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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.

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Old 08-23-06, 12:34 PM   #1
guymysterio
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Carbon or Aluminum Fork?*

Hey,*

I was considering upgrading to a carbon fork on my cross bike from my current aluminum fork. But a friend of mine suggested that I not make that move, in that, aluminum bends and carbon fiber does not. So, in the event that I crash ( and I most assuredly will at some point ) he said that my carbon fork could just snap and things could get real messy.*

Any truth to this? Is it just totally irrational? Is carbon fiber worth the money?*

Other thoughts?
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Old 08-23-06, 03:07 PM   #2
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Aluminum can do more than bend. It can buckle, squash, tear, or otherwise fail quite dramatically. That being said, for cyclocross at least, an aluminum fork may provide better durability than carbon fiber, as little scratches and gouges on the surface of a cf fork can create stress concentrations that can lead to sudden, unexpected failures.

I have no direct experience with a carbon fork for cyclocross, but my aluminum fork has been crashed many times without any discernible damage. I don't how well a carbon fork would have weathered these events.

Then again, they are light and supple, and probably provide a more comfortable ride than the typical aluminum fork. I think that in terms of ride quality, the cost may be justified, but I would not expect them to have as long of a serviceable life as aluminum.

Just my $0.02.
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Old 08-23-06, 05:15 PM   #3
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I replaced the steel fork that came with my Major Jake with a carbon fork a few years ago. The ride quality wasn't that much different, but it made the bike almost a pound lighter. And I appreciated that on long runups.
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Old 08-23-06, 09:39 PM   #4
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forget aluminum.... steel is real.
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Old 08-23-06, 10:41 PM   #5
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I thought the carbon was there to reduce vibrations on an alu frame? No?
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Old 08-23-06, 11:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendipper
I thought the carbon was there to reduce vibrations on an alu frame? No?
Considering that you're running high-volume/low-pressure tires on a cyclo-cross bike, the fork material has relatively little to do with the amount of vibration coming up from the course. I guess if you rode you bike on the road with road tires, it would make a difference [I do ride my cyclo-cross bike with road tires on the road occasionally, but I never did it with the steel fork, so I have nothing to compare it to]. Off-road and in races, the real benefit is weight.
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Old 08-24-06, 07:12 AM   #7
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I'd spend my money on something else. You are not going to save much (if any) weight, and I don't think there is much advantage to be had from the switch.
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Old 08-24-06, 08:05 AM   #8
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I have a steel fork on mine and it is a bit hefty but I don't have to worry about it. AL can fail suddenly. Last year in a cross race I snapped an AL stem in two and crashed. It must have just gotten old and fatigued. There are lots of people using carbon forks out there to a great deal of success. But in your case you are not going to save any weight changing forks and the dampening vibration bit IMHO is marketing.

One thing I will say for sure is stay away from carbon seat posts or saddles with carbon rails. I have seen them fail numerous times on cross courses. A light cross bike is essential to successful racing but if it's broke then you lose. So there is something to think about.
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Old 11-30-06, 12:02 AM   #9
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My experience with a carbon fork used for cross was a bad one. I was out practicing mounts, dismounts and other cross skills with a friend.
At one point, the both of us were riding up a small hill, and out handlebars connected.. we both fell.. we were not going fast at all..
his cx bike was fine, My redline cabon fork fractured approximately 5 inches above the dropout on the left side.

So, from this experience, I have replaced the fork with a steel one.. atleast, I know it will stand up to almost any
future mishaps..
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Old 11-30-06, 12:48 PM   #10
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In my experience carbon forks are better at muting high-frequency vibrations, such as the ones on my old Cannondale R400. In other words when you're on rough pavement at 20 mph they help to reduce harshness. Carbon has poor resistance to direct impacts, such as a hammer blow... or a low branch... or evil squirrels' teeth.

Personally my off road machines will never use a carbon frame, fork, handlebar or seatpost and I'd certainly not use carbon components with the sole intent to make the bike lighter since it's cheaper and easier to take off the weight from around our waists.
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