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-   -   Fork conversion from threadless to threaded? (https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vintage/1138140-fork-conversion-threadless-threaded.html)

jonwvara 03-12-18 05:11 PM

Fork conversion from threadless to threaded?
 
I have a newish Long Haul Trucker 26--it's my youngest bike by about 30 years--and I want to convert it from a threadless to a threaded fork (the "why" isn't relevant to my question here, but I have my reasons.)

I thought this would be fairly simple to do by starting with the original fork, cutting off the original steerer, and brazing on a threaded one, either purchased new or taken from a donor bike. I approached a great framebuilder who has done similar projects for me in the past, but was told that his insurance will no longer allow him to modify parts built by others.

Well, okay--the lawyers are running roughshod over everything these days. But is there any technical (as opposed to legal) issue that would render such a conversion unfeasible? And who might be willing to take on something like this? A certain Italian-American gentleman on the West Coast comes to mind.

nlerner 03-12-18 05:24 PM

Seems a much easier approach would be to find a substitute threaded fork, whether used or new. Is it 1" with canti studs?

gugie 03-12-18 05:25 PM


Originally Posted by jonwvara (Post 20219182)
I have a newish Long Haul Trucker 26--it's my youngest bike by about 30 years--and I want to convert it from a threadless to a threaded fork (the "why" isn't relevant to my question here, but I have my reasons.)

I thought this would be fairly simple to do by starting with the original fork, cutting off the original steerer, and brazing on a threaded one, either purchased new or taken from a donor bike. I approached a great framebuilder who has done similar projects for me in the past, but was told that his insurance will no longer allow him to modify parts built by others.

Well, okay--the lawyers are running roughshod over everything these days. But is there any technical (as opposed to legal) issue that would render such a conversion unfeasible? And who might be willing to take on something like this? A certain Italian-American gentleman on the West Coast comes to mind.


Trevtassie 03-12-18 06:02 PM

Replacement fork or sweat the old stem out of the fork crown and sweat in another one... can't thread the old one because there's not enough metal. Other option if you want a loose-ish quill stem would be to use a steerer clamp above a normal threadless headset.

jonwvara 03-12-18 06:09 PM


Originally Posted by nlerner (Post 20219210)
Seems a much easier approach would be to find a substitute threaded fork, whether used or new. Is it 1" with canti studs?

Yes, I had thought about that, but there probably aren't a lot of suitable forks out there--it's for a 26" wheel, and has a super long head tube--I think it's over 10" long. Then there's all that business with fork geometry that I don't pretend to understand. Replacing the steerer might not be easy, but I suspect that it's still going to be easier than finding the right replacement.

But now that you mention it, I'm pretty sure it takes a 1 1/8" headset. Maybe this whole project is doomed from the outset.

tiredhands 03-12-18 06:36 PM

Unless you find a used on on eBay, Sunlite makes a 1 1/8" steerer, 26" fork. Link to black one: https://www.amazon.com/Sunlite-Threa...70_&dpSrc=srch

They make a chromed one too - couldn't find it on Amazon.

jonwvara 03-12-18 06:42 PM


Originally Posted by tiredhands (Post 20219344)
Unless you find a used on on eBay, Sunlite makes a 1 1/8" steerer, 26" fork. Link to black one: https://www.amazon.com/Sunlite-Threa...70_&dpSrc=srch

They make a chromed one too - couldn't find it on Amazon.

Thanks--I guess that would work. Ugly as sin, but since it's for a modern bike I could learn to live with it.

John E 03-12-18 07:21 PM

I certainly don't blame you for wanting to do this. I have yet to figure out any real benefit of threadless.

jonwvara 03-12-18 08:28 PM


Originally Posted by John E (Post 20219424)
I certainly don't blame you for wanting to do this. I have yet to figure out any real benefit of threadless.

My guess is that it's slightly more profitable for manufacturers. From their perspective, it's "found money."

Trevtassie 03-12-18 08:43 PM

Not enough stem to use a stem clamp and a quill stem with an adapter?
WOOdman Components Road & x country freeride Mountain bikes

Trevtassie 03-12-18 08:44 PM


Originally Posted by John E (Post 20219424)
I certainly don't blame you for wanting to do this. I have yet to figure out any real benefit of threadless.

For a start, you can adjust headset tension with an allen key...

mstateglfr 03-12-18 08:52 PM


Originally Posted by John E (Post 20219424)
I certainly don't blame you for wanting to do this. I have yet to figure out any real benefit of threadless.

My threadless bikes for sure wiggle and wobble less on the cockpit area.
Between the 1 1/8 headtube and 31.8 stem, its certainly beefier.
I find that beneficial on my MTB and gravel bikes.

Building a 1 1/8 road frame right now. I was given the choice of threaded and threadless and just couldn't think of why i would use a quill on a new frame.
I love my road bikes with quill stems and they are all used regularly, so its not for a lack of liking that setup.

Benefit of threaded-
- handlebars can be adjusted.
Reality- That happens a couple times in the life of the bike. Once they are set, they in theory stay there. Its not like they are adjusted each ride or even each month.

Benefit of threadless-
- less flex. Im tall and not slight in stature. Though i think i ride soft, i like the reduced flex.
- lighter than threaded.


Sure its cheaper/easier to manufacture threadless as they dont need specific length steerers.
Finding ways to reduce manufacturing costs is part of life. While it can often mean lower quality, its really not bad in this instance.

You can still adjust the height of threadless stems thru both spacers and stem angle.

Whats funny is that i see so many pictures of classic level top tube road bikes with comically high Technomic stems because the classic style and setup is illfitting for many people.
A classic -17degree quill on a bke is beautiful. It also seems to not be as useful as the threadless setup thats a quarter century old at this point.




Not meaning to be critical or rude, apologies if it came pff that way. Just interesting the views on threaded vs threadless. Seems there is a lot of tradition and pride in quill, which is cool, but i would think lighter and less flex would be recognizable even if it is passed over for quill.

jyl 03-12-18 11:14 PM

The main problem is that no one makes a slim, elegant, attractive threadless stem. The standard ones look like scaffold fittings. The nicest custom ones look like fancy plumbing fixtures.

79pmooney 03-13-18 12:15 AM

I made the decision to go a 1" threadless steel fork when I had my first ti bike built. Figured 1" had always worked for me so why change. (I was going steel fork from the start.) Bike was designed around a 120mm -17 stem.

I now have a decade and 11,000 miles on it. One of the features I really am not in love with is the ramifications of threadless stems. Having a nice long range of vertical height means lots of washers, usually on top. I have to mess with the headset bearings every time I move the stem. Every time I move the stem I have to fuss with washers and three bolts. Torque matters.

Now I am thanking myself for going 1". When this headset dies, the fork is going back to the builder to be cut and threaded and a conventional headset spun on. Yes, the Tanges don't go the distance of a Chris King but I can live with headset that lasts only 8,000 miles, costs $30 and has to be adjusted 1/8" turn 3 times over that distance. And never has to be even thought about when I raise or lower the stem.

I've always kinda looked at stem height a little like how tight I tie my shoe laces. I have my favorite setting (at any given time) but I really like being able to loosen the laces or raise the stem on a whim. And I like both of those operations being 5 minutes or less.

Edit: the there's the stems you have to live with. I never get tired of looking at the Nitto Pearls.

Ben

SquidPuppet 03-13-18 02:40 AM


Originally Posted by jonwvara (Post 20219360)
Thanks--I guess that would work. Ugly as sin, but since it's for a modern bike I could learn to live with it.

I'd check ATC and offset numbers before buying it, to make sure it doesn't alter handling. And if your head tube really is ten inches, that steerer is too short.

kunsunoke 03-13-18 11:24 AM


Originally Posted by John E (Post 20219424)
I certainly don't blame you for wanting to do this. I have yet to figure out any real benefit of threadless.

Benefits of thread-less depend on who you are, how much you weigh and how strong you are.

The thread-less setups I have on a few of my bikes combine decent forks with a bullet-proof headset (Chris King) and a well-constructed stem. All of these elements are must haves, or the thread-less setup is more trouble than it is worth (and it frequently was during the 1990s).

gugie 03-13-18 11:56 AM


Originally Posted by jyl (Post 20219800)
The main problem is that no one makes a slim, elegant, attractive threadless stem. The standard ones look like scaffold fittings. The nicest custom ones look like fancy plumbing fixtures.

Custom.

Here's one from Brian Chapman:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4487/3...8f87a0fd_b.jpg

wesmamyke 03-13-18 12:50 PM

I've got piles of 1-1/8" threaded 26" forks. They all came off mountain bikes though, much larger fork blades and no rack mounts, also very unlikely to find a steerer that long. I do have one beat up straight blade fork off a Nishiki that was huge, even that would probably barely be long enough.

You can find decent Tange forks in 1-1/8" threaded on ebay, they look exactly like that Sunlite but are actually cromoly not hi-ten. Best riding fork I've ever used was a Tange replacement fork on my old townie bike. No idea of the trail measurement, but they definitely made a non suspension corrected version that wouldn't mess up the fork length too bad.

TenGrainBread 03-13-18 01:09 PM

OP - in my opinion your best bet for a quality production fork is to find a take-off fork from an early 90s MTB. Plenty of them came with 1-1/8 threaded 26in forks. Lots of Treks. Might be difficult to find one that fits such a tall headtube though. If you have the $ I would just commission a custom fork from Waltworks or some such.

Re: threaded vs. threadless debate. I have ridden both many thousands of miles, and worked on both as a professional mechanic.

The advantage of a threaded system is height adjustment. It has many disadvantages:
-Very few quills have removable faceplates for easy handlebar changes, unlike threadless stems
-Quill stems tend to be heavier than threadless stems
-Quill stems tend to seize in steerers if not serviced regularly, and can damage steerers if not fastened correctly. I have seen a lot of this working in bike shops. There is nothing that is susceptible to seizing in a threadless system
-Threaded forks can be difficult to swap between frames due to the specific requirements of the headtube and headset. Threadless forks simply need to be long enough.
-Damage to threads on a threaded fork is not uncommon and is expensive to repair. The star nut in a threadless fork is easily removable and cheap to replace.
-Bearing adjustment on a threaded headset requires specialty wrenches. A threadless headset just needs an allen key

To me the biggest one is the seizing issue. An engineering solution which removes the possibility of seizing is in my mind superior. Easily installing and uninstalling cockpit parts is a bonus.

Headpost 03-13-18 02:13 PM


Originally Posted by Trevtassie (Post 20219579)
For a start, you can adjust headset tension with an allen key...

Threadless stems are "better" because from an engineering standpoint the design is stronger and lighter, and of course they're what the racers use. That they end up giving most average cyclists a worse overall experience with their bicycles doesn't seem to matter to the industry.

fietsbob 03-13-18 02:18 PM

If you had a fork threading die , and the tool handle to guide it in ideal alignment, then you would not have to find a frame builder that does.

79pmooney 03-13-18 02:29 PM


Originally Posted by TenGrainBread (Post 20220953)
...

Re: threaded vs. threadless debate. I have ridden both many thousands of miles, and worked on both as a professional mechanic.

The advantage of a threaded system is height adjustment. It has many disadvantages:
...
-Quill stems tend to seize in steerers if not serviced regularly, and can damage steerers if not fastened correctly. I have seen a lot of this working in bike shops. There is nothing that is susceptible to seizing in a threadless system
...

To me the biggest one is the seizing issue. An engineering solution which removes the possibility of seizing is in my mind superior. Easily installing and uninstalling cockpit parts is a bonus.

If you change handlebar heights enough, seizing simply isn't an issue. In the long run, time spent messing with headset adjustment swings in favor of threaded. And roadside stem height changes are trivial. (You might need to tap the allen key with a rock.)

Currently my only threadless bike is unridable because I ruined the star nut adjusting the headset. (As far as I can tell, they die after so many stem swaps. In other words they are a consumable. I've been neglecting to stock up. Maybe I am just a hack with them. Maybe a really good thing that I have never attempted an on-road height adjust.)

Ben

fietsbob 03-13-18 02:40 PM

how difficult is it to shuffle some spacers from under the stem to over it, If you left the steerer long enough..

I bought a bike that came with too short a threadless fork, and resolved it as a problem with a BBB BHP-21

https://www.bike-components.de/en/BB...-Ahead-p12464/

If you already buggered up your star-fangled-nut, remove it entirely, these fit in the steerer tube replacing it.

the simple but brilliant part is making va bolt thjat is both a 6mm hex , and 6mm threaded, inside the hex..

so the bolt first pulls the wedge up, then takes the top cap bolt in it.




...

jonwvara 03-13-18 03:44 PM

If have no argument with those who like threadless headsets. They're admittedly convenient in many ways. But I value the ability to move the stem up or down as I feel like it. On a long tour I did last year, I must have adjusted it half a dozen times. I moved it up over an inch in response to the neck stiffness I was getting over the first few days. The tour started in February, and living in Vermont I hadn't been able to do any training rides. It was a big jump going from 0 miles to riding my age every day.

Then I gradually crept it back down as I got more limber, although I moved it back up a couple of times, too. I change stem height from time to time even when I'm riding locally, depending on how I feel. Maybe those occasional adjustments explain why I've never had a stem seize, or even become noticeably stiff. That and grease.

I'll come clean, though: I want to go threaded on the LHT so I can do the ringko-style breakdown for travel. Does that make me a beatnik or something? You can ringko a bike with a threadless stem--it's easier, in fact--but then you've got all that extra steerer sticking out. Given the length of the head tube on this bike, that's going to make the package four or five inches longer. That would be likely be the difference between managing to sneak a slightly-oversized item onto the plane or not managing to. I hate boxing bikes for shipment so much that I'll do almost anything to avoid it.

I could ringko one of my other bikes with threaded headsets. But I'm liking the idea of doing my next tour on the cushy ultra-wide Compass tires I have on the LHT. They're what, 52mm wide or something? At 35 psi it's like riding on clouds. My butt took a fairly serious beating during the first week of the last tour--see my 0 to 63 comment above.

TenGrainBread 03-13-18 05:00 PM


Originally Posted by 79pmooney (Post 20221087)
If you change handlebar heights enough, seizing simply isn't an issue. In the long run, time spent messing with headset adjustment swings in favor of threaded. And roadside stem height changes are trivial. (You might need to tap the allen key with a rock.)

Currently my only threadless bike is unridable because I ruined the star nut adjusting the headset. (As far as I can tell, they die after so many stem swaps. In other words they are a consumable. I've been neglecting to stock up. Maybe I am just a hack with them. Maybe a really good thing that I have never attempted an on-road height adjust.)

Ben

From an engineering standpoint, a system which requires less maintenance by design is always better than a system that needs maintenance, no matter the willingness of the rider to do said maintenance (most bike riders aren't dedicated nutheads like ourselves ;) ).

Star nuts are not consumable parts and are not meant to break. The only time I've seen them break is when the user doesn't understand that they are there to simply eliminate play in the bearings, and not to be tightened until the bolt can turn anymore. If this concept is understood, changing stems or adjusting spacer/stem position is a 2 minute job, I have done it on the road before and it is just as quick and easy as in the shop.

I think a lot of C&V enthusiasts like working on their bikes and doing maintenance on old parts because they find them beautiful, engrossing, and fun. And in many cases these parts are just what we're used to. Acknowledging that habit, aesthetic appreciation, and mechanical curiosity can contribute to the love of a part separate from its design superiority or inferiority to modern parts is an exercise I think we all would benefit from. In other words, rather than scrambling to come up with ways in which threaded is better than threadless, and spouting off conspiracies on how the bike companies are just trying to get us to buy the newest thing, we should just say "I like C&V parts, and that's it."


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