I was nosing around Kona owners Dan and Jake’s office the other day, amidst golf clubs and old Kona team jersey’s I spied a little something Ti hiding on a shelf. Further inspection revealed these rigid Project Two Ti forks. A little digging led me to lead Kona designer Doug “Dew” Lafavor who worked with Joe Murray on this fork. Read on for Dew’s insight into these incredibly sort after and hard to find forks.
Before front suspension there was a real push on titanium bikes. Before V-Brakes and Aheadsets and all the stuff that we now take for granted. As biking became more demanding, the titanium hardtail was in essence the first suspension bike. Even in the early 80’s bikes were often spec’d with a smaller rear tire for pedalling and a bigger volume tire up front to smooth things out. So you had titanium frames, titanium posts, titanium stems, titanium bars. Joe Murray came up with the idea to make a more forgiving fork out of titanium.
The dropouts and the steerer were fabricated at Paragon Machine Works which was an original San Fransisco fabricator located in the thick of the MTB scene. Both the steerer and dropouts were machined out of 6-4 titanium which is much harder than CP or 3-2.5 titanium. A cross section of the steerer would show that the thickness of then steerer tapered thicker where the crown race sat and thinner for the rest of the steerer. The solid 6-4 titanium was difficult to work with and expensive. The brake pivots, steerer and dropouts were then taken to Sandvik Special Metals in Kennewick Washington. At that time they were making frames and some components for us. The original samples had oversize tapered blades and proved to be quite stealthy. Too stealthy. Even the smaller tappered blades were stiff and costly. The fork was then modified to have straight 1.125″ blades matched up with plug style dropouts similar to the bullet drops we were using on the rear dropouts. One of the nicest rigid forks was then launched and had a pretty good run. Until the Rock Shox brand was launched. Still in high demand, those original titanium forks offer an exceptional ride. If you can just find all the parts required to mount them up. – Doug Lafavor