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This is an entry-level road bike made by "Upland", a Chinese company.

enter image description here

That fork is aluminum. You usually only see steel (and sometimes carbon) forks curved like that.

The only reason you would have a curved fork is so that it can absorb shock from the road... but doesn't aluminum fatigue when flexed like that?

I'm contemplating getting this bike, because it's cheaper than a trek 1.1 (for example), while having better components.

The fork is a concern. I don't mind having a stiff ride (which you generally get from AL forks), but I don't want to take any chance of it snapping due to excessive work-hardening.

Any opinions?

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I think the stiff ride of an Al fork is overstated. If you get a bad aluminum fork setup, it will be uncomfortable. If you get a good one, it will be comfortable. There are uncomfortable adn comfortable steel and carbon forks too -- depends on design and the rest of the bike too. – Batman Jan 16 at 17:36
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Another thing with this bike is the triple chainring. They have been mostly phased out in favor of doubles on most road bikes. I wouldn't buy a new bike with a triple, buts that's just me. – ebrohman Jan 16 at 17:43
    
For a lot of riders, a compact double provides the gearing they wanted without the need for a triple. But for loads or serious hills, a triple may still be useful. All in all, personal preference. – Batman Jan 16 at 18:09
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The Viscount Aerospace comes to mind... sheldonbrown.com/lambert.html – Brian Drummond Jan 16 at 21:03
    
@BrianDrummond - Very scary! – Batman Jan 17 at 0:39
up vote 11 down vote accepted

It depends on how the fork is engineered for safety. While its plausible that the curved shape does add to some shock absorption, that is determined by the width and construction of the fork tubing. You could design a fork which was reliable and curved in aluminum or carbon or whatever, but the engineering wouldn't be the same as a steel fork. Whether the fork on that bike has been designed appropriately or not, is a different matter than if its possible.

You usually see it only on steel now, but older aluminum bikes have had that style (even mountain bikes), especially from Cannondale: enter image description here

Jamis's Quest Comp Femme (and other bikes in the Quest line) currently uses that style too, for a carbon composite fork: enter image description here

That being said, poor quality (and dangerous) aluminum forks have been made (the Viscount Aerospace pointed out by Brian Drummond in the comments is one example).

As for whether or not to get the bike, its sounds like you're not all that confident in their engineering, and to me that would be a definite no on buying the bike. I'd rather spend a few more dollars on a bike than on a broken face. If the Trek 1.1 is out of your price range, either find something used and nice or look at other manufacturers you can trust (if you go to brands which are well reputed, but not Trek/Giant/Specialized, you can likely save a decent bit).

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+1 for broken face. Those suck. – RoboKaren Jan 16 at 18:54
    
How do you get to the conclusion "poor quality (and dangerous) aluminum forks have been made"? I don't see an explanation to this in your post. – Alexander Jan 17 at 3:46
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@Alexander I don't see how you missed the example of the Viscount bikes - the link is right there. There have been a non-zero number of bad aluminium fork designs in the world. – Criggie Jan 17 at 6:12
    
Basically the forks separated from the steerers in the Viscount example. There are a decent number of bad fork designs regardless of material, so its not too hard to find examples of forks failing in whatever material you choose. – Batman Jan 17 at 15:02
    
Good answer, It Depends! there's no way to guess looking at the picture. Still, I doubt the fork is engineered for anything more than low cost, so likely to be heavy and full of material and so could be up to the job. But if I wasn't confident in a bike I wouldn't buy it either, its a false economy and confidence is worth the cost as Batman ably suggests – Bent Spoke Cycle Repair Feb 16 at 13:55

Curved Al forks are seen on a lot of cyclocross bikes also (such as the German Focus brand). They are safe, if properly designed. The main reason to make a curved fork is probably the fork geometry (increased rake), not flex. Despite all internet talk of "stiff" and "compliant" forks, the tires affect the ride much more than the fork.

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Yes, they are safe. Said better, all else being equal there is nothing about the curve in an aluminum fork that would make it less safe than a straight fork.

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