One piece suspension fork?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Chris Zacho "Th, Jun 30, 2003.

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  1. I've seen MTB's (I think they were Cannondale) which had front suspension forks of a unique design.
    The shock absorbers were not on the fork blades, but incorporated into the headset itself.

    This, to my inexperienced but mechanically adept eye _looks_ like a great idea. Clean, simple and
    efficient. (Occam's Razor).

    But in the real world, I know, _looks_ can be deceiving. Has anybody here ever owned or ridden bikes
    with this fork design? How well do they work? What are their good points? Their bad? Are they
    expensive? I assume that the frame and fork are a dedicated set. This is fine, since I need a new
    frame anyways.

    Thanks for your feedback :-3)

    May you have the wind at your back. And a really low gear for the hills! Chris

    Chris'Z Corner "The Website for the Common Bicyclist": http://www.geocities.com/czcorner
     
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  2. S. Anderson

    S. Anderson Guest

    "Chris Zacho "The Wheelman"" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I've seen MTB's (I think they were Cannondale) which had front suspension forks of a unique
    > design. The shock absorbers were not on the fork blades, but incorporated into the headset itself.
    >
    > This, to my inexperienced but mechanically adept eye _looks_ like a great idea. Clean, simple and
    > efficient. (Occam's Razor).
    >
    > But in the real world, I know, _looks_ can be deceiving. Has anybody here ever owned or ridden
    > bikes with this fork design? How well do they work? What are their good points? Their bad? Are
    > they expensive? I assume that the frame and fork are a dedicated set. This is fine, since I need a
    > new frame anyways.
    >
    > Thanks for your feedback :-3)
    >
    > May you have the wind at your back. And a really low gear for the hills! Chris
    >
    > Chris'Z Corner "The Website for the Common Bicyclist": http://www.geocities.com/czcorner
    >

    You're thinking of the Cannondale HeadShok. It IS a pretty nice design. However, it isn't really
    simple. The mechanism inside the head tube (the shock part basically) contains a huge number of
    rollerbearings that allow the suspension to work. I think it's a little intricate overall. However,
    they do work very well when they're working. Nice stiff fork, low stiction, anti-dive is available.
    However, Cannondale is on shakey financial ground these days and you may have a hard time getting
    one. IMHO, I also think they're too complex and intricate for general use, too expensive. That's
    just an opinion though and that doesn't make it fact.

    Cheers,

    Scott..
     
  3. In article <[email protected]>,
    "S. Anderson" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > "Chris Zacho "The Wheelman"" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    > > I've seen MTB's (I think they were Cannondale) which had front suspension forks of a unique
    > > design. The shock absorbers were not on the fork blades, but incorporated into the headset
    > > itself.
    > >
    > > This, to my inexperienced but mechanically adept eye _looks_ like a great idea. Clean, simple
    > > and efficient. (Occam's Razor).
    > >
    > > But in the real world, I know, _looks_ can be deceiving. Has anybody here ever owned or ridden
    > > bikes with this fork design? How well do they work? What are their good points? Their bad? Are
    > > they expensive? I assume that the frame and fork are a dedicated set. This is fine, since I need
    > > a new frame anyways.

    > You're thinking of the Cannondale HeadShok. It IS a pretty nice design. However, it isn't really
    > simple. The mechanism inside the head tube (the shock part basically) contains a huge number of
    > rollerbearings that allow the suspension to work. I think it's a little intricate overall.
    > However, they do work very well when they're working. Nice stiff fork, low stiction, anti-dive is
    > available. However, Cannondale is on shakey financial ground these days and you may have a hard
    > time getting one. IMHO, I also think they're too complex and intricate for general use, too
    > expensive. That's just an opinion though and that doesn't make it fact.

    Cannondale's effective successor to the HeadShok is the Lefty, a one-sided fork with a stub axle and
    oversized headset. A lot of people like them, but again you're into an exclusive-to-Cannondale
    design, just like their Hollowgram BB design, HeadShok forks, etc. etc.

    I suspect the great failing of the HeadShok is that it didn't work well in long-travel applications.
    All the suspension system must fit between the top of the fork crown and the top of the head tube. I
    don't know if that was a problem or not.

    Cannondale has finished restructuring, and bike supply seems back to normal. Both Headshoks and
    Leftys are for sale on current bikes, so neither is yet an orphan technology.

    --
    Ryan Cousineau, [email protected] http://www.sfu.ca/~rcousine President, Fabrizio Mazzoleni Fan Club
     
  4. Jim Edgar

    Jim Edgar Guest

    Chris Zacho "The Wheelman" at [email protected] wrote on 6/30/03 7:22 PM:
    > I've seen MTB's (I think they were Cannondale) which had front suspension forks of a unique
    > design. The shock absorbers were not on the fork blades, but incorporated into the headset itself.

    Yep - Cannondale. "Headshok" var - "headshock", "headache", see "American Slang Dictionary - Oaths
    and Curses" for complete description by mechanics....

    >
    > This, to my inexperienced but mechanically adept eye _looks_ like a great idea. Clean, simple and
    > efficient. (Occam's Razor).

    At the time it was developed, downhill forks were stretching out to 63 mm of travel or so. Whoo-hoo.
    One of the perceived problems with regular forks was independant movement of fork legs and resultant
    torquing and control issues. Cannondale, in addition to making themselves unbeholden to Rock Shox,
    Manitou and the other suspension fork manufacturers of the time, touted their system as more stable
    with no separate leg movement and smoother, since their system ran on a roller bearing system. This
    was (and remains) true.

    The actual damping and control mechanisms went through countless variations and changes, with
    various reworkings and replacements, warranty upgrades and other fixin's - however, none of them
    could get past the ultimate limiting factor - the height of the headtube, which was the limiting
    factor on travel. (I know three mechanics who could overhaul a Headshok in just a few minutes -
    because they had been forced to do it so many times...)

    > But in the real world, I know, _looks_ can be deceiving. Has anybody here ever owned or ridden
    > bikes with this fork design? How well do they work? What are their good points? Their bad? Are
    > they expensive? I assume that the frame and fork are a dedicated set. This is fine, since I need a
    > new frame anyways.

    IIRC, Merlin licensed the Headshok in their "Fat Beat" model. I believe they have quietly ended
    production on it. People with strong opinions or buyers remorse are often found here:

    http://www.mtbreview.com/reviews

    These days, Leg movement is not really perceived as the demon it once was - one piece leg/arch
    designs and beefed up stanchion tube diameters have lessened that issue.

    These days (2), the norm for "serious" off road riding is 100-130 mm of travel, and to get to that
    neighborhood, Cannondale developed the "Lefty" which uses essentially the same idea (single shaft
    system for damping and travel) in a one legged fork (um, would that be a "chopstick"?). This, of
    course is a marketing issue.

    These days (3), the c-dale development is towards the "Lefty", and by my sources, the Headshok,
    since it's not being stressed as much by usage (both advisable and improper), isn't as problematic.
    Time was it appeared through their upper end race bikes.

    In general, Cannondales (var - "crack-n-fails") have people who love them deeply and hate them
    enormously. Searching newsgroup archives will generate megabites of PRO-DUDES! and NO WAY-MANS! I
    don't know of anyone that is a die-hard Headshok supporter over the newer designs (Of course, that
    person may be reading this and correct my impression), as opposed to folks who believe that a good
    rigid fork on a singlespeed is all you need for enjoyment:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~cyclofiend/bikes/BridgestoneSS.html

    All told, C-dale does some pretty amazing things with aluminum. They have generally tried to keep
    stuff in-house, which has plusses and minuses. Some would say they give you a little less at a given
    price point, but it's US-Made and generally different than your neighbors Giant:

    http://www.cannondale.com/bikes/03/cusa/

    Of course, the regular stuff applies: Fit, Intended Use, Quality of Local Dealer Support.

    Hope that helps,

    -- Jim
     
  5. Gregr

    Gregr Guest

    On Mon, 30 Jun 2003 22:22:27 -0400 (EDT), [email protected] (Chris Zacho "The Wheelman") wrote:

    >But in the real world, I know, _looks_ can be deceiving. Has anybody here ever owned or ridden
    >bikes with this fork design? How well do they work? What are their good points? Their bad? Are they
    >expensive? I assume that the frame and fork are a dedicated set. This is fine, since I need a new
    >frame anyways.

    You want the real scoop on the HeadShok, this is the place to go:

    http://www.mountainbikemilitia.com/stuff/headshok.html

    These "Durability Engineers" put it to the REAL test...

    Amazing results...

    G
     
  6. Chalo

    Chalo Guest

    [email protected] (Chris Zacho "The Wheelman") wrote:

    > I've seen MTB's (I think they were Cannondale) which had front suspension forks of a unique
    > design. The shock absorbers were not on the fork blades, but incorporated into the headset itself.
    >
    > This, to my inexperienced but mechanically adept eye _looks_ like a great idea. Clean, simple and
    > efficient. (Occam's Razor).
    >
    > But in the real world, I know, _looks_ can be deceiving. Has anybody here ever owned or ridden
    > bikes with this fork design? How well do they work? What are their good points? Their bad? Are
    > they expensive?

    I assume you'll get plenty of input about Cannondale's Headshok, so I'll not address that except to
    say that all the Headshok variations are light, stiff, and smooth running; also they max out at 80mm
    travel and contain a lot of mechanical bearings that require occasional servicing lest they fail.

    There is another manufacturer of quality head tube suspension, Action Tec. They were very highly
    regarded during the Rock Shox-led revival of bicycle suspension in the late '80s and early '90s.
    Their fork uses a threaded 1 1/4" headset and a 1 1/8" threadless stem. There's a touch of odd
    standard mixing there, but it maintains the characteristic virtues of light weight, good steering
    precision, and short but very smooth suspension travel.

    http://www.actiontec.us/proshock.htm

    The definitive difference between these head tube suspension systems and ordinary telescopic forks
    is that telescopics use plain bushings and these others use rolling element linear bearings. If you
    can appreciate the difference between a bushing and a ball bearing, then you understand the
    qualitative difference in feel (and maintenance) between these two kinds of front suspension.

    Chalo Colina
     
  7. Thanks for your comments. It sounds like I wouldn't be getting anything better than what I already
    have (had) with my standard forks/SoftRide stem, though. Well. it was worth the bandwidth. :-3)

    As to Bridgestone's comments (Jim Edgar's post), during the '80's I became convinced that, if
    they had their way, we would all go back to riding Ordinaries, so I tend to give them little
    credence. LOL!

    May you have the wind at your back. And a really low gear for the hills! Chris

    Chris'Z Corner "The Website for the Common Bicyclist": http://www.geocities.com/czcorner
     
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