Steerer Tube Offset
With the ever-growing list of forks that are available on the market, it’s becoming simpler to get a set of forks that really fit your bike and more importantly your style of riding. Bmx forks come in an array of sizes, lengths, offsets and of course colors. Different specifications on your forks will subsequently have different effects on the way your bike will perform.
The steerer tube is the top of the fork and can come in slightly different lengths. The length of the steerer tube on your fork will dictate how much space is between the stem and frame and ultimately the height of your handlebars. If your steerer tube is too long, excessive spacers will be used, if too short you may be unable to secure your fork cap properly. How do you choose the correct length? A great way to start is by measuring the length of the headtube of your BMX frame. Finding a set of forks that are a compatible length is a great place to start when looking for the right fork for you.
The next thing you're going to want to consider is the offset of the fork. Offset refers to the distance between the center of the steerer tube and where the drop out will finish. Offset effects how “twitchy” your bike feels when turning. Basically the shorter your offset the more responsive your bike will feel when turning. The longer your offset the less responsive it will feel when going slow, however, it will be more stable when going fast. Shorter offset forks aid in front end balance, and are useful for technical street riding. Bmx fork offset comes in a number of sizes ranging from 15mm to 35mm. It’s important when picking forks to consider all sizes of offset based on your style of riding. For Example, a dirt jumper that spends more time going fast will more likely opt for longer offset to maintain stability, where a street rider that does nose manuals would be more likely to choose a shorter offset to aid with the front end balance.
Most BMX forks are made from heat-treated 4130 Chromoly, however, the thicknesses, lengths and the machining process are always vastly different, resulting in very different shapes and weights. Like all BMX parts, it’s important to consider the durability of materials when choosing the right fork for you. 4130 Chromoly has become the tried and trued material for many freestyle BMX parts. What does 4130 Chromoly actually mean though? 4130 Chromoly is an alloy steel that is made up of two parts, combining two or more metallic elements, to give greater strength or resistance to corrosion.
With some brands boasting heat treating it’s another aspect to consider. Heat treating refers to the process in how the forks are made. Heat-treating is applied and the properties in the alloy are changed which can align different parts creating a stronger bond which then makes the material stronger throughout and able to withstand higher tolerances from impacts and stress put on it from riding. Heat-treated forks have had an extra step added to the manufacturing process and subsequently have an added cost however the added strength is well worth the extra.
The next thing to consider when looking for forks that can be more important for some is the weight. The weight of your bike can impact how your bike rides, feels and it’s overall durability. The lighter your bike gets the easier it will be to maneuver when riding, but the less stable and controlled it will feel. The heavier your bike gets will make it more difficult to move around but will make it more stable when riding. Weight is mainly personal preference, with some people wanting heavier parts for strength and durability, where others are more concerned with reducing weight to help with tricks on the bike. Whether or not you are concerned by weight, most forks sit around the 900-gram mark. With some of the lighter forks on the market coming in under 800 grams the difference between lighter and heavier forks isn’t more than 300 grams. Making the strength and durability of the forks more standard across the board.
990 Brake Mounts
If you're in the market for front brakes then you're in luck with several brands adding the 990 brake mount to some of their most popular forks. The 990 brake mount offers the rider a superior trustworthy an secure platform to connect the breaks to the fork. By using the brake mounts as the pivot point for each caliper it offers a stronger connection when the breaks touch the rim as both breaks are operating on their own access, unlike the traditional U brake system that pivots both brake calipers from the same point. Overall the 990 brake mount increases the rider's ability to break while still offering a new, strong modern fork.
If you have been looking for frames, forks or bars in the past 5 years you have probably seen certain companies beginning to use a new method when manufacturing their parts. Investment casting is a method where the steel is allowed to settle into its final shape while it's hot and allowed to slowly cool. This means that in its final form, the metal is under absolutely zero stress trying to maintain its shape, ensuring an even distribution of pressure.
Finally, like most things in life, all forks come at a price. Prices for forks can start as low as $100 (AUD) to as much as $350. Prices can vary depending on brand, and strength. More expensive forks offer lifetime warranties, thicker tubing and investment cast dropouts.
So what does all this mean? It means that it’s important to do your research before making your purchase. Ask your local bike stores, or inquire online, getting your bike set up correctly for you will not only feel better but learning tricks becomes easier. Hopefully, this guide has given you something to think about before choosing your next set of forks.