If your fork is bent, you may wonder if it’s repairable. It is fixable, and here are a few ways to help you fix it in your garage while saving yourself hundreds of dollars.
Let’s jump straight to it.
How Do I Know If My Bike Fork Is Bent?
If you have taken a tumble on your mountain bike, there are a few places and ways to check for bends in the bike’s fork. Forks can be bent in the steer tube, at the fork’s crown, blade, or sanction.
If the fork is bent at the steer tube and you remove the fork from the bike, you should be able to quite clearly see the steer tube is not center and bends to one side or another.
Some forks may bend in the crown area of the fork. This is where the fork blades meet at the bottom of the steer tube. Bends in the crown are found in this area on both rigid and suspension forks.
If your fork is bent in this region, you may notice the fork is higher on one side of the crown than the other or bent farther forward or back from the rest of the fork.
Are the rigid forks bent at the blade? These are the legs of the fork. One fork blade may rub on the wheel or appear flared out in one direction if bent.
You can check if a fork is bent at the blade, you will likely be able to tell with the wheel attached that it does not look right or if you remove the fork and place a line down the center.
Many forks are designed with an offset. You must consider this when checking to see if a fork is bent at the blade.
The fork sanction is part of a bike suspension system. If the fork sanction is bent on your mountain bike, then you will likely have to replace the tubing in this area. The suspension will not work correctly if the sanction is damaged.
Check your fork if you crash your mountain bike and do not seem to be riding right. Crashes can damage mountain bikes in many places. Your frame, handlebars, and wheels may just as easily become damaged as your fork, so be sure to check these areas of the bike, as well.
How Can You Fix A Bent MTB Fork At Home?
Many experts suggest that if your fork is bent, you replace it. Many forks can’t get back into shape, especially mountain bike forks.
Steel forks are the only type of forks we advise trying to fix at home. If you have a rigid steel fork, you’ll need tools to repair it.
Park Tools makes a frame and fork straightener. The tool has a vinyl coating that prevents it from damaging the paint on the fork. You secure your fork in a soft jaw vice at the steer tube to use the tool.
Once it is secure, you can attach the frame and fork straighter to the fork and bend it back into place. The tool isn’t usable on rigid aluminum forks, rigid carbon forks, or suspension forks.
You can also fix a bent mountain bike fork with the Little Brute Fork Straightener. This tool has been around since the 60s and was once common in most bike shops. If you can get this tool, you can fix rigid forks.
Here are stepwise instructions on how to use the Little Brute Fork Straightener:
How To Use A Little Brute Fork Straightener:
Step 1: Ensure your bike’s fork is made of steel. This tool is designed for steel bike forks only!
Step 2: Flip your bike upside down.
Step 3: Place a towel around your bike’s downtube and bottom bracket area. This prevents the Little Brute Fork Straightener from damaging the bike’s paint.
Step 4: Attach the Little Brute Fork Straightener to your bike. There are several hook options so that the tool can fit bikes of many sizes. The tool should hook to the bottom of your fork with the other end of the Little Brute Fork Straightener aligned up against the bottom bracket. It should be on the side of the bottom bracket toward the front wheel.
Step 5: Adjust the bike’s fork by using the lever of the Little Brute Fork Straightener. This ratchets the fork back out or back in place. The ratcheting direction is determined by a switch on the Little Brute Fork Straightener.
If the switch is adjusted one way, it pulls the fork in. If the switch is another way, it pushes the fork out. Do not overextend the fork out past what the bike’s wheelbase is intended to be or pull it too far in as you ratchet.
Step 6: Remove the tool from your bike.
Step 7: Take your bike for a spin!
How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Bent Fork?
Fixing a bent fork can significantly vary and be costly. The cost depends on whether you will try to fix it at home or send it to a shop to be assessed and repaired.
If you fix your rigid fork at home or send it to the shop, it will likely be less costly than addressing a bent suspension fork. If an area such as the sanction needs replacement on a bike with a suspension fork, this cost will be higher than other adjustments.
There is not a set cost for fixing a bent fork. In some cases, a fork may be so mangled it’s not repairable. If you or a shop cannot fix the fork, you must purchase a new fork. This can be quite costly, depending on the type of fork.
Can I Ride With A Bent MTB Fork?
Depending on how it is bent, you may be able to ride with a bent fork. Riding on a bent fork often requires you to use more effort than if the fork of your mountain bike is straight.
Experts agree you may have to push harder to accelerate. Once you get going, the resistance may be less noticeable.
If you choose to ride your bike with a bent fork, you may further damage the fork. It is highly recommended that you fix the fork instead of continuing to ride on it while it is bent.
If you crash and bend your mountain bike fork, you will most likely have to replace it. Many experts suggest replacing your fork unless it is rigid and steel.
Steel is the only material that tools for fork straightening, such as the Park Tools Frame and Fork Straightener and Little Brute Fork Straightener, are available.
Some suspension forks can be salvaged if the sanctions are the only area bent, but a trained bicycle mechanic should fix them, or you may damage them more.
If you take a tumble, it’s best to take a bike damaged in a crash to your local shop to have it assessed. Other areas of your bike may just as easily need repair, even if all you notice is a bent fork.