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Carbon fork for wifes bike

Old 07-06-20, 07:31 AM
  #1  
Melvang
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Carbon fork for wifes bike

My wife picked up a used Trek FX 7.1 for herself last week. The fork is steel and feels overly stiff. Are there any carbon forks out there that I could use to soften the front end a bit? It would be fine for me, but she had wrist issues from prior carpal tunnel surgery in both hands.

Relevant specs

1 1/8 steerer
V brakes
700c X 35 tires

Any suggestions?
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Old 07-06-20, 08:05 AM
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alcjphil
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Wider tires at lower pressure
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Old 07-06-20, 08:10 AM
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A carbon fork might cut down on road chatter, but there would be no way of knowing until you actually installed the fork. As mentioned above, the only guaranteed way of achieving a more comfortable ride would be fatter tires at lower pressure. Another possibility might be to double-wrap the bars or install thicker hand grips
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Old 07-06-20, 08:23 AM
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Melvang
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Originally Posted by Litespud View Post
A carbon fork might cut down on road chatter, but there would be no way of knowing until you actually installed the fork. As mentioned above, the only guaranteed way of achieving a more comfortable ride would be fatter tires at lower pressure. Another possibility might be to double-wrap the bars or install thicker hand grips
They are flat bars and have grips that work well for her wrists.
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Old 07-06-20, 08:52 AM
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carbon is stiffer than steel. the ride would be harsher
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Old 07-06-20, 08:56 AM
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Melvang
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Originally Posted by Flip Flop Rider View Post
carbon is stiffer than steel. the ride would be harsher
I have a carbon fork on my Cannondale and it is much softer with 25c tires.
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Old 07-06-20, 09:05 AM
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Sy Reene
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
Wider tires at lower pressure
+1
Not sure wider tires are needed if already riding 35s, but maybe a better/softer tire. Eg. Compass Rene Herse Bon Jon Pass though you'll likely be more susceptible to flats than whatever stock tire Trek puts on that bike.

PSI -- likely should be around 50psi if not already.
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Old 07-06-20, 09:30 AM
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ljsense
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If it's uncomfortable for a person to support weight with their hands, it can be challenging to make cycling comfortable.

Instead of looking at ways to reduce vibration or bumps, I would suggest looking at the rider's position. The more upright the rider, the less weight is carried by the wrists. They will feel less strain under normal circumstances, and less jarring and shock over uneven pavement.

I would start by looking for a high angle stem and riser bars. Maybe there's a shop that can help you adjust the fit. In my experience, putting a rider in a position that takes advantage of their strengths and protects their weaknesses will go a lot farther than anything else.

Changing the fork from steel to carbon would probably only have a placebo effect. Not to knock the placebo effect -- it's the best drug ever invented -- but in terms of any measurable difference in deflection or dampening, that's a costly and involved approach. As others have suggested, you'll gain much more compliance by running the tires at a lower pressure, and that's free, but I don't think it will get at the heart of the issue.
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Old 07-06-20, 09:32 AM
  #9  
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Ditto others, wider tires at lower pressure is the surefire method.

To swap forks you might want to research the rake and trail of the existing so as to best match the handling and it'll be a bit of a crapshoot if it actually improves ride comfort. If you had to, a suspension stem would be my next choice, but no cheap at $140 or so.
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Old 07-06-20, 10:16 AM
  #10  
Wileyrat
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Originally Posted by Flip Flop Rider View Post
carbon is stiffer than steel. the ride would be harsher
that's a pretty generalized statement. While carbon may be stiffer, I've found it to be a much better material at dampening road buzz, which may be op's wife's real problem.

Last edited by Wileyrat; 07-06-20 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 07-06-20, 10:24 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Flip Flop Rider View Post
carbon is stiffer than steel. the ride would be harsher
Carbon is not necessary stiffer. Carbon composites are designed to provide engineered stiffness desired for the application. You have directional design control.

That said, carbon composites are superior in reducing high frequency vibration (road buzz). This is due to their fiberouus nature. It is related to stiffness and geometry but unique compared to metals.
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Old 07-06-20, 11:05 AM
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https://www.jensonusa.com/Lauf-Grit-SL-Suspension-Fork
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Old 07-07-20, 02:07 PM
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The fork feels overly stiff because it is. Cheaper and easier to build them that way. Carbon forks are not all the same. Some do feel like they accomplish the vibration dampening they claim, most are just dead slabs of plastic and very stiff. Again because that is the easy way. Best way to do this would be a custom steel fork with light gauge small diameter blades and lots of curve and reach at bottom of blades. A full custom fork will cost a third of what the Lauf fork recommended above costs. (Lauf is otherwise a good idea.)

The Rene Herse tire recommended above would be great. I use them and wear them through without flats. City of Chicago, plenty of glass here. Front tires flat much less anyway. Keep the pressure way down and the tire squirms over glass. Hard tire punches the glass through.

Don’t know exact spec on your example of a 7.1 but it probably has a straight bar. Bars that sweep back, turn back, put the wrists in a completely different position. Most will find the turned back position more comfortable. Straight bar was in imitation of mountain bikes. When crashing through boulder fields it is easier to keep hands on the bike with a straight bar. Since your wife is not descending singletrack at speed she does not need an MTB bar. Since she already has special needs try everything. It is cheaper than more surgery.
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Old 07-07-20, 02:20 PM
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wgscott
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I have the Redshift Stopshocks suspension stem:
https://redshiftsports.com/shockstop-suspension-stem

It works well, and is tunable.

I find it works better than the Lauf fork when I tried it.

Having said that, I would first invest, as others have suggested, in wide supple tires like Rene Herse. Get the widest you can fit in there.

Last edited by wgscott; 07-07-20 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 07-07-20, 02:24 PM
  #15  
Juan Foote
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There is no way that I would even attempt to justify the purchase of a "carbon" or more likely a suspension fork for a FX 7.1. Either buy a bike with it outfitted, or take the advice about a tire/get used to it.

My understanding is that it's an incredibly good time to sell used bike equipment....
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Old 07-07-20, 02:31 PM
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Trakhak
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As suggested above, the simplest thing to try is reducing the pressure in the tires. I'd try them with 40 to 50 psi.
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Old 07-07-20, 02:41 PM
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if you want a new fork, get this- https://www.somafab.com/archives/pro...ss-lugged-fork because it will be lighter than the stock fork.
as has been said a dozen times already, wider tires and lower pressure will help.
and a redshift stem will help, as mentioned.

For the cost of the bike though, I would stick to just the middle option.
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Old 07-07-20, 02:43 PM
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Deleted. Just saw someone had already suggested Redshift suspension stem.

John
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Old 07-07-20, 03:34 PM
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My bike has an aluminum fork and the ride is very confortable but it was very harsh originally. I changed from 28->35->42mm wide tires, swapped to smaller diameter handlebar from 31.8mm to 25.4mm, put on some fatter grips and raised the handlebar for a more upright position which relieves pressure from wrists. Wearing cycling gloves will further absorb bumps before trasferring them to the rider.
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Old 07-07-20, 04:29 PM
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fietsbob 
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Trek's top of the FX range is carbon frame and fork, check with your Trek dealer for a fork..

V brakes?
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Old 07-08-20, 01:22 PM
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First, check the fit of the bike to ensure there isn't an easy way to reduce the amount of weight being carried by the hands on the bars. A common culprit is having the nose of the saddle pointing down - the weight of the rider is then constantly sliding forward and requires loads of pressure on the hands to resist it. Others above have suggested playing with different handlebar shapes and locations, and this is good advice too.

Second, 35 mm tires can be run down to ~34 or 40 psi, which will give you much more comfort than any simple change in fork material - and as others have said, it is impossible to know how effective swapping the fork will be unless you hire an engineer to analyze the blueprints of both forks. Using 'carbon' doesn't automatically make the forks absorb more shock. Ironically, this incorrect assumption is often made when people are switching to steel, not away from it.

Third, also mentioned above, lighter and more 'supple' tires will generally smooth out the tiny bumps that cause vibration better than a carbon fork, as will wider tires if they fit. The tires included with new bikes are usually the cheapest and heaviest and thickest tires you can buy, which can contribute to a harsh ride on rough surfaces.

Lots of things to look at before you start changing forks.
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Old 07-08-20, 01:34 PM
  #22  
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Ergon Grips

And also a pair of Ergon grips.
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Old 07-08-20, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by ClydeClydeson View Post
The tires included with new bikes are usually the cheapest and heaviest and thickest tires you can buy, which can contribute to a harsh ride on rough surfaces.
.
True. Changing tires would be the first move. I would suggest tubeless tires.
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