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Advantages of steel forks(10 posts)

Advantages of steel forksI Love Shimano
Aug 17, 2001 12:05 AM
What advantages do steel forks have over carbon fiber ones? I'm planning to upgrade to a carbon fiber fork. This move will be quite expensive so I just want to know what I am getting and what I am losing if I do this. The carbon's shock absorbing properties are very enticing though.
chromed steel ones are prettiergrandemamou
Aug 17, 2001 4:00 AM
I don't know which models you are discussing so generally speaking, what you are giving up is alot of of weight and money. What you get is a lightweight and comfortable fork.

I have full carbon on my Bianchi, nothing spectacular but it's so comfortable I don't use gloves unless I'm racing. I have considered going carbon on my Gios but damn the weight it's just too pretty
All carbon forks are not made equaljtolleson
Aug 17, 2001 6:19 AM
Don't just snag a bargain in a catalog and assuming you are getting all those road dampening qualities. Some carbon forks are VERY stiff (witness Woundup!) especially the straight bladed ones. Racers like 'em for the weight savings but I wouldn't call 'em cushy.

Talk to folks who know the model you are looking at.
comfort, comfort, comfortbianchi boy
Aug 17, 2001 4:02 AM
As I understand it, carbon fiber forks are NOT more shock abosorbing than steel. CF forks are more shock absorbing than aluminum, hence their popularity with all the aluminum frame bikes these days. CF is a good light-weight alternative, and very stiff, but not more shock absorbing than a good steel fork. I have had steel and carbon forks, and the steel one are definitely more comfortable, in my view. However, CF forks are definitely lighter and stiffer.

One thing to bear in mind with a CF fork, is that if you really want to take full advantage of the lighter weight, you'll want a fork with a carbon steerer tube. However, since you cannot use many spacers with a carbon steerer, your stem will have to be fairly close to the top of the headset. So, you'll have to be comfortable riding with low handlebars, unless you don't mind using a stem with a 90-degree, +10 or +17 rise.

With all the obsession over light weight in the bike industry, CF forks and frames offer a way to make bikes as light or lighter than aluminum with more shock absorbsion. However, if weight were not a factor, steel would still be the material of choice.
comfort, comfort, comfortEN
Aug 17, 2001 6:43 AM
I respectfully disagree with a couple of your comments here. Carbon fiber does have some damping characteristics that are not present in steel and aluminum. Of course it is very difficult to judge forks by the material alone. It is possible to make both a stiff or a soft fork from all materials. Regarding carbon forks, some are very stiff, such as Wound Up and Kestral, and others are quite soft such as most of the Look and Time models. Aluminum forks are almost always soft for some reason. It would be fairly easy to design a stiff one although no one in the industry seems to want to do this.
As a general rule, the order of ranking in terms of stiffness will go from Aluminum (softest), carbon (lots of variation in stiffness between different models), and steel (generally the stiffest).
As with anything related to bike materials ...bianchi boy
Aug 17, 2001 7:01 AM
... the design is just as important (or more so) than the material. My judgments are purely based on my own (admittedly limited) experience with carbon and steel forks. My two bikes with steel frames and forks are much more comfortable than my former bike with an aluminum frame and carbon fork. I also have talked to people who bought carbon forks for their steel frames and were surprised to find out the CF fork was less comfortable than their old steel one. I also have ridden a full carbon fiber Trek and found it no better (perhaps worse) at damping road vibration than my steel frames.

There was a similar thread on another forum recently about carbon handlebars. The consensus from most of the knowledgeable posters was that carbon handlebars may be lighter and stiffer than other materials, but have little if any effect on comfort on shock absorbtion.
Colnago precisa (chrome) steel vs. star carbon fork...Lou M
Aug 17, 2001 5:05 AM
I posted a similar question... I am considering upgrading to a star carbon fork on my Master XL. I agree with the previous guy that chrome steel forks look better. Are the weight savings significant enough to make the upgrade? Any feedback? Thanks...
Colnago precisa (chrome) steel vs. star carbon fork...bianchi boy
Aug 17, 2001 6:16 AM
With a full carbon fork and steerer tube, you might save as much 200-300 grams, or about .5 lb over a steel fork. However, if you get a carbon fork with a steel steerer tube, the weight savings are much less -- 50-100 grams. It actually could be heavier than a steel fork with threaded stem if your carbon fork has a long steel steerer tube.

Some of the Colnago carbon forks can be very stiff and unyielding, from what I've heard and read. They are designed for lightness and stiffness, not comfort. If that's what you want, fine, but don't buy one thinking you are gonna have a light but cushy fork. Read the current thread about the Colnago Master X Light.
a century of proven reliabilityclub
Aug 17, 2001 5:19 AM
you can hammer it, knowing it ain't gonna fail. they ride purty darned nice too. Ha, I see Nashbar has a carbon fork for $99, there's one to keep you awake at night, and your adrenaline pumping on 50 mph descents.
which steel fork do you have now?jschrotz
Aug 17, 2001 10:24 AM
There are lots of differences in fork performance no matter what material is used. Two forks made of the same steel can perform completely differently due to their differing geometries, build etc. I've ridden steel bikes exclusively for the last 10 years, and really like the feel of a high quality steel fork. The cheap ones though can leave quite a bit to be desired. My last bike was a Ritchey Road Logic, and there were times when I would come down with a case of CF envy and considered getting a new CF fork. But I'd always come back to the fact that I loved the way that the Ritchey fork performed and handled. I couldn't justify losing that level of performance and comfort for a little weight savings. I just wish that bike hadn't been stolen.