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  1. #1
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    Carbon forks and summer use

    Greetings all.

    With Fatback and White Brothers both offering carbon fork options, I am rather envious of some of the newer builds. However, I see myself using a fatbike year round for singletrack use as well, and am wondering how these forks handle being ridden over surfaces a bit harder than snow.

    I have some friends who ride the WB Rock Solid fork on their rigid 29ers, and seem pleased with the performance, but it seems that the wider crown on the snowpack would cause more stress.

    What say you! Do these forks hold up to the occasional log pile, small drop, or jump?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by zombinate View Post
    What say you! Do these forks hold up to the occasional log pile, small drop, or jump?
    Yes, the background is a small drop -> Bamboo fat bike on log pile - YouTube

    With carbon, the big concern is crash tolerance. Use it as intended? You're golden. Bang it against a really sharp rock? You might come away with something worse than a dent.

    Though, I'm light. I've had zero problems with my Fatback carbon fork. I've crashed plenty since buying it, one of which the bike took off on its own down a hill - maybe I had a lucky outcome.

    It is a lot of cash to throw around, certainly. But are they tough enough for reasonable impacts, yes.

    Also, I'm small. 170, FWIW.
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  3. #3
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    If you are at all worried about the longevity of carbon components, then just avoid. You don't want to have that niggling away at the back of your brain every time you are riding.

  4. #4
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    Don't worry about longevity. Carbon has a huge useable life as long as it's not cracked. Pretty easy to check the fork out from now and then. I've ridden, and crashed, my Fatback with carbon fork a number of time the past two winters. It's fine and is no worse for wear.

  5. #5
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    Something for reference.

    Ask Nick: Carbon handlebar lifespan, long-lasting tires, and mechanical sabotage

    May also want to check out Niner's website. I seem to remember them beating the crap out of their carbon fork.

  6. #6
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    It is carbon...not plastic. Ride it. enjoy it, & stop worrying.
    Riding.....

  7. #7
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    I was unlucky I guess & trashed mine in 3 weeks in a fall on ice. It was not a scarey catastrophic failure, just a bad ding that created a soft spot that was not safe to keep riding. I am 135lbs and was not going fast, but when you go down on ice, it does go down fast. I replaced it with a steel fork.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by druidh View Post
    If you are at all worried about the longevity of carbon components, then just avoid. You don't want to have that niggling away at the back of your brain every time you are riding.
    Yes! If you're worried, screw it. That carpet fiber is a marketing ploy to ease the removal of dollars from your pocket. Get a Salsa steel fork and you'll be happy for years.

  9. #9
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    On second thought, give it a go. I'd like to see this with a fat tire.
    Just don't get hurt.

  10. #10
    addicted to chunk
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    Drive into a garage??
    Riding.....

  11. #11
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    What's that cracking noise?

    That failure must have been exciting (on or off the bike).

  12. #12
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    ##Disclaimer## not my fork. Just your average carbon fork experience.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by atom29 View Post
    ##Disclaimer## not my fork. Just your average carbon fork experience.
    And your reference here is... an unidentified, context-free road fork failure? I wonder what the average Niner owner thinks.

    I suppose the steel frames I've personally seen buckle would also be average if I simply had a negative bias against steel (which I do not, most of my frames have been steel). I'm going to stop implying and just say I think you have a material bias, which doesn't really help OP, who is looking for objectivity.

    All the failures I've seen are where the crash caused the failure - not the failure causing the crash. Every failure couldn't be reliably ridden afterward.

    Regardless:

    I think druidh nailed it - no matter what material you're riding on, unobtanium for all I care, if something about it bugs you, rational or irrational, that's a bad thing while riding. I rode a really sweet Niner FS bike this summer and it was light and fast and it has positive reviews up and down and to me it was squirrelly. Concentration is a big deal and if anything is taking away from that, the grams saved and subjectively cool graphics are not worth it.
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  14. #14
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    I've seen lots of cracked carbon frames not from crashes. Just riding along. Don't think that is a bias. A crash causing a failure isn't great either. I'd like my bike to survive a tumble or two.
    Yes steel breaks.
    But carpet fiber breakes more.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by druidh View Post
    If you are at all worried about the longevity of carbon components, then just avoid. You don't want to have that niggling away at the back of your brain every time you are riding.
    I don't worry about carbon generally. However, I am well aware that carbon fork construction for road bikes is less robust than that for cyclocross. My curiosity is if these forks were designed with mountainbiking in mind, or snowbiking. The softer, lower impact nature of sand and snow would allow for a lighter weight, and less robust fork. Whether these forks were designed to handle use beyond these softer riding surfaces is where my curiosity lies.

  16. #16
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    I hear ya. The manufacturer doesn't care enough to specify. Don't be the ginea pig.

  17. #17
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    I seem to recall a quote from a Fatback rep saying about the weight "any lighter and it fails testing". I'll see if I can dig it up, this forum's search software sucks but I'll try. So, Fatback has tested theirs. Against what standard, I dunno. Given their reputation... which is an almost universally positive one... you get my point.

    EDIT: Straight up, couldn't find it. Still, I don't think they make BS products. Hell if I wasn't pursuing building my own frames, I'd own one of theirs by now.
    Latitude: 44.93 N

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBerntson View Post
    May also want to check out Niner's website. I seem to remember them beating the crap out of their carbon fork.
    I think the video you mean is Niner Bikes Fork Hammering - YouTube

    I am not a materials engineer but did work in a company that made testing machines that allowed companies to do their own rigorous and repeatable experiments. There was a broad and deep knowledge in that company in all materials and they sold test equipment to a number of bicycle companies.

    I know an engineer there quite well who saw that video and said that it was great marketing but from a engineering standpoint, meaningless. The damage that carbon sustains is typically on the inside and is not visible until it's cut apart for inspection but the damage is still there.

    He met the guy in the video at interbike and discussed it with him. Niner said they were going to section the fork and show the internals on their website. My friend said, "If I don't see it on the website, is it safe to assume the inside was a mess?" The guy mumbled some things and left it at that.

    I'm not saying whether carbon is or is not a good material, just that I learned while working at the company, that a methodical and thorough approach is needed when analyzing and testing a given design.
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  19. #19
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    Wow!

    Quote Originally Posted by atom29 View Post
    On second thought, give it a go. I'd like to see this with a fat tire.
    Just don't get hurt.
    Quote Originally Posted by atom29 View Post
    Yes! If you're worried, screw it. That carpet fiber is a marketing ploy to ease the removal of dollars from your pocket. Get a Salsa steel fork and you'll be happy for years.
    Quote Originally Posted by atom29 View Post
    ##Disclaimer## not my fork. Just your average carbon fork experience.
    Quote Originally Posted by atom29 View Post
    I've seen lots of cracked carbon frames not from crashes. Just riding along. Don't think that is a bias. A crash causing a failure isn't great either. I'd like my bike to survive a tumble or two.
    Yes steel breaks.
    But carpet fiber breakes more.
    Quote Originally Posted by atom29 View Post
    I hear ya. The manufacturer doesn't care enough to specify. Don't be the ginea pig.
    You have surprisingly few typos considering you typed all that with your head buried in the sand!

    Top notch!


  20. #20
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    I've been riding 26" and 29er On-One carbon forks for years. Never a problem.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  21. #21
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    Carbon is a great material for forks in my opinion (as a polymer chemist). It functions very much like reinforced concrete. Good load bearing abilities, with great flexual strength.

    If you crash it heavily it might break though. It never fails to amaze me, how people feel this is an issue related to carbon alone.
    A big boy did it, and ran away.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smallfurry View Post
    ...

    If you crash it heavily it might break though. It never fails to amaze me, how people feel this is an issue related to carbon alone.
    For me, this "feeling" comes from 24 years of riding metal MTB forks without incident and 3 weeks of riding a carbon fork that is now unusable.

  23. #23
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    I have the opposite experiance. No issues with my carbon 29er fork, or the carbon CX fork I also offroad with. Yet I snapped some steel forks way back. The steel forks were old and neglected though.

    None of the 3 carbon forks I own have carbon steerers though. So theres no shearing or clamping forces on the carbon parts.
    A big boy did it, and ran away.
    62*28'

  24. #24
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    Back in the days of ultralightweight steel bikes we used to jam a bit of Ash broom handle up the steerer to stop the fork disintegrating when it broke. Our expectation was that anything that lightly built would break.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    I was unlucky I guess & trashed mine in 3 weeks in a fall on ice.....
    What make of fork was that?
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  25. #25
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    ^^ It was a Fatback carbon. There are some pics back on the 2012 Fatback thread somewhere.

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