A Brief History of Girder Forks
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Though not fitting into either category, Triumph fitted some of their 1920s motorcycles with a girder fork that paired a hinged lower link and a slider at the top, meaning the fork would move backward and forward during compression, altering the steering geometry. My father rode a 500cc Triumph so equipped in the early 1930s and declared it to be an evil handling bike. He traded it for a 250cc BSA — but not before the Triumph had twice pitched him off!
Whatever the style, all girder forks have pivot points and/or sliders that need to be kept well greased. Bushings wear over time and may need to be replaced, especially if maintenance has been neglected. Spindles are made of special steels, and only replacements designed for fork applications should be used.
Regularly inspect fork legs for cracks and signs of rust. The slender tubes used on Webb/Brampton forks are especially prone to rusting from the inside. And before fitting a set of used girder forks, make sure they’re up to the job. Many manufacturers produced forks using different size tubing for different applications. Norton, for example, built a heavyweight fork from tubes that tapered from about 7/8 inch O.D. down to 5/8 inch, and a lightweight fork tapering from about 3/4 inch down to 1/2 inch. MC
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