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Replace Fork at 5 Years?? Really???

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Replace Fork at 5 Years?? Really???

Old 09-01-14, 06:25 PM
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datlas 
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Replace Fork at 5 Years?? Really???

I was riding with one of my club mates today. He mentioned that he has heard that some recent frame failures (including crashes) involve the fork and/or steerer.

He rides a Lynskey and he contacted them to find out what they recommend.

He said they told him they recommend a new fork every five years.

This seems pricey and also overly cautious to me. I would think that if you don't over torque it or abuse it, and inspect for cracks, a carbon fork would last 10 years or longer.

My Habanero has a Ritchey WCS fork that is 5 years old. Should I be concerned?

Any thoughts or comments??
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Old 09-01-14, 06:33 PM
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Marketing and Liability. If the lifespan of a fork was really five years, they would be more assertive about every single customer replacing them, less lawsuits galore.
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Old 09-01-14, 06:37 PM
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Many of the major manufacturers put it at three years. After my recent crash, even though there was no visible damage, I replaced mine, on the better safe than sorry premise.
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Old 09-01-14, 06:43 PM
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I better find a steel fork for my Lemond quick. 13-year-old carbon fork is like Russian Roulette every time I ride!
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Old 09-01-14, 06:58 PM
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Maybe if each one of those 5 years involves 15,000 miles of riding/racing and a few crashes thrown in for good measure...
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Old 09-01-14, 07:24 PM
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Sounds like the usual "carbon asplode" FUD. A well-made CF fork should last far more than 5 years, assuming you haven't abused it.

Of course, you should inspect the bike on occasion, regardless of the frame material.
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Old 09-01-14, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
I better find a steel fork for my Lemond quick. 13-year-old carbon fork is like Russian Roulette every time I ride!
I've been thinking the same with my Lemond!
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Old 09-01-14, 08:38 PM
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Bike wear parts: brake pads, tires, chain, fork.
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Old 09-01-14, 08:45 PM
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In theory the fork should last for ages. During testing they put them through hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of duty cycles. That's A LOT of riding. The forks still pass certification after that.

I suspect that liability is a key factor in the 5 year policy. Also, Planned Obsolescence; If you make a refrigerator that last forever soon every customer will have a refrigerator and your company will go bust.
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Old 09-01-14, 08:49 PM
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I replaced replaced a 14 year old fork. The new one was 200 grams lighter and the bike handled and felt so much better. So there are definite advantages as well.
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Old 09-01-14, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I was riding with one of my club mates today. He mentioned that he has heard that some recent frame failures (including crashes) involve the fork and/or steerer.

He rides a Lynskey and he contacted them to find out what they recommend.

He said they told him they recommend a new fork every five years.

This seems pricey and also overly cautious to me. I would think that if you don't over torque it or abuse it, and inspect for cracks, a carbon fork would last 10 years or longer.

My Habanero has a Ritchey WCS fork that is 5 years old. Should I be concerned?

Any thoughts or comments??
Sounds like Lynskey is selling crappy forks.
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Old 09-02-14, 02:13 AM
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I have never heard of replacing a fork as a wear item. But what sounds fishy on this one is that it is a number of years and not miles. Five years for some people/bikes is 2500 miles. For others it could easily be 20,000 miles or more. So when do each of these forks need replacing?
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Old 09-02-14, 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by telebianchi View Post
I have never heard of replacing a fork as a wear item. But what sounds fishy on this one is that it is a number of years and not miles. Five years for some people/bikes is 2500 miles. For others it could easily be 20,000 miles or more. So when do each of these forks need replacing?
The time test rather than mileage does make sense from the point of view of degradation of plastic, much like in the recommended lifetime of helmets. The epoxy resin is subject to aging and loss of strength and integrity due to oxidation initiated by heat and light. While I don't think the useful age of a fork has actually been established, I can understand being concerned about safe use lifetime based on age in addition to mileage. Having said that it is also true that one will never get a sensible answer to the question, "How often do I need to replace my fork?" just due to the liability concerns mentioned above. Inspection, inspection, inspection would seem to be the sensible approach to the question.
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Old 09-02-14, 06:19 AM
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OK. A quick google found a column from Lennard Zinn in VeloNews regarding carbon fork life. It includes feedback from several carbon fork manufacturers. The bottom line: a carbon fork, assuming it wasn't crashed or otherwise damaged, will last just fine and doesn't need a timed replacement.

Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: Carbon Forks - VeloNews.com
[h=1][/h]
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Old 09-02-14, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by telebianchi View Post
OK. A quick google found a column from Lennard Zinn in VeloNews regarding carbon fork life. It includes feedback from several carbon fork manufacturers. The bottom line: a carbon fork, assuming it wasn't crashed or otherwise damaged, will last just fine and doesn't need a timed replacement.

Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: Carbon Forks - VeloNews.com
With one exception Zinn's respondents did not consider degradation if the composite due to chemical changes over time. One should not be unduly concerned about this, but it is a failure mode that needs to be recognized. Once again, it is all about inspection.
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Old 09-02-14, 06:31 AM
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Really good info. Thanks telebianchi
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Old 09-02-14, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
With one exception Zinn's respondents did not consider defradation if the composite due to chemical changes over time. One should not be unduly concerned about this , but it is a failure mode that needs to be recognized. Once again, it is all about inspection.
Which would be what exactly?
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Old 09-02-14, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
With one exception Zinn's respondents did not consider defradation if the composite due to chemical changes over time. One should not be unduly concerned about this , but it is a failure mode that needs to be recognized. Once again, it is all about inspection.
What kind of chemically induced degradation are you expecting to find, and through what types of inspection?

Edit: Bobbito beat me to the question!
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Old 09-02-14, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
Which would be what exactly?
I do not mean to suggest that catastrophic failure of a fork or frame or any other CF composite bicycle equipment is to be expected due to exposure to heat, light, and air. I am just pointing out that such degradation is a known trait of plastics, including epoxy composites. I am sure that modern epoxy formulations are stabilized against oxidation, but such preventative measures are not always fully effective. Because of the exposure of the surfaces to the greatest amount of sunlight and dependence of the chemistry upon oxygen absorbed through the surface of the structure, that is where one would expect to see the most damage - on the surface. I would look for dullness of the finish, a powdery residue, crazing and at the worst cracking. Much like the type of oxidation that auto paint used to exhibit before the formulations were improved to today's standards. Some materials (I don't know about epoxy composites) are notch sensitive, i.e. small surface cracks can propagate very easily and cause serious damage throughout the structure. It is simply valuable to recognize that organic materials exposed to heat, light, and air don't last forever.
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Old 09-02-14, 08:25 AM
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Mine is nine years old. No plans to stick a fork in it, yet.
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Old 09-02-14, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
I do not mean to suggest that catastrophic failure of a fork or frame or any other CF composite bicycle equipment is to be expected due to exposure to heat, light, and air. I am just pointing out that such degradation is a known trait of plastics, including epoxy composites. I am sure that modern epoxy formulations are stabilized against oxidation, but such preventative measures are not always fully effective. Because of the exposure of the surfaces to the greatest amount of sunlight and dependence of the chemistry upon oxygen absorbed through the surface of the structure, that is where one would expect to see the most damage - on the surface. I would look for dullness of the finish, a powdery residue, crazing and at the worst cracking. Much like the type of oxidation that auto paint used to exhibit before the formulations were improved to today's standards. Some materials (I don't know about epoxy composites) are notch sensitive, i.e. small surface cracks can propagate very easily and cause serious damage throughout the structure. It is simply valuable to recognize that organic materials exposed to heat, light, and air don't last forever.
What is organic about plastic?

UV protection is built into the products. Sunlight won't do squat.
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Old 09-02-14, 08:39 AM
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What I found especially interesting about the story is the recommendation came from Lynskey, who to my knowledge does not even make forks.
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Old 09-02-14, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
What is organic about plastic?
Simple chemical nomenclature. Epoxy resins like all plastics are categorized as organic chemicals, i.e. based on carbon, as opposed to inorganic chemicals like salt or steel, titanium, aluminum....

Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
UV protection is built into the products. Sunlight won't do squat.
I am glad you are so sure. Let me assure you that 3M and Dow are not nearly as confident as you are. They take stabilization very, very seriously and know that it is never perfect. Their attorneys would never let one of their people make the statement that you did.

Of course I expected that the epoxy resins were stabilized against UV, most plastics are. But, as anyone who owns plastic outdoor patio furniture knows, all good plastic things come to an end, even ones that are specifically treated for outdoor use. I don't understand what is so objectionable about recommending that folks take a look at their CF bike equipment items from time to time to make sure that they are in good shape. Makes sense to me.
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Old 09-02-14, 10:13 AM
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^^^injection molded Patio furniture as an indicator that resins used for CF will break down in sunlight? Bit of a stretch, doncha think?

Since we are talking bicycles let's stick to that for now. The resins used in bicycle parts have UV protection as do the clear coats. UVs are not an issue.

I do agree that periodic inspection is prudent regardless of materials. If you're giving your bike a good clean and you find a lump you should probably get it checked out.

Interesting tidbit. I usually refer to patio furniture as Irish furniture. I'll let you figure out why.
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Old 09-02-14, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
^^^injection molded Patio furniture as an indicator that resins used for CF will break down in sunlight? Bit of a stretch, doncha think?

Since we are talking bicycles let's stick to that for now. The resins used in bicycle parts have UV protection as do the clear coats. UVs are not an issue.

I do agree that periodic inspection is prudent regardless of materials. If you're giving your bike a good clean and you find a lump you should probably get it checked out.

Interesting tidbit. I usually refer to patio furniture as Irish furniture. I'll let you figure out why.
My point was that lots of plastic articles have UV protection yet still manage to degrade in sunlight. But I will say your confidence is encouraging. I know you are "inside" this whole thing, and I take your opinion seriously.
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