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Forks on a titanium tourer?

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Forks on a titanium tourer?

Old 06-21-13, 04:55 AM
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Forks on a titanium tourer?

I'm looking for a bike for "light" touring -- gear for a week or two in the US and Europe, not trekking around the world. I was considering getting a custom made steel-frame bike, when I found a used titanium touring bike by one of the same builders that might be within my budget.

It's kitted out with carbon seatposts and forks.

I'm not sure how much I trust carbon parts on a touring bike. I weigh just under 200lbs; throw on, say, 30-40 pounds of gear; add in gravel bike paths and tree roots. (Not planning serious off-road work, but I'm thinking of terrain like the C&O Canal in Maryland after the rain.)

Do you think carbon is OK in these circumstances? And if not, do you have suggestions for other materials?

(And I know, the fit comes first -- will be checking out the bike this weekend!)
- Jeneralist
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Old 06-21-13, 05:22 AM
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Jeneralist, It is going to depend on which carbon fork and it's original intended use. Carbon forks can cope with CX racing, but they're not the same lay up as a carbon fork intended for a lightweight road racing application.

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Old 06-21-13, 05:50 AM
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Machka had a similar issue with her titanium that we bought as a frame, but without a fork. She didn't want to go with a carbon fork, and much preferred steel. Which in a way was an issue because I had to try to replicate the geometry.

In the end, we went with a steel Surly Pacer road fork, and it has worked out extremely well. This one doesn't have braze-ons on the legs. I got it from Wiggle in the UK. Current list price is around $90. It comes in black with white Surly writing on it; I sanded back the finish and sprayed it green to match Machka's desired colour scheme.

The one thing you do need to take note of is the dimension of the headset. Much will depend on the age of the frame. If, say, over three years old, it should have a straight 1-1/8th headset; if younger than that, it might have a tapered headset -- 1-1/4er at the bottom and 1-1/8th at the top.
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Old 06-21-13, 06:06 AM
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How about a disk brake tandem fork? I'm not suggesting you actually use this one, just saying that carbon forks can easily be engineered for touring use.

If you're going to ride the C&O, I strongly recommend minimum 35mm tires and fenders - you'll need some clearance at the fork crown for all that.
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Old 06-21-13, 10:07 AM
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A few thoughts:

First, most will probably state that they don't take much more gear for a several month long tour than a 1-2 week tour that you're considering.
Since you know the custom builder, can you talk to him and get his thoughts on an appropriate fork for your needs.
Are you planning on carrying a front rack and panniers? It is possible to get by without them.
When in doubt, as Rowan stated, there are numerous after market steel forks that I'm sure you could make work adequately. Pay attention to the axle to crown lengths so as not to screw with the initial geometry.
And finally my own titanium tourer has a carbon fork of which I would have no problem with on the terrain that you described
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Old 06-21-13, 12:31 PM
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CF seatposts are way overrated IMO. The only seatpost I ever broke was CF, and it broke where the seat clamp assembly was pressed-and-bonded into the CF tube, not the CF tube itself. I think CF has little significant advantage over Al in a seatpost. Mine never seemed any more comfortable than any Al post. Get a Thomson if you want a strong seatpost with precise adjustment capability. If money is tight get a Kalloy Uno or Dimension, they're heavier and don't adjust as well but they're cheap and reliable. Rivendell sold Kalloy seatposts for years to build their $2-3,000 lugged steel framesets.

CF forks are pretty tough and well suited for pavement, but not as tough as steel and less appropriate for off-road use. You have a few choices in aftermarket steel forks with a lowrider rack mount fitted mid-leg on the fork (Surly, Salsa). There are no aftermarket CF forks with lowrider mounts AFAIK. Steel is usually 1/3 the price of CF and will shrug off minor damage from touring/camping/transport. When a CF fork gets a gash in the fork leg you will then forever worry that it is going to snap-off on a rough descent. CF does diminish road buzz a lot more than steel, so they are nice in this respect, but off-road they make little difference. Most don't know it, but many of the less expensive "CF" forks actually have a lot of Al in them under the paint. If a CF fork has an Al steerer, chances are good that the entire fork crown and upper fork legs are also Al - only the legs from about 1/3 of the way down are actually CF - so by weight and volume these forks are actually more Al than CF.

Do yourself a favor and get a steel fork. The extra 3-500g weight (the only negative to buying steel vs CF) will hardly be noticed on a loaded touring bike. Even Lynskey puts steel forks on their serious touring models:


Yes, fit is important, don't buy a shiny Ti frame just because it's a good deal. I have a couple Ti frames, they are nice, and even nicer when they fit right. Do you need a custom frame? Normally >90% of bicyclists can be fit to a stock bike frame with adjustments to saddle height, bar height and reach. Consider a folder (bikefriday.com) or coupled frame if you intend to do a lot of air travel. You can justify the $500-700 premium of a coupled frame in only 2 round-trips worth of oversized baggage fees on some major US airlines.
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Old 06-21-13, 02:32 PM
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I full heartily agree with the Lynskey. Their lowest costing touring bike is a Lynskey Silver series Viale, with Shimano 105 it would set you back $2,606 plus pro build and shipping. I would suggest if you go this route to do it through Adrenalin and speak to Matthew there. If you get the bike through Adrenalin you save the cost of the pro build, also you can make any changes to the system as you feel the need to do. Example I got the Peloton and didn't like the FSA Orbit el cheapo headset so I upgraded it to the Cane Creek 110 for just $80 more due to the swap. I also wanted a slightly better rear derailleur so for $30 more I got the Ultegra; and I didn't want the Lynskey CF fork and wanted to make sure I had a sturdy fork so I swapped it for the Enve 2.0 for $300 more, but in the case of the touring bike the fork that comes on the Viale is really nice for touring so I would leave it because it's design for larger tires and has mounts for full size fenders.

but the Cane Creek 110 headset would be more suited for touring due to far better seals and bearings so I would make that change for sure. I also like and ordered a set of the bike a set of Speedplay Frogs, they are full floating pedals but I don't mind. Anyway the Frogs allow you to buy touring shoes or combination bike and walking shoes that allow you to walk around and ride the bike without feeling a huge ball in your shoe or having to cover the cleats with some sort of rubber cover to prevent damage to the cleats. And the pedals are self cleaning so you can put your shoe into the pedal after walking around and not be worried about cleaning the cleats first. Those pedals are also self serviceable, they are simple to grease the bearings too, simply use a special grease gun and insert into the end of the pedal and squeeze the trigger and watch for the grease on the opposite end oozing out to turn from a dirty color to a clean color and your done greasing the bearings. Those pedals are really cool.

But if you fit factory stock size bikes then you'll have no problem with the Lynskey Viale. And Matthew at Adrenalin will make sure you get the right size bike. I got my bike and never test rode beforehand, after all Adrenalin is in California and I'm in Indiana, but when I got it and assembled it (which was far easier then taking off the bubble wrapping!) and rode it I had to make no adjustments other then the seat height of course, it just simply fitted perfectly.
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Old 06-21-13, 08:13 PM
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^ Frogs with Lake sandals. Great in the warmer months.
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Old 06-24-13, 09:14 PM
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FYI, now that the deal is done and the bike is mine, I'll give you more details:

My new ride is a Bilenky Titanium Tourlite, with some aftermarket swaps by the previous two owners: I don't think the bike originally came with Campagnolo Mirage shifter/brakes and a Nashbar cassette. I *need* to change out the handlebars -- I don't do drops -- but I have ridden it enough already to be very, very pleased.

Haven't found any identifying marks on the forks yet, to know who made them.
- Jeneralist

Last edited by jeneralist; 06-25-13 at 05:31 AM. Reason: typo
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