Back when I first launched my blog on January 1st of this year I included an initial entry entitled, “Et tu, Alpha Q?” that noted the popular line of carbon forks had become a victim of True Temper’s bankruptcy and business restructuring.
For consumers like myself, it created a little bit of anxiety since there was always a possibility that we might need a replacement in the future and where could we turn to find an suitable substitute? The easy answer was to pick up a spare while they were still available which, as it turns out, was easier said than done. That’s because the exit of True Temper’s Alpha Q line of forks also created anxiety in the OEM tandem market since builders like Co-Motion, Calfee and many others who dabble in performance and racing tandems had adopted the Alpha Q X2 forks as their standard offering. More specifically, because the Alpha Q X2 were unique enough to require builders to redesigned their tandems around the somewhat “shorter than your average tandem fork”, and because the X2’s had a reputation for being a great handling and perhaps the lightest performance fork, these builders quickly bought up most of the existing supplies of Alpha Q X2 forks.
At the same time Co-Motion and other OEMs were stocking up on the remaining Alpha Q X2s, Co-Motion embarked on a development effort to launch their own house-branded successor to the Alpha Q. While they remained tight-lipped about their selection process, we did learn through various sources they were evaluating several third-party fork manufacturers using the same standards and methods employed by True Temper’s Alpha Q brand. Even though Co-Motion down selected to their final vendor in time to support their anticipated need date for production replacements to be on-hand by July, their stock of Alpha Q X2 forks got an unexpected bump-up when True Temper found some additional Alpha Q X2’s in their warehouse as they closed-down Alpha Q operations. This windfall of Alpha Q X2 forks allowed Co-Motion to make a clean transition to their 2011 model introduction with their new Tandem Elite Carbon fork.
Since we haven’t had a chance to test ride or even put our hands on one of the new Co-Motion forks, we asked our friend Dwan Shepard of Co-Motion to share his perspective on the new tandem Elite carbon fork:
We’re really pleased with it- it rides beautifully with improved lateral rigidity over the Alpha Q . It retails for $475 and weighs in at 385 grams, uncut with a 300mm steerer. Yes, I know that’s 10 grams heavier than the Alpha Q, but it was more important for us to focus on performance and safety than weight alone. I think a lot of people will be pleased to see that uses a compression plug rather than a glue-in sleeve, which was an irritating feature of the Alpha Q. The weight of the compression plug vs. the glue-in sleeve + star-nut assembly is dead even.
Although not mentioned by Dwan in this quote, in addition to addressing lessons learned from the Alpha Q X2 by adopting a more robust design with more lateral stiffness and the compression plug, Co-Motion also made sure the fork will accommodate a 28mm tire.
While the easiest way to get an Elite fork is to buy a new Co-Motion Race model tandem, it is also now available as an aftermarket item from authorized dealers or directly from Co-Motion. As mentioned by Dwan, the retail price is $475 which is also on par with the Alpha Q benchmark.