Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lovely Fork Crowns II - Reader Submissions

After I posted about Lovely Fork Crowns, I heard from a number of readers who felt as though I'd left out some of their favorites. I was just as pleased as heck that there are so many others out there who feel as strongly as I do about the beauty of traditional fork crowns, and who would want to see their favorites pictured. So today I'm putting up pictures of some readers' favorite fork crowns.

This is a nice comparison shot of some fully sloping integrated crowns, sometimes called "Cinelli-style." The ones on the left are Cinelli (or if not, they're really good copies) while the two on the right were made by Davis of England. Note how coarse the Davis crowns are, and then try to imagine how much work the builder would have to do to get a nicely finished fork. The Davis crowns were used on bikes like the Carlton-built Raleigh Professionals in the early 70s (I have one pictured in Lovely Crowns part I). One thing I'd be worried about as a builder is how thick the internal sockets are on the Davis crowns, and whether those would lead to a stress riser over time. It looks like the Cinelli ones have a bit of stress-relief cut into them, almost certainly for that very reason. (submitted by Mark Bulgier)
Several readers mentioned that they wanted to see some of the crowns from Zeus of Spain, so here is an assortment. That pista (track) crown is a real classic -- broad-shouldered and substantial. One thing notable about the two road crowns is that they have tangs designed to be brazed inside the fork blades, rather than the other way around, similar to the integrated Cinelli-style crowns shown above. When finished into a complete fork, they should have a seamless transition from the crown to the fork blades. (submitted by John Thompson).
Here is one of the Zeus road crowns from above on a 70s frame with lots of patina. The frame is British, built by Major Nichols. Note how the crown doesn't have shoulders that cover or enclose the tops of the fork blades. (submitted by Joe Bunik)
Fischer flat-topped crown from Switzerland. Sand cast, as is pretty evident from the surface texture. These were used on a lot of Masi Gran Criteriums in the mid-to-later 70s, after they switched away from the twin-plate crowns. I mentioned these in the previous fork crown article, but it's nice to see one pictured. (submitted by Mark Bulgier)

Here is a Fischer crown, as seen on an early-70s Masi Gran Criterium. Note that this one has been slotted, giving it some of the look of the twin-plate crowns. Cleaned up, chromed, and polished. (from Ray Dobbins)
Several people wrote saying I should have included one of these flat-topped crowns from Gios Torino. These little coins on the top, found on bikes in the 70s, are a cool feature. Later versions, without the little coins, don't quite have the same appeal for some people. (photo by Randal Putnam)
Kevin Sayles submitted this one, a Bocama (from France) fork crown that he modified with longer tangs. Cool thing about this fork (although it isn't a visible detail) is that Kevin built the fork with Reynolds 753 blades -- super light. It's a very simple, classy, and clean looking crown.

Ishiwata SCM from Japan. According to reader John Thompson, this one would have started out looking pretty similar to the classic Cinelli semi-sloping MR crown (pictured in Lovely Crowns pt. I) but has had a lot of metal milled away between the shoulders and the fork steerer. It's a nice look. (submitted by John Thompson)

A reader on Facebook, Paul F., suggested that I shouldn't have left out the Henry James crown, and I agree. These are investment cast here in the USA and very pretty. They're mostly hollow, so they're pretty light, too. I had actually mentioned the Henry James crown in my post on lugs back in November, but it's worth posting again. 

Several Pista/Track Crowns

Davis track crown. Sand cast, but some post-casting machine work makes it look a bit smoother. These were very popular on a lot of US and British track bikes back in the day, but like many of the crowns shown here, no longer available. A lot of builders would take time to cut, drill, file, and modify these for a more individual style. There's a lot of metal there to work with, so the possibilities are vast. Mostly hollow, so it's not as heavy as it looks. (submitted by Mark Bulgier)

Fischer track crown. Sand cast. Very coarse finish as delivered, so they required a lot of clean-up work from the builder -- but again, the effort would be worth it. I have a picture of a cleaned up and lightly modified version of this in part one of Lovely Fork Crowns, but it's cool to see what it looks like in its raw state. Used on lots of Italian track bikes, like Masi or Pogliaghi. (submitted by Mark Bulgier)
This twin-plate crown fork is from a 1936 Duerkopp 6-day track racer. This must be the oldest example on the page. (submitted by Art Link)
A Couple of Unique Twin-Plate Styles

This is a really interesting-looking twin-plate crown on a mid-70s Charrel from Lyon, France. Note how the lower plate is curved, and how it seems to wrap around the fork blades. (submitted by Art Link)
This twin-plate style crown was made by Jamie Swan, a very talented frame builder in Long Island, NY. According to Jamie, this one was inspired by the work of classic French constructeur, Jo Routens. It started out as a casting, but was modified substantially. (submitted by Jamie Swan)
I have to say that it was great hearing from people and getting some of their submissions for this topic. As I mentioned above, it's nice to know there are so many other people out there who have an appreciation for classic fork crowns. Thanks to all who helped out!


  1. This particular crown bears resemblance to the Davis crowns. The bike is a Rick Super Specialissimo (Hugo Rickert) from 1958 or so.

    1. Hi Carlos -- thanks for the comment and the link!