Be your own brand.

Fork me; that’s the way to do it…

People often ask about having titanium forks made to go with their frames and it’s something I normally caution against. We all remember the pictures of the snapped Spicer forks that did the rounds of the Internet about ten years ago, right?

Spicer Ti forks made by XACD, but not designed properly!

Spicer Ti forks made by XACD, but not designed properly!

But surely lessons have been learned by now? Are twin bladed titanium forks trustworthy; can they be used off-road? Personally I’m not convinced, I think you end up having to make the fork so overbuilt that it kills any weight benefit that you might have got from using titanium in the first place!

Interestingly though we are seeing people like Brant speccing titanium forks on the Alpkit Sonder Broken Road. Although there’s no mention on the site of what the expected weight is…

Alpkit Sonder Broken Road features a titanium fork...

Alpkit Sonder Broken Road features a titanium fork…

And Wittson are happy to offer their Nulla fork; but at 1Kg and €739 they kind of prove my point about needing to be overbuilt to work. For that price I’d always go for a carbon fork that would be two thirds of the weight and just as tough!

Wittson's titanium fork is robust but also a tad heavy...

Wittson’s titanium fork is robust but also a tad heavy…

I’ve always liked the look of the Jones style ‘girder’ forks but not the complicated way they fit to a frame using a custom headset.

The original Jones titanium truss fork - one of the more sensible ways of using titanium in a bike fork!

The original Jones titanium truss fork – one of the more sensible ways of using titanium in a bike fork!

I also thought you should be able to integrate the stem and bars in a better way too. Many doodles later and I was no closer to the answer, until I spotted this rather neat solution from Ti-Cycles on their latest gravel bike:

Wow, now that's a pretty cool way of integrating a titanium fork, stem and handlebars...

Wow, now that’s a pretty cool way of integrating a titanium fork, stem and handlebars…

Yes, I wish I’d designed that 😉

It helps that we’re looking at a gravel bike that will naturally need a longer ‘stem’ I’m not sure it would work as well on a MTB. The design relies on a unique double steerer design, but the headset will adjust in the usual way. Once the headset is tight then the front stub stem can be adjusted for height and the whole lot clamped up:

ticycles_gravel-4

OK, I’m not sure if it would stay secure and creak free but hey, it’s still gives you some ideas as to what’s possible.

While we’re here and thinking about forks I also spotted these rather interesting items from UK brand Vaaru Cycles, it’s a prototype cast titanium fork that looks rather lovely:

Cast titanium fork anyone? Looks rather lovely!

Cast titanium fork anyone? Looks rather lovely!

I’m guessing it’s not solid as that would probably weigh a ton. Cast in separate pieces and then welded together perhaps so it’s hollow in the middle (like an XT crank)?

All interesting stuff, it’ll be interesting to see if it’s viable for production as it would certainly compliment a titanium frame rather nicely.

Probably enough pictures for the moment, do let me know if you spot something unusual though that you think other people might like to see. Until next time…