Editors Note: Yeah, yeah…..another year end review! Tis the season! So, here are my favorite things that have passed through the Twenty Nine Inches review process during the past year. I want to point out a few parameters that I used for what I chose here.

1. The product had to be in the review process during the time period of December 2006 through to the end of November 2007. Reviews that are currently in process I did not include and will be eligible for my 2008 Top Ten list.

2. They had to be products or bicycles that I personally used during this period. Nothing any of the other Twnty Nine Inches staff reviewed on their own could be considered for my list. This list doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone but me, Guitar Ted.

That said, let’s get on with this……
unmounted Willits WOW fork

Number Five: Willits WOW fork. The Willits Brand WOW fork is a steel unicrown design fork with a unique profile bent into its two fork legs that is said to give verticle compliance while retaining steering precision. We got our hands on the Wes Williams creation back in May and gave it what for.

Why it made the list: The Willits Brand is the stuff of 29″er legend and lore. You can not separate the birth of the modern 29″er from Wes Williams and this storied brand of his. That alone is enough to give this fork a high pedigree, but we test things here, we don’t rest on legend and lore. I can say that the early claims of almost “suspension-like” performance were a bit optimistic, but the fork does give way a bit as advertised. Laterally the fork is rock solid and the super beefy drop outs and beautiful disc tab give the brakes a solid foundation to work off of. It weighs less than a lot of steel forks but it isn’t quite in the carbon fork territory. That said, we all know how steel bicycle components fail, and that is a reassuring thing when you are about to attempt that drop in on your 29″er.

My Two Cents: While the WOW fork isn’t suspension- not even close to it– it does take the edge off the hits and it is much like a carbon fork in this manner. The thing is, you don’t have to worry about that fist sized rock that bounces off of your fork blade or if your body weight is pushing the limits of the technology. Yeah, the looks are a bit odd, but I kind of like it in a retro kind of way. Customization of rake and color is available, which is also a huge plus these days with the different geometry ideas for 29″ers out there. Did I mention that it says “Willits” on the fork blades? If there is such a thing as “29”er cred”, this fork gets you it just by bolting it on.

Look for Number Four in the countdown coming soon!