined with a very dynamic air spring, it’s a powerful feeling fork with a lot of damping and very little fore/aft flex. Rolling around at low speeds the fork can be a little underwhelming, feeling a little over damped, but the faster you go, the more the fork starts to sing. Correct setup is important with this fork and we started to get the best results when we used a higher pressure in the negative spring than the positive, resulting in a much more fluid response through the stroke, breakaway stiction was almost unnoticeable. Once setup, the HELM offers huge mid-stroke stability, feeling like it will handle repeated cases and abuse in a bike park without flinching. If you want more, or less, progression the air spring volume can be adjusted with a unique ‘8 position internal piston’ design. On longer descents we did feel more trail buz than the best forks in test, but the flip side is huge amounts of support in the travel. In hard compressions and turns we could throw all our weight over the fork with no worries about diving or unpredictable behaviour, just dependable support, the HELM is like having a mate who’s a bouncer, you know they have your back if the situation gets crazy.


We were highly impressed with the Cane Creek HELM Air, it feels very dynamic and powerful, and once we had perfected the negative spring pressure we experienced great small bump sensitivity. The HELM is the perfect fork for hard charging riders who like to take the hardest lines and prefer firmer damping.

+ Highly adjustable
+ Stiff chassis
– D-Loc axle fiddly
– Firm damping

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