Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 06-18-17, 06:15 PM   #1
wgscott
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
wgscott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: The Timbers of Fennario
Bikes:
Posts: 1,645
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 840 Post(s)
Everyone is conspiring to make me paranoid

Or so it might seem...

Today I was biking down what was admittedly a rather rough gravel trail (Wilder Ranch, coastal Santa Cruz), where most people were riding mountain bikes, and I would occasionally get funny looks from mountain bikers. So I get near the bottom of the trail, and I see this guy hiking his (road) bike. He has what looks like a Camelback backpack, with a road bike tied to it, and as I approached it was clear why -- the handlebars were dangling. I stopped and asked him if I could help with a multitool or loan him my phone or something. It turns out he was riding uphill when the fork steering tube snapped at the stem interface. (I think it was Aluminum, but I only got a quick look at it.) He was saying he felt lucky it happened on an uphill. I can't imagine this ever being anything other than unpleasant, but you could easily get killed this way, especially if this happens without any warning.

This got me thinking about catastrophic failures like that. I have an Enve carbon CX fork attached to a steel bike. I like to think it is indestructible, but I got to wondering how often this sort of thing happens. Maybe shock absorbers on forks really aren't so silly after all.



Gimmie some platitudes.
wgscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 07:15 AM   #2
TimothyH
- Soli Deo Gloria -
 
TimothyH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Off the back...
Bikes: 2017 Niner RLT 9 RDO, 2015 Bianchi Pista, 2002 Fuji Robaix
Posts: 6,548
Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2439 Post(s)
This is one of the reasons I purchased a Niner gravel bike.

The carbon layup is like a mountain bike.


-Tim-
TimothyH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 07:24 AM   #3
Shimagnolo
Senior Member
 
Shimagnolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zang's Spur, CO
Bikes:
Posts: 7,974
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 700 Post(s)
George knows exactly how you feel:
Shimagnolo is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 11:26 AM   #4
rico_mack
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Arizona desert
Bikes:
Posts: 28
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Unbelievable! And you know it was not a cheap fork. Think I'll go out and check my CRUX's fork now.
rico_mack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 01:32 PM   #5
wheelsmcgee
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Bikes:
Posts: 263
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Equipment fails. Is the probability of catastrophic failure 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000000? I don't know. I doubt many people on these forums do either, but given the fact that makers of al/cf steerer forks haven't been sued out of existence to my knowledge, chances are you shouldn't be worried.

Also, steel is real.

(I'm only half serious, but it's a nice platitude)
wheelsmcgee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 02:56 PM   #6
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint
Posts: 16,969
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1071 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
George knows exactly how you feel
lesson in "how to bail"?
rumrunn6 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 03:07 PM   #7
Lazyass
Senior Member
 
Lazyass's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NC
Bikes: Lots
Posts: 6,025
Mentioned: 20 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 669 Post(s)
I bet it was a carbon steerer.

Lazyass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 03:10 PM   #8
wgscott
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
wgscott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: The Timbers of Fennario
Bikes:
Posts: 1,645
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 840 Post(s)
I only got a quick look. It looked shiny/silvery, so I assumed it was aluminum. Also, there didn't appear to be fibers like you see in the video. Aluminum will fatigue and crack. The bike was a Felt, fwiw.

Last edited by wgscott; 06-19-17 at 03:20 PM.
wgscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 03:10 PM   #9
wgscott
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
wgscott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: The Timbers of Fennario
Bikes:
Posts: 1,645
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 840 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee View Post

Also, steel is real.

(I'm only half serious, but it's a nice platitude)
Unless, like me, you have a steel bike with a carbon fork...
wgscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 08:38 PM   #10
athrowawaynic
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: MA
Bikes: 2015 Niner RLT9, 1987 Atala
Posts: 210
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 94 Post(s)
I mean, if you're just thinking to give that fork away, sure, I'll take it.
athrowawaynic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 08:52 PM   #11
DrIsotope 
Non omnino gravis
 
DrIsotope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: SoCal, USA!
Bikes: Swiss Miss
Posts: 3,032
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1005 Post(s)
Due to wholly unfounded fears, I sold the full-carbon Ritchey WCS fork that came with my Swiss Cross without ever even test-fitting it to the frame. It was replaced with a $70 all-steel Surly fork. And I never looked back.

Which is not to say that steel forks don't fail-- I just prefer their method of failure when compared to CF, which usually includes descriptors like "sudden" and "catastrophic."
__________________
DrIsotope is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 08:54 PM   #12
Marcus_Ti 
Furry Cruise Missile
 
Marcus_Ti's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Bikes: Roadie: Seven Axiom Race Ti w/Chorus 11s. CX/Adventure: Carver Gravel Grinder w/ Di2
Posts: 2,654
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 739 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Or so it might seem...

Today I was biking down what was admittedly a rather rough gravel trail (Wilder Ranch, coastal Santa Cruz), where most people were riding mountain bikes, and I would occasionally get funny looks from mountain bikers. So I get near the bottom of the trail, and I see this guy hiking his (road) bike. He has what looks like a Camelback backpack, with a road bike tied to it, and as I approached it was clear why -- the handlebars were dangling. I stopped and asked him if I could help with a multitool or loan him my phone or something. It turns out he was riding uphill when the fork steering tube snapped at the stem interface. (I think it was Aluminum, but I only got a quick look at it.) He was saying he felt lucky it happened on an uphill. I can't imagine this ever being anything other than unpleasant, but you could easily get killed this way, especially if this happens without any warning.

This got me thinking about catastrophic failures like that. I have an Enve carbon CX fork attached to a steel bike. I like to think it is indestructible, but I got to wondering how often this sort of thing happens. Maybe shock absorbers on forks really aren't so silly after all.



Gimmie some platitudes.

This sounds less like a cautionary tale about CF parts...and more a cautionary tale about poor decision making in taking weight-weenie (underbuilt for the conditions) parts into the unpaved wilds.
Marcus_Ti is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-17, 06:06 AM   #13
trail_monkey
Senior Member
 
trail_monkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Iowa
Bikes: Soma B Side, Soma Wolverine, Jamis MTB, Panasonic DX 3000
Posts: 702
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 201 Post(s)
Carbon scares me. Keep it on race cars and maybe racing bikes but for anything else I will take steel everytime. It's not even as compliant as a GOOD steel so I don't want it anyways. I can deal with a couple extra pounds.
trail_monkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-17, 07:17 AM   #14
boozergut
Senior Member
 
boozergut's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Bikes: Kona Dew, Gary Fisher Paragon, Salsa Campeon
Posts: 232
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
George knows exactly how you feel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZg1vrvGbdE
I thought it was interesting that George only mentioned this in passing as an "I broke my steering wheel" incident in his book. I thought he would win the P.R. for sure that year.
boozergut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-17, 10:49 PM   #15
Pynchonite
Senior Member
 
Pynchonite's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Bikes: 2014 Specialized Crux Pro Carbon Disc, 2012 Surly Ogre, Specialized Camber Comp 29
Posts: 105
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Meh, I thrash my carbon Crux and so far I've got zero failures to show for it. I've actually seen more steel and aluminum bits fail than carbon over the years. Most bike stuff is pretty safe, just make sure you check up on everything once in a while, particularly after a crash. Keep in mind that no bike manufacturer wants to get sued in the event of a failure. Paranoia is certainly more entertaining than probability in this case.
Pynchonite is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-17, 10:56 PM   #16
wgscott
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
wgscott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: The Timbers of Fennario
Bikes:
Posts: 1,645
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 840 Post(s)
Again, I think it was aluminum.
wgscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-17, 10:02 AM   #17
cellery
Senior Member
 
cellery's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Bikes:
Posts: 773
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 59 Post(s)
I'm still unclear on the this guy's bike. You said 'road bike'... Like as in actual road bike with skinny tires and a paper thin frame? Not like an actual gravel specific built frame?
cellery is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-17, 10:06 AM   #18
motorthings
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 489
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by trail_monkey View Post
Carbon scares me.
Reminds me of my daughter's favorite book "The Carbon at the End of this Book".
Scary indeed!
motorthings is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-17, 10:17 AM   #19
wgscott
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
wgscott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: The Timbers of Fennario
Bikes:
Posts: 1,645
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 840 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by cellery View Post
I'm still unclear on the this guy's bike. You said 'road bike'... Like as in actual road bike with skinny tires and a paper thin frame? Not like an actual gravel specific built frame?
I didn't get a close look, but I suspect it was an "adventure road" bike like the one I was on. Definitely light weight (unlike mine) and drops. I had to ride 40mm nanos on the trail, so I very much doubt it was a "skinny tires and paper thin frame" kind of bike. But I think the stem and fork steering tube would be the same regardless.
wgscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-17, 01:52 PM   #20
cellery
Senior Member
 
cellery's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Bikes:
Posts: 773
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 59 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I didn't get a close look, but I suspect it was an "adventure road" bike like the one I was on. Definitely light weight (unlike mine) and drops. I had to ride 40mm nanos on the trail, so I very much doubt it was a "skinny tires and paper thin frame" kind of bike. But I think the stem and fork steering tube would be the same regardless.
Honestly most of those adventure / all road type of bikes appear to use the same kinds of forks you see on a cross bike... maybe a bit wider clearance than cx. They are mostly not overbuilt - just enough to not blow up when slamming on disc brakes. Same as any road disc fork. If it broke at the steerer, I'm not sure what would have prevented that under the right circumstances. Also, don't forget there are some setup issues with steers (like the spacer stack issue) and overtorquing that could have made it user error.

On mtb's you see tapered head tubes/steerers as a rule these days... I wonder if that might have prevented this type of breakage. I had a conversation recently with an employee at my lbs and I was asking about this very subject when I was checking out the gravel bikes. He said there's really no need for a tapered head tube/steerer because you're not subjecting them to the type of forces you see on a mtb. All the while I am thinking to myself... "sure they're not dude". I've taken my AWOL on tech trails several times. It's super rough and fun, but I've wondered on occasion if I am inviting disaster with the regular 1 1/8 steerer being subjected to drops and such. I mean it worked fine on all those vintage mtbs... Seems like this was probably just a bit of bad luck!

Last edited by cellery; 06-23-17 at 01:56 PM.
cellery is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-17, 02:04 PM   #21
wgscott
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
wgscott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: The Timbers of Fennario
Bikes:
Posts: 1,645
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 840 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by cellery View Post
like the spacer stack issue
What is the spacer stack issue?
wgscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-17, 02:24 PM   #22
DrIsotope 
Non omnino gravis
 
DrIsotope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: SoCal, USA!
Bikes: Swiss Miss
Posts: 3,032
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1005 Post(s)
Many mfrs. list a maximum spacer height to be used under the stem. Going above that max height is a good way to end up with a snapped steerer tube.
__________________
DrIsotope is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-17, 02:38 PM   #23
79pmooney
A Roadie Forever
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder
Posts: 4,061
Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 505 Post(s)
THis won't help your fears. Sorry.

I will never own a carbon fork because I know all too well the consequences of a sudden, total steerer/crown failure. After that happened, I have only ridden steel forks of standards becoming higher as I age. (The fork was the infamous Lambert Mk I. I was going downhill. I lived (obviously) but it cost me a lot.)

The modern carbon fork is far more reliable, but the failure mode, while at a microscopic laver, very different, quite similar at the macro level. George Hincapie still had a steerer in his headtube that was still attached to his fork, just not his handlebars. That leaves you with options. But forks can fail at the steerer/'crown interface. With aluminum (mine) and carbon fiber, that is a sudden - there's nothing there. No front wheel. No fork. Going !35mph as I was, it was head to the road quite quickly.

My forks are now - Peter Mooney (Mk II, I crashed the original and had Peter make some changes based on my experience with the ride of first), Raleigh Competition (this fork got stripped, inspected and repainted), early '80s Trek 4something and two TiCycles customs. The Competition and the second TiCycles are 531. Pretty sure the Mooney is also and the first TiCycles probably is. Both Trek and the Japanese (I think I have a Japanese built Trek) have long histories of making reliable steel forks at all levels of quality and expense. I trust all these forks. I may well ride them to failures but I feel reasonably confident that those failures are a long ways off and that there will be warning. They are all built by techniques that have been honed and proven over most of a century.

High end steel forks done right are a sweet ride. Unless the weight loss is more important than piece of mind, there is no drawback to steel.

ben
79pmooney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-17, 03:01 PM   #24
cellery
Senior Member
 
cellery's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Bikes:
Posts: 773
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 59 Post(s)
That's a frightening story 79pmooney. I would probably feel the same if I went through that.

In a somewhat related but non-violent story, my gf just bought herself a specialized sequoia. It's steel with a carbon fork. I have never seen such a robust fork on a drop bar bike. The legs at the top are wider than the top tube of my mountain bike and it appears to be tapered (based on the head tube... haven't pulled it out of the frame yet to confirm). I think it's one of the only carbon forks rated to load a front rack. Maybe on my shortlist of carbon forks that I would trust on really rough gravel or single track. But that kind of leads to the question: what's the point? I doubt there is a lot of weight savings compared to a quality steel fork that wouldn't explode. Probably it's there to sell units. Looks pretty!
cellery is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-17, 06:38 PM   #25
TimothyH
- Soli Deo Gloria -
 
TimothyH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Off the back...
Bikes: 2017 Niner RLT 9 RDO, 2015 Bianchi Pista, 2002 Fuji Robaix
Posts: 6,548
Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2439 Post(s)
The Lambert fork broke not because of the material it was made of but but because of the way it was made.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/lambert.html
It was cast aluminum. The steerer was press fit or pinned to the crown. They were all recalled.

I agree that there are some sweet riding steel forks - I own a Tange Prestige replica of a 3Rensho fork with LC21 crown and the ride is amazing. I also own a 2017 Niner carbon fork which is revered in the MTB and gravel/adventure world.

Sorry to hear that someone was hurt and even more so that there were long term consequences but I don't see the wisdom in basing 2017 decision on what to ride on poor design and manufacturing from the mid 70's.


-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 06-24-17 at 07:30 AM.
TimothyH is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:39 PM.


 
  • Ask a Question
    get answers from real people!
Click to start entering your question.
I HAVE A QUESTION