As some of u know my bicycle The Phantom Mach 4 was stolen a few months back. Big bummer. All my fancy conglomeration of parts and a very unusual frame that represented so much innovation and uniqueness. Oh well, and goodbye. Anyhoo, what better way to say goodbye to something important to you then to re-evaluate what was so special about it and what would I change? As a matter of fact I had already been planning my next frame and it was drastically different from the Phantom.
After reading several articles from Bicycling Quarterly, I came to the conclusion that ultra-light and ultra stiff are NOT the best choice for most and ESPECIALLY ME. I won’t go into too much detail but for long rides which most of you know I prefer, a frame with some flex performs the best regarding efficiency and comfort.
I have chosen to start with an all steel fork I am building myself. This was a difficult proposition considering my previous carbon fiber fork did the job and was sooooo light! The first thing I realized about buying another carbon form was that they are all made overseas, AKA Taiwan. The second thing I didn’t like was their lack of character. They also have a “dead” quality about them that can more easily be exPlained by tapping one of the legs on a hard surface and holding it to your ear. Sound stupid? Well take a nice steel fork, do the same thing, and then tell me you don’t understand the difference. Besides the fantastic resonance you hear, it actually can make a difference flying down one of the many bumpy paved and unpaved roads I love to ride on. What’s the big sacrifice you ask over a carbon fork? Well the o ly thing I can think of personally is a steel fork will come out around 1 pound heavier. According to a blind test in the same magazine mentioned previously that amount of weight difference matters far less than we all imagine. That’s right, it hardly matters AT ALL. I know that is hard for most to believe because they want to follow the current trends.
That’s why as a very serious cyclist I will prove that a reasonably light all steel frame, fork, and stem will not only look sexy but will kick ass just as well as my previous oversized light bike.
I’m not a fan of buying cast crowns and fittings for my personal bikes so as you see in the above photos, I have made my own fork crown configuration. It is feeling nice and stout and structural. The crown’s industrial look will be sexified with some grinding, filing, and sanding. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to be brass brazing most of it together, which in itself is a really fantastic method for joining this type of steel construction together.
Check back for upcoming welding and brazing installments….