Ok, I was a sucker for trying about a 1 pound fork and dropping almost 3.5 pounds from my budget Rock Shox Recon Solo Air fork. I’m not sure why there are not any medium priced suspension forks out there that work fine, don’t weigh 5 pounds, and come in old school straight steerer tubes. On a side note, are there any machine shops that could make nice aluminum or Ti parts that are identical to the Rock Shox parts and just press fit and bolt or thread them back together to make the dead weight shock into a more ridable version? Anyway I figured I was getting pretty horrible ride quality out of the low end R.S. fork so why not try rigid for a little while. I figured if I ride with a big tire and low pressure I will have some suspension and more lateral stiffness, the rest I use my arms and absorb the big stuff. I wanted to go with a nice American designed high end carbon rigid fork but could not afford the new prices and could not find many used that I was willing to pay even the discounted price on unknown issues. So, I thought what the heck try a Chinese knock off at right around $100.
First try I received my fork from an Amazon order in less then a week and was so excited that even the double boxed product felt like I was carrying nothing. They must have forgotten to put the fork in the box! Nope, it was there. So I unwrapped the feather-weight, pretty cabon fork out of it’s cocoon and admired the sleek look. This beauty would soon be mounted up and help me fly up hills. Everything looked great until mounting my wheel into the thin little jaws of the new butterfly. Unfortunately the smooth looking brake posts were not applied to the fork legs with extremely tight tolerances. The lower brake post was angled just a fraction too far inboard and the hub flange rubbed on the brake mount. Now this was really only some of the carbon layup that covers a threaded metal post and I thought maybe I could just grind and sand a few mm of the carbon away as I really did not care about any glossy black. I am already in the process of sanding all of the clear coat and labeling from my entire carbon frame so sanding the forks to a dull raw carbon look would not really bother me. I just decided I did not want to mess with brand new stuff or accept such terrible quality control. I sent the forks back and was credited instantly upon scanning of outbound mail at the UPS store (no charge). I decided to try my luck again with a different brand and this time I looked more closely at the specs that were given. First brand by the way was Qilefu, so I don’t recommend them unless you are maybe trying to put them on a low priced carbon Chinese road frame with disk brakes. They may fit the smaller profile of the road hub. Next brand I found acceptable to try was called Lixada and it came by US mail from China in nothing but a padded big envelope. There was one blemish but not at an important spot so I just figured I’d let it go. You get what you pay for. Gladly the fork came in about half the time as estimated by Amazon. I received it last week and now have it mounted up and ready to ride. Today will be my maiden voyage on the fork. I’m fully rigid carbon SS right now and ready to rock my 19 pound whip. I just hope I don’t snap the fork legs or steerer tube and end up needing more dental work than I already do. I guess I’d learn my lesson and buy good American made products that may cost more but need to stand up against law suits and probably like repeat business and good work of mouth advertising.
My main goal was to get some feedback from anyone else that has purchased and ridden a budget Chinese carbon rigid fork. Am I risking my life at the expense of 5 or 6 hundred bucks?
I will ride today and then post some photos of the finished, tested product.
Yeah keep us updated on how this goes. I’m shopping for a rigid fork too. I’m leaning towards biting the bullet and just plunking down the money for a Niner RDO fork for a peace of mind but am interested in hearing more about others’ experiences.
Has anyone heard of diycarbonbikes? They advertise a lot on the Pink bike forums and seem to get good reviews.
I was fortunate that a snapped handlebar did not impale me. From that point forward, I wanted to buy from companies well known/established enough to be sued should their products fail in service. The fact a product is made in China isn’t a qualifier for me, but quality systems and production control is. Let’s face it, lots of things are made in China.