The fairing on my Tour Easy started making unusually loud booming sounds while we were out on an errand, so when we got home I poked around the front end to see what had worked itself loose. I finally managed to produce the sound, which turned out to be due to a very small motion in the fork:
That’s after 14 years and maybe 30,000 miles, so I’d say it did pretty well, all things considered.
On an upright bike a front fork failure kills you: the broken blade rotates forward, jams into the ground, and flips you over the handlebars. I rode about 8 miles with a broken fork and nothing exciting happened.
The Tour Easy’s design dates back to the mid-1970s, when custom bike parts weren’t readily available, and the front fork seems sized for 26 inch tires. A tubular bridge welded across just over the 20 inch (37-406) tire provides a fender mount, stiffens the blades, and, in my case, acts as a second bridge. On my bike, the fork supports the polycarbonate fairing and the Phil Wood hub provides an absolutely rigid connection between the blade dropouts.
For reference, the headset uses J.I.S 1 inch dimensions, with a 27.0 mm ID crown bearing. The stack height runs around 35 mm, but I don’t know the head tube ID.
A pair of forks are on their way; I’ll replace the one on Mary’s bike before it fails…