Luxury Bikes

EXT Era v2.1 Fork – Reviews, Comparisons, Specifications – Forks

Extreme Racing Shox or EXT is an Italian chassis supplier with roots in motorsports, where the brand has found success by working with legendary racers such as Sebastien Loeb, who dominated the World Rally Championship for years on his Citroens. In 2014, EXT decided to try their hand at making products for mountain bikes as well, bringing with them many of the technologies and expertise they had developed over the years. When the company launched its first suspension fork in 2021, we were impressed with the performance However, we discovered at the time that it took a lot of effort to get the air spring adjusted correctly and that it only really came to life when you accelerated hard on a big bike. EXT recently updated the Era to version 2.1, which brought a number of tweaks and improvements over the original, and we were naturally excited to see how it performs now. Read on to find out!



  • Very high adjustability of the air spring
  • Stiff and robust chassis
  • Great balance between support and sensitivity
  • Effective cushioning adjustments
  • High quality workmanship and workmanship
  • Quiet
  • A slight rattling of the top was noted in some driving situations
  • A bit heavy
  • Definitely not cheap

Highlights of EXT Era v2.1

  • Manufactured for 29 inch wheels, 44 mm offset
  • HS3 hybrid coil and air spring with 2 adjustable positive air chambers and large volume negative chamber
  • Extra long head tube interface crown design: forged AL 7050 T6 to significantly increase rigidity
  • Large-volume cartridge with Ø22 mm piston, separate compression and rebound oil flow
  • Unique HDRV compression valve system with Ø24mm piston
  • IFP container Ø24 mm flask
  • Dropout 15QR Boost Torque Cap compatible (15×110 mm)
  • Floating axle
  • 3-way adjustable compression and rebound at low and high speed
  • Low-friction chassis: new DU bushing material from EXT WRC technology combined with special EXT oil
  • Low-friction cartridge and air spring system: innovative floating shaft guide combined with the proprietary EXT coating and superfinish chrome shaft
  • Shock pump and EXT fork oil included
  • Weight: 2275 grams (170 mm travel, uncut steerer)
  • MSRP: $1650

First impressions

Externally largely unchanged from version 1, the Era version 2.1 is still the same sturdy looking piece of equipment with a subtle color scheme. The chassis is still based on 36mm stanchions, but the lower fork legs have now been fitted with a floating axle, similar to that found on later generation Öhlins and Fox forks. This design allows the lower legs to align perfectly with the supports regardless of manufacturing deviations in the wheel hub. The crown of the fork is a little different from what we are used to. It features an additional length of casting that protrudes from the crown, providing a larger area for the steerer tube to squeeze into – the goal here is to reduce the risk of the dreaded problem Creaky Crown Syndrome.

Even though the Era looks like another fork from the outside, when you look closer at the details, you can see there’s a lot going on here. The ERA features a three-chamber air suspension system, further improved by using a small integrated coil spring at the end of the shaft to provide better compliance on small impacts and absorb vibrations (a similar idea to the latest version Buttercups). Generation of RockShox forks, with the difference that EXT uses a spring instead of elastomer inserts and this is only located on the air spring side, not also on the damping side). The air spring has the usual main positive chamber and a self-balancing negative chamber (which was made larger on the 2.1 version), but there is also a third chamber that can be used to tune the center and end supports independently of the main air spring. Think of it like adding or removing tokens, except here you’re making these adjustments with a shock pump.

Era Luftfeder.jpg?VersionId=3EXi4BjZFRL

On the damping side, EXT uses a large 22mm diameter piston with independent high and low speed compression adjustment. Of course, the low-speed rebound can also be adjusted externally. An internal floating piston is used to compensate for the volume of oil displaced during fork movements. There’s also a High Dynamic Response Valve (HDRV), which features two separate shim stacks for mid- and high-speed compression damping. Version 2.1 has been updated with a lighter rebound tuning, and EXT service points also have access to additional tuning developed by EXT’s R&D department if you want something special. Note that the small inline coil spring always has the same spring weight regardless of the rider’s weight. According to EXT, it was selected to work across the rider weight spectrum.

era damping.jpg?VersionId=bKbkZhK

EXT uses a variety of special surface treatments based on the company’s experience in the World Rally Championship to minimize friction as much as possible. For version 2.1 they use new and improved DU bushings that work with EXT’s proprietary oil to ensure smooth sliding at all times, even when the fork is loaded sideways. They also updated the upper bumper, which now uses a different type of rubber compound.

On the path

We received a 140mm version of the Era v2.1 which was fitted to our Transition Smuggler along with Era’s excellent Aria air shock (read our review of the Aria). HERE if you haven’t already). The installation was uneventful and all parts fit together as expected.

When we tested the first generation of the Era fork, we found that it was a bit stingy on travel and could require a lot of effort before you even reached the end of the fork’s travel, especially on a shorter travel bike (We have the original was tested with 140 and 170 mm travel). Right from the start it was clear that version 2.1 behaved slightly differently. The updated negative air spring dimensions make it easier for the fork to initiate travel even at moderate speeds, and the lighter damping tuning means it feels less stiff, even when there is only 140mm of travel available, as tested here. The first generation wasn’t an uncomfortable fork, but you could tell it needed a lot of charging to really come to life, and we found it performed better with more travel. Version 2.1 makes it easier to live without losing stability when things get a little wild.


In version 1, we ran significantly less pressure in the second air chamber than recommended to make the fork less progressive. With version 2.1, we were quite happy with the factory recommendations and only dropped a few PSI from the secondary chamber to exaggerate the claims of our tester’s suspension tuner – the fork performed really well right out of the box.


The damper offers a wide, usable adjustment range. Ultimately, we dialed back the high-speed compression compared to the suggested settings, but we still have 5 clicks left to fully open it. The low-speed compression, like the rebound, is in the middle of the available range for a 90 kg tester, which can still be used on a good day despite the somewhat outdated trails. With this configuration, the Era v2.1 is impressively smooth and comfortable, while maintaining the high ride height and great grip that we praised the v1 fork for. It handles bigger hits with ease and handles flatter landings or rougher trails without slowing your stride. In certain situations there is a hint of a rattling sound when closing, but only if you really pay attention to it. Likewise, the fork makes a slight metal-on-metal sound when bottoming out hard, but not in a hard way.


Things that could be improved

As we just mentioned in the previous section, in certain scenarios there is a slight indication that a top-out collapse is occurring. It never bothered us along the way, but some people might be surprised by it. Also the low speed compression adjuster is still a bit sticky and the clicks are barely noticeable, just like the v1. Very minor criticisms of an excellent fork.

Long term durability

At this point, we’ve been using the Era v2.1 for almost five months and haven’t noticed any performance degradation. It held air really well and all the settings still work like the first day. The fork has also seen some wet and muddy rides in the last two months and still glides smoothly without any maintenance being performed. We’ve tested several EXT products so far and most have held up really well (an E-Storia shock broke the shock, but it was a relatively easy fix to get it working again).

What is the end result?

When the Era was introduced three years ago, it caused quite a stir in the market. We were always impressed with the amount of control it offered, but it wasn’t easy to adjust for comfort and the shock seemed best suited to a more aggressive riding style. Version 2.1 is much easier to live with out of the box, and we don’t feel like it’s given up any of its hard loading capacity. It’s now a more versatile fork that offers the perfect balance of comfort and support, ready to reach its full potential for more riders, while still allowing hobbyists to really get into the details and tune it so how you want it. It’s not cheap, but it’s a very well-made product that delivers the performance you should expect from a fork of this origin and price.

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About the reviewer

Johan Hjord – Age: 50 // Years of MTB rider: 18 // Weight: 190 pounds (87 kg) // Height: 6 feet 0 inches (1.84 m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After years of practicing falling off cliffs on a snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Since then, he has mostly ridden bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many mistakes as a rider. His 200-pound body weight, coupled with his unique ability with poor line choices and awkward landings, make him an expert in durability – if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much fine for anyone. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as “none” (although in reality he rips!). Since he doesn’t like most of the trail elements, Johan uses much of his free time to build his own. Johan’s other achievements include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly at 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord and Nils Hjord

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