Fork replacement - any ideas?

Bartek

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#1
After noticing a small chip on my current carbon fork, I am looking for a replacement. If anyone could help sharing their knowledge on the matter of having an experience with different forks (material, brand etc.) it will be really great.

I am looking for something other than carbon fiber. My first choice then would be titanium followed by chromoly and aluminum, but the final choice will depend on the cost. And then there are also weight and performance that I am trying to fit into the equation.

What in your opinion would be the best choice for not too expensive and not too heavy fork made of titanium, chromoly or aluminum for multi-purpose use (commuting, training, racing)?

Also, any recommendations for a good shop?

Thanks in advance

Bart
 

GSAstuto

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#2
You probably don't want a Ti fork. Unless you build them with oversize tubing, they are too flexy. So - for straight tube MTB or Tandem - OK. But for Roadbike - NG. Alloy - very rarely used for similar reasons - plus alloy has a bad habit of work hardening then leading to catastrphic failure. Which leads you to Cro-Mo (steel) or Mn-Mo (steel) or Carbon. Commuting, training and racing are all different - so , the forks individually would be quite different. Rake? Trail? Braze-ons? Clearance?

What's wrong with carbon, by the way? And a chip is easily repaired. Unless you have seriously kerbonked your fork in a crash and caused some internal delamination, external chipping or even scarring from road rash is not a structual issue when properly repaired.
 
Dec 31, 2009
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Matsumoto
#4
IMO carbon is the best material for a fork. Steel is so much heavyer and it is affected by applied forces. It works against forward motion, similar to suspension, by not working with you, but against you. If you have looked down while riding you will see, a steel fork wobbles like a hula dancer, all that vibration gets absorbed by your shoulders. There is a reason why bikes are not made with them aside from custom. Although a welll made one is like a Samurai Sword, But good luck finding the perfect one for your application. Chances are if you have a newer frame no Samaurai Sword will be compatable with its geo. But maybe its worth the challenge. Just my 200 yen. Just make sure you know what you are looking for and dont buy just any steel fork. Also it looks like you are loaded, have you considered a cable pull disk in the front? It can make any downhill childs play.
 

GSAstuto

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#5
Yeah, funny you mention that. I made up 6 special forks for 'severe duty' - high modulus carbon, 7075 Alloy steerer and integrated ISO disc mounts. Standard 'OS' dimension and enough clearance to suit up to 38c tires with loads of mud and fenders packed on. A bit on the heavy side - though, lightweight when you consider the usage - around 590gr.

By the way - decent carbon forks are not insanely priced. You can get them from about 10,000 yen on up to <insane>. So - really, unless you're restoring an old ride, or just want a decent replacement fork, then I'd go for carbon. You get more bang for the buck all across the board. But , again, unless you really hammered your existing fork, I bet its just fine.
 

jdd

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#6
PRM, and Tim, and kiwisimon--I guess I get all that, but while carbon is pervasive in mtb, and of course road, why is steel still so dominant for touring?

And I see Ti frames being offered, or at least being pictured, with steel forks. (And of course also with carbon.)

And this: "Steel is so much heavyer and it is affected by applied forces. It works against forward motion, similar to suspension, by not working with you, but against you. If you have looked down while riding you will see, a steel fork wobbles like a hula dancer, all that vibration gets absorbed by your shoulders."

Having just gotten a steel frame, I'd agree with the first five words--steel is heavier, very obvious. But this description of how a steel fork rides is kind of Tim talking about a Ti fork--a noodle flopping around all over (unless it gets overbuilt).

If steel sends all that vibration to your shoulders, instead of absorbing it before it gets there, why do round-the-worlders (on some very marginal surfaces) so often choose steel?

Yep, I've just gotten a steel frame and fork, but before you consider me a fan, I have considered a carbon fork as an alternative. Actually, if Bartek really wants a steel fork, maybe we could do a deal and I could go carbon.

I rode a 531 fork for ages, and never noticed the hula-dancer stuff. And there's now better steel than that.
 

GSAstuto

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#9
Just for the record - my favorite riding bike is still my Columbus SLx <steel> bike with a very much steel (semi sloping) Cinelli fork. It just works. Would I ever change it to a carbon fork? No way. The bike, as a whole 'works' . But - carbon is really a superior material - for forks. It has greater dampening, higher Young's modulus per given cross section and weight, more consistent yield, etc etc. I feel that steel forks work 'better' with steel or Ti bikes, than alloy bikes - but in general a carbon fork is my preferred ride - especially on a roadbike. BTW - I only weigh about 65kg - so alot of the 'hula dancing' stuff, I never get compared to the larger riders. In fact I often times need to find ways to make the bike softer! Now bunp up the rider weight and a whole game appears.
 

GSAstuto

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#11
You guys need to start looking at the bicycle (and rider) as a complex, harmonic , system. It has energy inputs, compliance, resistance and inductance. All this leads to certain charactertistics which are highly interdependent on the nearly infinite choices of the values. That's what makes the bicycle so individual, yet at the same time, so physically same.

Generalisations apply - and in some cases - are ok. But, you need to look at the whole system (rider included) and also the operating range to apply. Then make sub-system choices based on desired performance and reasonable envelopes of distortion.

But, before you drive yourself completely bonkers trying to fathom all the functions - it's possible to just tweak a little here and there and overall rely on the legacy of the millions of wheelmen before who have, through the market, wrought a pretty decent machine under any circumstance.

About your fork, bart. bring it over and let me look at it. I also have quite a few loose forks around here - so , if it really DOES need replacing - fine - we'll throw a 'son of thor' or similar on it.
 

jdd

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#13
Just for the record - my favorite riding bike is still my Columbus SLx <steel> bike with a very much steel (semi sloping) Cinelli fork. It just works. Would I ever change it to a carbon fork? No way. The bike, as a whole 'works' . But - carbon is really a superior material - for forks. It has greater dampening, higher Young's modulus per given cross section and weight, more consistent yield, etc etc. I feel that steel forks work 'better' with steel or Ti bikes, than alloy bikes - but in general a carbon fork is my preferred ride - especially on a roadbike. BTW - I only weigh about 65kg - so alot of the 'hula dancing' stuff, I never get compared to the larger riders. In fact I often times need to find ways to make the bike softer! Now bump up the rider weight and a whole (new) game appears.
Great. So steel can be good. (And I'm hoping this new bike turns out that way!)

And that last sentence--I'm 85kg these days, vs your 65, a huge difference.
 

kiwisimon

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#14
Obviously, but I think the overall ride and the ability to take abuse are big factors, too.
Would disagree in these present times :: cost / performance wise 15 years ago steel and alum were the winners, for touring a repairable material (steel) was the winner but now outside of non specialised repairability carbon is the leader IMHO.
 

GSAstuto

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#15
Well, luckily we've progressed a bit passed the point of Thomas Stevens. But I'd suspect very few 'round the world-ers' in the next 15yrs are riding steel as a preferred option. And, you know, for all the bazillions of miles I've personally toured and ridden, plus added in my family and friends of the same, I can't remember a single failed fork of any type. Except my Alain CX and maybe a few of my old Huffy messenger bikes - but that was direct result from crashing into objects at high rates of speed, or down stairs or off retaining walls.

On the otherhand, I have broken quite a few frames. Generally around the headtube / downtube , BB or chainstays.

Steel is commonly preferred because it has higher degree of resistance to work hardening - though it does do that too - than alloy.




Try welding a carbon or Ti tube and that'll answer your question.
 

jdd

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#16
...But I'd suspect very few 'round the world-ers' in the next 15yrs are riding steel as a preferred option.
...
Hmm, I'll take that bet! (and offer an evening's worth of beer)

Will it be predominately Ti or CF? Ti is very much out there for frames, but CF seems remarkably lacking.

Have you ever seen (can you point me towards) a CF touring frame? If so, maybe I've blown it on this recent purchase.
 

jdd

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#17
And Bartek, so as not to forget about you, I've got a steel fork.

Probably you'd like to check with Tim first, but are you interested? :)
 

Bartek

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#19
Thank you all for the replies. I knew it wasn`t gonna be as simple as just "get an Al fork" or "definitely Ti" or "Cro-mo is the thing " kind of a question.

I have only one bicycle that I use for everything. I do about 500km a month on it and it takes a lot abuse. Recently, I became slightly worried about carbon parts, especially the fork, since it is hard for me to replace any parts on yearly basis and the fork has already lived through more than 6000km of riding. Then after doing a bit of research on the matter of carbon parts, I became even more worried especially since I do not wear a helmet. Now, I do not mind carbon on a bicycle that I could use 4, 5 times a year only for racing, but I do not have such a bicycle yet. (Suddnely I have a tune in my head that I can’t get rid of, “If I had a million dollars” by Barenaked Ladies). :)

By the way I am 65kg so perhaps I can get away with having Ti or steel fork then.

Anyway, for now I need to concentrate on my current ride and the main purpose which is commuting. And since the only car I have is being used by my wife, cycling is the only option (the last station is about 10km from my destination).

What about Al forks? How is Al compared to Ti or steel? It is light and from what I read also stiff, so what is wrong with aluminum forks?


About your fork, bart. bring it over and let me look at it. I also have quite a few loose forks around here - so , if it really DOES need replacing - fine - we'll throw a 'son of thor' or similar on it.
Tim, thank you for your offer to take a look at it, but it is such a bitch to get down to Tokyo from Chichibu that I do it only a few times a year and most of those times I pass through on my way to Narita. But if I am ever down in the big city, I will definitely stop by.

After noticing a small chip on my current carbon fork,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_O9PLorYPA
Kiwisimon, the video shows the carbon resistance to impact pretty well, but I wish the fork was placed against a hard surface like the floor and not just in the air.

And Bartek, so as not to forget about you, I've got a steel fork.

Probably you'd like to check with Tim first, but are you interested? :)
Jdd, what kind of fork is it and how much would you like for it? If possible please PM me with a photo and more details.

Chances are if you have a newer frame no Samaurai Sword will be compatable with its geo. But maybe its worth the challenge. Just my 200 yen.
ProRace, thanks for your 200 yen. The compatibility of my (newer) frame and an older steel fork could be a problem that I didn’t think of. Is it only the head tube angle that may not be compatible or is there more to it? Getting a “samurai sword” has occupied my mind for quite sometime now. And when I leave Japan I want to take a nice souvenir back home with me like a 3rensho, Nagasawa, Umezawa etc track frame. But that is in the far future.