ok, im new to bicycling and such, so i'm basically clueless...
i ride a mtn bike with front suspension, and i wanna swap the suspension fork for a non-suspension model so i can easily mount a fender and front rack on my bicycle, which i use mostly for commuting. my initial questions are as follows:
-what sort of tools will i need to swap forks?
-where online can i get a fairly cheap, fairly decent fork for my bike? it's a specialized hardrock fs, if yer curious...
-am i better off just taking the bike to the lbs and asking them to swap forks for me? i'd prefer to do it myself, for $$ reasons, and more importantly, b/c i want to become better acquainted with wrenching my bike myself...
Changing forks is not difficult, but getting the right one is not trivial either.
Firstly, the fork is held in place by the headset (steering bearings). These come in 2 varieties, ones which screw down onto the threaded steered tube (of the fork), and ones which clamp onto the unthreaded steerer tube. They used different tools and methods to dismantle, so know which type you have.
The steerer tubes come in different diameters, 1", 1 1/8" and 1 1/4", and can be cut to different lengths:
For threaded steerers, this is to permit sufficient "stack height" for your screw on headset.
For threadless systems, this is to permit the bars to be raised higher.
Then you need to chose the geometry of forks which will give good handling on your bike. This is related to the angle of the headtube, which will probbaly change if you fit a non-sus fork (the front of the bike will be lowerd, and the headtube angle steepened). Forks are available with differing amounts of "rake".
If you are using forks for road-only with no serious off-road, then consider some lighter-weight forks, more like those on a touring bike. Reynolds531 steel is the standard material for touring forks, and is much more comfortable than the massive and heavy steel of most ridgid MTB forks. Usually touring forks come with mounting points for a low-rider pannier, but you can get them without if you prefer.
I would suggest you leave the job to a competant bike shop, and take a serious look at some touring-grade forks.
The best place to start is looking for a "how To" manual at the library or bookstore. Almost any book you find will answer all the questions you asked.
Besides what Michael has just told you, there are many more references in the Forum archives to help you understand that the job is not physically difficult, but has a small amount of mental challenge in order to do it right.
Learn everything you can, and it will be a "piece of cake."
By the way, there are no "silly" questions. Any and all questions are valid here.