After reading many threads on how fitting carbon forks makes handling better etc...I decided to buy some, not really for handling but because the original forks on my 2005 Trek T2000 irritated me in lots of other ways:
- Too high front end of bike
- Spray from front tyre comes up, back and hits you in the eye because of the gaping gap between the wheel and fork
- Poor cantilever brakes
- Doesn't look like a road bike
I ended up fitting the following:
- Alpha Q X2 44mm rake fork £200
- New baseplate (crown race) for original Cane Creek S6 headset £10
- Thomson X2 stem £35
- Syntace carbon bars £100
- Dura Ace 7700 front brake £25
- New Shimano cabling £5
- Deda bar tape £4
- Pro Race II tyres £35
- Michelin Race inner tubes £8
I bought most of the items from ebay and spent about £420 in total, which is a lot, and more than strictly necessary, but when you consider the forks cost just over £200 and the bars and tyres came from my parts bin the pain was spread.
Putting it all together took a while, with the main issues being getting the new crown race onto the fork (get proper tool) and gluing the aluminium insert into the fork and cutting to length was worrying as I hadn't done this before. In the end it was painless, and didn't require any big decisions on bar height as you can still cut 2cm off the insert after it's glued. Another tip - I found that ropes attached to the roof of our shed that supported the tandem on its wheels made the work much easier.
While I was working on the the bike I also had a look at the tyres as I had been meaning to replace them, but only when they wear out / puncture. Problem was that neither had happened. Reason is that the stock wire bead Bontrager X-Lite hard case 28mm tyres are like road bike tractor tyres and also have tractor thickness inner tubes. While they weren't wearing or puncturing, in my view they weren't doing anything for the ride and speed, and wet grip wasn't great either. They were quickly replaced on a test basis with 23mm Michelin Pro Race IIs and quality inner tubes.
- The front end of the bike is lower by about 2-3cm (forks lower plus no cable hanger), meaning I can get into my road position
- Stand over, which used to be on the high side is now about the same as my road bikes
- Handling is definitely sharper, which is a double edged sword; turning the bike takes less arm strength, and more body movement, which is good, but on the other hand keeping the bike straight now requires some attention, and stoker can steer from the rear more easily if she wriggles. I'm not sure yet about high speed stability as we didn't get the chance to get down any decent hills.
- Everything feels more lively, and it's more like a road bike now to ride.
- Stoker immediately that the bike felt different, but commented that she was surprised that the ride wasn't worse - in her view the smaller section the tyres were giving a similar ride, probably because of the suppler casing
- Brakes work better and stop better I think; no nasty cable hanger
- Bike looks sharp - like a proper racing bike
- Significant weight saving - all the new components are significantly lighter than old. While the tandem won't be challenging in any weightweenie competitions yet, it does all add up to let you get up hills faster.
- I'm keeping the tyres for winter commuting. Slow but glass proof tyres will be OK for that.
Overall I'm happy with the changes - it feels like a worthwhile improvement, and I can see why Trek now outfit their T2000 like this from stock. They should really fit lighter tyres though.
I'm still tempted by some more upgrades, with the rear brake, seat posts and some nice red anodised bolts being on the list of possibles.