Carbon forks - worth the money?

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by David Lubich, Feb 23, 2003.

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  1. David Lubich

    David Lubich Guest

    Hello Group I'm looking to buy a midrange hybrid, probably one of the Specialized Sirrus range. All
    models are aluminium, but some of the higher-end ones have carbon forks, Given that weight is not a
    huge issue for me (I'll need to lose a few lbs before it is?) what are the other advantages of
    carbon forks over chr-mo? I've noticed that for the price of a bike with carbon forks and low-end
    groupset I could get a 'last years model' with a chro-mo fork and 105 groupset. I really can't
    decide between these two options, so would value all contributions. Equally, if anyone has
    recommendations for a good hybrid (max £600) please inform me. Thanks in advance. David
     
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  2. "David Lubich" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Hello Group I'm looking to buy a midrange hybrid, probably one of the Specialized Sirrus range.
    > All models are aluminium, but some of the higher-end ones have carbon forks, Given that weight is
    > not a huge issue for me (I'll need to lose a few lbs before it is?) what are the other advantages
    > of carbon forks over chr-mo? I've noticed that for the price of a bike with carbon forks and
    > low-end groupset I could get a 'last years model' with a chro-mo fork and 105 groupset. I really
    > can't decide between these two options, so would value all contributions. Equally, if anyone has
    > recommendations for a good hybrid (max £600) please inform me. Thanks in advance. David

    I took off a cheap pair of chromo forks off my road (racing) bike and put on a set of carbon ones
    and the difference was like adding front suspension, a horrible harsh ride was transformed into a
    damped ride where I didn't feel every last ripple in the road surface.

    The difference might also have something to do with moving from straight bladed forks to swept as
    well but I've spoken to others who feel much the same about CF forks on road bikes.

    Just my 2p

    Russ
     
  3. Peter Simons

    Peter Simons Guest

    x-no-archive: yes

    David Lubich wrote:
    >
    > Hello Group I'm looking to buy a midrange hybrid, probably one of the Specialized Sirrus range.
    > All models are aluminium, but some of the higher-end ones have carbon forks, Given that weight is
    > not a huge issue for me (I'll need to lose a few lbs before it is?) what are the other advantages
    > of carbon forks over chr-mo? I've noticed that for the price of a bike with carbon forks and
    > low-end groupset I could get a 'last years model' with a chro-mo fork and 105 groupset. I really
    > can't decide between these two options, so would value all contributions. Equally, if anyone has
    > recommendations for a good hybrid (max £600) please inform me. Thanks in advance.

    If your looking at an upright road bike you could also try
    http://www.dawescycles.com/bikes/discovery701.htm
    http://www.ridgebackbikes.co.uk/bike.asp?seriesid=3&index=0

    If in london conandale last years models from http://www.evanscycles.co.uk

    Peter
     
  4. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    David Lubich wrote:
    > I'm looking to buy a midrange hybrid, probably one of the Specialized Sirrus range. All models are
    > aluminium, but some of the higher-end ones have carbon forks, Given that weight is not a huge
    > issue for me (I'll need to lose a few lbs before it is?) what are the other advantages of carbon
    > forks over chr-mo?

    They look cool and damp /some/ shock and vibration (in my experience), yet the blades (or "legs")
    are stiffer. (Not sure if stiffness there really helps or not).

    There is one serious disadvatage, though. That is when they break (in a crash for example), they
    break catastrophically - like being perfectly ok one second then both blades snapping the next. With
    steel forks, they may just bend, or one blade will go; you'll get some warning first. Also, steerer
    tubes on carbon forks can be weaker/more flexible/less practical if they're aluminium or carbon (but
    some, partcularly with the cheaper forks, are steel).

    For a hybrid where weight is not an issue and there's a straightforward choice, I would opt for
    cromo forks. These kind of bikes usually have wide enough tyres and an upright-enough position to
    make the ride soft enough, anyway. The shock absorption aspect is more of an issue when drop bars
    (hence more weight on hands) and narrow high pressure tyres are used where literally every little
    bump in the road is jarring.

    ~PB
     
  5. and the difference was like adding front suspension, a
    > horrible harsh ride was transformed into a damped ride where I didn't feel every last ripple in
    > the road surface.
    >
    > The difference might also have something to do with moving from straight bladed forks to
    > swept as well

    It's got to do with neither.

    The difference is
    1. In your head.
    2. In your wallet.

    All fork, except suspension give a harsh ride. It's tyre pressure makes the difference. Blindfold,
    "experts" cannot tell the difference, because there's none.
     
  6. In article <[email protected]>, Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee
    <[email protected]> writes
    > and the difference was like adding front suspension, a
    >> horrible harsh ride was transformed into a damped ride where I didn't feel every last ripple in
    >> the road surface.
    >>
    >> The difference might also have something to do with moving from straight bladed forks to swept
    >> as well
    >
    >It's got to do with neither.
    >
    >The difference is
    >1. In your head.
    >2. In your wallet.
    >
    >All fork, except suspension give a harsh ride. It's tyre pressure makes the difference. Blindfold,
    >"experts" cannot tell the difference, because there's none.
    >
    How do they avoid crashing into things?
    --
    The Big Baguette
     
  7. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee wrote:
    > and the difference was like adding front suspension, a
    >> horrible harsh ride was transformed into a damped ride where I didn't feel every last ripple in
    >> the road surface.
    >>
    >> The difference might also have something to do with moving from straight bladed forks to swept
    >> as well
    >
    > It's got to do with neither.
    >
    > The difference is
    > 1. In your head.
    > 2. In your wallet.
    >
    > All fork, except suspension give a harsh ride. It's tyre pressure makes the difference. Blindfold,
    > "experts" cannot tell the difference, because there's none.

    I was very skeptical before trying carbon forks. I fully expected there to be no difference, but I
    found there is actually quite a remarkable difference in feel to any steel forks on any bike I've
    ever ridden. Of course tyres make /more/ difference, but that doesn't mean fork differences are
    irrelevant (and the two effects are different, anyway). If one already has the widest, softest tyre
    that one is prepared to tolerate, then any damping from the forks, no matter how slight, can still
    be advantageous. Pretty simple logic, really. BTW, my carbon forks are cheap ones, so there's no
    "wallet effect" for me, and being a fussy git who moans about components for small reasons, I would
    have no hesitation in criticising them in public.

    I think you've been hanging around rec.bicycles.tech.makes.no.difference too much. A lot of the
    "folks" there couldn't tell the difference between 140 and 180mm cranks, night and day, or hot and
    cold! There is some superb expertise there but their Luditism is painful.

    ~PB
     
  8. Ric

    Ric Guest

    "Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > All fork, except suspension give a harsh ride. It's tyre pressure makes
    the
    > difference. Blindfold, "experts" cannot tell the difference, because there's none.
    >
    How on earth do these "experts" ride a bike blinfolded? This is the second time somebody has made
    this rather astonishing claim on this ng. I'd really like to see anybody ride a bike more than a few
    feet blindfolded.
     
  9. Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > and the difference was like adding front suspension, a
    > > horrible harsh ride was transformed into a damped ride where I didn't
    feel
    > > every last ripple in the road surface.
    > >
    > > The difference might also have something to do with moving from straight bladed forks to swept
    > > as well
    >
    > It's got to do with neither.
    >
    > The difference is
    > 1. In your head.
    > 2. In your wallet.

    Sweeping statement that - in view of the fact that you've never ridden my bike with either forks on.
    I can categorically say the new forks transformed the ride of my bike - what I can't be sure of is
    why that was and how much was due to the materials the fork was made of. It may be that similarly
    well made and designed forks made of a different material would have made a similar difference but a
    difference there certainly is.

    > All fork, except suspension give a harsh ride. It's tyre pressure makes
    the
    > difference. Blindfold, "experts" cannot tell the difference, because there's none.

    Strange then that I've never changed the tyres on that bike and always run at 110psi. In this
    particular case you're mistaken even if what you say *may* be generally true.

    Russ
     
  10. Pete Jones

    Pete Jones Guest

    On Mon, 24 Feb 2003 07:01:38 -0000, "Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee" <[email protected]>
    blathered:

    > and the difference was like adding front suspension, a
    >> horrible harsh ride was transformed into a damped ride where I didn't feel every last ripple in
    >> the road surface.

    >The difference is
    >1. In your head.
    >2. In your wallet.
    >
    >All fork, except suspension give a harsh ride. It's tyre pressure makes the difference. Blindfold,
    >"experts" cannot tell the difference, because there's none.

    No. Even different steel forks can make a big difference to riding comfort. I'm currently running a
    set of the On-One rigid disk only steel forks, having swapped out a set of Dave Yates custom steel
    forks. The former are MUCH less harsh than the latter over rough ground. The Dave Yates forks are
    very good at what they're designed to do - carry panniers for long distances without flexing all
    over the shop.

    Pete
    ----
    http://www.btinternet.com/~peteajones/
     
  11. "Pete Biggs" <pLime{remove_fruit}@biggs.tc> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > David Lubich wrote:
    > > I'm looking to buy a midrange hybrid, probably one of the Specialized Sirrus range. All models
    > > are aluminium, but some of the higher-end ones have carbon forks, Given that weight is not a
    > > huge issue for me (I'll need to lose a few lbs before it is?) what are the other advantages of
    > > carbon forks over chr-mo?
    >
    > They look cool and damp /some/ shock and vibration (in my experience), yet the blades (or "legs")
    > are stiffer. (Not sure if stiffness there really helps or not).
    >
    > There is one serious disadvatage, though. That is when they break (in a crash for example), they
    > break catastrophically - like being perfectly ok one second then both blades snapping the next.
    > With steel forks, they may just bend, or one blade will go; you'll get some warning first. Also,
    > steerer tubes on carbon forks can be weaker/more flexible/less practical if they're aluminium or
    > carbon (but some, partcularly with the cheaper forks, are steel).
    >
    > For a hybrid where weight is not an issue and there's a straightforward choice, I would opt for
    > cromo forks. These kind of bikes usually have wide enough tyres and an upright-enough position to
    > make the ride soft enough, anyway. The shock absorption aspect is more of an issue when drop bars
    > (hence more weight on hands) and narrow high pressure tyres are used where literally every little
    > bump in the road is jarring.
    >
    > ~PB

    I changed the front forks of my Lo-Pro last season, because I wanted something lighter and more
    aero. Mad no detectable difference to the feel of the bike, but did make it lighter. (More aero?
    Well, I don't know...)

    Robert
     
  12. "Pete Biggs" <pLime{remove_fruit}@biggs.tc> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    >
    > There is one serious disadvatage, though. That is when they break (in a crash for example), they
    > break catastrophically - like being perfectly ok one second then both blades snapping the next.
    > With steel forks, they may just bend, or one blade will go; you'll get some warning first.

    Which is why I've always been a bit sceptical about carbon forks for 'cross bikes - they have to put
    up with a lot more punishment than their road-specific cousins. Roger Hammond seems to manage OK on
    steel forks, anyhow!

    > For a hybrid where weight is not an issue and there's a straightforward choice, I would opt for
    > cromo forks. These kind of bikes usually have wide enough tyres and an upright-enough position to
    > make the ride soft enough, anyway. The shock absorption aspect is more of an issue when drop bars
    > (hence more weight on hands) and narrow high pressure tyres are used where literally every little
    > bump in the road is jarring.

    Not always - both of my bikes have Columbus Cr-Mo (SL on the 'cross bike and SLX on the road bike)
    frames and forks in conjunction with drop bars, and neither is uncomfortable, not even the road bike
    (the comfiest road bike I've ever owned - hats off to Terry Dolan) with its 23mm tyres. Fat tyres on
    the 'cross machine do probably help, though.

    David E. Belcher

    Dept. of Chemistry, University of York
     
  13. Frank

    Frank Guest

    "Russell Pinder" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > Strange then that I've never changed the tyres on that bike and always run at 110psi. In this
    > particular case you're mistaken even if what you say *may* be generally true.
    >
    I read this from a position of total ignorance, neither ever having used carbon forks or knowing
    anything about the materials elasticity (or whatever).

    But I find it hard to believe the effect is so pronounced that you can be certain of it, I'm not
    saying it doesn't exist just that human perception is very dodgy. Are you really saying you could
    tell in a blind test?
     
  14. Frank <[email protected]> wrote:
    >"Russell Pinder" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >>Strange then that I've never changed the tyres on that bike and always run at 110psi. In this
    >>particular case you're mistaken even if what you say *may* be generally true.
    >I read this from a position of total ignorance, neither ever having used carbon forks or knowing
    >anything about the materials elasticity (or whatever).

    People who do will tell you that it doesn't make a difference. For this they are labelled Luddites.

    You'll notice that _not one_ of the people doing the labelling has carried out a blind test.
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]d.org.uk> Kill the tomato!
     
  15. Peter B

    Peter B Guest

    "David E. Belcher" <[email protected]> wrote in message > Not always - both of my bikes have
    Columbus Cr-Mo (SL on the 'cross
    > bike and SLX on the road bike) frames and forks in conjunction with drop bars, and neither is
    > uncomfortable, not even the road bike (the comfiest road bike I've ever owned - hats off to Terry
    > Dolan) with its 23mm tyres. Fat tyres on the 'cross machine do probably help, though.

    Ditto. I had a Peugeot SLX with 23mm 120 PSI tyres and it was oh so comfortable.

    The four bikes I currently own all feel diffent in the way they ride. Discounting the full sus one
    leaves 3 rigid bikes, 2 are mtbs of different materials and price points. Swapping the same wheels
    between the pair reveals different ride characteristics which you'd have to be devoid of sensation
    to not notice but that doesn't mean that were I able to ride blindfolded I'd be able to guess frame
    material, there is more to it.

    And while a rigid bike is a rigid bike that will jar if ridden over a pothole different frames will
    dampen (or not) vibration in different ways that will be subjective and may be beneficial on a long
    ride but hardly of importance if nipping to the local shop.

    Pete
     
  16. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Frank wrote:
    > I read this from a position of total ignorance, neither ever having used carbon forks or knowing
    > anything about the materials elasticity (or whatever).
    >
    > But I find it hard to believe the effect is so pronounced that you can be certain of it, I'm not
    > saying it doesn't exist just that human perception is very dodgy. Are you really saying you could
    > tell in a blind test?

    Put it this way: imagine riding on plastic forks. That's virtually what they feel like. Afterall,
    they are made of carbon fibres embedded in epoxy resin, a kind of plastic. They are laterally stiff
    yet damp some vertical vibration/shock.

    The effect seemed remarkably pronounced to me when I first tried them (when I happened to be
    concentrating on everything but fork material and road buzz/shock at the time), but I'm not going to
    make any claims about blind tests* (although I suspect I could tell). I can understand those wanting
    scientific proof but I urge skeptics to actually try carbon forks (on a bike where the advantages
    would be most useful) before rubbishing them too strongly. It is easily possible that no adequate
    test has been developed or that nobody has bothered to test properly yet.

    Many critics dismiss them just because there can't be as much as several mm of movement and because
    tyres make more difference. That seems a bit dumb to me, to say the least - and mostly originates
    from country where everything is big so they don't notice the small things in life!! :)
    /Relatively/ small effects can still be detected by humans (for sure) and be useful.

    * Forks would be disguised instead of rider being blind-folded.

    ~PB
     
  17. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee wrote:
    > All fork, except suspension give a harsh ride. It's tyre pressure makes the difference. Blindfold,
    > "experts" cannot tell the difference, because there's none.

    From www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard_forktest.html , part of article by expert Damon Rinard :

    "Is there more to comfort besides deflection? Yes. There are two sources of discomfort in the road:
    gross bumps (like potholes or reflector dots you hit at speed) are one. The other is the smaller
    texture of the pavement itself. This texture produces a high frequency buzzing in the handlebars
    that is constantly present.

    "The gross bumps can be made more bearable with a fork that flexes a little more. For extremely
    bumpy roads (like Paris-Roubaix), there are even suspension forks. But the second source of
    discomfort, the constant vibration, is harder to address. About the only way a normal road fork can
    lessen them is by the natural damping properties inherent in the material used to make the fork.

    "Road forks are made of steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon. Of these, carbon is known to damp
    vibrations about ten times better than the metals. This damping is the reason carbon forks can be
    both stiff and comfortable. You will still get the jolt of the big bumps with a stiff carbon fork,
    but the vibrations will be decreased. And a flexible carbon fork is really plush.

    "If you ever get the chance, try an experiment to experience the difference in damping: ring a
    carbon fork (like a tuning fork) by slapping it once into the palm of your hand and hold it near
    your ear, then compare it to a metal fork. The carbon fork damps out the vibrations within seconds,
    but the metal fork vibrates noticeably longer. Another good illustration of composite's damping
    compared to metals is a handrail. A metal handrail, if struck, will ring and vibrate for several
    seconds, but a wooden one (wood is nature's composite) just goes ìthunk.î "
    - Damon Rinard

    -------------
    I also think that the properties of carbon take the edge off the bigger bumps to a noticeable degree
    as well, but this hasn't been proved.

    ~PB
     
  18. Andy Welch

    Andy Welch Guest

    Ok so we seem to have two groups here. Those that think carbon fibre forks give a better ride than
    metal ones and those that think a fork is so rigid compared with the tyres that you can't really
    tell. A question for those in the first camp. Do the advantages of carbon work elsewhere on the bike
    to. Does a carbon wishbone rear end give a more comfortable ride than a metal one and could the same
    effect be achieved "just" by using a carbon seat pin?

    Cheers,

    Andy
     
  19. I reckon my carbon bars transmit less trail 'buzz' than a Al one but the effect is far less
    pronounced especially as I have 2.3cm tyres and 100mm travel suspension forks on that
    particular bike.

    The effect is supposed to be felt in frames, seatposts and the like but I've not tried them.

    Russ

    <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Ok so we seem to have two groups here. Those that think carbon fibre forks give a better ride than
    > metal ones and those that think a fork is so rigid compared with the tyres that you can't really
    > tell. A question for those
    in
    > the first camp. Do the advantages of carbon work elsewhere on the bike to. Does a carbon wishbone
    > rear end give a more comfortable ride than a metal one and could the same effect be achieved
    > "just" by using a carbon seat
    pin?
    >
    > Cheers,
    >
    > Andy
     
  20. Russell Pinder <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I reckon my carbon bars transmit less trail 'buzz' than a Al one but the effect is far less
    > pronounced especially as I have 2.3cm tyres and 100mm

    that should of course read 2.3 inch !! doh!

    > travel suspension forks on that particular bike.
    >
    > The effect is supposed to be felt in frames, seatposts and the like but
    I've
    > not tried them.

    Russ

    >
    >
    > <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > Ok so we seem to have two groups here. Those that think carbon fibre
    forks
    > > give a better ride than metal ones and those that think a fork is so
    rigid
    > > compared with the tyres that you can't really tell. A question for those
    > in
    > > the first camp. Do the advantages of carbon work elsewhere on the bike
    to.
    > > Does a carbon wishbone rear end give a more comfortable ride than a
    metal
    > > one and could the same effect be achieved "just" by using a carbon seat
    > pin?
    > >
    > > Cheers,
    > >
    > > Andy
     
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