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Old 04-20-08, 09:26 PM   #1
windupcanary
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Worth it to swap forks for front rack braze-ons?

I just bought a used custom tourer, based on a cannondale caad2 mtb frame. It's perfect except for one thing; the front fork doesn't have rack braze-ons. I am considering buying a surly long haul trucker fork (steel, w/ braze ons) and swapping it for the current thick aluminum caad2 fork. My question is basically this: how big a difference will those braze-ons make for full-load touring--will the u-loop mid-fork mounts for a rack work well enough to hold 25-40 lbs? Also, will the steel fork make for a considerably sweeter ride? General opinions?
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Old 04-20-08, 11:53 PM   #2
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The steel fork will make a nicer ride, but it is personal preference. I just did a little week long tour last month with my Cross Check, and I used the lowrider rack that they sell at performance. It doesn't require the mid-mount eyelets, just the same one as the fenders on the bottom with a U bolt midway up the fork.
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Old 04-21-08, 04:03 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by windupcanary View Post
I just bought a used custom tourer, based on a cannondale caad2 mtb frame. It's perfect except for one thing; the front fork doesn't have rack braze-ons. I am considering buying a surly long haul trucker fork (steel, w/ braze ons) and swapping it for the current thick aluminum caad2 fork. My question is basically this: how big a difference will those braze-ons make for full-load touring--will the u-loop mid-fork mounts for a rack work well enough to hold 25-40 lbs? Also, will the steel fork make for a considerably sweeter ride? General opinions?
25 to 40lbs. seems like a whole lot of weight to carry on the front, regardless of the fork type.

You can also consider racks that attach to the front wheel's axle via quick release. I have no idea how good or practical they are, but I'd look them up.
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Old 04-21-08, 04:35 AM   #4
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The questions are:

Do you intend to carry all or most of your gear up front? It's not an unusual practice in Europe, for example, and can help improve the feel or a bike.

Just how much gear do you intend to carry? As jp said, the amount you suggest seems a lot if you are also carrying a similar amount on the rear.

How does the bike feel currently with the alloy fork? A steel fork might improve the feel, but from what I have seen of newer steel forks, their engineering suggests very stiff to the point where there might not be an improvement in ride feel.

You may be able to achieve a better ride feel by lowering tyre pressures a fraction, and lightly loading the front with a low-rider rack held in place mid-fork by the U-clamps shooter suggests.

FWIW, I am not so sure about the feasibility of low-rider racks improving the ride feel of a bike. What you trade out by changing to a steel fork, might be lost by fitting a low-rider rack.

I am figuring, through observation over quite long distances and road types, that the configuration of the rack mounts, both midfork and down on the drop-outs, limits or eliminates the intended movement of the fork-ends to act as a kind of suspension. It is, I think, why the French love the front racks that are mounted at the crown and mid-fork braze-ons, leaving the fork-ends to do the stuff they were meant to do.
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Old 04-21-08, 05:15 AM   #5
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I just replaced the aluminum fork on my Devinci Destination touring bike. I picked up a Bontrager carbon cyclocross/touring fork from Wheels and Sprockets in Wisconsin. Great price, has mid-rack braze-ons, rides quietly and is much more compliant than the stiff aluminum fork it replaced.
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Old 04-21-08, 10:42 AM   #6
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I really appreciate all your responses. Some answers and questions:

1. I intend to full-load multiple week touring with this bike. I've generally heard that that requires 50-80 lbs of equipment on the bike, which made me think I'd want to be able to carry up to about 30 lbs up front and the remaining 40-50 on back. It sounds like the distribution I"m going for should be more like 20 front, 50-60 back?

2. I haven't ridden the bike loaded yet, but unloaded it feels very soft for an alloy frame, even slightly comfier than my other old steel frame road bike.

Based on comments, I think my current plan is to wait on getting a new fork until I have given this bike a solid tour with a u-loop front rack. Until then, it sounds like there's no guarantee of how worthwhile a difference a new fork w braze-ons would make.
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Old 04-21-08, 10:49 AM   #7
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Sounds like a plan. I've always worked on the basis of, "When it doubt, try the cheaper solution first. It just may work and save you a bundle."
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Old 04-21-08, 12:19 PM   #8
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I would keep the fork, myself. The front brazeons are convenient, for years no stock bike had them, even after the Blackburn front racks became widely available. Even though your fork is beefy as aluminum goes. Be careful adjusting the U-bolts not to really crank on them. Most of the load will carry fine on the fender attachments, the the mid fork is mostly going to limit rotation.

Since your load will be mostly on the dropouts, if it were me and I was mounting front fenders, I would be trying to get closed loops on those so that the rack mounting would be very solid. The fender stays are often just bent over wire and can spread open or simply create off-center loads under bolt pressure.
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Old 04-21-08, 04:27 PM   #9
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OMM makes 3 different front rack that don't need any eyelets or braze ons, and are rated for 40-50 lbs. There's even a lowrider version.

http://www.oldmanmountain.com/Pages/...rontRacks.html
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Old 04-21-08, 06:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windupcanary View Post
I've generally heard that that requires 50-80 lbs of equipment on the bike, which made me think I'd want to be able to carry up to about 30 lbs up front and the remaining 40-50 on back. It sounds like the distribution I"m going for should be more like 20 front, 50-60 back?.
I don't think there are many tourists out there carrying as much as 80 pounds on the bike. My last tour I carried almost everything a typical bicycle tourist may carry and my bike + equipment was about 85 pounds. I think most equipment weight, separate from bike + racks + fenders + water bottles, will probably come in between 20 and 45 pounds.
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Old 04-21-08, 06:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windupcanary View Post
I just bought a used custom tourer, based on a cannondale caad2 mtb frame. It's perfect except for one thing; the front fork doesn't have rack braze-ons.
By "no rack braze-ons," do you mean "fender braze-ons only"? Because it's easy to use use fender braze-ons to mount a front rack -- you just use spacers. A stack of washers from the hardware store will do, or you can get a slicker spacer from a bike shop.

Also, as bwgride says: While touring loads vary by rider, you'll find very few experienced tourists carrying more than 40 lbs, and many carrying a lot less than that. A load of 50 to 80 lbs sounds like a recipe for misery.
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Old 04-22-08, 01:21 AM   #12
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The weight of the load all depends on how comfortable each individual feels. And much of that comfort comes from experience and experimenting with both riding over all sorts of terrain and using in-camp equipment.

Peterpan's caution of overtightening the U-clamps is very important. In addition, wrap the fork at the location of the U-clamps with electrical insulation tape or inner tube strips (or both) to avoid scarring the paintwork on the fork.

Last edited by Rowan; 04-22-08 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 04-22-08, 05:23 AM   #13
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... How does the bike feel currently with the alloy fork? A steel fork might improve the feel, but from what I have seen of newer steel forks, their engineering suggests very stiff to the point where there might not be an improvement in ride feel.
Have they selected a different steel alloy? (This is all news to me.) I know that when I selected a new steel fork for my mountain bike, almost all of the rigid forks were made out of very large diameter tubing. About none of them had a curve to establish the rake. I figured that I would depend upon the shock absorption of the 1.9 inch balloon tyres.

Quote:
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... I am figuring, through observation over quite long distances and road types, that the configuration of the rack mounts, both midfork and down on the drop-outs, limits or eliminates the intended movement of the fork-ends to act as a kind of suspension. It is, I think, why the French love the front racks that are mounted at the crown and mid-fork braze-ons, leaving the fork-ends to do the stuff they were meant to do.
Interesting stuff. Presumably, these racks could be designed to have "integral springiness" in the selection of the materials and the shape of the support rods.
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Old 04-22-08, 05:38 AM   #14
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Peterpan's caution of overtightening the U-clamps is very important. In addition, wrap the fork at the location of the U-clamps with electrical insulation tape or inner tube strips (or both) to avoid scarring the paintwork on the fork.
another extra precaution to do here is to do a light wrapping of tape / inner tube to protest the paint then short length of copper piping used for central heating main circuits say 1"-2" long 1" diameter. Now cut he length of piping vertically so you have lengths of semi circular copper. Place them on the mount points of the fork. IF the overlap (i.e the fork blade is less than 1" trim them so they do not) and put the u-bolt round the brass.

Coppers is a light weight and soft metal so any clamping will spread the load well over a wide band. It is like building up a shock absorber between you fork and it's mount point. Inner tube -> cooper -> bolt spreading the load with each layer.
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Old 04-24-08, 05:38 AM   #15
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If you use the Carradice Limpet system there is no need for brazeons.


http://www.carradice.co.uk/expeditio...panniers.shtml
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