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Oldie But Goodie: Fork Repair & Revision

I’d never used my Holdsworth’s original (or at least, period faithful) steel fork since the frameset's original refurbishment back in 2008. The threaded steerer had at some point, been pruned painfully short. To the point where I was told Campagnolo Mirage headsets were succumbing to cup fatigue. Then of course, someone waved a threadless carbon fork and Woodman Jupiter Aheadset under my nose. For 15 years, I saw no call to change.

bicycle front fork

During that silent calm between Christmas and New Year, I found myself contemplating the cheap, but very cheerful composite fork’s integrity. Afterall, these things have a finite life and I’d retired my fixed gear winter/trainer’s Kinesis DC37 Disc  Fork after seven years' service.

Admittedly, I wasn’t strictly comparing apples with apples since the Holdsworth is a sunny day’s plaything, while my fixed gear winter/trainer is precisely that and exposed to the four seasons and extremes of temperature. My first thought was having the Holdsworth’s ornate steel fork steerer replaced. Either going the old school threaded route or (ideally a threadless steerer, so I could keep the existing Woodman Jupiter Aheadset. Quill converters weren’t my first choice, either.

Steerer replacement would mean new paint, so I wanted a frame builder who would undertake the latter. Ideally, a powder coated, rather than a traditional wet spray enamel, or 2k finish. Assuming a steerer tube replacement was straightforward, I’d be looking at around £110, paint on top- £160.

Lee Cooper to The Rescue

I reached out to Lee Cooper (18) Facebook, who had previously come to my rescue, replacing the Holdsworth’s bottom bracket shell back in 2013. He was happy to undertake but suggested this carried the risk of cracking the fork crown and of course, would mean new paint. He felt a better idea was to extend the steerer and convert to Ahead. This was cheaper and carried minimal risk.  Sounded like the way forward to me... I boxed up the forks and sent them to his workshop via courier. Two weeks later they arrived on my doorstep, transformed.


steerer tube

Lee says he cut the steerer tube below the threaded section and then attached the new section by fillet brazing. However, as a precautionary measure, he also brazed a small internal sleeve between the two. Price (including return postage) £58.

Minor Considerations & Tweaks

I’d had a mental parts list for a little while. The frameset was built for 27-inch wheels but always ran 700c in my ownership, on account of the 700c fork. Before these and the short drop Miche calliper came my way, I’d acquired a longer reach dual pivot XLC unit. It was just sitting in my spares box.

Ultimately, my spidy senses told me the XLC would be a little short. Serendipity intervened and someone offered me a long reach dual pivot Shimano Tiagra, which I graciously accepted. The OEM pads seem OK, but an upgrade (once they’ve worn) should bring them up a notch or two.

I’m not a purist by any stretch of the imagination - in case you hadn’t noticed - but I ummed and erred about drilling the crown broader to accommodate a contemporary calliper’s recessed bolt. 

bicycycle bike caliper calliper brake
bicycle bike calipers pads

After a bit of trepidation, I charged the drill, popped in an 8mm bit, added a drop of oil and proceeded on a moderate speed, checking frequently with the brake’s recessed sleeve. Always quicker to go slow.

bicycle cycle fork bike brakes fork

Rounding up parts at this stage would mean I could complete the conversion seamlessly and in one session. Decent tools repay their investment by not destroying the parts you are trying to fit/remove. Some will doubtless disagree, but in my book, its far better to pay a good mechanic/shop to do this if you don’t, rather than improvise.

Measure thrice, don’t cut...

Lee added 6cm to the steerer, which was absolutely bang on. Having organised tape measure, cutting guide, fresh hacksaw blade, I removed the Acor fork, the Woodman crown race using the crown race remover shown here, then measured its steerer. Identical, so I could go straight to assembly. I set the Woodman crown with a few deft taps of my crown race setter. After some deliberation, I reached for a Star Fangled Nut.

fork stem fitting tool

Much maligned but reliable and easy to install with a dedicated setting tool. However, there is the potential for galvanic corrosion between the steel steerer and titanium stem. I previously treated the steerer to a light coating of Muc Off HCB-1  corrosion inhibitor and left it curing for 24 hours. A liberal blast inside the fork blades for good measure too.

Putting it all together

bike steering bars head set

From here, it was just a question of porting spacers and cockpit over. I’d toyed with replacing the Tektro RL200 brake lever for an RL340, but this was change for changes sake. Even the existing Jagwire inner cable was I rude health, so I just fed it through the Shimano Tiagra cable guide, snugged the Allen bolt down, tweaked the pad height-done. The forks hadn’t been used in many years and had clearly been subtly compressed during storage. I popped a spare quick release front hub in situ to gently ease them out. The Miche wheel slipped straight in the following morning. I drew the inner cable a little tighter and fine-tuned the barrel adjuster.

bicycle bike holdsworth

First Rides & Formative Thoughts

bicycle bike cockpit bars head set

Road Path framesets were designed as competition machines for grass track racing that also handled and behaved impeccably on the roads. A concept that I fell in love with and prompted purchase of my fixed gear winter/trainer back in 2005 before finding the Holdsworth. However, the Road Path genre was relatively short-lived thanks in part to the abolishing of petrol rationing in 1957.

The original fork has a longer rake, so a less twitchy ride than the Acor but still very engaging and whisper it, a little more comfortable over longer distances. The frame and fork are two very subtly different shades. The frame is RAL5024 (pastel blue), the fork RAL 5014 (pigeon, sometimes called “French” blue) but the contrast is very subtle and to my eyes complimentary.  In short, I’m delighted and will leave the spec alone. Well, for now...

Michael Stenning




Ryton On Dunsmore

Coventry  CV8 3FH


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