aluminum or steel fork. Can you tell the difference?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    aluminum or steel fork. Can you tell the difference?

    OK, I've got a beefy aluminum 29" fork on my bike now and have been given a new Salsa 29" steel fork. Will there be any difference in the ride? Seriously? I can't imagine that there would be much of difference in feel, but I've been wrong many times before. I'll just sell the new steel fork if a fork is just a fork.

  2. #2
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    Ride the Salsa and find out.

  3. #3
    I'm just messing with you
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    You may not notice it so much at first, but that Salsa fork will be a lot more compliant than your aluminum fork. And if not, that compliance will eventually take its toll on the aluminum, and the Salsa will be sorely missed.
    Chasing bears through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet is strongly not advised

  4. #4
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    Well said, I'll put the Salsa fork on this weekend. Just the thought of the aluminum fork buckling makes me cringe. Most likely wouldn't happen, but you never know.

  5. #5
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    I would think you could tell. It will probably feel like you put a shock on there. :-)

  6. #6
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    There are a couple more factors involved than just material also. All things being equal, the steel fork is going to feel a little smoother... nothing even close to suspension, but more compliant and without alot of the sharp hand shock you get with aluminum.

    But fork design comes into play also. A straight bladed steel fork will be less vertically compliant than one with raked legs. More offset will translate to a longer wheelbase and slightly less trail, which will affect how forces transmitted through the fork feel at the bar.

    The difference in ride feel between a fork like this



    and one like this



    will be noticeable even if they are made from the same material.

    And, as wv_bob has pointed out, compliance in aluminum is about the last thing you want, given the fatigue properties of the material.

  7. #7
    aka baycat
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    My wrists hate both but that might be a testament to my non-smooth riding style.

    Do not like the feeling of Aluminum but love Steel, hence my steel SS. I had the Salsa 29er fork Big Cro Mo something and then recently went to an Indy Fab fork.

    My vote is steel.

  8. #8
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    My vote is for steel as well. AL sucks! At least in a fork.

    And I'd opt for one that's raked like the one sunset1123 so conveniently provided a pic of. In fact, I'll be ordering my lo-buck triple-butted tange steel fork soon. Very soon.

  9. #9
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    Survey says...

    After installing the fork and going on two very similar rides I can say that there is a noticable difference in ride between the two forks. No, the difference is not like adding a suspension fork or something crazy like that, but it's more like moving from a 1.9 front tire to a 2.3 front tire. Subtle, but noticable. The steel fork visably flexes more than the aluminum. The aluminum fork would not flex -at all- even in the hardest of braking situations.

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