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Ross’s Titanium Truss Fork from XACD

As spotted over on the Singletrackworld forum the other week – Ross had been in touch with me when he was designing his truss fork and was proudly showing the results of his work! He was happy to share with us too…

Ross rides a lovely steel Stooge frame – a jack of all trades in a one size fits all, it’s the Scottish equivalent of a Jones! Like Jones, Stooge favours big wheels over suspension and keeps things rigid. He was keen to compliment his ride with a Jones truss fork but wasn’t so keen on the price – XACD to the rescue!

Dare I ask, you know?

Very good comms with XACD although Porter gets a bit shirty when you don’t reply to his emails within 12 hours! They were very easy to deal with and patient despite all my iterations throughout the design process.

Cost was just under $500 including postage. Waltly at the time didn’t make truss forks so didn’t quote, I believe they do now. I didn’t ask Titan as I was happy with the XACD price.

Phew! At least with just a fork to worry about there’s less dimensions to spec, how did you go about it?

The fork shares the same length and offset as the original steel Stooge fork but I’ve widened the dropouts to take all wheel diameters (inc 26″ x 4.8″) on a 142mm hub. I think it’s a thing of loveliness!

But, but, just how do you fit it to the headtube? Jones use a custom Chris King headset that has two ‘top cups’ to take up the slack.

The steerer is a loose tube which you insert from the bottom of the fork up through the head tube, simples. You then tighten the 2 bolts on the bottom and the 1 bolt on the top once you have it in place.I spent ages measuring everything including the headset cups. I made it all with a 5mm spacer which squeezes under the top clamp, thus ‘opening’ up the fork slightly. When you tighten the stem down you’re basically putting the fork back into its ‘passive’ state or ever so slightly under compression. Once the stem is on that’s when you tighten the fork top clamp bolt.

Hmm, interesting… Although that might be considered ‘cheating’ slightly as you’re relying on the fork being an almost exact fit to the headtube (+ spacer). Changing headsets to one with a different stack could throw it out again slightly.

Another solution could be to use an expanding headset spacer to take up the slack. Given the design though you’re always going to be building the fork around the frame.

For the finale – how does it ride?

It’s incredibly stiff and precise. I’ve had to change from my usual 50mm to a 70mm stem as the steering responsiveness was just too quick on my usual stem length.

Good to hear! But to change the stem length as a result? That seems strange… Ross assures us that he’s double (and triple) checked his dimensions so the titanium replacement is exactly the same size as the carbon fork he removed.

I originally ran some On One fatty carbon forks. My guess is that the carbon fork flexed considerably more than the truss, thus damping the steering input. Because I now perceive no delay in the steering reaction it feels (to me) very twitchy compared to the original carbon fork.

Interesting indeed! Although with the back sweep of the Jones’ bars that Ross had installed I’d have expected him to be running a slightly longer stem anyway. When your hands end up behind the centre line of the headtube the handling can feel really weird…

What’s the comfort like?

I’m only two rides in but thus far it’s not noticeably harsher than the carbon fork. I suspect it’ll be a little firmer when going full chat but I think the steering precision makes up for that as you can steer with so much more accuracy.

The carbon forks I was using before were flexy, but not that bad. However the titanium forks have virtually no flex so the difference is pronounced. I’ve carried out back to back test rides against a Jones Truss and there’s very little in it. I’d say mine flexes a tad more than the Jones but they are 30mm longer so they have more tube to bend.

According to the scales they’re just a smidge under 2kg.

You always think a truss forks looks pretty sturdy but it’s interesting to see that Ross’s experience backs that up. Then again a weight of nearly 2kg would suggest that we’re not scrimping on metal there, a sturdy twin bladed titanium fork would come in at around 1Kg, with a carbon fork typically being under 800g. If it was flexy we should be very worried indeed!

Some people might baulk at the extra weight but it certainly lays to rest the popular perception that titanium forks will be flexible and likely to break. Truss forks also offer the opportunity for adding things like built-in racks and because of their huge clearance are ideal for running plus size or fat bike wheels too.

But mainly, I mean, come on, they look awesome! In the back of my mind I’ve always wondered if you could work an integrated bar and stem into the design, it might be time to get the crayons out again…

You can see the original Singletrack thread over here: http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/custom-ti-truss-fork-gratuitous-photos

Have you had something titanium made in the Far East? Would  you like to share? Do get in touch via the Contacts page – and perhaps we’ll see your bike here next time!