Key details for bicycle forks include:
- Two dropouts to hold the front wheel axle.
- Two blades attached to the dropouts which join at a fork crown.
- A steerer, otherwise known as a steering tube, to which the handlebars attach (via a stem) allowing the user to conveniently steer the bicycle
The steerer of the fork travels through the frame (head tube) and with the aid of a set of bearings allows the rider to smoothly steer. Attached to the steerer is the head set which the handle bars are then connected to. Forks vary in materials used and therefore weight and riding feel. Commonly used substances are steel, aluminum, carbon fibre and titanium or a blend of the materials. For example, a fork may have carbon fibre blades with an aluminium crown, steer tube, or dropouts. In rigid forks (forks without suspension) the material, shape, weight and design of the forks can noticeably affect the feel and handling of the bicycle. Carbon fibre forks are popular in road bicycles because they are light and also because they can be designed to lessen and absorb vibrations from the road surface. Mountain bikes commonly use suspension forks. These help to reduce the impact of riding over rough terrain as well as increasing tyre traction by keeping the front wheel on the ground. Suspension forks can use air, spring or oil in their compression chambers.