Specialized suspension fork for road and cyclocross bikes with compliant tip

After introducing the COBL GOBL-R (now simply referred to CG-R) micro-suspension seatpost on their 2013 Roubaix, Specialized could be testing the concept on their forks, too.

Simply called a “bicycle fork with compliant tip” in the patent filings, the visual and design similarities are tremendous. Which is good, as it’ll lend a cohesive look should this feature end up on a Roubaix, Crux or Diverge in the future. Like the CG-R, it uses a “resilient member” between two supporting arms, allowing the arms to flex under controlled conditions.

Intrigued? The suspension is only the half of it, wait’ll you see how they accommodate the front disc brake caliper…

Specialized suspension fork for road and cyclocross bikes with compliant tip

Specialized’s patent mentions road bikes in particular, not cyclocross, but we’re thinking this design has applications beyond chip-sealed pavement. And with Cannondale testing a short travel Lefty on pro’s ‘cross bikes and Lauf developing a shorter travel leaf spring gravel bike fork, the concept isn’t as far fetched as it may seem. Here’s the technical summary:

“The fork tip includes a first arm extending at an angle of 20-100 degrees (preferably 40-85 degrees, and more preferably 66 degrees) relative to the steering axis, a second arm extending at an angle of 50-140 degrees (preferably 70-120 degrees, and more preferably 114 degrees) relative to the steering axis, and an axle support coupled between the second arm and the front wheel. In one embodiment, the first arm and second arm define a gap, and the fork tip further includes a resilient member positioned in the gap.”

A provisional patent for this idea was filed in early 2013 with a followup in February 2014, and it was published in September 2014. It’s shown as invented by Christopher P. D’Aluisio, who’s also worked on patents for their aerodynamic frame shaping, adjustable stems and the internal storage options on the Shiv.

Specialized suspension fork for road and cyclocross bikes with compliant tip

The two centers of the pivot points are referenced by (50) and (52). The patent allows for a range angles but does get pretty specific with ideals in relation to the steering axis.

Specialized suspension fork for road and cyclocross bikes with compliant tip

The patent also specifies the shaping of the open space between the two arms, calling for a concave and convex shapes in which to nest the polyurethane elastomer spring. It could be held in place mechanically, by adhesive or simply by a secure fit, and it could even be user replaceable to either replace a damaged piece or change the stiffness of the spring.

The patent says that in the ideal configuration, the design would provide between 2mm and 4mm of axle travel. Not much, but certainly enough to take the edge off and improve traction.

Seeing as the front wheel will be moving in space relative to the fork’s crown, rim brakes are out. But disc brakes need a caliper, and that caliper must be affixed to the bottom of the fork such that it moves in sync with the rotor. In order to make that happen…

Specialized suspension fork for road and cyclocross bikes with compliant tip

…a small link (100) is used to support the top of the brake mount and keep it moving in the proper arc. (That other thing you’re seeing jutting up is the brake hose, not a secondary link or miniature shock)

Specialized suspension fork for road and cyclocross bikes with compliant tip

One end of the link could have an easily detachable design (104), which is noted as a way to make the caliper removable with the wheel, but we don’t honestly see that being very practical unless there’s a quick disconnect brake hose and the entire caliper mount (96) comes off with the wheel.

It’s pretty evident what the goals are: damping vibration and small bumps to improve traction. But the design begs the question of how it’ll maintain equal travel on both sides. A thru axle is obvious, but will a 12mm or 15mm thru axle be enough to maintain parallel movement under off-camber and cornering loads? Time will tell, but based on the following comment, it could be sooner than later before we get to bounce one around.

We reached out to Specialized for comment and were told: “…at Specialized we are always looking for ways to enhance the rider’s experience and are pushing innovation and technology to do so. This is a technology we use in our seat post and are always looking at ways to apply it’s use in different areas. We believe the rider’s the boss and want to provide them with the bikes and equipment needed to optimize each experience.” (Big thanks to Katie Sue, Spec’s PR manager, for the quick reply!)

 

Specialized.com

53 COMMENTS

  1. so the “technology” that goes into the endurance bike with the least compliance at the saddle is now being added to the fork, great. Companies that actually make good bikes don’t need to build marketing gimmicks into them.

  2. Just from an armchair engineer’s standpoint, I wonder how they’re going to keep the axle rigidly clamped enough to keep the wheel from moving side to side. There’s no circomferential clamping shown, just lateral…

  3. Where is it quantified that the COBL GOBL-R provides the least compliance of seat posts on the market? I assume that someone knows and just isn’t posting irrational comments.

  4. @thad They did not rip off Canyon. Many companies utilize technology like this. Soecialized just took it to the extreme. Check out treks isozone fork. I’m not a specialized fan fyi.

  5. @thad The forces from the brake caliper will be parallel with that extra support post so it won’t cause any unwanted travel

  6. Interesting ,but wouldn’t during braking the left side become more rigid and the right side of the fork would move at a different rate?

  7. I have the C-GR and it is definitely not a gimmick. It is instantly noticeable from the Specialized S-Works Pave that it replaced.

  8. ive a CGR seat and while the single bolt design requires some care when first adjusting/clamping so that it doesnt slip on hard shocks.. it does work extremely well.

    from the back end of the bike its about as comfy as a cheap short travel shock on a FS MTB.

    If their front end achieves the same without compromising the steering precision, braking, or even just structural integrity, i’ll be all over it…

  9. There was a suspension front hub made briefly in the early 1990’s that had a few mm of vibration absorption. Ive got a few old magazines with the articles. You had to have a rim braking surface deep enough and pads thin enough so that as the hub ‘floated’ you still had brakes, although the movement was only 1-2mm. Maybe that should come back into production?

    There is also the Pantour front hub, but that requires a rim with a deep brake surface.

    Has anyone thought of pneumatic tires? I bet they could absorb some vibration.

  10. Mudrock is correct. How about a Horst/AMP style parallelogram in carbon??
    Then you have no need for the brain damage down at the axle for the caliper. My god man!!!
    Put down the bong.

  11. John,

    Zertz are different than the design function of the CG-R post. Zertz dampen the vibration from the road before it reaches the rider. The CG-R design is meant to add compliance to any bicycle. There are 2 different products to enhance a ride.

  12. Matt,

    Zertz don’t serve any purpose. The fork technology is a re-brand of a fork developed for Cannondale to hold a duo-trap like sensor. Incidentally, how would attaching a lump of silicone with a Phillips screw dampen vibration?

  13. Open Mold…

    Have you ever used a tennis racket with and without a little rubber vibration damper???

    The shock in a tennis racket is SIGNIFICANTLY reduced with a tiny square of rubber added to it.

    While I think the previous generations of Zerts probably had the tiniest effects, the inserts on the SL4 Roubaix seem to make a pretty significant effect. They’re softer and aren’t actually just rubber doodads in the middle of the fork and stays.

    ***I’m not a huge Specialized fan. I have a Shiv TT and its the worst riding bike I’ve ever owned

  14. Sean…

    Yes, steel forks can have a nice ride. However, it’ll weight twice as much. If you want it to have a lot of movement, it’ll also fatigue faster(probably not to failure) and be even nice riding but it’ll be flexy when you may not want it to be flexy. If you want a steel fork that’s remotely stiff, it’ll dampen out bits of shock from a bumpy surface but it really won’t help much with those the heavier thumps from potholes and cracks in the road.

  15. well, you have to hand it to Sinyards marketing department….somehow here is the ”bike media” reporting on a patent……………REPORTING ON A PATENT!!! Not even a finished product or even a spay shot of a prototype.

    Dear BR staff, have you any idea how many amazing patents are filed each year in this business?

    f&%k me.

  16. Another marketing gimmick coming from a company that is the leading company (in marketing) in the cycling industry, second being Trek. Someone should tell Specialized that carbon has a lot of axorbing potential, especially if you shape it right, you do not need gimmick like this. Maybe they should focus on building better frames first, since quality has dropped rapidly (got 3 broken BB’s on an Sworks, speci never again). The stiffness tests they do are soooo exxagerated, coming from an S-Works onto a Scott the difference was unexplainable, even the recent 2day test I had with a McLaren S-Works can not compare to the stiffness of my current bike or my fathers BMC SLR.

  17. @Derek

    No, the reaction force of the caliper will impose a diving force on the fork. If specialized put the wave facing the other way it would be anti-dive. Given that the ‘travel’ will be next to nothing who cares?

  18. I’m undecided as to why, but I’m mad about this! I plan to stay mad about this until something else makes me mad, like belt drive singlespeeds, or e-bikes.
    db

  19. Gringo…anyone could have pointed this out to them. After all, the details of SRAM electronic shifting was also reported in patent form.

    It is just an idea for now. Who knows if they plan on moving forward. After all…Shimano has a 14 speed patent even though it seems that that is also nowhere near even prototyping since they haven’t shown any 12 speed stuff yet

  20. The zert like insert seems unnecessary. I’m pretty sure they’re more for esthetics than anything. Should be an ok product if it works anything like the knob gobbler seatpost which I’ve spent a parking lot test rides worth of time on(it makes a noticeable difference). However I’d much rather support one of the alternative offerings on the market than support a company who has a long history of putting profits over people and integrity.

  21. @Chris, I’m not sure I’m following you. Here is a picture of the force that the rotor puts on the caliper (assuming you’re travelling forward)

    http://i.imgur.com/bPVSTyl.png

    It’s approximately parallel with the supporting member, which should prevent any brake induced fork travel.

  22. Judging from the comments, most bicycle consumers would be happy if all bikes were, by law, 1976 Miyata 710s.

    They drive to the trailhead in a 2016 BMW M3000000, but get nostalgic about their Miyata while lambasting the guys showing up on the latest full-suspension rigs. Get a clue, get on the technology bandwagon. Nostalgia also gives us polio, and no one wants to bring that back.

  23. FYI, to all the people who are saying that Zertz work… It’s been proven internally at Spesh that they offer zero benefit in terms of damping and compliance. It’s a well known joke within red walls that it’s a marketing Gimmick. So it’s kinda nice to see that they’re actually trying to do something that could kinda work. But ya, lateral stiffness of the front wheel just got thrown to the wind.

    Side note… Gawd. That whole janky linkage thing for the brake. OOOPPFFFF.

  24. @Slow Joe Crow,

    Except the Silk Road actually worked…

    I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a bike that is basically the 1990s ATB with drop bars, only now made of carbon.

  25. Pick on the Roubaix and the technology that specialized uses all you would like but when a bike wins races it speaks for itself. The roubaix has won the paris roubaix Five times. Haters going to hate but when a bike has proven itself you think some people would shut up and actually ride it.

  26. Zertz just seem to dampen noise from my experience ( I was workshop manager for 2 concept store) but not sure of other claims, great marketing though, and great tool for sales people when selling a bike.

    Bikes coming into workshop with zertz missing, feint clicking coming from the cavity under load. Zertz replaced, noise vanishes?

    Funny how aluminium alloy secteur road frame originally had zertz, then zertz were removed and replaced with skinny stays, bike felt same on rough ground but obviously cheaper to manufacture 😉

  27. While the caliper linkage addresses keeping the caliper aligned with the disk vertically, it does nothing to ensure that the pads are kept parallel to the disk faces when the fork tips flex asymmetrically. Hence, you will likely get brake rub, regardless of the linkage.

    Although the article states that this would be a disk-only system, it’s alarming that the patent drawing shows a standard fork, too. This would obviously not work and it makes me wonder how well thought out the disk version is.

  28. I think its funny how upset some people get over zerts, I ride an Allez and the zerts work. The only possible problem here, other than the tips snapping off, is unequal pressure on one side caused during a turn causing one side to zert a little more than the other. I mean flex more and the wheel cocking to one side or the other.

  29. I always think of the fact: how does the bike know that there is a cobblestone section or a bumpy road? There are many external loads acting on a bike and for sure tires already gobble up most of the 2-3mm “obstacles” in a road surface depending on the selected tire size and ressure. With that in mind I think the Canyon concept is a smart concept if they can avoid the lag in the ‘smart’ feedback system and get the correct travel at the rear stays.

    If you are sprinting, accelerating out of the saddle and you have to make an emergency stop or you need to brake and make a sharp turn this contraption could potentially be dangerous: the disc brake could lock up due to the difference in movement of the right and left dropout. 1mm difference at the dropouts will amount to enough to upset the tight tolerances of road disc brakes. Increasing the stiffness of the axle will only increase the loads on the dropouts and in this case cause more deflection in this design in the more extreme bike handling cases.

    I am still waiting for a wheel manufacturer to re-invent the wheel by looking at the interaction of tire-rim-spokes to make the ride smoother because in my opinion that is where most significant improvements can be found. Just feel the difference between 23-25-28mm tires…

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