Carbonomas Steel Fork - 1-1/8 inch - Threadless - Curved

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When carbon forks fail, they do so suddenly, and you crash. It happens more frequently than anybody would like, especially riders and carbon fork makers. If you haven't seen a snapped carbon fork, you've been looking in the wrong dumpsters. There used to be two sites devoted to carbon failures; now there's one:

We feel no happiness or smugness when we hear of or see a broken carbon frame or fork. Behind every one that breaks is a crackerjack designer, a quality manufacturer, a skilled engineer, and an enthusiastic retailer. Nobody is dishonest, nobody is out to get you, but there is a learning curve with carbon forks, and the zenith has not been reached.

Sometimes an accident causes the break---if a truck hits you, the snapping of your bike or fork is nobody's fault but the truckdriver's. The accident is no worse than it would be if you'd had a solid steel bike.

But in many of cases, you're riding along, hit a pothole or some other relatively mild obstruction/fact of life on the road, and the fork snaps. Maybe it was a manufacturing flaw that went undetected, or a weakness that developed through use. With carbon fiber, the failures happen suddenly. Carbon forks don't creak for a week, and they don't soldier on injured; like one of those super cheap steel bikes you see with bent-backwards forks and oblivious owners. Carbon forks snap in an instant. And in many of those cases, a steel fork would have suffered the blow and sloughed it off.

Ironically, in lab tests, carbon forks beat the pants off all others. When all things are good with them and they're fresh, they cream all contenders. But they're like super-buff well-armored and gunned street thugs who just happen to be supremely scared of blood. In the case of forks, "blood," can be a defect hidden in the laminations that's impossible to detect; or it can be a gouge that turns into a crack; or age and sun damage that compromise the resin holding the laminations together.

It doesn't really matter what it is. The bottom line is this: Carbon forks have a shameful record of failure, and they give no warning. Is this fear-mongering at its worst? Some will take it that way. But we're not going to make a lot of money on these steel replacement forks. I/Grant doubt we'll sell a dozen, because it's easier to keep going than to change what you're doing, and you'll get no support for it among your peer group. It'll be easier to write me off as a nut, or write Rivendell off as having the steel-fork axe to grind. We do.

Because steel is inherently safer. It's tougher. It soldiers on hurt and unless the damage is severe, it remains rideable, not risky---at least until you get home. Carpenters don't replace their hammers every year, and they don't toss a miss-hit nail----they hammer it straight and pound it in again. Steel is an incredible material, and it's main virtue is toughness----just what you want in a bicycle fork.

That's the point behind these steel (Chrome-moly) forks.

This one has an inch-and-an-eighth threadless steer tube, (read this whole section if that size bums you out) and is long enough for any bike. We designed it to look as much like the carbon fork it is intended to replace as possible. It has curved blades & a narrow crown, for the same reason.

It has 45mm of fork rake, which is the same or within 2mm of 99 percent of the carbon road forks out there. Two mm won't make any difference; may improve things, won't hurt anything. If you fret about that, you should be frettin' about riding carbon instead.

And the fork length may not match perfectly, but again, close enough. We did our homework, and if you're wondering how long our fork is from axle to top of crown (you might want to measure your carbon fork first), the answer is: 366mm.

Micro-technical note: An Alpha Q fork measures 372mm. Mounting this 6m shorter fork will increase the head tube angle by a half-degree, and reduce trail. But hold on there: The 28mm tire you can now fit gains it all back. You may not be able to fit a 28 in back; tough --- you can still ride it in front, and that's one of the points and benefits. Or if you ride a 23 in back, at least put a 25 on in front. Ride a 25 in back now? Then you could ride a 28 in front. Don't think anything goofy will happen, because it won't. The point is to get you onto a much safer fork. A safe fork, period.

Brake reach: Most carbon forks have 43mm of brake reach and holes high in the crown. That may not mean anything to you, but it's why you can't put a 28mm tire in most carbon forks. We took that as an opportunity to improve. This steel fork has 48mm of brake reach and a lower hole, and that's good because a 28mm tire fits easily.

Starting from scratch, it's not the way I'd design a fork, but the goal here was to offer you a fork that, as much as possible, would swap-out with your carbon fork without radically changing the handling or look of your bike. That imposes restrictions, and we've made the best of them.

Weight: The lightest carbon fork out there weighs 298g, or 10.5 ounces. More typical carbon forks weigh about a pound.

This fork weighs six to twelve ounces more, typically, depending on how long the steerer is. The fork for a 57cm frame will weigh about 24oz (a pound and a half), and that's plenty light for any fork. We all have that much to lose off our bellies.

Would you rather descend on a pound and a half of steel, or eleven ounces of carbon? It's a serious question.

There's a fender eyelet on the dropout.

Most importantly, this fork is steel --- the same material (although a different alloy) that hammers and nails are made of. Tough steel that doesn't snap. It bends, it dents, is takes abuse without catastrophic failure.

Here's a possibility and consideration: Let's say you get one of these forks, ride it, and then for whatever reason your frame breaks, you cry foul to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer blames your new safer steel fork. That could happen. The steel fork represents a huge loophole in such a case.

But there is nothing inherent in this fork that will create any extra stress on your frame. No, we haven't tested that, but for the life of me I can't see how it could. If you have any concerns, don't buy the fork. If you agree that it won't and you want a safer fork that won't snap, then buy it.

348mm steerer.


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