Saturday, December 20, 2008

Forks on the Road

My favorite part of building frames and forks is getting to see the finished products in use. Sometimes I get to see my work rolling down the road next to me, but more often I just get to see photos. I’ve been receiving photos from distant customers of their installed Frame-Neutral Replacement Forks, so I thought that I would share a few.

These customers share a common story. They all had nicely built, good fitting bikes, outfitted with carefully selected components. They all had tried carrying small-to-moderate loads in a front bag, and were unhappy with the resulting handling of the high-trail steering geometry. Each wanted to obtain a low-trail replacement fork, either as a long term fix, or as an experiment prior to committing to a full new frameset.

Randy rides his Rambouillet (shown below) on all surfaces with 700Cx30 tires. The FNRF was designed with a 62mm offset, yielding about 40mm of trail. This fork has lighting wire guides up the right blade, and separate under-crown mounting points for the fender and the VO randonneur front rack. Matching the original orange pearl paint finish would have been a bit pricey, so this fork was painted in the cream color used for Rivendell’s contrasting head tubes. As the lovely young Maia shows us, the installation was completed with a big front bag, and a nice centerpull brake to handle the new 67mm reach.

Bill recently bought the new Surly Traveler (below), which is the well known Cross Check frame with S&S couplers. He also owns a Kogswell P/R with a 40mm trail fork. While he generally liked the Surly, he found that he really preferred the way that the P/R handled with a front load. Bill decided to modify the Surly with a FNRF with 68mm of offset, which yields about 41mm of trail with his favorite 700Cx33 tires. He also requested an under-crown fender mount, and special through-hole bosses on the fork blades for the Tubus Duo lowrider rack. Bill selected a color from the DuPont paint chip book, and reports a “very close to perfect” color match. The fork carries a Nitto M12 front rack, and Jitensha medium bag.

Orin also rides a Rambouillet, as a randonneur and urban commuter, and wants to carry things in a front bag. His FNRF (shown below) was built with 62mm of offset, yielding about 40mm of trail. He also requested a full set of rack/fender mounts, generator hub up-and-over wire guides, a dedicated light boss low on the left blade, and a switch to a threadless steerer. With the photo, he noted that this light wire previously had been wound tightly around a support, and needs to relax to look neater in the fork’s guides. Although the fork was built to use the VO randonneur front rack, Orin later decided to design and fabricate his own stainless steel rack. This bike already was using a front Tektro R556 long reach (55-73mm) caliper brake, which was able to handle the longer reach on the new fork.