There are going to be different reasons for using either of these types of forks and for those reasons, each will be ‘better’ than the other. The Air forks provide a lightweight solution that provides impact absorption via compressed air shocks technology.
These types of shocks can be found in all types of mountain biking, including trail riding, downhill, cross-country, enduro, and freeride.
Coil forks are made with heavy metals designed to withstand the incredible impacts of riding BMX on mountain trails. Both of these types of forks can be found on multiple types of mountain bikes.
What is the Difference?
The weight and maintenance requirements will be the biggest differences between a compressed air-shock fork and coil-based forks.
Air shocks come in a vacuum tube designed to gradually withstand heavier and heavier impacts as compression increases and, in effect, creates shock absorption.
Then you have the coil forks that will be heavier and add noticeable weight to the bike frame, but the quality of shock absorption remains high performance from the higher quality manufacturers.
Then you will have the maintenance requirements, which for the air shocks require the rider to check the seals regularly while also making sure the air compression will not blow out during a ride.
Which One Has More Quality?
There are going to be noticeable differences when it comes to these two types of shocks. However, when it comes to quality, it depends more on the manufacturer than it will the style of impact absorption.
Therefore, it would be prudent for a shopper to do extensive research on the companies that offer these products to find a design that will work for them and their bike.
Next, it would be a good idea to test out both types of shocks to truly get a scientific result of which type benefited the rider the most on their typical ride.
How to Tell Which One Works Better for You?
As mentioned before, the best way for a person to truly know which works best for them would be to test them both using scientific methods.
This will mean that a rider will have to compare the two shocks against the original set of shocks to set the control and a pair of tester results.
From there, it will be only a matter of riding one bicycle while being aware of the differences between the three shocks and how it impacts the rider overall.
What are the Cons of Both?
There are going to be different sets of cons that come with these two shock types; for instance, the air shocks will require more frequent maintenance checks than their counterparts which can become arduous and even expensive.
Additionally, these types of shocks create a tremendous amount of heat which will cause the seals to lose form and thus create a leak in some situations.
The overwhelming con for these coils’ springs will be the additional weight added to the bike frame and the lack of adjustment options for this type of shock.
Is there a Price Difference?
There is not much of a price difference between the two of these bike shocks, and the coil shocks are normally a bit more expensive because of the metals used in the springs.
Other than that, the price is more dependent on the brand, company, and manufacturer reputation and demand.
The biggest differences between the ranges of both coils would be the lower end, which saw more air-coils options, while the upper end of the market was primarily coil-based shock systems. The biggest difference was at the top end, which was only a few dozen dollars.
Final Thoughts on Are Air forks Better than Coil Forks
There are going to be major price differences when comparing the household name brands of cycling products.
Otherwise, when looking at these two products, there is not much difference between either one besides the way in which the shocks and impacts are absorbed.
Air shocks use compressed gasses to absorb the larger impacts by increasing the pressure within the vacuum-sealed tubing. The coil systems are more traditionally known, using a spring to catch and absorb any bumps or impacts along the ride.
Lastly, the pricing does not make much of a difference when it comes to selecting which springs will benefit the rider the most.