Whisky Parts Co. might not be the brand name with the most cachet, but they’re busy making great components that support a wide range of new and old standards. The No.7 RD+ QR fork is compatible with frames featuring mid-reach road calipers, offering a significant upgrade over heavy steel forks, along with 32mm tire clearance for your all-road adventures.
Whisky No.7 RD+ QR mid-reach carbon road fork
The aftermarket road fork business has declined significantly since the early 2000’s, but a few brands are picking up the slack. Whisky Parts Co. is a house brand from US distributor QBP, and has emerged as one of the leaders, supporting both new and old standards. Did you crash on your old rim brake bike and need a replacement? Or can’t find a non-tapered fork to upgrade your ride? Whisky has you covered.
I was in search for a fork that would work with mid-reach road calipers for my personal daily driver – a Habanero titanium frame that I spec’ced for mid-reach brakes. Blasphemy! Rim brakes in 2019? It’s true – and here’s why.
First, I still have rim brake wheels that I enjoy riding. Second, in the event that I review rim brake wheels, I don’t want to be limited to 25mm tires… or 28mm at best on most road frames. Finally, I’m busy and have limited time to ride – and any extra time spent wrenching takes away from actual riding (along with my enthusiasm). I will spend zero minutes bleeding brakes, and replacing my externally-routed cables takes almost no time. Not to mention that quality rim calipers, good pads, and good machined braking surfaces work really well.
There aren’t a lot of carbon options for mid-reach forks, and the No.7 from Whisky ticked all the boxes I need. The 45mm rake matched the frame geometry I wanted, along with the straight 1 1/8″ steerer tube. It even has fender mounts – bonus!
Why did I go with a straight steerer tube in 2019? Simply put, I just don’t like the look of a fat head tube on an otherwise skinny-tube bike, and I’ve never had flex issues with a 1 1/8″ steerer tube on a rim brake road bike. Besides, most of the remaining frames on the market with mid-reach brakes use a straight steerer tube, so I think Whisky made a wise choice with this spec.
The fork weighed in at 375 grams – 10 less than the quoted weight. Overall quality and finish are great, with no blemishes or installation issues.
Out on the road, the No.7 did everything it needed to, with good ride quality, predictable steering, and nothing out of the ordinary.
I used the outstanding Shimano BR-R650 mid reach road calipers for the build, which are effectively Ultegra-level. They list a 47-57mm reach, which is longer than the 39-49mm spec for short-reach. If it isn’t obvious, you can only use these on a frame or fork that is built for mid-reach calipers. In order to get more tire clearance within the brake caliper, the mounting hole for the brake must be up higher relative to the fork dropouts (i.e. the fork legs and rear stays are longer – moving the wheel and tire away from the brake).
With tires measuring 28mm wide, there is ample clearance for more. The No.7 fork lists clearance for up-to-35mm-wide tires, so I wanted to see how far I could take it.
I slapped on a set of 700x30mm Michelin Jet cyclocross tires, which have historically run large for me. On my Vision Trimax rims with 17mm internal width, they inflated to 33.5mm. As you can see, they just squeeze in the fork. There is about 3mm of clearance up front, and about 5-6mm out back.
This situation brings up my one criticism of the fork, which is illustrated in the photo above. As you can see by the brake pad adjustment bolt, there is quite a bit more distance for the caliper to ‘give’. In other words – if the fork legs were made just a few millimeters longer, the fork could actually clear the listed spec of 35mm tires. For now, I’m calling it an effective tire clearance of 32mm, which gives a bit of space for mud or debris to clear. Of course, it’s possible that Whisky tested a brake that doesn’t have quite as much reach as my Shimano BR-R650’s, and opted to make the fork slightly short to accommodate this.
Whisky also lists that the No.7 RD+ QR fork is compatible with 650b x 47mm tires, though I have to imagine that this would require the use of a long reach brake caliper to reach the smaller rim.
The Whisky No.7 Road Plus Mid Reach fork is available now for $420, and carries a 5-year factory warranty. It’s available now through Whisky and QBP dealers, or via select online dealers at the link below.