fork swap

June 13, 2013

We certainly weren’t the first ones to start putting modern front ends on older bikes, but I will say when I first attempted it, there was no info to be found on it. Over the last few years, we have fielded hundreds of questions about our swaps and not too long ago we began offering it as a service. We still do.

Lately the interest in swaps seems to have spiked, so I thought it would be good to try and answer some frequently asked questions. Mind you, this is a service we offer at Classified, and as such, is something we do to make money (i.e., pay the bills). So what follows is not a how-to article designed to help you avoid using our service. It’s simply the basics of letting us help you make your old bike a little more awesome (and a little more Classified).

First and foremost, here is the link to the TRIPLE TREE EXCHANGE service offered in our online store. The listing, if read carefully, conveys all the information you might need to fit your bike with a modern (upside down/inverted) front end. Most of the questions I answer on a regular basis are addressed in the listing.

That said, here are the highlights. The service costs $485 plus shipping. The price covers modification of your supplied parts so that you may, with great pride and joy, bolt a sweet front end onto your bike as if it were factory made to do so. It does not cover the front end itself, the wheel, brakes or any other equipment you might need. We respond to a surprising number of questions as to whether the $485 includes the front end, wheel, brakes, controls — the list goes on. How cool would that be? I’d buy so many of them for myself if that were the case.

Sadly, these days, you can expect to pay between $600-$900 for a good used front end, another $350 for a wheel, plus other bits and bobs to make it complete. When I did my first swap, by the time I had ruined a handful of triple trees and paid for hours of fruitless labor, I had spent a mortgage payment, easily. Now it’s down to a science and we have several methods of hybridizing your triples based on the equipment we receive from you.

I’ve never been one to give the hard sell, but I will say again, if this service had been available when I was working on my old XS850, in hindsight I would have pounced on it.

OUT OF COUNTRY ORDERS. This has been a big topic lately. Here’s the best solution for foreign orders. Using eBay (USA), you can source a modern front end AND a triple tree that fits your bike. Have it shipped to us here in Richmond, thus saving yourself overseas shipping. We will modify the parts and ship the whole front end to you in your country. We will have to calculate shipping for the item, so email us before ordering and we’ll send you an invoice rather than ordering through the store.

SPOKE WHEEL SETUPS. On our Level 3 custom builds, we combine modern forks with spoke wheels. Sometimes we use dirt bike forks and sometimes we use sport bike forks with a custom axle and caliper spacers. This is a very labor intensive endeavor and unfortunately we don’t offer it as a service except on our builds. That said, the swap service we offer is not affected by whether you run wire spokes or not. If you’re willing to do the work necessary to shorten your dirt bike forks or make a spoke wheel work with your sport bike forks, we’re happy to provide the triple tree service.

BEARINGS. We like to use All-Balls tapered bearings on all our swaps. We can get them for you or you can order anywhere they are sold. In fact, All-Balls has a chart on their website that cross references bearing sizes to tell you what front ends might fit your bike without modification. They clearly state that the chart cross references bearing dimensions only and that it does not take into consideration the stem length or profile. That means it won’t fit without something like what we offer. It’s a bit like buying wheels for your car that have the correct bolt pattern but the wrong offset and hence, don’t clear your brake calipers. We have received many comments to the effect of, “Why pay $485 for your service when a set of bearings will do the same thing?” I fear these commenters have missed the point both we and All-Balls are trying to make.

GENERAL QUESTIONS. Here at Classified, we love interacting with moto folks whenever we can. We’re happy to steer you to good parts suppliers, give you our opinion on bike platforms, check out pics of your project and the like. Unfortunately (and surprisingly) we have found ourselves with less and less time to do anything but work on bikes and lamps. It’s a great problem to have but it means responding to general questions takes awhile. Thanks for your patience.

The bike build queue is currently closed again and there will be some changes to it when we open it again. Stay tuned for more info. However, the online store is still open for things like the aforementioned Triple Tree Service, tee shirts, lamps and posters. If it’s not sold out, it’s available. Oh, and Father’s Day is comin’ so…