As with many bicycle components and parts, bicycle forks are an integral part of ensuring your bike moves properly. The fork is essential because it holds the front wheel of the bike in place and allows you to successfully steer your bicycle. Forks come in a variety sizes and types to provide a custom fit for your specific cycle.Off to the Races
Built differently for various types of bikes, forks made for racing bikes aren't a good choice for downhill bikes. Narrow down your fork options by selecting the fork type that complements your bike to ensure the best fit and riding experience, such as mountain bike forks for bikes that tackle tough terrain, or BMX bike forks for motocross cycles. Forks may vary in shape and size according to type, so you want to purchase the correct fork or otherwise, it may not fit.In Suspense
Bike forks typically have two numbers associated with them. One is the tyre size, and the other, represented in millimetres is the suspension. This has to do with impact absorption when you're riding, so mountain bikes may have a higher suspension than other bikes since you're going over rockier terrain. Generally, cross-country bikes require the least amount of suspension, up to 100mm, while trail bikes are in between, and mountain bikes necessitate the highest amount of suspension, going up to 200 mm.Size Up
Since the fork fits over the front tyre, you need to pick a fork that offers a perfect fit, and this means ensuring it's compatible with wheel size. While the standard for most bikes is 26 inches, you may have a bike with 24-inch or even 20-inch wheels, and of course, children's bikes have even smaller tyres. Double check your tyre size before buying for a flawless fork fit.The Right Stuff
Just like bicycles themselves, forks vary in material. Steel is durable and heavy-duty, but since it's heavier than other materials, it's not the best choice for racing bikes. Aluminium may not last as long as steel, but it's lighter. Carbon seems to be the most prevalent choices for forks, since it's lightweight, reliable, and lasts longer than aluminium. It comes down to personal preference, and you may want to stick to a fork that goes along with the type of bike you have; so if you have a carbon bike, you may desire a carbon fork, too.