Retro Rescue: Scott CX carbon fork

The curb finds continue! The latest one is a Scott carbon fork.

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The fork is beautifully finished and extremely light as one would expect. The first thing to stand out is the addition of brake posts typically seen on mountain bikes, not road bikes. Which, along with the CX in the name, indicates this is a cyclocross fork, and the posts are for cantilever brakes.

Cyclocross seems to be having a bit of a renaissance, though it does seem a little odd to me to essentially use lightly modified modern road bikes for off-road use and forgo the benefit of suspension, wider tyre footprint and various other modifications integrated into the modern mountain bike. Cyclocross predates the MTB, so I guess it’s a bit like reviving real tennis or Queensberry rules boxing. Why not?

Now, being more of a classic bicycle fan than a weight weenie, I am not completely up to speed on the latest and lightest in the world of road bikes. Nonetheless, unless you’ve been living under the sea for the last 20 years, you’ll know the future is carbon-flavoured.

My first experience of riding with carbon bike parts was on a 2007 Lemond Chambery (carbon fork, seat post and rear stays) and it was very positive. The difference between riding a 1970s or 1980s steel bicycle and a more modern bike is phenomenal (though not just due to the addition of carbon, but many other developments). While I do love classic bikes, I think modern bikes offer real improvement in almost every area (comfort, speed, safety and performance) and are also a great pleasure to ride. But that comes with a downside, initially one of cost as new components seem horrendously expensive, but also due to the characteristics of the material itself.

When I found a carbon fork, thrown out with the rubbish, I was pretty pleased. The next thought to go through my mind was that it surely must be damaged, but a good close look revealed no damage whatsoever to the paint finish, no cracks and nothing to indicate previous crash damage.

Carbon, similarly to (but more spectacularly than) aluminium, is prone to failure and stress damage is difficult to detect. So it is not practically possible to be certain that a piece is safe to re-use. Which brings us to a real problem with modern components and materials.

If you can’t be sure a component is safely useable, then that will either kill or severely limit the second-hand market. Many early aluminium frames have a bad reputation for cracking and failure. I do wonder whether these fears are exaggerated through repetition, but the reality is these frames are relatively sparse today though they were an important part of bicycle frame history.

Either user confidence in carbon fibre will increase, and allay the fears of unpredictable failure, or we can expect to see far fewer “vintage” bicycles from the 90s onwards, 30 years from now.

I think that would be a shame, as these frames are really beautiful and an important part of our future cycling history.

I am unlikely to make a cyclocross rebuild as I’m unlikely to ever ride cyclocross (you never know…), but these forks could potentially be reapplied to a hybrid and used with v-brakes. That might make for a pretty sporty town bike. Or a horrible “Frankenbike”… We shall see!

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