A fork that costs less than $200 might sound like a bargain to some, but to those who are struggling to find a good one, it’s not all that cheap.
According to a recent survey by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Federation (CMFE), about one in four people say they have an unsold stainless steel model fork, a number that is expected to grow in the coming years.
“This is one of those times when you might be tempted to buy a new fork, but that’s not going to happen,” says Rob Schoen, senior vice president of manufacturing and marketing at B.C. Toolworks.
“There’s just not a lot of supply out there.
The most common stainless steel models in the marketplace are made from a mixture of stainless steel and stainless steel tubing, or steel, which is about 50 per cent stainless steel.
They’re made in a way that is a little bit less expensive than a steel fork, so it’s a little cheaper to build and maintain than a stainless steel.”
According a report from the U.S. National Association of Realtors, about three-quarters of American homes and businesses have at least one unsold steel fork.
That means the average cost of an unowned fork is $250, which has grown more than fivefold in the past decade.
However, a fork with a stainless or aluminum coating, as well as a non-carbon steel handle, can cost about $2,000.
But if you’re looking to save money, you can find a stainless fork for under $200 at many bike shops, and the ones with the best prices are usually ones made by brands like Shimano, Dura Ace, and SRAM.
Schoen says the majority of the bikes he sees at bike shops are made by either Shimano or Dura.
And if you want a noncarbon steel fork that is less expensive, Schoen recommends the CNC machine-tool maker’s Dura CX3.
It has a carbon handlebar and carbon stem, which are both very expensive and not recommended for most riders, says Schoen.
“But it has the best balance of the four main components, and you can’t go wrong with the Shimano CX1 or the Dura XC3.
And it’s the most durable fork in the bike market.”
With the cost of stainless forks rising, and prices going up, Schön thinks most people are opting to upgrade to a carbon steel fork in order to save some money.
“It’s a good compromise,” he says.
“For most people, carbon steel is the cheaper option, and they’re really getting the most bang for their buck.”
“You can go with a fork made by a company like Dura or Shimano that’s made from stainless steel, or a fork that’s steel-on-steel,” says Schön.
“The key thing is that it’s going to last longer.”
If you’re unsure of what kind of fork to go with, it might be time to do some research.
“I do think the market for carbon steel forks is getting bigger and bigger, and we’re seeing a lot more people ordering carbon steel from manufacturers, so I think it’s definitely something that will continue to increase,” says B.S.-Macdonald’s CEO David McWilliams.
“In the meantime, it looks like a very solid option, but we are still seeing a steady increase in the price of stainless.”
McWilliams says there are many factors that influence price.
“For one, the material used to make the fork is really important.
For instance, a carbon fork might be made of stainless and then an aluminum handlebar, but carbon is a softer material.
For another, it can be a little more expensive.
For example, a stainless alloy is much cheaper, so a stainless-steel fork could be a bit more expensive, but aluminum is a much cheaper material.””
The main thing is to choose the best fork that will do what you want to do,” he adds.”
You should always go with something that you can afford to replace every year or two, but it’s really not going a factor in the cost.”
McWilliams, who also owns Schoen’s Cycle Shop in Burnaby, B.K., says people who are looking to upgrade from a carbon or aluminum fork might consider using a new handlebar if they have a bit of extra money.
“A stainless fork that has a bit less weight, or has a better balance, is going to work well for someone who’s trying to get a little younger or someone who wants to get back into cycling,” he explains.
Schoen agrees that a stainless handlebar is going a long way to make your riding experience more enjoyable, but he cautions against investing in a new bike for its price tag.
“The price of a stainless bike is going up and up, and for someone