Is your road bike in need of some new forks? Changing the forks on your bike can significantly improve your riding quality and comfort. But, if you’ve never switched out the forks on your road bike, you may wonder if road bike forks are interchangeable.
You cannot simply buy any fork for your road bike. The wheel size, braking system, length and diameter of the steerer, and threading type of the forks must match with that on your bike. You must also consider the material of the fork before selecting the best replacement fork for your road bike.
Since buying the right forks is crucial when you want to change your road bike’s forks, we will discuss everything one should know about them and how to decide on the right forks for your road bike.
Can You Change Out Road Bike Forks?
If you notice your road bike’s riding quality worsening or the steering feels loose or off, it might be time to invest in new bike forks. The forks on a road bike are crucial for riding quality, so it’s of utmost importance that your forks are in proper working condition.
If you want to buy new forks, you must first determine which forks are suitable for your bike. There are different forks for each type of bike, like road bikes, mountain bikes, and triathlon bikes. But there are also different sizes and styles of forks for specific road bikes.
Although you can change your road bike’s forks, not all forks are interchangeable, and you cannot buy any forks to put on your bike. Instead, you must ensure that the forks are the right size and style for your road bike, or else they won’t fit.
There are several factors to consider when looking for replacement forks on your road bike. Let’s consider the aspects that determine what forks you can use for your road bike:
1. The Size Of The Wheels
One of the first considerations when looking for new forks for your road bike is the diameter of your bike’s wheels. The size of the axle determines what forks you can use on your bike. If the fork is too small for the wheel’s axle, you won’t be able to put the wheel on your bike.
Most road bikes have a 0.35-inch (9mm) axle, the standard size most shocks can handle. Some road bike manufacturers have started using different axle sizes recently, however, to force people to buy their forks instead of ones from another brand.
So you must first check the size of your wheel’s axle and ensure it matches the forks you intend to buy.
The wheel’s diameter and thickness also influence the forks you can buy. For example, if the fork blades are too narrow for the wheel, the wheel will rub against them. If the Blades are too short for the wheel’s diameter, you won’t be able to put the wheel on the bike.
2. The Diameter And Length Of The Steerer
You’ll also need to ensure that the steerer’s length can handle the head tube and headset stack height. Combine these two measurements to determine how long your steerer should be. If the steerer on the new fork is longer than that needed for your bike, you can always cut it down to size.
If your bike’s head tube is not threaded, you’ll need to add the measurement of the stem, too, and ensure the steerer is still long enough to accommodate all the components.
Of course, the steerer’s diameter must also match that of your bike’s head tube. Measure the diameter of the head tube and determine whether it’s threaded. We’ll discuss more about the threading in a later section.
3. The Brake System
The type of braking system on your bike also determines which fork is suitable for your road bike. Most road bikes have one of three braking systems:
- Disc brakes
- Caliper brakes
The fork needs to have the right attachments for the braking system on your bike, or you won’t be able to use it.
4. Is The Steerer Threaded?
Road bikes either have threaded steerers to keep the steerer in place or have a steering stem to lock it in place. By removing your current steerer, you’ll see if there are grooves on the steerer or not.
It’s essential that you replace the fork with one of the same type. If the previous fork was threaded, you’ll need a new one that’s also threaded. If the steerer was unthreaded, you must buy an unthreaded steerer.
5. Other differences
Another thing to watch out for is the shape of the steerer. Some road bike manufacturers have started releasing their bikes with tapered steering heads, which requires tapered steerers and forks too.
Ensure all the components on the new forks match your bike before purchasing the new forks.
What Are The Best Road Bike Forks?
In addition to finding forks that fit on your road bike, you must also consider what material you prefer. There are four primary materials used when making bike forks:
Each material has different characteristics and advantages or disadvantages. Of course, many riders prefer specific materials and won’t be swayed otherwise. But if you aren’t sure about the best material for your road bike, carbon forks are a great option.
Carbon forks are lightweight and compact, making them perfect for a road bike where lightweight results in faster speeds. Because carbon fiber is a non-metal material, carbon forks are also impervious to corrosion.
However, carbon forks aren’t suitable for heavy or aggressive riders, as the carbon won’t hold up as well as steel or aluminum. Carbon fiber forks are also more expensive because of the materials used and the manufacturing process.
Steel and aluminum forks are also good options for road bikes. Aluminum forks offer great control over rough terrain and are less expensive than carbon fiber ones. On the contrary, steel forks are likely the most affordable. They are relatively strong and pliable but also a lot heavier than other forks.
Titanium forks are the most expensive and likely also the rarest forks. These forks are the strongest, lightest, and most durable you can possibly have on a road bike. Unfortunately, they are also incredibly expensive, making them a less popular option.
We recommend researching the best forks for your bike model and possibly test-driving a bike with those forks before settling on a new set. Once you have determined which forks are ideal for your road bike, you can get them fixed onto it.
Not all bike forks are interchangeable, and you cannot buy any forks for your bike. You must consider the wheel size, steerer length and diameter, braking system, and shape of the steerer before settling on a new fork for your road bike. All the parts of the fork must match the parts on your bike, or the fork won’t fit.