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Old 03-31-07, 10:06 PM   #1
datepalm3@earth
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Carbon fork quetion

Question: Is a carbon fork is strong enough for a commuter bike?

I'm looking to buy a new bike, and things need to be strong enough for urban commute and sometimes very heavy pannier with laptop, etc. (Granted, pannier is on the rear of the bike, but I guess I'm still worried about weight/wear and tear.)

I'd like a steel frame (call me old-fashioned, but i won't do aluminum) with a flat handlebar, and not too many companies are doing steel in the sub-$1,300 price these days. One that does is Jamis, and a few of their "Coda" models look like they'd suit my needs very well: 631 Reynolds and pretty good components.

My only concern was that they all sport a carbon fork, and I simply don't have any prior experience with carbon. Is carbon fine? Or should I just get a steel fork??
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Old 03-31-07, 10:17 PM   #2
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carbon is preeettty strong. steel is real though. i dunno any carbon forks with braze ons for panniers though.
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Old 04-01-07, 12:10 PM   #3
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Jamis Coda has chromoly fork (w/brazeons), for at least in one of their models I checked on the Web site.
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Old 04-02-07, 11:54 AM   #4
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Carbon may be strong but it is not very tough, esp in the thin material of forks. If you scrape the forks against a wall, pavement or bike stand you may cause damage. The weight/cost difference between cheaper carbon and high grade steel is not so great. I will stick with my 531 brazed forks for commuting.
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Old 04-04-07, 09:55 AM   #5
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I have seen carbon forks with 'braze ons' (aka boss type brake mounts, not actually brazed on). As I recall they run in the $250 range and I don't know where to get them although I bet a shop would.
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Old 04-04-07, 06:00 PM   #6
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If you want cheap steel with a steel fork, consider the Surly LHT complete it's under 1000. I think there are some hefty front forks, some of them weighing about as much in carbon as steel. They should last for most comuting applications, it just depends what the bike you are looking at will do. If for some reason you want to buy a Jamis bike, there are dozens of replacement forks available in all imagineable configs usually for about 50 bucks.

A lot of the carbon forks seem to use aluminum steerer tubes, drops, and brake bosses. So if you don't like the durability side of Al you may not want those parts in your frame.
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Old 04-04-07, 06:07 PM   #7
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We use a full carbon fiber fork, including steerer tube, on our custom c/f Zona tandem. Got 14,000 miles on it, no problems.
Hate to tell folks, but did break a Reynolds 531 fork on one of our tandems after 13,000 miles. And have broken 2 steel frames.
So much for folks demonizing c/f.
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Old 04-05-07, 11:52 AM   #8
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Allright, chalk up one success!

I'd actually feel better about carbon to carbon transitions than carbon to aluminum. If the fork is made beefy and the methods of attaching parts are made sensible, a carbon fork could be great. The problem is finding what you need.

For instance. Some bows use parts that attach directly to them like quivers and sights. While these parts largely attach through threaded insert, in many cases they use velcro compression straps. Another example would be the carbon booms on sail boats, they dispensed with the metal hardware for attatching the load take-offs, and went to spectra webbing. It should be easy to find methods of attaching stuff like racks to composite forks if anyone was seriously interested, in redesigning the product. But in a world where the 5mm steel inserts fail, it's hard to get excited about Al anything.
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