09 June, 2014

A Few Tips on Fork Installation

by Igor

We've had a few customers recently email about procuring a new fork because the steerer was cut too short during assembly, so here's a few tips to get your new bike set up as easily as possible.

Our Campeur and Polyvalent framesets use a threaded headset. The fork that comes with your VO frame is specially designed, measured, and threaded for that particular frame size. We have gone through painstaking efforts ensure the assembly of these frames goes as smooth as possible. You can install your headset, brake hanger, thin spacers, and decaleur if you so choose without any cutting. There is no reason to cut your VO threaded steerer.

If you use a quill stem like the VO or Grand Cru, which uses a single bolt to clamp to the handlebars, install your brake levers and shifters, wrap half or none of your bars. That way you can shift things around, swap stem lengths, and adjust positions without having to wrap and unwrap your handlebars each time. Just remember to plug the ends of the handlebar. I’m willing to bet you don’t want a fresh core sample of your abdomen should you take a fall while trying out your new setup.

For Pass Hunter and soon-to-arrive Camargue, the fork is of the threadless variety. This means that you will need to cut the steerer once you have the headset installed, and stem and bars in a position you’re comfortable with. Remember, you can take metal off, but you can’t put it back on! Many, including myself, leave a small stack of spacers on top of your stem just in case you wanted to bring your bars a bit higher. The tool we use for a clean, uniform cut is the Park Tool SG-6 Threadless Saw Guide.

Do you have any tips for bike setup that would make life easier?


Anonymous said...

Measure twice (or thrice) and cut once!!!

On the more serious side, I've been tinkering with several bikes and still haven't dialed things in perfectly on some of them. But for threaded forks I have found a quill-to-threadless stem adapter like VO's extremely valuable. It has allowed me to use a mix of spare threadless stems of varying lengths and angles to fine tune reach/height without stripping bars down or removing brake levers and once everything feels right I could measure accurately and invest in a single proper quill stem for final assembly and complete bar wrapping.

On the other hand, for threadless systems I agree completely with leaving some extra room and adding spacers above the stem just in case or until you are 100% sure of the stem location. I recently had a shop replace a steel fork for me on an old ride but got sideways looks from them when I asked to leave the fork steerer at full length and gave them a problem solvers locking spacer to use after installing. I specifically asked them not to cut the steerer nor install a star fangled nut. I instead chose to set my own star fangled nut using the park tool nut setter after several test rides, stem replacements and re-stacks of spacers until I was satisfied. It's admittedly a bit of a kludge until you get things dialed-in but worth the time and patience rather than cutting pre-maturely and facing the cost of another new fork if you misjudged or wanted to make changes later.

I suppose there is a limit to how much steerer you could/should leave exposed above the stem/headset on smaller frames but being a tall rider with larger frames it's generally a non-issue for me.

Danny said...

I have an easy solution for making sure I never cut too much off: I have and never will own a threadless fork. Simplifies life.

Anonymous said...

After I install brake levers on drop bars, I make sure one lever is where I want it and then I stretch a piece of twine from one lever blade to the other (pinching the twine between the tops of the blades and the lever body). I sight the bars against the twine. If the two are parallel, I know the hoods are level, if not, I adjust one lever until they are.

philcycles said...

I do have a tip for adjusting threaded headsets that's worked for me for many years: don't tighten the lock net onto the threaded race, back the threaded race onto the lock nut. It may take a couple of tries to get it right but I have never had a headset loosen with this method and my headset life can be measured in decades.
Phil Brown

Mark Holm said...

I've never seen a convincing argument that threadless headsets offer any advantages to most recreational riders. One sometimes claimed advantage, easy removability of handlebars is actually a result of stem design, and is totally independent of threaded vs threadless.

The ready height adjustability of threaded setups is such a great advantage that it should not be compromised.

Really, though, it should be possible to design a threadless system to accommodate quill stems. The only thing in the way is the star fangled nut. All you need is another way to grip and pull up on the steerer in a controlled fashion to make the adjustment. Once the adjustment is done, lock it with a clamp like the Problem Solvers.

Mark Holm said...

Have been thinking a bit more about the whole star fangled nut thing. You know, the way we are doing it is just plain stupid!!! The adjusting screw doesn't need to be tightened very much and there is no reason it needs to be short. Idea 1: drive the star fangled nut to the bottom of the steerer and use a long screw, or even a length of threaded rod to make the bearing adjustment. After the adjustment is set, just remove the screw/threaded rod. Idea 2: insteadof the star fangled nut, just use an ordinary nut with a big washer, or a piece of flat stock with a threaded hole at the bottom of the steerer. Again, after the adjustment is done, remove it. There is no need to carry the adjustment mechanism around with you everywhere you go. How often do you need to adjust your bearing preload during a ride? (Never?) The whole threadless thing is an ill thought out mess. Only a little cleverness reveals alternate ways to do it.

semi serious cyclist said...

My advice is "Don't rush to cut"

Before you cut your threadless fork,

ride the bike mocked up on a trainer. get a feel for how you fit to the bike.

I know we are always in a hurry to build up our bikes and get them out on the road, but a little time on the trainer can save a lot of grief a few thousand miles in.

Anonymous said...

In response to Mark about threadless set-ups and installing a nut from the bottom of the steerer: Interesting thoughts. guess you'd just need to make sure the nut is set deep enough or shallow enough to clear any center mount holes drilled in the crown... which may call for a custom or improvised nut-setter (if going deeper than manufactured nut setters allow.) But then the star fangled nut could also maybe double as a fender mount in the fork crown (for those forks without the brazed on fender mount like VO!)

On the other hand, that then makes me wonder if a fork like VO's with a brazed and threaded fork crown fender mount.. could that mount also then be used for pre-load in the same way? (Using an extra long bolt and top cap and just removing once adjusted correctly and clamped down?)

But then again, I have actually found value in using that star fangled nut for "top cap mounted accessories" on some threadless systems.