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stiffer fork on older tourer

richhrichh Posts: 187
edited August 2012 in Workshop
I've got an early 1990's Dawes Tourer which is a great bike to ride and served me extremely well on a 1400 mile JOGLE last year, however the problem I found was that when the bike was fully loaded (rear panniers and bar bag) the front fork became really wobbly and generally felt unsafe. Ideally I'd like to change the fork to something stiffer to avoid this but I have no idea where to start in trying to work out what I need. What measurements do I need to look at etc?

Will I need to get a new headset / stem?

I'm sure that many people would say that the fork would cost more than the bike's worth but for me the bike is a joy to ride, is in mechanically excellent condition and due to the training and JOGLE I did last year holds a lot of sentimental value.




  • deswellerdesweller Posts: 5,271
    Mm! I'd imagine that would be a threaded fork?

    Hard to find a good one these days, although a frame builder would be able to make one for you. If I were you I'd double check my headset bearings and make sure that the headset top nut is done up properly.
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  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    Are you sure it's a stiffness issue and not simply a case that you've got a lot of load on the rear? This lightens up the front end and leads to really vague handling on a tourer, which is likely made worse by the bar-bag that has the weight up high. I'd suspect this is your issue. The solution is to use low-riders/front panniers and distribute more weight to the front and keep it low down on the bike. There will be an ideal weight distribution front-to-rear that keeps the handling sweet - I'd look into this before worrying about forks stiffness.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,365
    Huuregeil speaks sense. I know from experience that heavily loaded rear panniers plus a bar bag will make your steering feel wobbly. The weight is concentrated at the rear - so it's a case of the tail wagging the dog. And a bar bag will make it even worse.

    I use front low loader panniers and rear panniers and don't bother with a handlebar bag. I also avoid putting anything heavy, like a tent, on top of the rear carrier.This means you can share out the weight front and rear and keep it as low as possible. With this set-up, my handling is fine - even when descending alpine passes at 40mph.

    Experimenting with front panniers would certainly be easier and cheaper than the gamble of buying a new fork. And I agree with Des that you should check your headset.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    And Dawes know how to make touring bikes. They are made to cope with full loads front and rear.
    Faster than a tent.......
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