Carbon v. Steel Forks- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    Carbon v. Steel Forks

    Following up on this thread: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=161539

    What are some differences in ride quality and "feel" between carbon forks (ala Pace or Bontrager) and steel ones (pick yer poison)? I may go rigid on my Dos Niner, and the Pace Fork is high on my list of possibilities. However, I'm a little concerned about "chatter" and twitchy steering with a carbon fork.

    Thoughts? Impressions?

    I'm 5'8", 185#, ride twisty, rooty, sometimes-rocky MidAtlantic singletrack.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    My personal feeling is that regardless of ride quality, after a fairly hard crash on a bike with a carbon fork, if the bike has taken a hard tumble, I'm not sure that I'd ever be comfortable riding with the fork again.

    Carbon is lighter, and if you're looking for a "race only" fork it's likely very nice. But for those of us who plan on keeping their forks for a few years, I'm not sure that I'd want a carbon fork.

    Carbon forks on the road are fine - there's a lot less abuse going on.

    That's my $0.02 of unsubstantiated opinion.
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by laffeaux
    My personal feeling is that regardless of ride quality, after a fairly hard crash on a bike with a carbon fork, if the bike has taken a hard tumble, I'm not sure that I'd ever be comfortable riding with the fork again.

    Carbon is lighter, and if you're looking for a "race only" fork it's likely very nice. But for those of us who plan on keeping their forks for a few years, I'm not sure that I'd want a carbon fork.

    Carbon forks on the road are fine - there's a lot less abuse going on.

    That's my $0.02 of unsubstantiated opinion.
    That's a concern too, but moot if I don't think I'll like how carbon rides anyway.

  4. #4
    Law
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drewdane
    That's a concern too, but moot if I don't think I'll like how carbon rides anyway.

    I can compare carbon and steel on the same bike for you, it is just not a mountain bike. I just changed my Bianchi cross bike's forks. I went from the steel fork that cam with the frameset (Frameset circa 1999) to a new Alpha Q cross fork. There are several large differences. With the steel fork I really felt connected with the road and the trail. It just felt really solid. The carbon fork is REALLY light. I notice this quite a bit in hwo it steers and handles. But the carbon fork does mute the feel of the road or trail. It feels like ther is a bit more flex, but nothing horrible. Overall, I like the feel of the steel fork better, but I really like the weight of the carbon(1.5 lbs less I think, 1050 grams vs 450). I will stick with the carbon overall. There are some real benefits to steel though. A good steel fork (and the bianchi has a great fork) will ride really great. Never rode anything too serious with the carbon cross fork yet, but it is nice, and it tracks well. I noticed the carbon's lack of weight when i sling on my shoulder a bit. I can't steer you one way or another for an mtb. But I think my preferance for feel would be a good steel fork, and not a Surly one either. Like a walt or something. But the weight of the Pace is very tempting.
    my builder: Neil at Cernitz Bike

  5. #5
    Kill your... television
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drewdane
    That's a concern too, but moot if I don't think I'll like how carbon rides anyway.
    The way I see it Carbon will damp vibration. But, steel or Ti are designed to flex and damp vibration. Carbon can only flex so much before it fails.
    "Whereas Motoman's bike looks like an industrial, TinkerToy experiment gone horribly wrong." - Aquaholic

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  6. #6
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    I have had a pace 26" fork and actually liked steel forks better. The pace just felt harsh sometimes and I was always afraid it was going to break. I would get either a custom steel (Wily or Walt) or if you want to pay more get a custom ti from Black Sheep. A custom fork can be tuned for your weight riding style and I think will ride better than a production carbon plus it will be more durable.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by laffeaux
    My personal feeling is that regardless of ride quality, after a fairly hard crash on a bike with a carbon fork, if the bike has taken a hard tumble, I'm not sure that I'd ever be comfortable riding with the fork again.

    Carbon is lighter, and if you're looking for a "race only" fork it's likely very nice. But for those of us who plan on keeping their forks for a few years, I'm not sure that I'd want a carbon fork.

    Carbon forks on the road are fine - there's a lot less abuse going on.

    That's my $0.02 of unsubstantiated opinion.
    My $0.02 is that chromoly steel has carbon in it, though I've been drinking ;-)

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected]
    My $0.02 is that chromoly steel has carbon in it, though I've been drinking ;-)
    OK Smart Guy, you owe me a free fork for that! Or at least a set of Marys

  9. #9
    drev-il, not Dr. Evil!
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    Quote Originally Posted by [email="[email protected]"
    [email protected][/email]]My $0.02 is that chromoly steel has carbon in it, though I've been drinking ;-)
    Does this mean your forks are organic?
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  10. #10
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    No good

    Carbon forks, to me...are like carbon handlebars and seatposts.

    Sure, they are light, have nice damping etc.. BUT.. I have never felt comfortable using carbon parts in load-bearing places on my bikes.

    This is just me. I'm not knocking carbon parts, I like the whole idea, BUT... I know too much about composite constructions to trust them on my own bikes.

    Get a nick in a carbon tube from a crash, and the tube is compromised. No if's or buts, no maybe's..

    Of course, it's entirely possible that the carbon handlebar, seat tube or fork could last for years and not break, but on the other hand, are you willing to take that chance? I'm not.

    Just think about your carbon fork or handlebar snapping like a carrot as you brake hard going down a steep hill at high speeds.

    That was enough to put me right off them. Nevertheless, every man to his own poison, as my dad used to say to me. If you feel safe using carbon...go right ahead.


    R.
    It is inevitable ...

  11. #11
    Law
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rainman
    Carbon forks, to me...are like carbon handlebars and seatposts.

    Sure, they are light, have nice damping etc.. BUT.. I have never felt comfortable using carbon parts in load-bearing places on my bikes.

    This is just me. I'm not knocking carbon parts, I like the whole idea, BUT... I know too much about composite constructions to trust them on my own bikes.

    Get a nick in a carbon tube from a crash, and the tube is compromised. No if's or buts, no maybe's..

    Of course, it's entirely possible that the carbon handlebar, seat tube or fork could last for years and not break, but on the other hand, are you willing to take that chance? I'm not.

    Just think about your carbon fork or handlebar snapping like a carrot as you brake hard going down a steep hill at high speeds.

    That was enough to put me right off them. Nevertheless, every man to his own poison, as my dad used to say to me. If you feel safe using carbon...go right ahead.


    R.
    I do. Just watch where the carbon comes from. There are cheap imitation stuff out there. Not that Pace is one of those.
    my builder: Neil at Cernitz Bike

  12. #12
    DiscoCowboy
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    Carbon = Scarey

    I've broken carbon bikes and seen carbon bars snap, couldn't imagine taking a digger after snapping a fork. No thank you, not for me... I wasn't even thinking, you should have mentioned something and you could have rode the spicer & walt fork. Next time I see you take it for a spin, came to just under 2lbs with cut steer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drewdane
    Following up on this thread: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=161539

    What are some differences in ride quality and "feel" between carbon forks (ala Pace or Bontrager) and steel ones (pick yer poison)? I may go rigid on my Dos Niner, and the Pace Fork is high on my list of possibilities. However, I'm a little concerned about "chatter" and twitchy steering with a carbon fork.

    Thoughts? Impressions?

    I'm 5'8", 185#, ride twisty, rooty, sometimes-rocky MidAtlantic singletrack.

    Thanks!

  13. #13
    Eric the Red
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    I've come to trust my Easton carbon handlebars implicitly. I am about to see if that trust will extend to my fork, as I have just (like 20minutes ago) swapped out my Surly KM for a Pace RC29. I'm taking it for it's first ride tonight, and I'll let y'all know what I think of it.

  14. #14
    mvi
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    Steel

    I have broken steel frames, never carbon. Still, for myself I.m thinking about a steel fork (non corrected).
    How close is a Walt to a carbon?
    Indeed the rock crashing is what worries me.
    For cyclocross carbon is the way to go IMHO.

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