Cycling is fast becoming one of the most popular activities in the country. Not only is it a cheap and environmentally friendly means of transportation, it is a great way to stay in shape. For many people, their bike is a source of tremendous pride, and customizing it can be a uniquely rewarding experience. Whether replacing part of an existing bicycle, or building one from scratch, buying the parts individually allows a cyclist to optimise their machine’s capabilities.
One of the key features of a bike is known as the bicycle fork. The bicycle fork holds the front wheel, and allows the rider to steer. It is the intention of this guide to explore the various features that should be considered when buying a bicycle fork, as well as detailing how the online auctioning platform eBay can be used effectively to find the right bicycle fork for the buyer.
What to Look for in a Bicycle Fork
Features of a Bicycle Fork
There are several basic parts of a bicycle fork that any prospective buyer should be familiar with. The following is a list of these basic features, along with detailed descriptions of their functions
- Fork Ends – there are two fork ends on a bicycle fork, each of which is located at the end of one of the prongs (or blades) of the fork. Fork ends are required to attach the bicycle fork to the wheel of the bicycle. A fork end is essentially a slot, into which the wheel’s axle is slotted, and thus attached to the frame.
- Blades – blades are the ‘arms’ of a bicycle fork. They are located on either side of the wheel, when on a fully constructed bicycle. At one end, they are attached to the fork ends, which are in turn connected to the wheel axle. They then run parallel to each other, one on each side of the wheel, until they meet at the crown.
- Crown – the crown is when the two blades converge above the wheel, and is the point at which they meet. It the top of the lower part of the bicycle fork, and is connected to the steering tube.
- Steering Tube – the steerer, or steering tube, is a length of metal that connects to the crown of the fork, and also connects the fork to the rest of the bicycle. At the top, the steering tube is rigidly attached to the handlebars, using a stem. Thus, turning the handlebars moves the fork, which steers the bike. The steering tube also interacts with the frame of the bike, although this is done via a piece of equipment called the headset. The headset is not rigid, so that steering the fork does not also affect the frame.
Rigid Bicycle Forks
On many road bikes, racing bikes, or any other bike designed to travel on smooth, even surfaces, the fork is rigid. This is advantageous when attempting to ride at speed on a flat surface, because no kinetic energy is wasted on unnecessary movements. There is a large selection of rigid bicycle forks available on eBay.
For many off-road bikes, however, having a rigid fork is inadvisable. When travelling over uneven, bumpy road or track surfaces, a bike with a rigid fork will cause discomfort to the rider. Thus, most mountain bikes are equipped with suspension forks.
Suspension forks use shock absorbers, which are designed to absorb the kinetic energy generated when a bicycle travels over uneven ground. The kinetic energy in a rigid fork would travel all the way up to the hands of the cyclist, causing discomfort.
The blades on a suspension fork are not called blades; they are called legs. They use straight, telescopic tubes, which contain a spring mechanism. The inner part of the tube, which connects to the fork ends, is pushed upward by the motion of the wheel travelling on the uneven surface.
However, whereas the fork ends on a rigid bicycle fork are connected solidly all the way up to the handlebars, the fork ends on a suspension fork are connected only to the lower part of the telescopic tubes. The lower part is connected to the upper part (to which the handlebars are connected through the steerer) via a spring, which compresses. Thus, the kinetic energy is absorbed without causing undue discomfort to the rider.
Types of Bicycle
There are as many types of bicycle fork as there are types of bicycle. The type of bicycle a particular cyclist uses depends largely upon what they intend to do with that bike. The following is a list of types of bicycle for which bicycle forks are available on eBay, and a brief description of their advantages and disadvantages. Note that a search for bicycle forks on eBay can be customised to only include forks that are compatible with any one or more of the following types of bike.
- Mountain Bike – An off-road, all-terrain bike, which sacrifices speed for stability and strength.
- Town Bike – Town bikes are small and lightweight, designed for speed on flat surfaces.
- Hybrid – An all-purpose, well-balanced, user-friendly amalgam of road and mountain bikes.
- BMX – An urban stunt bike, used primarily for tricks and skills.
- Tandem – A bike for more than one person to use simultaneously.
- Cruiser – Low-riding and stable, with only one-gear and bubble tyres, cruisers are leisurely bikes usually ridden through low-stress scenic routes on holidays.
Materials Commonly Used to Make Bicycle Forks
There are many materials used in the manufacture of bicycle forks. Each has many different properties, some advantageous, some not so. The following is a list of the 5 common metals used, and their basic properties.
- Steel – steel is the oldest metal currently used for bicycle forks. It used to be the most widely used, until newer compounds were implemented in bike building. It is heavy, long lasting (though it requires maintenance to prevent rust), and relatively soft, which provides a comfortable ride. It is also expensive.
- Aluminium – aluminium is more widely used today than steel. It is lighter and cheaper, though will not last as long. It is also harder, which translates into a faster but less comfortable ride.
- Carbon Fibre – carbon fibre bicycle forks are the strongest, hardest and lightest available, making Carbon Fibre the material of choice for professionals. However, it is both very expensive and relatively brittle, meaning that cost and the risk of collision make it a less practical material for most amateur cyclists.
- Titanium – an expensive, but durable and long lasting material, Titanium bicycle forks are light and hard, but their cost means that very few cyclists can afford them.
- Magnesium – magnesium is relatively strong, and is known as the lightest useful metal. Often used in alloys, it makes for good quality, lightweight bicycle forks.
How to Buy a Bicycle Fork on eBay
- The online auction website eBay provides the ideal platform for anyone looking to buy a bicycle fork. It has an enormous selection of forks, made by many different manufacturers, for all different kinds of bikes, as well as smaller components and other accessories for cyclists.
- There are two simple ways to navigate through the selection of bicycle forks. From the main website, select the section titled sports & leisure from the menu at the left margin of the page, then select the Sporting Goods category. Next, select the sub-category Cycling, and the next sub-heading, Bike Parts. Finally, choose Forks from under the menu titled Component Type. Alternatively, it is possible to use the quick and easy search bar, which allows a buyer, who knows specifically what they want, to reach the required page instantaneously.
- Once you arrive at the items listings, it is possible to “filter” the search, using several criteria, found in the left margin of the page. Component sub-type allows the search to be refined by the type of fork needed, such as suspension or rigid. The bike type allows forks to be organised by the kind of bike they are needed for. The search can also be defined by material or brand, as well as information such as condition, price and location. There are two main ways a buyer can purchase goods: the ‘buy it now’ option enables immediate purchase for a fixed price, whereas the auction option allows users to bid against other users for the product.
- Additional information about an individual product can be found on its own information page, which can be accessed by following the link found under the item’s entry in the listings. Along with more details, this page details safety considerations of the purchase, such as user ratings for the seller, and features the option to contact the seller directly with any queries that are not answered on the main page.
For any cyclist seeking to improve or repair their bike, or even attempting to construct a new one, it is important to have the right parts. The fork is an absolutely crucial component of a bicycle.
eBay is the ideal place to shop for a new bicycle fork, as it’s huge range caters for any user requirements, and its helpful, user friendly interface enables shoppers to find what they are seeking quickly, easily and efficiently.
Always remember, if you have queries regarding a bicycle product, don’t be afraid to ask the seller anything you want to know about the item.