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Options for tandem touring forks with clearance for >32mm tires & fenders

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Options for tandem touring forks with clearance for >32mm tires & fenders

Old 01-23-13, 03:49 PM
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Chris_W
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Options for tandem touring forks with clearance for >32mm tires & fenders

We took our Co-Motion Speedster to New Zealand for a month of touring, and planned to ride several long sections of dirt roads. We wanted some decent tires for this, so I bought some 37 mm Continental touring tires, but discovered that although the rear tire fit fine, the stock Co-Motion steel fork was too short to use a 37 mm tire with a fender. I was able to just get a 34mm tire to work, although with barely any clearance under the fender - only a 32mm tire worked well.

I was surprised because Co-Motion market the Speedster as being made to "Take an extended tour ... The Speedster is well appointed to handle it all beautifully." Not being able to take a tire larger than 32mm with fenders makes this fork far less than ideal for "extended tours" IMO.

The Co-Motion fork has a 390mm axle to crown length. Most other cyclocross and touring forks for 700c wheels are 395 to 400 mm, which would obviously give the required clearance. Finding tandem forks is not so easy, and often this important dimension is not given, so I haven't been able to find a good option yet. Does anyone know of any suitable tandem-rated forks?

I'm not certain of the offset on the Co-Motion fork, but I'll also need to compare that to the new fork, allowing for the fact that the head tube angle may decrease a little with a 5-10 mm increase in fork length (but no more than about 0.3 degrees according to the formula on Sheldon Brown's site).

We currently have a V-brake on the front, although I wouldn't mind if the new fork took a disc brake instead, so either brake type is OK. Obviously, to be a touring fork, it needs to have fender and low-rider rack mounts, and should be made of steel.

Last edited by Chris_W; 01-24-13 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 01-23-13, 05:20 PM
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Rodriguez lists a "Steel Tandem/Touring Fork" here for $225.

Precision Tandems lists a Santana Steel fork Chromed or Painted here for $275/$100.

No specs are listed for either, but it may be worth a phone call or email.

Good Luck!
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Old 01-23-13, 05:31 PM
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Bilenky will make you a steel tandem fork any way you want it. I will warn you though that I found that they have trouble meeting promised delivery dates. Still the fork is a good one and they are good option for your next tour if you have plenty of time to order.
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Old 01-24-13, 02:16 PM
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Thanks for the tip for Rodriguez, I've contacted them to get the details on that stock fork - it would certainly be a lot cheaper than anything custom made. The Santana forks have a 1 1/4" steerer, so unfortunately won't work.

I've contacted Co-Motion to ask for the details on the rake of their stock steel forks, and ask if they have any suggestions for a replacement.

If I have to go custom then Bilenky would be a good option, and I've found several others who do custom steel forks in the range of $450 to $700, but as I said, it would be nice to find a cheaper stock model. We're not going on any more long tours for a while so we have plenty of time.
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Old 02-12-13, 11:55 AM
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In the end, I found two stock forks that seem to meet my requirements:

Co-Motion told me about the fork that comes on their Java tandem. It has an axle to crown of 420 mm. Rake/Offset is 55mm. Brake: Disc brake. Price: US$395. Colour: Gloss black (other colours available for extra).

I got a response from Rodriguez about their stock fork. Axle to Crown is 395 mm. Rake/Offset is 50 mm. Brake: V-brake. Price: US$225. Colour: Unknown.

The Rodriguez fork might be 5mm longer than our current fork, although I've seen the stock Speedster fork listed as both 395mm and 390mm in different places, so I'm not sure. I'm therefore considering the Co-Motion Java fork, so I calculated the changes to the handling that would result, and it seems to be very minor:

We currently have a 73 deg head tube with 50 mm rake, so that gives a trail of 53 mm with a 28mm tire, and 54 mm with a 32 mm tire, according to this calculator. With the increased length of the Java fork, that will reduce our head tube angle by a bit less than 1 degree, according to the equation on Sheldon Brown's site. So, with the Java fork we'd have a 72 degree head angle and a 55 mm rake, which would give a trail of 55 mm with a 32 mm tire (just 1 mm more than with the old fork and the same tire) or 57 mm with a 37mm tire, which should be fine and the difference not very noticeable and in the right direction (a slightly slower steering response when in touring mode).

We're currently running more than 20mm of spacers under the captain's stem, so getting the handlebars in a similar position despite the extra-long Java fork should be no problem. Hopefully I'd be able to rig up a fender so that it doesn't have a 2 cm gap above the tire, but that might not be straightforward.

However, I am also thinking that we got thru the roughest roads that I think we'll ever do on this bike with the stock fork and a 32mm tire, so maybe we should just stick with the current setup.

BTW, Co-Motion's response to my comment that this fork seemed a little inappropriate for a bike that is marketed as being able to "Take an extended tour ... The Speedster is well appointed to handle it all beautifully" was that they design the Speedster around 28 mm tires, with no further comment as to whether this is appropriate/consistent with their marketing (I obviously feel that it is quite inconsistent).

Last edited by Chris_W; 02-12-13 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 02-12-13, 12:33 PM
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Chris,
Another option might be some of the rigid carbon mountain bike forks. Ones that I've looked at have A to C measurments in the 420mm range. Most are built for disc brakes. One example would be the NINER forks. Theirs are for 29 inch wheels. There are other comanies making forks for 26 inch wheels.

Curtis
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Old 02-12-13, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Krenovian View Post
Chris,
Another option might be some of the rigid carbon mountain bike forks. Ones that I've looked at have A to C measurments in the 420mm range. Most are built for disc brakes. One example would be the NINER forks. Theirs are for 29 inch wheels. There are other comanies making forks for 26 inch wheels.

Curtis
I have looked at the NINER brand forks . Who makes them for 26" wheels?
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Old 02-12-13, 01:53 PM
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The Axle to Crown length being 400-420 mm is only one criterion. Don't forget that I'd also like the fork to be officially approved for tandem use, have mudguard and rack mounting points, and be made of steel (because carbon can't carry the racks and alu gives too harsh of a ride).

The Java fork is actually made for a 29er tire (622x50+), so is probably the best of the "rigid 29er" forks that I'm going to find.
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Old 02-12-13, 02:04 PM
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OP; I also think you are stuck until you get a longer fork...however recommend putting a close eye on your fork crown to see how much room there is ABOVE the top if the fender and the underside of the fork crown.

If there is any space there at all and there typically is if you used the brake bolt bracket mount that comes stock with most fenders, you can change your front fender mount to gain that space back... They are plastic and look like the bottom of a quill stem upside down. It just jams up into the bottom of the steerer tube and is tightened. The tightened plug then provides a hole to insert a new mounting bolt or screw. Generally after the plug is in and tight, you would just get everything lined up the way you want it and mark the underside of the fender to match the newly available mount hole, drill a hole through the fender and run the bolt/screw up through the fender and into the hole. This sucks your fender up tight to the bottom of the crown costing only about 2mm in total vertical space compared to no fender or to 8-12mm for the stock fender mount that hangs off the brake bolt. Note that the plug has a slot in it so it can fit around the brake mount bolt going though the crown (if you have calipers).

Its about $12.95 on ebay and some bike sites

Hope that helps
/K
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Old 02-12-13, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post
The Axle to Crown length being 400-420 mm is only one criterion. Don't forget that I'd also like the fork to be officially approved for tandem use, have mudguard and rack mounting points, and be made of steel (because carbon can't carry the racks and alu gives too harsh of a ride).

The Java fork is actually made for a 29er tire (622x50+), so is probably the best of the "rigid 29er" forks that I'm going to find.
Another option: Surly Big Dummy Fork It is designed for a cargo bike - not tandem rated, but should be robust. Plenty of rack and fender mounts. Disc, cantilever studs (for 26" wheel?), and maybe long reach caliper brake options.

Rhino
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Old 02-12-13, 04:21 PM
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It's funny, I'd actually considered using a Big Dummy fork, since I have a Big Dummy bike that is sitting there right next to the tandem! I've ridden that bike with about 180 kg /400 lb total weight (rider + bike + luggage), which is what the bike is rated to. I therefore looked to see if the fork was approved for tandem use, and Surly have this in their FAQ page: "Which Surly fork is rated for tandem use? The Instigator. That is all."

Unfortunately, as well as not being approved for tandem use (which I wouldn't be too concerned about given that it is rated for 400 lb loads), there is also the problem that the Big Dummy fork only has a rake of 43mm, which would increase the trail on the tandem about 68 mm, which would certainly make it noticeably less responsive to steering input, so I'm not too keen on using it for that reason. Unfortunately, the Instigator is too long at 447 mm axle to crown, and again has a 43 mm rake.

As for gaining room by the method of fender mounting suggested by ksisler: I've already done everything that I can, including something similar to suggested, but using a star nut (that you'd normally use in the top of the fork). This is how I was able to JUST squeeze a 34 mm tire in there, but the 32 mm was definitely the more comfortable fit.

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Old 02-13-13, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by waynesulak View Post
I have looked at the NINER brand forks . Who makes them for 26" wheels?
Ritchey, White Brothers, and DT Swiss are three names you may know. Kinesis produces one I think. There are several other companies with carbon disc mtb forks in the 26er size with listings on ebay whose names I'm not familiar with.

Curtis
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Old 02-13-13, 12:30 PM
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We have a Speedster with a Wound Up carbon fork. Haven't measured it but does a quite a bit of tyre clearance. It doesn't have any extra mounts for fenders etc though. Maybe Wound Up could add them?
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Old 02-13-13, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
We have a Speedster with a Wound Up carbon fork. Haven't measured it but does a quite a bit of tyre clearance. It doesn't have any extra mounts for fenders etc though. Maybe Wound Up could add them?
OP has specified that the fork must be steel. Otherwise, I'm sure Wound Up could add any mounts required to a new fork. I don't think they will modify used forks.
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Old 02-13-13, 04:08 PM
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Thanks, but we already have a Wound Up carbon fork that we use when the bike is in it's more sporty mode, and I've added fender mounts to that myself without much trouble (cable ties with integrated eyelets are the easiest way to go for that). I wouldn't be happy putting a front lowrider rack and panniers on any carbon fork and a steel fork also gives more comfort than carbon, so a steel fork is the way to go when we switch the bike over to touring mode (carbon might soak up some road buzz, but only steel has some real flex to it to help absorb significant bumps).

I'm really not interested in 26" or 29" MTB forks designed for single bikes, I haven't seen one yet with appropriate geometry for our Speedster, let alone finding a MTB fork that has lowrider rack mounting points. It's a steel tandem touring fork that I'm looking for.
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Old 02-13-13, 11:42 PM
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The flex could depend on the fork as much as the material. The steel fork on our C'dale RT3000 flexes a lot less than the wound up fork.
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