Bertie Simmonds
April 25, 2017

Q: Just to say how much I enjoyed the ‘Why forks fail’, article, but surely the primary cause of forks ending up needing repair work is, in my experience, accidental damage. So, the difficult and awkward questions went unasked, questions like: A) Is it okay to straighten fork tubes? (and they ‘always’ get bent when the forks are at maximum compression of course). B) How many times is it okay to straighten them? C) Can you tell how many times old forks have been straightened? D) And finally, would you send your first born son out racing at the TT on a pair of straightened forks? Always a clincher that one, whatever the technology involved. Be interested to hear what the refurbishment professionals have to say about this aspect of their industry.

Forks being straightened.

A: Steve Cooper of (industry professional) answers:

A) Yes providing they aren’t creased, ridged or buckled. If they are they will be weakened and should not be used.

B) Theoretically until they lose their tempering. If they ‘flop’ when on a press they are toast and should be binned. However, if you’ve seriously bent them several times you need to replace them and possibly ride with a bit more care.

C) So if you have any doubts or concerns they should not be used as they are obviously safety critical.

D) In theory yes providing they weren’t previously seized, ridged or buckled. However, knowing that even brand new mega strong USD forks have failed spectacularly under racing conditions on ‘The Island’ I’d only use the very best available and would never compromise on safety.

Re: common failures of forks, the vast majority fail because of stone chips to the poor original finish and/or long term damp storage leading to corrosion pitting.


About the Author

Bertie Simmonds

As a child Bertie (well, Robert back then… blame his sister for the nickname) was exposed to motorcycles thanks to his uncles. They would show up at his house with a lovely lady as pillion throughout the 1970s and 1980s. After a naughty time on field bikes (it’s what we did back then) Bertie passed his test in the early 1990s and became a reporter for MCN in 1995, moving to the sports desk and covering World Superbikes in 1996. With a change to Bike Magazine in 1997, he stayed until 2000 as news, features and road test editor. Moving into PR with Cosworth, Bert was bored with cars and returned to bikes in 2001 with Two Wheels Only, becoming editor in 2002 and leaving to be freelance at the end of 2004. With almost a decade freelancing, Bertie joined Mortons in 2013 and became editor of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics, a post he’s desperately clung to, to this day. And no, he’s never had a pretty girl on the back of his bike.

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