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Changing from carbon fork to steel fork on steel bike

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Changing from carbon fork to steel fork on steel bike

Old 09-20-21, 05:15 PM
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Nomad2
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Changing from carbon fork to steel fork on steel bike

Hi all,

I have a steel bike which has a Reynolds 853 triangle and a carbon fork with an alloy steerer. It has cantilever brakes and I am now finding these harder to operate due to arthritis in my thumbs. I have been talking to a local frame builder about converting my bike to disc brakes. This is something he has already done for my wife for her bike although her bike was all steel to begin with. I've ridden lots of kilometres over the years on my bike and it has been great for long rides including brevets as well as touring. I'm a little concerned the change to a steel fork will change the feel/characteristics of the bike. The frame builder will be able to replicate the geometry of the existing fork and use Columbus steel. I'd be interested in other people's experiences with a change of fork from carbon to steel in particular. I am also considering a new bike instead but there are limited options at the spec level I'm after (GRX800) and I cant test ride them.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-20-21, 05:33 PM
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Lots of carbon disc fork choices.
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Old 09-20-21, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Lots of carbon disc fork choices.
Yes there are a few. But the problem is my current fork being old has a 1" steerer and the head tube size will only accommodate that. So that reduces the options to zero, so it's steel or bust for the existing bike.
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Old 09-21-21, 06:10 AM
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I have bikes with steel forks and bikes with carbon forks and don't notice that much of a difference, but I'm not a princess-and-the-pea kind of person either. I'm the kind of person who would just buy another frame and fork that were designed for disks.
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Old 09-21-21, 07:13 AM
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I think the only choice for carbon 1" disc forks is Woundup. There may be some no-name generic forks out there, but I don't think that's a great idea.
1" disc is probably not the best idea, I'm undecided about building one myself.

I don't think you are going to notice the difference between steel and carbon.
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Old 09-21-21, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Nomad2 View Post
...
I have a steel bike which has a Reynolds 853 triangle and a carbon fork with an alloy steerer. It has cantilever brakes and I am now finding these harder to operate due to arthritis in my thumbs. ....
I do not know if you have fenders (mudguards) on your bike or how much clearance you have over the tires, but I have mini-V brakes on my folding bike and use regular road brake levers, not mountain bike brake levers. I have to be careful that I do not pull too hard on the brakes because they take very little pressure to stop.

I had cantilever brakes on that bike earlier, the mini-V brakes require a lot less brake lever pull to operate.

Also, converting to Koolstop Salmon pads for rim brakes often improves braking.

I do not recall which model brakes I used, but I am pretty sure they are Tektro and 85mm long.
https://www.gravelbike.com/v-brake-arm-lengths/

That table would tell you what is available if you can measure how much clearance you need for the brake cable where it goes across the tire or fender so you can get a long enough brake arm.

My bike is packed away in a bag in my truck, I can check the model of brakes I used if you are curious.

All my bikes have steel forks, I can't comment on Carbon.
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Old 09-21-21, 08:54 AM
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I went from steel to carbon fork on my road bike, years ago. I don't recall the change being noticeable at all. You are likely to change the ride characteristics just as much when you swap to a new wheel.
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Old 09-21-21, 08:56 AM
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Second thought - since you are having the form made, consider getting it with a thru-axle and the ability to use 180mm or 200mm rotors. The larger rotors will make the brakes more effective for a given amount of pull at the levers than with standard 160mm rotors.
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Old 09-21-21, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ClydeClydeson;[url=tel:22239559
22239559[/url]]I went from steel to carbon fork on my road bike, years ago. I don't recall the change being noticeable at all. You are likely to change the ride characteristics just as much when you swap to a new wheel.
+1. If the new steel fork is well-made, I doubt itíll feel very different.
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Old 09-21-21, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ClydeClydeson;[url=tel:22239564
22239564[/url]]Second thought - since you are having the form made, consider getting it with a thru-axle and the ability to use 180mm or 200mm rotors. The larger rotors will make the brakes more effective for a given amount of pull at the levers than with standard 160mm rotors.
I expect this is correct, but those are quite big rotors for a road bike, and for sure Iíd recommend you confirm with the builder that the fork is designed for this. Iíve seen (and own) forks that specify a maximum rotor size.

Another way to require less hand force is to switch to hydraulic brakes. Or if you stick with cable brakes, add a set of CX interrupter brake levers, https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair...e-brake-levers
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Old 09-29-21, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Nomad2 View Post
Hi all,

I have a steel bike which has a Reynolds 853 triangle and a carbon fork with an alloy steerer. It has cantilever brakes and I am now finding these harder to operate due to arthritis in my thumbs. I have been talking to a local frame builder about converting my bike to disc brakes. This is something he has already done for my wife for her bike although her bike was all steel to begin with. I've ridden lots of kilometres over the years on my bike and it has been great for long rides including brevets as well as touring. I'm a little concerned the change to a steel fork will change the feel/characteristics of the bike. The frame builder will be able to replicate the geometry of the existing fork and use Columbus steel. I'd be interested in other people's experiences with a change of fork from carbon to steel in particular. I am also considering a new bike instead but there are limited options at the spec level I'm after (GRX800) and I cant test ride them.

Thanks in advance.
I have a very nice steel Peter Mooney that has both a steel and carbon fork.

I prefer the ride with the steel fork by far.

I am not sure why.
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Old 09-29-21, 05:23 AM
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I also forgot....I have a custom magnesium framed bike. It likes the wound up fork better than the enve carbon fork. Not sure why but it is much more comfortable on lousy roads. Rake? How the fibers are wrapped? It is noticeable to me when riding but I would not be able to tell just looking. I experimented with three different carbon forks on my recumbent and found that the stock one was best overall.
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Old 09-29-21, 08:30 AM
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One of my best riding bikes is an old 89 Team Miyata with steel forks. I took it on a 200k last weekend and noticed how the lightweight steel forks really soaked up the bumps in the road compared to much stiffer carbon forks on some of my other bikes. My one disk brake bike is a steel touring bike with steel forks, and they don't soak up the bumps nearly the same way the forks on the old race bike do. I assume because they a built beefier to support a load and the disks. The net-net is that there are lots of other factors that make a bigger difference than material. Not a new insight by any means. I was just reminded of it last weekend.
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Old 10-01-21, 04:41 AM
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Thank you to everyone who has responded. I'm going ahead with the modification. I'll make sure I at least get 160mm rotors though I'm not sure I'll go larger. Will keep riding it as is until November when the frame builder gets the dropouts in. Both fork and rear dropouts will be thru-axle. The current brakes are actually Avid Shorty 4's. Horrible things. Just last weekend the pins on the cartridge style pads on the front sheared off whist braking and the pads shot out. Happily this happened coming to a stop on a slight uphill. Fitted new non-cartridge style pads....
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Old 10-01-21, 05:54 AM
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The pins are supposed to be holding the pads in when the bike is going backwards. Which happens a lot more than you might expect.
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Old 10-01-21, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
The pins are supposed to be holding the pads in when the bike is going backwards. Which happens a lot more than you might expect.
Must have been the coming to a stop on an uphill.

Could the pad holders be reversed?
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Old 10-01-21, 09:55 AM
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The biggest difference will be in the weight. When I changed my Bianchi Brava from its native steel fork to a Look HSC full carbon fork the bike lost about 2lbs. in total weight.
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Old 10-01-21, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Could the pad holders be reversed?
That's what I thought when I read your post. There really isn't anything stopping an inattentive mechanic from putting them in backwards.

I found out how important the pins were on a 200k when I had cut down some pads to clear my forks. I ended up losing a pad and I cut another one in half so I could have the full compliments of pads. They fell out more than once, even though I knew about it. I didn't know I moved my bike backwards that much.
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Old 10-02-21, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
That's what I thought when I read your post. There really isn't anything stopping an inattentive mechanic from putting them in backwards.

I found out how important the pins were on a 200k when I had cut down some pads to clear my forks. I ended up losing a pad and I cut another one in half so I could have the full compliments of pads. They fell out more than once, even though I knew about it. I didn't know I moved my bike backwards that much.
I find it difficult to believe that the pins sheared off from stopping a bike rolling backwards. I am guessing that the pad holders were installed backwards (right side on left, etc.), thus in hard braking when going forward at speed, there could be a lot of force on those pins.

When I worked at a bike shop almost a half century ago, I was the only mechanic there that could figure out how to work on rod brakes, thus I was the one that worked on the vintage bikes like Raleigh DL1. Their pads did not have pins, would easily slide out backwards if you were stopped on an uphill and used the brakes to hold a bike from rolling backwards.
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Old 10-03-21, 04:05 PM
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I can confirm the pads were on the right way around. The location where the pads shot out was an uphill stop. I myself find it hard to believe that a slight roll backwards would be enough to make that happen but perhaps they were already ready to fail and that was the last straw. They weren't very good at stopping the bike going forward so that made it more surprising.
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Old 10-03-21, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by hayden52 View Post
The biggest difference will be in the weight. When I changed my Bianchi Brava from its native steel fork to a Look HSC full carbon fork the bike lost about 2lbs. in total weight.
I'm hoping the weight difference won't be that great, given that my existing fork is one with an aluminium steerer and carbon blades.
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Old 10-04-21, 05:09 AM
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I think most steel forks weigh less than 1 pound more than carbon forks.
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Old 10-04-21, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Nomad2 View Post
Hi all,

I have a steel bike which has a Reynolds 853 triangle and a carbon fork with an alloy steerer. It has cantilever brakes and I am now finding these harder to operate due to arthritis in my thumbs. I have been talking to a local frame builder about converting my bike to disc brakes. This is something he has already done for my wife for her bike although her bike was all steel to begin with. I've ridden lots of kilometres over the years on my bike and it has been great for long rides including brevets as well as touring. I'm a little concerned the change to a steel fork will change the feel/characteristics of the bike. The frame builder will be able to replicate the geometry of the existing fork and use Columbus steel. I'd be interested in other people's experiences with a change of fork from carbon to steel in particular. I am also considering a new bike instead but there are limited options at the spec level I'm after (GRX800) and I cant test ride them.

Thanks in advance.
All of these posters are avoiding the underlying problem. I had really bad arthrits in my left thumb. I got to the point that where going down hill and even using hydraulic disc brakes with 160 rotor was doable, but anything less and my (left) thumb joint hurt. I had surgery to remove the bone on bone that created the pain. Now my thumb has no limits. I can use any brake and my hand is like that of a kid.
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Old 10-04-21, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
All of these posters are avoiding the underlying problem. I had really bad arthrits in my left thumb. I got to the point that where going down hill and even using hydraulic disc brakes with 160 rotor was doable, but anything less and my (left) thumb joint hurt. I had surgery to remove the bone on bone that created the pain. Now my thumb has no limits. I can use any brake and my hand is like that of a kid.
I had to put etap on my bike because I could not operate the shifters. Surgery could potentially address my underlying medical problem but $1500 shifters vs $80K surgery is a tough tradeoff to make. With good disc brakes, OP should be able to operate them with a pinky finger. One suspects he has had medical advice elsewhere. He could be up and running with workable brakes in days.....I know when I upgraded to etap, I was like.....why didn't I do this sooner.
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Old 10-04-21, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
All of these posters are avoiding the underlying problem. I had really bad arthrits in my left thumb. I got to the point that where going down hill and even using hydraulic disc brakes with 160 rotor was doable, but anything less and my (left) thumb joint hurt. I had surgery to remove the bone on bone that created the pain. Now my thumb has no limits. I can use any brake and my hand is like that of a kid.
It's good to hear that you got such good results from surgery. That does give me some hope! My thumb has been niggling at me for a little while but has really gotten worse in the last month or so. Haven't really done anything at this stage to remedy it but will look at some physical therapy of some sort initially if that's feasible.
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