Thoughts on tapered steerers

A customer recently asked about 44mm head tubes and whether the Swift might be getting one. My response ended up coming to some length so I though people might like to know my thinking on the matter.

The reasons for 44mm head-tubes, or not – as the case may be.

Many fork manufacturers are now producing high end forks in a tapered version, sometimes *only* in a tapered version. There is only one real benefit to having a tapered fork and by extension a larger diameter head-tube. It allows you to join larger gauge tubes to it. Using larger diameter top and down-tubes and not needing much/any manipulation to join them to the head-tube, and not having them interfere with one another, makes for a potentially stiffer front end, rather than anything to do with an increase in stiffness of the fork steerer and crown.

So when we talk about a bike like the Swift, much of the reason for its vaunted ride quality and and smoothness is the profile of those top and down tubes. Large enough to be stiff under power, slim enough and with appropriate wall thicknesses to give a smooth ride and a frame which has a bit of give and doesn’t ‘ping’ off every bump and rock. So other than suspension fork compatibility (and we can only hope the big manufacturers will see the error of their ways before long) there is no reason to add a 44mm head tube to the Swift. Plus it would also look horribly out of proportion against the gauge of the top and down tubes.

For these reasons the forthcoming Buzzard will get a 44mm ID head-tube. That frame is designed for the kind of riding where it will be pushed a lot harder and have a lot more stress put through it. The difference in front end stiffness from the much larger diameter top and down tubes over the Swift is enormous. This is very noticeable whether using a 1 1/8″ or tapered steerer fork.

So why are all the big manufacturers going to tapered? Because they need something new in order to sell bikes. It’s an easy thing for shop staff to sell; q. “why do I need a tapered steerer?” – a. “because it’s stiffer!”. No question as to whether it really is ‘stiffer’, or if so whether that stiffness is desirable for the intended use of the frame – but that’s perhaps a topic for another post….

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 8:04 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on tapered steerers”

  1. amit kakade Says:

    January 29th, 2015 at 11:17 am

    wow, nice article..is surely an eye opener. i have a trek xcaliber, big manufacture bike i know, but that’s what i could afford..its has a 40mm ID headtube, but a straight 1 1/8″ fork..i was wanting to change( thought was an upgrade) to a taper fork for more “rigid” ride….big thank you SAM…your views on the front & rear thru axles …or i’ll be just fine with a 9mmQR…my bike is a hardtail….

  2. amit kakade Says:

    January 29th, 2015 at 11:41 am

    so basically no point getting an adapter from cane creek to install a tapered fork..as the stiffness still wont be achieved, as the top n bottom tube thickness wont change anyway,