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Is there any way I can run a modern tapered 1 1/2" to 1 1/8" tapered suspension fork on a 2003 Surly Karate Monkey (Original frame style with V-brake and Disc Brake Mounts). I think it only works with 1 1/8" straight steerer forks now. Are there any headsets that I could install which would make my frame compatible with a modern tapered suspension fork?

FWIW, I'm currently running a Chris King No Threadset for straight steerer at 1 1/8" diameter.

  • Looking for an adapter solution, if all else fails, I'll resort to finding a straight steerer 1 1/8" suspension fork. – Benzo Jul 30 '15 at 13:59
  • I have seen a headset that'll do this, can't find it now though. – alex Jul 30 '15 at 14:08
  • But, in the end I just bought a 1 1/8" fork. Just had a look and there seems to still be plenty of choice in forks. – alex Jul 30 '15 at 14:21
  • Been looking at cane creek conversion headsets, but they seem only to be appropriate for 44mm headtubes like on the newer karate monkey ops. I have an older model which is likely the old style 34mm headtube for only 1 1/8" straight steerer forks. – Benzo Jul 31 '15 at 15:33
  • I think you're out of luck then. Go for a 1 1/8, there are loads, any conversions you find are going to add to the height and your frame is only meant to take a 70mm form as it is. – alex Jul 31 '15 at 15:38
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Beyond rebuilding the frame with a tapered headset, not practical.

Effectively you need to fit an 1.5" OD tube into a 1.125" ID hole. This could theoretically be done by using a spacer and locating the taper part of the steerer under the frame.

The effect would be raise the headset height and change the bikes geometry. The advantages of the tapered headset would be negated very quickly by the changed geometry, and the loss of stiffness and extra weight using a spacer would offset all the advantages of a tapered headset. i.e. The bike would be less stiff, heavier and have a poorer geometry.

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Adding this answer to a years old question that is very relevant today. Most new forks today (mid- to high-level ones from the biggest and best suspension makers, namely: Fox, Rock-Shox, XFusion, Marzocchi [owned by Fox], Manitou, Ohlins) are equipped with tapered steer tubes 1.5" at the crown to 1.125" by the time it leaves the headtube and the upper headset. It's getting harder to find straight 1⅛ steer tubes on suspension forks. Frame makers have increased the diameter of today's bicycle headtubes sometimes up to as much as 56mm ID. This is related to enhanced performance and strength of a "stiffer" frame. It also gives designers more room for bigger frame tubes or ones with more aero shapes.

So, while today's bikes and forks are designed for each other, there is left in this world a very large selection of quality bikes that are needing replacement suspension forks which the after-market has essentially ignored. The selection of suspension forks with straight steerers is dearth. And if it's an awesome 26er we're shopping for--good luck with that.

To answer the question: a fork with a tapered steer tube can be used if: 1) internal diameter of the bikes head tube is 44mm or more 2) the lower headset is swapped out for an external cup one whose bearing is sized to accommodate the 40mm of crown race seat of a tapered steerer. The SHIS of such a lower headset may look like: EC44/40. Thus, one can place a tapered steer fork in a bike designed for a straight steer tube by selecting the correct size and type of lower headset.

One other consideration needs to be addressed in these situations and that is the length of the steer tube's taper. Tapered steer tubes are 1.5" at the crown and 1⅛" at the top. The transition to these diameters--the taper-- uses up some distance and the head tube must have adequate length to fit this transition so that the diameter of the steer tube exiting the headtube is 1⅛", which is the size necessary for the upper headset hardware and stem to fit properly. Suspension fork makers utilize a length of 58mm to 63mm for the taper. The bike head tube must be long enough to house the taper.

Example of headset for using a tapered steerer fork in a bike designed for a straight steer tube fork

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  • That headset is for a tapered head tube. There is no way of putting a tapered fork in a plain 1-1/8 headtube, which is what the question is about. You may be thinking of the ZS44 top/EC44 bottom way of putting a taper fork in a straight ZS head tube. – Nathan Knutson Sep 26 at 8:56
  • @ Nathan Knutson Thanks for the heads up. I've edited my answer. Do you feel the other information is correct? I originally had a headtube minimum ID of 42mm but edited now to 44 because I couldn't find a headset with EC42/40 lower in a brief perusal, but my brain keeps claiming I've seen them. – Jeff Sep 26 at 17:55
  • I don't believe there's a practical way of doing it. One can envision a massive extended external cup that creates the space for the taper, but there would be a lot of problems with that, i.e. the leverage that would be on it and how it would slacken the head tube angle. Maybe someone has made one as an experiment, but it's not a product I've ever seen. – Nathan Knutson Sep 26 at 23:58
  • So instead of saying "44 or more", it's probably clearer to say yes they can go in a 44mm zs type straight headtube along with an ec44 lower, but no they can't go in plain 1-1/8" headtubes, the shis number escaping me atm. – Nathan Knutson Sep 27 at 0:14
  • But that might make more sense if you wanted to write a whole new question about which permutations work of taper fork in straight head tubes. – Nathan Knutson Sep 27 at 0:16

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