The Rigid Bicycle Fork and Its Many Parts

At U Games 2010.
At U Games 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh, the bicycle fork. Without it, we would all be riding unicycles, or we would be riding wheelies everywhere. I am going to concentrate on the rigid fork, as it is the original, and most simple. The suspension fork will come later due to its complexity. It’s sort of a diva anyway.

The rigid bicycle fork isn’t all that complex. Its job is to hold the front wheel, connect to the handlebars, and allows you to steer the darn bicycle around obstacles like potholes and dog poop. Please remember those last to obstacles as they are both things bicycle mechanics tend to deal with a lot with wheels. I digress. Let’s check out fork anatomy after the break.

Shape of a bicycle fork
Shape of a bicycle fork (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a lazy slob. I could have drawn a cute little diagram of a bicycle fork, but instead, I swiped a picture from Wikipedia. My drawings aren’t all that great anyway.

Let’s start from the top.

Steerer

Also known as steerer tube, it’s what the stem connects to. Remember? If not, go back in the archives and read about stems. The steerer is either going to be smooth for the threadless stem, or threaded for the quill type stem. The way the steerer tube fits into the frame is through the headset. That part is next, but just keep that name in mind: headset. Headsets also come in threaded and threadless. Notice a trend here?

Crown

The crown is where the fork blades meet the steerer. There are different kinds of crowns, such as unicrown, not to be confuse with unibrow, flat crown, lugged crown, etc. You don’t really need to know the different types unless you want a specific one. It also happens to be where the bottom bearing of the headset resides. Again, more on that later. I just like to tease you with tidbits of information.

Blade

Your bike should have two of these, unless, it happens to be a Cannondale with a special Lefty fork. More on that later, but if your bike is not a Cannondale, or sporting a sticker that says Lefty, your bike better have two blades, or it’s broken.

Dropout

Like the blades, two. The dropouts are what the hub axle resides in. We’ll get to wheels and hubs later. Sometimes you’ll see little threaded nubs on there, those are commonly referred to as braze-ons, and are used to attach accessories such as fenders, racks, bicycle bits.

Like I said. Not all that complex, but a very important part of the bicycle. Forks come in different materials depending on the bike model and depth of your wallet. The materials are, steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium. There are other niche materials out there such as bamboo, and wood, but those are rare. The rigid fork, depending on the material, also has to absorb some road vibration and shock as you ride along. Guess what? Materials is coming up! This will help you figure out what the difference in materials used to build frames and forks are.

Soak up the knowledge. I would like to thank those who have been reading my blog. I have been wanting to start this for a while, but time was an issue. Now that I have a job that allows me to write, I can release my knowledge to the Internet!

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