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Steel vs. carbon fork(14 posts)

Steel vs. carbon forkPDF
Jan 13, 2004 9:24 AM
I am considering a carbon fork for my Ritchey Road Logic to lighten the bike up a bit but also to gain an anticipated increase in ride comfort. The ride is very comfortable as it is so I was wondering if there will be a noticable ride effect with the switch to carbon. In talking with friends, they seem to have varying opinions (go figure) as to what will happen to the resulting ride "feel". Some say the carbon will be smoother while others say nothing is smoother than the Ritchey RL fork. One said going from steel to essentially "plastic" will create a "cheaper" feel to the ride. What do you guys think on this?
buzzy roadsDougSloan
Jan 13, 2004 9:42 AM
You you can tell the difference is on chip seal-type buzzy roads. I have 5 steel forked bikes and 1 carbon at the moment (many other carbons in the past), and that's the only difference I can tell. Big hits or smooth roads won't show a difference.

I have never understood this claim of a "plastic feel" to any carbon part or bike. I have no idea what that means.

plastic feelFez
Jan 13, 2004 12:34 PM
I'm not sure I agree with the terminology, but I do notice a distinct difference in feel between carbon forks vs. al or steel forks. Same for carbon frames vs. al or steel frames. I don't know how I would describe it, but I don't think I would use the term plastic.

I cannot tell any difference on test rides with a carbon stem, handlebar, seatpost, or crankset, except for how much lighter my wallet would be if I bought all those parts. Since I don't carry one while I'm riding, there is no net benefit.
re: Steel vs. carbon forkcmgauch
Jan 13, 2004 9:45 AM
I describe my C/F fork (Kestrel) as having sort of a "dead" feel - almost like you're getting a flat tire, but not squirelly like that.

I really like the way steel rides (my FG is steel frame/fork).

Is it feasable to borrow one, swap it on & try it out?
Like everything else, they aren't all the same...miposy
Jan 13, 2004 9:59 AM
...there are good carbon forks and bad carbon forks, and personal preference is a factor as well (obviously). I ride a steel frame (Columbus Foco), and switched from my custom steel fork to my Columbus Carve carbon fork seeking a smoother ride on rougher roads. This is, in fact, the result I got, with the added bonus that I didn't perceive any loss in stiffness or the impossible to define "ride feel."

I might add that carbon forks with carbon steer-tubes appear to often require a lot of retightening, as you can't use a star nut. After reading about problems people have had in this regard on several sites, I'm glad my fork has an aluminum steer tube. I've never had to retighten it.



P.s. From what I've read, the Reynolds Ouzo Pro is one of the better carbon forks out there, but I've never actually ridden on one. I like my Columbus Carve, though.
Like everything else, they aren't all the same...PDF
Jan 13, 2004 10:46 AM
Thanks for the reply so far guys. Can anyone expand on the issue Michael brings up regarding re-tightening carbon steerers. The fork I am considering has one (Ritchey WCS carbon fork).
I've never had a problem with a carbon steerer..Dave Hickey
Jan 13, 2004 11:00 AM
I've never had a problem with a carbon steerer slipping. Both of the all carbon forks(LOOK HSC)I use have no problems with slipping. The stems are a snug fit and stay that way. The expanded plug(in place of a star nut), has nothing to do with keeping a headset adjusted. It's only used to make the initial adjustment. The stem keeps the headset adjusted.
Like everything else, they aren't all the same...Chen2
Jan 13, 2004 11:37 AM
The Ouzo Pro has a carbon steerer. I've had two with 1" steerers and absolutely no problems. To me the main advantage of a carbon fiber fork compared to a steel fork is the low weight, and with a carbon steerer there is a lot less weight.
re: Steel vs. carbon forkTWD
Jan 13, 2004 12:54 PM
I replaced the steel fork on my steel framed road bike, with a Carbon fork w/steel steerer (1" threaded). FWIW, the steel fork was a lot heavier, but seemed to ride better on rough pavement. You could see noticably more flex in the fork over bumps. The carbon fork rides a little stiffer, and therefore not as forgiving over bigger bumps. It rides fine though, and does seem to dampen out vibrations pretty well.

re: Steel vs. carbon forkMayday
Jan 13, 2004 4:35 PM
FWIW -- this is purely anecdotal and I don't even remember the source. However, I recall a discussion a while back about the Ritchey RL, and someone who owned one posted something to the effect of "If you get one, keep the Ritchey fork." He said that he'd tried a carbon fork or two but went back to the steel, which he felt is a great fork, well matched to the frame. The other forks he tried negatively affected ride quality and handling. Just something to consider.
re: Steel vs. carbon forkPDF
Jan 13, 2004 4:51 PM
Its funny you mention this. I recall something similar and that has led to me really thinking hard and asking questions about jumping to carbon for the RL. Thanks for confirming my memeory that I had read something to this effect. I will try some searches to read more.
it depends CF forks differ alotcyclopathic
Jan 14, 2004 5:34 AM
I have Look LDS 3 (OEM on Litespeeds a few years back) with Al crown/steer, and if transmits way more noise then no-brand unicrown steel fork built with oversize Reynolds 531 blades. Check review section and if you decide on particular fork take it for a test ride on buzzy road.

Also beware CF forks don't last as long as steel, two of my friends had forks disintegrated after 3-4 years of use/no JRA. Granted, they are not featherlights and they had put 8-10,000mi/year
Jan 14, 2004 6:50 AM
I had a Look LDS carbon fork on an old Litespeed and found it to ride extremely well. It was threaded and said "LOOK" on the side with standard profile blades. It was not the HSC model, but it was an upgrade from the standard LOOK that had fatter, aero style fork blades.

When I retired the bike, I had the fork removed. I was very surprised to learn it weighed only 400 grams.

It was a good fork for its time.
re: Steel vs. carbon forkone_speed
Jan 14, 2004 7:43 AM
i've had both and last year went back to the steel fork. i really like the way it feels on my waterford. i feel it handles a little better, though not a huge difference. but with the extra weight, it seemed to almost balance the bike a little nicer. i was riding a wound-up, which is a nice fork. i just felt more confident on the steel fork. i had another friend make the same move and also prefer the steel, he came off of an easton carbon fork.

good luck. if you do decide to try the carbon, hang on to the steel fork! don't let that go.