Old 09-15-15, 02:50 PM
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The fork (rigid or suspension) is the main 'shock absorber' on a conventional diamond-framed bicycle, along with tires/air pressure and, of course, the rider's ability to 'ride light and loose'.

Aluminum forks, to be adequately light and strong, must necessarily be made with a largish cross-section, and not permitted to flex much (due to the nature of the material). That makes them 'rigid' in an undesirable way. Forks made of carbon or steel can be light and adequately strong while still being able to flex in response to road shock -- especially when they are made with tapered/curved blades. So if you hit a square-edged bump, say, with a straight-blade aluminum fork, the impact not absorbed by the tires goes straight up into your hands/arms. Decent carbon/steel forks attenuate that shock a little more effectively. It adds up over the course of a ride.

As I suggested above, the larger volume/lower pressure the tire, the less that difference matters -- but in my experience if you want to ride 32 or 28 tires (let alone 25 or 23), carbon or steel are much better choices for forks. There may be aluminum forks out there that don't jack-hammer one's hands, but I can't be bothered to find out!
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