Thru-Axle Necessity

WHAT: Hurricane Components Fork Up-Standard Version
HOW MUCH: $29.99

"Is this product good?"

I get asked that question a lot. People always want to know whether the latest wheelset, disc brake or bike is worth blowing their paycheck on. While it seems like a simple question, it's actually not quite so black and white. What, exactly, does "good" mean? A 1998 RockShox SID was great when it hit the market, but would be considered a flexy piece of crap by today's standards. In a sense, the term "good" is lacking.

The real question you should bear in mind when purchasing any product is "How does this product compare with other products currently on the market?" There are very few, out-and-out crappy products on the market—products that flat-out snap, crackle and pop. It's always a question of whether you could have bought something better, right here and now, for the same amount of money. You, get where I'm coming from?

Okay, that's why I'm a bit unsettled by this particular product—there isn't anything that competes with it on the market (as far I know, anyway). If you've got a thru-axle fork or a Cannondale Lefty fork and you want to slap it directly onto a roof rack (using the standard quick release fork mount), then this little adaptor is pretty much the only game in town. Is it good? I guess so, it works, it's inexpensive and do you really have any choice in the matter anyway?

The Fork Up is actually very simple. Its steel barrel essentially approximates your hub shell. The barrel is TIG-welded to two legs that slide into your fork mount, just like a set of non-thru axle fork legs do.

Making it work it also simple. (1) You slap the thing into your roof rack's fork mount and clamp it into place; (2) you heft your bike onto the rack; (3) you slide your thru-axle through one fork dropout, then through the Fork Up's barrel, then through the other fork droupout; (4) tighten your dropouts (be that with it's pinch bolts or snazzier quick release mechanisms). You're done.

Actually, that description makes it sound more complicated than it is. It is, in fact, brain-dead simple. It is, admittedly, kind of challenging to hold the fork in place with one hand while sliding the thru-axle through dropouts and adaptor with the other hand, but unless you've got three arms, there's no way around that conundrum. *

This is a chunk of steel, so the features are, understandably, pretty sparse. Nevertheless, those benefits include: safety tabs (that help keep the adaptor from flying out of your rack's fork mount when you run over large, dead animals at highway speeds), and there's that powder coat paint job I mentioned earlier. You can also rotate the Fork Up legs within your rack's fork mount—this enables you to dial in some wiggle room when you're trying to squeeze a bunch of big bikes onto the roof of a Hyundai or Honda.

So, here's the part of the review where I'd normally compare this product's features, durability, ease of use, and price point to similar products on the market. Since there's nothing out there that I've seen to date, I will instead stare out my kitchen window for a few minutes (it's raining, it's Sunday, my knee hurts…damn knee…at least it's raining so I'm not going to get grumpy about not being able to ride with this cranky joint screaming at me…maybe I'll go clean my garage…).


Review over. Almost.

The Fork Up is a bargain. I bought mine on the eve of last year's Sea Otter race. It was 5 PM and I was loading bikes onto my Civic when I remembered—shit, one of my test bikes has a thru-axle fork. There was no way that big, old Foes was going to fit well on top of my wife, in the passenger seat.

I ran down to the store, picked this Fork Up for $40 (considerably more than the suggested retail price….but I guess that's the price of supporting the local bike shop) and I've been happy with my purchase ever since. Sure, it'd be great if this thing didn't rust, but I figure I can always sand it down and spray paint it from time to time if need be. It's steel. It's burly. Oxidization just comes with the package.

The Fork Up fits all fork mounts—be they Rocky Mounts, Saris, Thule, Yakima, etc. The version I'm reviewing here is the "standard" model. Hurricane Components also makes versions that fit Marzocchi QR20 forks, Cannondale Lefty Forks and Hannebrink forks. Prices vary from model to model.

* There actually is a way around the conundrum. The folks at Hurricane components recommend that you install the Fork Up to your bike, by inserting the thru-axle, BEFORE puting it on the roof rack. Then, when you lift your bike onto your rack it should be as simple as mounting a regular bike with conventional fork dropouts. If Vernon had been able to think about more than just his aching knee when he wrote this, maybe he would have unravelled this mystery.