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I just built my first bike up, it's a total frankenbike and it's a lot of fun, but I'd like, just for fun, to see how light I can make it as I do mostly use it for practical commuting. The frame is a vintage carbon MTB frame so I'm already pretty ahead, but I had to use a steel fork for the time being. I need it to accept a 26" wheel, with a threadless straight steerer, 1-1/8" with horizontal pull rim brakes if possible. I don't necessarily need to go full carbon, especially since I don't seem to find any forks that are both carbon and rim brake compatible, but just something that's fair

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    Welcome to Bicycles SE. As an exchange site, it is not like a traditional forum, and it is not designed to give product recommendations as personal subjectivity ventures in. It is more geared toward solving problems that bike owners/riders have with their equipment or with various issues with bicycling in general.
    – Ted Hohl
    Oct 7, 2023 at 21:31
  • What is "vintage carbon"? Could you please add in a clear well-lit photo ideally from the right-hand side of the bike?
    – Criggie
    Oct 8, 2023 at 0:09
  • If it weren’t for the 26-inch wheel requirement and preference for rim brakes, I would point you at Cannondale’s Lefty Ocho. Removing almost half the fork from the equation does a remarkably good job of cutting down on weight. They definitely don’t support rim brakes though, and AFAICT they’ve only ever been made for 29-inch wheels. That said, seriously consider switching to a disc brake on the front (or on both wheels), that will open up a lot of possibilities in what fork you can use (including forks for different wheel sizes), and the weight penalty is negligible. Oct 8, 2023 at 6:02

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If you want suspension, you will not find a light 26" fork with posts for brakes new. Best you will do new is low or maybe mid range. You only realistic option is a used fork (or donor bike). Good news is you can often pick up something like SID for next to nothing, although it will need servicing and may be too worn out to be worth fixing.

However, I presume you are after a rigid fork. The crown to axle becomes the main measurement for a frame designed for suspension. Fortunately, this means you will likely find a 650B to 700C fork with close to the correct measurements. Unfortunately, this means that the brake posts will be in the wrong place. You may be able to find brakes that are adjustable enough to make this work, running the 26", or you could run mullet (larger front that rear wheel).

Consider going to disc front brake. The weight penalty is minimal, and it opens a much bigger range of fork options, and no need to run mullet if you go to a 650B or 700C fork.

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The specific combination of low-weight, 26", and rim brake actually has a market: trials bikes. You'll get something overkill sturdy and plenty of tyre clearance, which strictly speaking makes little sense for "practical commuting", but it'll certainly work. Tapered steerers are the norm now but straight models still available too.

As usual, if you want carbon, you'll have to dish out a lot of money – e.g. a Hashtagg Carbon costs £330. Aluminium is much more affordable, e.g. Jitsie Varial 400 for £170. That's not cheap for a rigid fork, but it'll last forever and is still very light.

Especially if you intend to ride at least some off-road, I definitely wouldn't insist on 26" and rim brakes. Discs are better for almost all use cases, and I'm sure you'll find something used with Shimano hydraulics for a good price/value. A 27.5" front will most likely work just fine on that bike as long as it doesn't have too long travel. Light 27.5" air suspension forks are available for cross-country, but they're expensive and require a lot of maintenance. If you want suspension on a commuter bike then a cheap coil fork makes more sense, but these are much heavier.

Perhaps you'll also find a 26" short-travel fork in the dirt-jump category.

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