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Aluminum fork? Really?

Old 04-04-14, 10:48 PM
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adlai
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Aluminum fork? Really?

How are alu forks a good idea? isn't the fork one of the most stressed areas of the bike? So with an alu-rigid fork, aren't you basically getting something that's pretty fragile and annoying to ride on?
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Old 04-04-14, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by adlai View Post
How are alu forks a good idea? isn't the fork one of the most stressed areas of the bike? So with an alu-rigid fork, aren't you basically getting something that's pretty fragile and annoying to ride on?
I'm not crazy about the idea of riding on an aluminum fork but they aren't uncommon.
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Old 04-04-14, 11:01 PM
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....the current crop seems to work OK, but there were some issues getting there.

What scares me is when the steerer tube is some kinda lightweight stuff and the attachment there is a little dicey.
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Old 04-04-14, 11:03 PM
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I have a 1994 Cannondale Killer V900 hard-tail mountain bike that came with a beefy aluminum fork called the Pepperoni. I bent it when a drunken teenager plowed into me one July 4 on a beach trail. I was lucky to find another Pepperoni fork (exactly same color and steerer size) at an old Cannondale dealership.

The real interesting thing about the Pepperoni is that it is kinda overbuilt.
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Old 04-04-14, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by adlai View Post
How are alu forks a good idea? isn't the fork one of the most stressed areas of the bike? So with an alu-rigid fork, aren't you basically getting something that's pretty fragile and annoying to ride on?
Things made from aluminum can be strong and robust. Most airplanes are largely made from aluminum and I wouldn't call a B-52 fragile.
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Old 04-04-14, 11:46 PM
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The way any mechanical item performs is a blend of material and design.
Get it right, and aluminum items will do just fine, get it wrong and you'll get in trouble - just as with any material.
The biggest advantage of steel forks is something like 100 years of trial and error design experience.
And while some of us were around when aluminium bicycle design was finding its feet, we've kinda lost track of all failed steel bicycle designs that flourished at the birth of the bicycle industry.
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Old 04-05-14, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
The way any mechanical item performs is a blend of material and design.
Get it right, and aluminum items will do just fine, get it wrong and you'll get in trouble - just as with any material.
The biggest advantage of steel forks is something like 100 years of trial and error design experience.
And while some of us were around when aluminium bicycle design was finding its feet, we've kinda lost track of all failed steel bicycle designs that flourished at the birth of the bicycle industry.
After ~15K miles on an aluminum fork, I agree with this!

I have more miles on steel forks if dating back to when I was a child and much fewer, but still plenty of miles on CF forks. I never found the ride quality different simply because of an aluminum fork.

Brad
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Old 04-05-14, 06:21 AM
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I've got a 95 Cannondale Criterium with an aluminum fork (63CM) Still works great. As long as material is considered in the design, what's the problem?
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Old 04-05-14, 07:09 AM
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The early glued Trek aluminum bikes, e.g. Trek 2000, 1400, 1200, 1000, came with glued together aluminum forks. Not very pretty (horseshoe shaped fork crown), but they worked just fine for a lot of miles.
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Old 04-05-14, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
The early glued Trek aluminum bikes, e.g. Trek 2000, 1400, 1200, 1000, came with glued together aluminum forks. Not very pretty (horseshoe shaped fork crown), but they worked just fine for a lot of miles.
I have a '92 Trek 1420 that has the bonded aluminum frame and fork. I put about 20,000 miles on it and after well over 25,000 miles it's still in fine shape ridden routinely by my son. I wouldn't choose aluminum as an ideal fork material but, designed and built properly, it can be very durable.
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Old 04-05-14, 08:01 AM
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Like anything else, if they didn't work they wouldn't continue to make em. There are plenty of debates as to what material works better and what is more comfortable but they all work.
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Old 04-05-14, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by adlai View Post
How are alu forks a good idea? isn't the fork one of the most stressed areas of the bike? So with an alu-rigid fork, aren't you basically getting something that's pretty fragile and annoying to ride on?
Aluminum forks have been around for close to 30 years. So far I'm not aware of any problems with them. As with other components they have to designed for the task and work well with the frame and other parts. Just buy your bike from a reputable manufacturer and get on with riding.
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Old 04-05-14, 10:19 AM
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You got a specific maker in mind? name it.
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Old 04-05-14, 11:10 AM
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I'm always curious about what causes folks to have silly thoughts and then lack the circumspection to post them.
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Old 04-05-14, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
After ~15K miles on an aluminum fork, I agree with this!

+1 I've got >100,000 miles on mine - a 28-year-old Vitus 979
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Old 04-05-14, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Delmarva View Post
Aluminum forks have been around for close to 30 years. So far I'm not aware of any problems with them. As with other components they have to designed for the task and work well with the frame and other parts. Just buy your bike from a reputable manufacturer and get on with riding.
While aluminum forks have come a long way, and we shouldn't generalize based on one poor example, there was a thing nicknamed the "Death Fork" on Viscount and Lambert bikes. It was made of cast aluminum, and it was notorious for premature failure. (Some might say that the unreliable reputation was exaggerated.)

Every bike I own has a steel fork, but I do not lose any sleep over the safety of other riders who roll on an aluminum fork. Viscounts aside, they'll be safe with those forks.
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Old 04-05-14, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by surreal View Post
While aluminum forks have come a long way, and we shouldn't generalize based on one poor example, there was a thing nicknamed the "Death Fork" on Viscount and Lambert bikes. It was made of cast aluminum, and it was notorious for premature failure. (Some might say that the unreliable reputation was exaggerated.)

Every bike I own has a steel fork, but I do not lose any sleep over the safety of other riders who roll on an aluminum fork. Viscounts aside, they'll be safe with those forks.
A poor design can result in component failure no matter which material is used.
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Old 04-05-14, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Delmarva View Post
A poor design can result in component failure no matter which material is used.
Absolutely. But it's not like we, as cyclists, are "unaware" of any problems with aluminum forks.
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Old 04-05-14, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by adlai View Post
How are alu forks a good idea? isn't the fork one of the most stressed areas of the bike? So with an alu-rigid fork, aren't you basically getting something that's pretty fragile and annoying to ride on?
Relatively uncomfortable - yes. Fragile -- no.
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Old 04-05-14, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by adlai View Post
How are alu forks a good idea? isn't the fork one of the most stressed areas of the bike? So with an alu-rigid fork, aren't you basically getting something that's pretty fragile and annoying to ride on?
You fly on airplanes don't you? Use aluminum, stems, seatposts, rims and cranks? So why this unfounded bias against aluminum forks. It's never about a material per se, but how that material is used. Quality aluminum forks properly fabricated of drawn tubing have delivered excellent performance for decades, and continue to do so.

The only area where aluminum is questionable is in steerer tubes, especially 1" ones. But most (all?) reputable makers of aluminum forks use a steel steerer, so there's no need to debate.

BTW- why the question? There are plenty of choices out there in all sorts of materials, with aluminum having a small slice of the market, so it's not like anyone is twisting your arm.
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Old 04-05-14, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by surreal View Post
While aluminum forks have come a long way, and we shouldn't generalize based on one poor example, there was a thing nicknamed the "Death Fork" on Viscount and Lambert bikes...
You just gave me an idea. I have an Ava "Death Stem" and "Death Bars". I need to find a "Death Fork" to build up a bike for a "friend".
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Old 04-05-14, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by surreal View Post
While aluminum forks have come a long way, and we shouldn't generalize based on one poor example, there was a thing nicknamed the "Death Fork" on Viscount and Lambert bikes. It was made of cast aluminum, and it was notorious for premature failure. (Some might say that the unreliable reputation was exaggerated.)

Every bike I own has a steel fork, but I do not lose any sleep over the safety of other riders who roll on an aluminum fork. Viscounts aside, they'll be safe with those forks.
Yes. I remember them. They were a very poor design and choice of material and, unfortunately, gave aluminum forks in general an undeserved bad reputation. It like the failure-prone Teledyne Titan titanium bicycles that gave Ti in general a bad rap that took a long time to overcome.
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Old 04-05-14, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by SkyDog75 View Post
You just gave me an idea. I have an Ava "Death Stem" and "Death Bars". I need to find a "Death Fork" to build up a bike for a "friend".
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Old 04-05-14, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by SkyDog75 View Post
You just gave me an idea. I have an Ava "Death Stem" and "Death Bars". I need to find a "Death Fork" to build up a bike for a "friend".
We would need videos.

OP: I have a vintage Sakae Litage Fx aluminum fork on my vintage Cannondale. They have an excellent reputation among collectors.
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Old 04-05-14, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by adlai View Post
aren't you basically getting something that's pretty fragile and annoying to ride on?
This one has been in service for the last 22 years, works for me.

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