Tuesday, September 25, 2012
what is your bike made out of?
This one is made of steel. On my home home from work I made a bonehead move- a left hand turn into an oncoming car. No idea why I didn't see it. I've been riding to and from work most days for 10 years. I hit the front of the car at an angle, went over the bars, bounced off the windshield and landed on my feet. I completely caved in the windshield and don't even have a bruise myself. Really stupid and really lucky. The visibly shaken but nice woman in the car that I hit and I had a short but pleasant conversation and exchanged information. I put the wheel back in the skewed fork and rode home, slowly.
Try that with a carbon fork. I'm afraid the fork is beyond help this time but I had the people at Elliott Bay straighten it from a crash several years ago. Right now there is a trend for even steel frames to use a carbon fork. I would rather ride a carbon frame with a steel fork. A frame is a nice strong triangle and less likely to fail, and even if it does you can probably land safely. If, on the other hand, a steerer tube or fork leg snaps while you are riding- and we all know that it happens- you are going to hit the ground hard.
Other benefits of a properly designed steel fork, aside from reliability, in my opinion, are better ride quality and better clearance for mud/fenders/bigger tires. Its probably true that carbon transmits less road vibration and has a nice damp feel to it. The straight legs on carbon forks are really stiff vertically. A steel fork with the offset in a nice round bend near the dropouts, like this Colorado II fork, is much more comfortable. If anyone has an orphaned Serotta Colorado fork with 9 inches of steerer let me know!