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Stick with cro-mo or upgrade to low-end carbon fork?

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Stick with cro-mo or upgrade to low-end carbon fork?

Old 01-11-06, 01:21 PM
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arsw1
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I am considering a fork upgrade (?) using Martec M3 from chucksbikes:

http://www.chucksbikes.com/store/fo058.htm

The weight is actually 580g (!!). Currently I have cro-mo fork from early 90's on the bike. I am guessing it used to be pretty high-end since the bike has Suntour Superbe Pro for drivetrain.

What do you guys or gals think? Is this a worthy upgrade? Do you have any other suggestions for 1" threaded carbon fork that is inexpensive yet somewhat good?

Thanks very much in advance for your help!

Last edited by arsw1; 01-11-06 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 01-11-06, 01:45 PM
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alanbikehouston
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Originally Posted by arsw1
I am considering a fork upgrade (?) using Martec M3 from chucksbikes:

http://www.chucksbikes.com/store/fo058.htm

The weight is actually 580g (!!). Currently I have cro-mo fork from early 90's on the bike. I am guessing it used to be pretty high-end since the bike has Suntour Superbe Pro for drivetrain.

What do you guys or gals think? Is this a worthy upgrade? Do you have any other suggestions for 1" threaded carbon fork that is inexpensive yet somewhat good?

Thanks very much in advance for your help!
Converting a bike with a high quality steel fork to a "low end" carbon fork is a DOWNGRADE, not an upgrade. And, it is a downgrade that might endanger your life and your health.

No fork absorbs road vibrations and road shock better than a good steel fork. If a steel fork takes a hard hit from a pot hole, or debris in the road, it can often be realigned and continue to be safely used for many years.

In contrast, a carbon fork is brittle under impact stresses. If a substantial impact from a pothole or road debris exceeds the design limits for a carbon fork, it might shatter instantly, like a piece of glass. An internal stress fracture inside the leg of a carbon fork might be invisible. You crash, inspect the fork, see nothing wrong and keep riding. The next hard impact on the fork could cause an instant failure, hurling you over the bars and onto the concrete.

If you MUST have a carbon fork, buy a carbon fork from a long established maker, such as Easton. Easton tests every single fork after it leaves the production line, and tests it against forces ten times higher than the forces that can be expected from routine riding.

In contrast, the "bargain" carbon forks that have flooded the market over the past year come primarily from unknown sources within communist China. At the wholesale level, some of the communist Chinese forks cost as little as $30 or $40. That should give you a clue as to the "high standards" and rigorous testing cheapo forks are subjected to...no standards and no testing is more likely.

TO BE CLEAR: the free Republic of China on Taiwan is NOT the same nation as the communist occupied Chinese mainland. The carbon frames and forks on made-in-Taiwan Giant bikes are among the best in the world...so good that even European bike brands are chosing to buy from the same factory that makes carbon products for Giant.

Sadly, carbon forks have become so cheap, that most road bikes selling for over $500 will come with them as "standard" equipment in 2006. They are much cheaper than a handmade fork made from lugged Reynolds steel...to get a lugged steel fork in 2006, you will need to spend some serious money.

Because carbon forks are becoming the "standard" fork, owners need to understand the nature of carbon. Carbon is astounding strong until it is subjected to impact forces that exceed design limits. At that point, carbon fails, and it fails instantly and without warning.

To protect yourself, carefully inspect a carbon fork after every long ride, and after any severe impact (hitting a pothole at 20 mph or hitting a block of concrete debris in the road) and replace the fork immediately if it takes a major impact in a crash. After a hard crash, a carbon fork can suffer internal delamination that is not visible to the eye. Replace a fork if there is the slightest doubt about how much damage it took during a crash. Get inspections from techs at bike shops you trust on a regular basis.

Last edited by alanbikehouston; 01-11-06 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 01-11-06, 02:18 PM
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arsw1
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Thanks for the reply..

The thing is I have not been able to find new threaded fork with brand name.. well, that and I also didn't want to spend too much money..

I just wanted to lighten up my bike a bit.. and it seems to me that changing out the fork will be a relatively simple way to do it considering I heard cro-mo fork can weigh around 2pounds..
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Old 01-11-06, 02:25 PM
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I second the above opinion. I just bought a new steel frame with a carbon fork and will be updating the fork at some point this season.

a few ounces of weight is meaningless if the bike is broken, or worse, you miss 8 weeks of the season healing up from a bad crash.

Az
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Old 01-11-06, 02:43 PM
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If the original equipment on your road bike was Sun Tour Superbe Pro, the frame and fork are likely to be of the highest quality, similar to the frames and forks used in the Pro peloton in the mid-1980's. A 2006 bike with high grade steel frame and fork from folks such as Rivendell or Waterford cost far, far more than most of us can afford...your bike may be worth more than you think.

If taking weight off your bike is a goal, the best place to do so is the tires. A high quality, light set of tires can give a bike a totally different feel.

I sometimes strap a four pound u-lock to the rear rack of a bike that has a four pound frame. And then I forget the lock is there. I've just doubled the weight of the frame, but it makes little difference in how the bike feels. Even going up a hill, now I'm pushing 208 pounds of total load up the hill instead of 204 pounds...can't feel a difference.

I have two bikes that are essentially identical, but one has heavy duty tires for inner city commuting. The other has light racing type tires for the rare times I feel like pretending to ride fast. The difference in tires makes one bike feel like a truck, and the other feels like a Miata.

And nothing improves the feel of a road bike more than a top quality steel fork...if you have one, treasure it, because they are becoming rare, except on high end and custom road bikes...in ten years, only the rich guys will have steel forks.

Last edited by alanbikehouston; 01-11-06 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 01-11-06, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
If taking weight off your bike is a goal, the best place to do so is the tires. A high quality, light set of tires can give a bike a totally different feel.

I sometimes strap a four pound u-lock to the rear rack of a bike that has a four pound frame. And then I forget the lock is there. I've just doubled the weight of the frame, but it makes little difference in how the bike feels. Even going up a hill, now I'm pushing 208 pounds of total load up the hill instead of 204 pounds...can't feel a difference.

I have two bikes that are essentially identical, but one has heavy duty tires for inner city commuting. The other has light racing type tires for the rare times I feel like pretending to ride fast. The difference in tires makes one bike feel like a truck, and the other feels like a Miata.

And nothing improves the feel of a road bike more than a top quality steel fork...if you have one, treasure it, because they are becoming rare, except on high end and custom road bikes...in ten years, only the rich guys will have steel forks.
Thanks much for the advice! I am taking it to heart and will keep my good old steel fork until I can afford to buy another bike.. a serious one!
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Old 01-11-06, 03:04 PM
  #7  
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Well I would stick to the steel fork as well for comfort and safety but just in case the upgrade bug is still biting I would actualy take your steel fork off the bike and weigh it before getting caried away. I have an old 27" (Reynolds 531) steel fork lying around so I weighed it. It was 640gm. Is 60gm worth the money or effort.

Regards, Anthony
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Old 01-11-06, 03:38 PM
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You all are making me really want to get out on my steel ride. I'll agree that nothing replaces the feel of a good steel fork. Even a heavy HiTen fork has a springyness to it that just soaks up the road conditions. Even Texas Chip-n-seal roads can't get me down.
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Old 01-11-06, 03:51 PM
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Hey thanks for all the encouragement

I can now face my upgraditis (credit: new word I learnt on BF) with my head held high..
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Old 01-11-06, 04:51 PM
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Invest in a new wheelset to lose bike weight...don't skimp on the fork. You're original steel is most likely stiffer and more durable.
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Old 01-11-06, 06:42 PM
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alanbike,

Once again with the "communist chinese."


yeah, I guess you're right though. Redneck american forks steel forks are probably nicer than communist china forks. Redneck American "handmade" stuff isn't neccessarily as good as say _ machine made stuff.

I'm tired of reading all of your prejudice labels, get with the times.
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Old 01-11-06, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by djtrackie
alanbike,

Once again with the "communist chinese."


yeah, I guess you're right though. Redneck american forks steel forks are probably nicer than communist china forks. Redneck American "handmade" stuff isn't neccessarily as good as say _ machine made stuff.

I'm tired of reading all of your prejudice labels, get with the times.
Okay, I'd like to point out two things:

A: "Communist Chinese" is a fact, not a prejudicial stereotypical statement. China is indeed communist.

2: Redneck American is a prejudicial statement made by someone against prejudicial statements. What's wrong with that picture?

That being said, a friend of mine went to China to look at a furniture factory. He owns a lumber mill and furniture factory in North Carolina, but determined that it would be cheaper for him to ship the wood to China and ship the finished furniture back to the states.

While he was touring the factory, he noticed several things:

No toilet facilities. Employees used the north wall of the building. At the end of the day, someone hosed the area down.

No safety devices on the machines. For example, in redneck America, OSHA requires two safety buttons on a lathe... one on each side of the machine that need to be pressed before the machine will run. This prevents the worker from losing fingers and hands. In China, there were no safety buttons, (or safety glasses, or anything else for that matter) so when an employee was injured he was laid off and someone new was hired. There were people lined up at the door for jobs, so this was no problem.

The workers were paid about 25-50 cents a day as near as he could figure.

So regardless of how well crafted your forks are, do you really want forks that were made through what essentially amounts to slave labor? Is it fair that companies in this country have to conform to basic standards that raise the price of manufacturing?

Just something to think about from a redneck American.

Az
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Old 01-11-06, 07:10 PM
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Don't know if I'd buy a CF fork made in mainland China ... but I would buy one made in Taiwan. As far as steel/cro-mo vs. CF, I rode steel for 2 decades then put an Easton EC-70 1" on my "old" steel bike and ... wow what a difference (that was the ONLY component change). I don't ride steel now but if I did, I certainly wouldn't put a steel fork on it.
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Old 01-11-06, 07:33 PM
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First off I would say that I wouldn't change out the fork for the sake of weight. With that said I use to ride untill recently a Bianchi steel bike with a steel fork. You must realize that there are the camps that seem to think tha "steel is real" and how great it is and that nothing is better. Do you honestly think that if steel was so much better than carbon that almost all of the bike in the Tour would be carbon. The steel people will tell you that it is because they are sponsored by those companies and that if they were sponsored by a company that made steel bikes they would ride them. That is a bunch of lies. The top rides (not all of the riders) ride whatever bike they want , they just get painted to look like the team bike that they are suppose to ride. In years past the rider would wnat to ride say titanium and so they would get what they wanted painted. You always use to hear the so and so was actually riding a "litespeed" or some other type of bike that was painted the team colors. Marketing can only take you so far in getting everyone to want what they want to sell. I now have a all carbon bike and my steel bike was much rougher on the roads than my carbon bike is. I even have an old Trek original 3 tube carbon (only the three main tubes are carbon, the rest is aluminium) and it is not as harsh on the road.

The first person that replied tried to give you the impression that stuff made in China is junk and not of good quality. 90% of all of the bikes out there are made in either China or Tiawan right across the bay from the plants in China. Trek OCLV bikes are made in the USA, but their other bikes are made in China/Taiwan.

The steel forks are very expensive because not many people are buying them so not many people are making them, the the quantity discounts are not there. If the steel forks were so much better then why do most Colonogos have carbon forks even when the frame is steel? Even Landshark (a small high end steel bike manufacturer) is now selling bikes with carbon tubes.

For me the bottom line is if you want to have a smoother ride try out the carbon fork, the odds are you will find that it smooths out your ride.

By the way, I use to have a bike with Superbe Pro on it and it was some sweet stuff. Still would be loyal to Suntour if they didn't go out of business. I think I still even have a couple of wheels with the Superbe Pro hubs laced to MA 40 rims. THe hubs are still as smooth as can be and I have never worked on them. I also still have some of my MTB Suntour XC Pro components. Unfortunatly they didn't come with Suntour hubs. I still think that those Superbe Pro hubs were better than even my Campy hubs.

Sorry if I confused this issue but feel free to look at other threads where the "steel is real" croud battles it out with the rest.
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Old 01-11-06, 07:47 PM
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Thanks for all the replies..

Now I feel like I should give it a shot or something.. It's only $48 shipped after all.. I can still keep my old fork and try the other fork out.. just for the heck of it.. I don't think it will break very easily, right? After all I heard that Martec is OEM for many brand name companies.. I sure hope they do some kind of QA..

I agree that Superbe pro is smooth.. Do you happen to know how to adjust the friction? The front derailleur on mine always slides down and that makes the chain moves back to the smaller chainring..

thanks..

Last edited by arsw1; 01-11-06 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:34 PM
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arsw1 - something that I don't think was covered here - is if you will also need to replace your headset and stem as well. Your current steel fork is most likely a threaded fork with a threaded headset and quill stem. Looking at the carbon fork you have listed above it appears to be an unthreaded model which means you will need to purchase a matching headset and stem for it. Something to consider before purchasing.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:36 PM
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On the friction shifters - I don't know about the Suntour's but my older Shimano frictions are adjusted by the screw in the center. Tigher I clamp down the screw the firmer the friction on the lever. I also have a newer set of Shimanos that don't work quite the same way but haven't had a reason to look at them as closely.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by cuda2k
arsw1 - something that I don't think was covered here - is if you will also need to replace your headset and stem as well. Your current steel fork is most likely a threaded fork with a threaded headset and quill stem. Looking at the carbon fork you have listed above it appears to be an unthreaded model which means you will need to purchase a matching headset and stem for it. Something to consider before purchasing.
Yeah, it is threaded with quill stem. I wanted this fork since the description says it is threaded. I couldn't tell what the difference is from the picture.. I'm quite a noob..

In any case, thanks for letting me know!
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Old 01-11-06, 09:03 PM
  #19  
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arsw1 - you are right - it does say threaded. In THAT case, you need to consider two things - cost of having a fork race installed (probably not super expensive at your LBS) and probably having the steering tube cut down for your head tube (depending on the length it comes to you in and what size bike you've got). Specs say 178mm, measure your current fork's steering tube to compare. Good luck, and there's no stupid questions around here. Unless you ask what OCP is.
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Old 01-11-06, 09:12 PM
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While I admire carbon components and they have there appropiate benefits, I think the advice above about upgrading the wheels is very sound. One of the nicest things of steel bikes of that vintage is their nice, comfortable ride. Enjoy that.
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Old 01-11-06, 09:29 PM
  #21  
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What about us oddballs with an aluminum fork?
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Old 01-11-06, 10:59 PM
  #22  
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At least one post in this thread lumped together carbon components made in the Free Republic of China on Taiwan with the crap made in the communist occupied mainland of China. These are two different countries, with two different economic systems and two different governments.

Some of the best, most advanced, and most tested carbon cycling components are made in Taiwan (the free Republic of China). The semi-independent spin-off company founded by Giant bikes makes carbon components for some of the leading names in cycling. The cycling industry in Taiwan has spent the past two decades building some of the most advanced facilities in the world for modern bike construction.

Further, in Taiwan, the workers are living in a free country. They can move freely from one job to another. They can join a union. They are protected by minimum wage laws, and laws to regulate worker safety. Their plants are open to inspection by government inspectors, union inspectors, and by the customers that are buying the products. The net result: the best products of the Taiwanese cycling industry are among the best in the world.

In contrast, in the communist occupied portion of China, something as simple as having a third baby requires a permit purchased from a communist party official. Failure to purchase the permit can have drastic, sometimes fatal results. Someone trying to organize a labor union or someone who calls for free elections is subject to imprisonment or execution. Organizing a Christian church without communist permission can earn you a fast trip to a concentration camp. Last year, communist China carried out more executions than every other nation on earth combined.

There are NO meaningful laws to protect worker safety, or to ensure that products are tested for safety before being shipped to customers. Products made in China are sold to distributors, who sell them to import/export companies, who sell them to cycling vendors. Tracing a defective fork back to the actual communist-run factory that made it could turn out to be an exercise in futility.


The fact that communist made carbon forks are now retailing in the USA for under $50 is a clue to the rigorous "testing" such forks receive. A rule of thumb in the sale of manufactured products is that the cost of producing the product is usually less than 25% of the retail price. That means that a carbon fork retailing for $50 was purchased by the distributer for around $30, and he bought it from an importer that paid around $25. The materials, construction, and "testing" come in at $10 or $15.

Trust your life to $15 worth of carbon tubing made by a slave labor workforce? Well, it's your life.
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Old 01-12-06, 12:10 AM
  #23  
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You sure make China sound as if they only produce junk... China manufactures objects of various quality levels. If you want stuff comparable to things made here, you'll have to pay a bit more than the cheapest level stuff available in China...and even then it's still much cheaper than equivalent products here. More and more of the manufacturing are automated and done by robots, so it's not like you've an uneducated person building that carbon fork.

I switched out my CrMo fork with a full carbon fork, and it was more than a pound lighter...and it absorbs vibrations much better than the CrMo fork...
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Old 01-12-06, 12:12 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by alanbikehouston

The fact that communist made carbon forks are now retailing in the USA for under $50 is a clue to the rigorous "testing" such forks receive.
Not true. Workers of freedom loving People Republic test fork on you evil running dog imperialist capitalist.

Very rigorous testing using fat Amerikan. Also words 'very rigorous' hard to say. Have nice day.
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Old 01-12-06, 04:21 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by arsw1
Thanks for all the replies..

Now I feel like I should give it a shot or something.. It's only $48 shipped after all.. I can still keep my old fork and try the other fork out.. just for the heck of it.. I don't think it will break very easily, right? After all I heard that Martec is OEM for many brand name companies.. I sure hope they do some kind of QA..
Hmmm. Would you buy a $5 helmet? What about cheap condoms? What if they offered to throw in a full brake set for only $10 more? But you want to "Give it a shot"? I don't care where the fork is made, but even you don't sound sure of it. If I see something safety related that cheap, there's no way I'll buy it.

How's your dental plan?



[Note to others] What's with the whole communist China thing? People need to go spend time in other countries before they become critical of how things are. Should the US be the model for living standards?
I love this quote:

Originally Posted by Az B
In China, there were no safety buttons, (or safety glasses, or anything else for that matter) so when an employee was injured he was laid off and someone new was hired. There were people lined up at the door for jobs, so this was no problem.
So there's people in China lining up to work in conditions we would never accept. It's another country, and another culture. To them, maybe that's a better existence than not working in that factory. I have a conscience, but it's got better things to concern itself with.
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