Tapered steerer - Does it really make a difference?
I am building my first 29er and my frame has a tapered head tube. I have a very good deal on a standard (non tapered) fork. I am just wondering if the tapered steerer really makes a difference. I have tapered steerers on both my road bike and full suspension 26er and I can't say that I am able to see or feel a difference in stability or handling. Do you guys see a real difference?
It is a pretty big deal in fore/aft or "rocking" stiffness. But not a deal killer, IMO. Kind of depends on intended use, too. XC? Non-tapered is fine. Pro-level Enduro racing? Tapered only! 150 pound Cat 1 climbing fool? Non-tapered is fine, again. 200 pound crusher? Tapered only, again!
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On its own, no. You would probably not notice it. But with the bigger ht comes a larger DT and bigger bb shell. All that together certainly can make for a much stiffer front end.
Originally Posted by meltingfeather
I can tell you that you can tell a difference for sure. But let me qualify this first. I am a bigger rider as 260 lbs and 6'5" and I have owned two rockshox Lyrics (still own one) both at 160mm and the one with the taper is stiffer. I have also owned a rockshox Pike (old version) and a Revelation (new version) and can tell you that they are about a stiff as each other even though the revelation is over a pound lighter.
But like the two other posters have said it depends a lot one you (physically and riding style) and how the bike itself is made. A flexy frame/wheels will always be that way and a taper steerer will make no noticeable difference. On the other hand if you do have a stiff frame and wheels and you are looking to finish off the stiffness package you will notice the difference I think.
One other thing to consider is that most taper forks are lighter than their non-taper counterparts.
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I could definitely tell. Especially upgrading from QR to 15mm AND standard to tapered. Massive improvement.
There were some nice tech articles a few years ago covering this (don't have the link). They rated and studied the difference between tapered and non-tapered. Ditto on QR vs. TA, alloy vs. carbon rim, etc... . Bottom line is the steerer tube does make a positive difference if tapered. Add the next two levels with a carbon rim and a TA - the difference continues to improve.
Originally Posted by cyclostf
I'd say, if your new frame is designed for a tapered steerer tube - take full advantage of it in spite of the lure of a "good deal" on a non-tapered fork. You should be able to find a good deal on a tapered fork somewhere (especially now that it is entering off-season in the northern hemisphere). The fork and frame designed for it combine to improve the front end experience.
This. Most people think tapered steer tubes make for a stiffer fork. The real benefit is supposedly in the larger head tube, which allows for more of "flat" weld at the DT to HT joint. So, its the fork architecture making concessions to make the frame stiffer, not vice versa.
Originally Posted by PeopleForScience
Personal Opinion follows:
I don't notice that much, if any difference. If I do notice a difference, I can't be certain it's not my imagination - placebo effect, wanting the bike to feel better than my old one. I think very few recreational riders would actually be able to notice a difference, and even if they did, it would be only under certain conditions and would not be something that held them back ("I would have cleaned that if it weren't for that front end flex due to my non-tapered steer tube!" ).
Sometimes I think the bike industry takes a page out of the golf club mfr play book - they change stuff just to change it, so that this year's model is "new and improved" from last year... it drives product sales. Tapered head tubes, press fit BB's, thru-axles, etc. - all improvements (I guess) but really only incremental ones, IMO. and that's all good, except that it's just one more thing contributing to the trend of bikes being stupid expensive.
The truth is (again, IMO) that the average rec rider never takes their bike anywhere near the limits of mechanical performance where the benefits of some of these modern tweaks would be of benefit to them.
When I built up my TallboyC 3 years ago, I opted to put a 1 1/8" steerer Reba Team 120 w/ 20mm Maxle. 210 lbs and I ride very aggressive. Never had an issue with it.
When I built up my HIghball Al SS last year, I opted to put a 1 1 /8" steerer Reba RLT Ti 120mm w/ 20mm Maxle. 190 lbs and I still ride very aggressive. Still no issues with it.
Fast forward to 3 months ago, bought a used Reba RLT Ti 140mm with Tapered Steerer for the Tallboy. Too be honest, I have not noticed any difference between it and the old 1 1/8" fork. Still ride it just as hard. Have to admit that it looks better on the bike.
However I don't think it is really worth the extra money to buy a new fork if you already have one.
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Why do you think Cannondale's Lefty axle is conical? Beefing-up the end that suffers most of the load forces, is only logical. I can feel the difference. Tapered is SOLID stiffness and stability. To me, it translates to laser, point-and-shoot steering precision. It may be overkill on a road bike - but the MTB greatly benefits from it.
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I have no doubt that a tapered steerer is stiffer, or even that some people might be able to notice it given the right circumstances. But this -vvv- hits the nail on the head for me.
And I am putting my money where my mouth is as I am building a frame that can take a tapered steerer with an 1 1/8" fork.
Originally Posted by PoisonDartFrog
Just an observation... riffing off what PoisonDartFrog said. Your frame already has the benefits of the stiffer frame junctions. So it would make sense that you don't notice any difference. If you had changed bikes using frames that were and were not tapered, it might make sense that you could notice a difference.
Originally Posted by mtnbikej
In any case, I kind of agree with what you are both saying. Think you both make sense.
Well in my mind, there are really 2 questions; the second is conditional. The first of course is "does it make a difference?" Assuming the answer is "yes" (and I think it is), the second question is" How much of a difference does it make, and is it worth it? (ok, that's really two questions...)
IMO it's an improvement, but tapered HTs make bikes more difficult and expensive to manufacture. Maybe it's my minimalist tendencies from years of rigid SS, but I guess I just find myself asking whether the "bang" justifies the "bucks"?
PS. I also think it's built-in obsolescence. I'll bet it won't be too much longer before the qty and selection of 1 1/8 straight forks start to drop off, if they have not already.
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