Pace Pro Class 2 with remote lockout, £419.95 (V brake version), 01751 432929, www.pace-racing.co.uk
The fork we’ve chosen to try first is Pace’s brand new revised Pro Class 2 with remote lockout.
There are a whole load of options out there including some lighter air sprung units. Choosing Pace means we’re adding some weight (roughly a pound over the lightest SID’s but half a pound over most air forks) but we’re getting progressive coil spring travel and twin brace steering stiffness which we’ve always really rated. Plus the Pace air forks are a low on tyre clearance (well they are a race fork).
There have been some occasional reliability rumbles in the past year (which luckily for me my previous forks never got affected by) but they are still streets ahead of Manitou and Rock Shox on reliability. They’ve also added strength in a few places and brought more manufacture back in house for quality control purposes. Details like the new cast remote lever clamp, which even comes with proper copper slip anti seize grease already in it, and shrunk fit non slip rubber lever ends, shows the attention to detail that sets them apart.
Paces normally take a while to break in so we can’t discuss their performance yet, but we like the new, neater logo’s and having lock-out right up on the bars rather than reaching down to the fork is also a smart move.
On a less technical, more subjective note, the naked carbon looks nice with the frame and they’re born in Yorkshire like I was.
We left you with the headset cups plugged in but now it’s time to do a run assembly to work out what length to cut the fork steerer.
Just slide the lot together – making sure all headset parts are settled into place – and then mark the level of the top of the stem.
Pull it all apart and then mark another line about 5mm lower down the steerer tube. This clearance is crucial as it leaves room for the top cap to compress without bottoming onto the fork steerer.
If you’re at all unsure about your straight sawing skills, fitting a fork is probably best done by your local shop, who will have a handy clamp on guide (like the one in the pic) and will probably use something more secure than a garden seat as a workbench. If you DIY make sure you file off any rough edge edges – inside and out – after cutting.
Then comes another fun bit – the star fangled nut! This little darling is as vicious and evil as it looks. Theoretically it slides into the steerer tube nice and eeasily and then the backward facing flanges lock it in place as you tighten the aheadset top cap down onto it. In practice the first few you try are never the right size (though to their eternal credit Pace supply one with their fork) and then rather than hammering in straight it lurches over to one side often bending itself fatally. We haven’t got any action pictures as it was hard enough with two hands let alone posing for three, but we got there with a large allen key and socket head as a drift, a rubber mallet and inserting the allen key bolt to apply some persuasive leverage when it wandered off to one side.
It’s now time to put your headset together properly. How much cursing, grease squirting and chasing loose ball bearings around this involves depends largely on the headset (thankfully the King is totally sealed). Always go slowly and carefully, paying particular attention to fitting any seals in the right order and the right way up, as we’ve lost count of the number of ‘headset’ horrors that have actually been caused by tangled seals. Another handy hint is placing the bike on the floor after you’ve put in the lower bearings as otherwise the forks have a nasty habit of falling out until you get the stem on.
Then slide on the washers (these are super pimpy carbon ones from Titec, 0131 440 2010) to get the right bar height. We set it just high enough for the ends of the bars to clear the top tube when we crash, but always go high rather than low if in doubt, as excess steerer can be trimmed off later.
Next comes the stem
Pace RC45 £79.95 01751 432929, www.pace-racing.co.uk
It’s light, it’s strong and to be totally honest I just really like the way it looks. There are stems nearly as light for a lot less money (3TTT etc.) and stems that are a lot easier to fit riser bars in (anything but flats means a lot of wiggle around the bends with that one piece clamp, and high rise bars are out of the question) but it’s a lovely piece of engineering art right underneath you nose where you can appreciate it.
As for choosing sizes and lengths, the best bet is to see what the manufacturer fits to complete bikes, or if you’re working with frame only folk, just ask what they reccommend. We went for 100mm (measured from centre of bar clamp to centre of steerer clamp) as that’s what Trek use for their Pro geometry.
Err just slide it on. The slightly tricky bit is adjusting the whole aheadset. Basically screw the top cap bolt slowly into the star fangled nut which will compress the stem down onto the washers and the upper race of the headset. You want enough pressure to stop any rocking but not so much it stops turning smoothly. It’s actually a lot easier with a front wheel and brake in, but at the rate we’re going that’ll be some time next week!
Anyway once the top cap adjustment is right clamp the stem up tight enough not to move but not so tight it warps the steerer.
And then it’s time for bars and stuff!