Choose Your Fork Adventure
It began with a meandering phone conversation - of the kind I have grown accustomed to having with one of the gentlemen behind Italian-German mystery brand Bella Ciao, whose Frascona curved bicycles I am rather partial to. A rear rack I designed for them is finally about to become available (made by Tubus), and they are sending me a finished sample, which will be nice to see. But really we were chatting about this and that and the other thing, when somehow we got on the topic of low trail bicycles. Actually I think I know how. Bella Ciao has been working with Giles Berthoud, and so perhaps we were discussing his handlebar bags - whereupon the whole low trail and front load issue came up. What do I think of it? I gave my usual song and dance.
For carrying a modest front load on an upright city bike, frankly I find that trail doesn't matter. But issues of portage aside, I simply enjoy low trail handling in its own right. I just love it. In fact.... (and I blurted this next part out without thinking) I wish Bella Ciao made low trail bikes!
Realising this could be interpreted as an insult to their product, I promptly corrected myself.
"What I mean is, I am curious how a bicycle like Bella Ciao - whose handling I am familiar with and like already - would feel with a low trail front end. It would be easy enough to try: all else can remain the same, just make the fork more raked out. "
On the other end there is silence. Then: "How much more raked out?"
I visualise the original fork and say roughly how much.
Can't be sure, but I think I hear scribbling. "Okay. I will ask the framebuilder what he thinks. Maybe we can talk."
Imagining the scene bound to ensue, I wince and shudder a little. Framebuilder screaming, gesticulating wildly, instruments thrown. Rake? She want more rake?!
Two weeks later I receive an email with the above photo. "Framebuilder likes the idea. You want to try them both and see?"
"Try them both how? are you going to send me a bike with two forks?!"
So. That is how it happened. I am getting a bike to test with two forks, to compare low vs mid trail handling on what is otherwise the same machine.
Am I in heaven? Yes! Will they actually offer this choice to customers? For a small-batch manufacturer, that is apparently a realistic possibility. And why not? Choose your fork/ choose your adventure!
What? It could be a trend that catches on, and before you know it everyone will be offering bikes with multiple forks. No, really. It could happen!...