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Front Wheel Stability - Recycled Newbie Question(14 posts)

Front Wheel Stability - Recycled Newbie QuestionBuzzy
Nov 13, 2001 5:01 AM
I am mid-50s, returning to biking after 3 decades for both exercise and therapy. :-)
I have ridden only my son's mountain bike of 1990 vintage and my new 2K Specialized Crossroads.
I have fond memories of riding my Schwinn 5 speed to college classes with both of my hands crammed into my coat pockets. I had been very confident of being able to steer without hands, even down to very slow speed.
Now with about 300 miles under my belt in the last few weeks, I have noticed a real doubt that I should ever let the handlebars loose on my bike. I have even tried to ride without hands, keeping them close, and the bike seems to want to go either left or right.
Have bike designs changed something about their inherent stability, or am I fairly out of balance here? I ride high with most of my weight up high now.
I sense that I am still finding my sweet spot, both on the seat and the pedals, and without that, I am still far from the same place of security that I had years ago, on any bike that I rode. I guess I am still not at the point where I become one with the bike, but some of my concern is that I may not be on the correct size bike.
here's why:DAC
Nov 13, 2001 5:14 AM
In the 'old' days, bikes were designed with the primary function of being able to be ridden slowly, as you would around town. As a result, the fork/headtube were set up to provide very little trail, so therefore they were more stable at low speeds, but less stable at high speeds. Today, bikes have more trail, and are therefore less stable at the kind of sppeds you mention (you can't really be going too fast while your hands are in your pockets), but at least they don't start to shimmy uncontrollably on a 40 mph hill descent, like the old iron you mention would've.
If you really have a need to ride in such a fashion, there are many 'cruiser' type bikes made, and they have the old-fashioned geometry which will allow such riding styles as you describe. Otherwise, yes, you should keep your hands on the bars most of the time.
re: Here's Why??Nothing showsBuzzy
Nov 13, 2001 5:50 AM
try clicking on the link ntDAC
Nov 13, 2001 7:39 AM
Wheel stabilityBuzzy
Nov 13, 2001 12:34 PM
Your explanation helped. No, I do not have any desire to ride that old way, just reflecting on my high gear cranks I used to do when I was young and foolish.

Without the same sense of stability, I wondered if it was something I had done wrong in selecting the wrong size bike.

I actually remember the 5 speed Schwinn being stable at all speeds from 5 mph up. I don't feel that now.

Also, the first time I looked at your response, there was no data/text shown.
wheels in same track?guido
Nov 13, 2001 1:24 PM
When I can't take my hands off the bars it's usually one thing: the rear wheel isn't centered in the drop outs, or might look centered, but doesn't track the front wheel.

So before you give up on hands free riding, take a straight edge, lay it up against both tires (or better, use the rims) and see if the edge touches at two places on both wheels. Even if the frame is out of alignment, if the two wheels track the same line, you'll go straight ahead when you take your hands off the handlebars.

If not, your headset bearings are brinneled, or too loose or too tight, or the races are in crooked.
wheels in same track?Buzzy
Nov 13, 2001 1:51 PM
Thanks - This is a new bike with only about 250 miles. I am due for a checkup at LBS where they provide free life-time service. That by itself is a Good Deal, Lucille. I know I have adjusted the rear wheel a couple of times when it has slipped and began to rub up against the frame, so something is not quite right.

I still remember my Western Auto coaster brake bike that I got old and used about 1951. I had to take it apart and reassemble it so I understood how it worked. It had a flexible front fork, that sprung back and forward over bumps. It was also a girls bike, so I was able to ride it long before I was really large enough for the frame. Hey - Don't we all have fond memories of our first bike, whatever it was, hand-me-down, or recovered from the dump.
I was visiting the Sheldon Brown page, and enjoyed his stories about scrounging at the dump as a kid. We had a guy who lived at the dump, who got first pickings. You had to move fast. Sometimes my dad and I brought back more from the dump, then we took in the first place. Early American recycling.
Align rear dropouts!guido
Nov 13, 2001 2:21 PM
"I know I have adjusted the rear wheel a couple of times when it has slipped and began to rub up against the frame, so something is not quite right."

If your rear wheel slips out of the dropouts with pedaling, it isn't seated very well. LBS has dropout adjustment tool that will align the two faces parallel with each other. If the axle isn't bent, the rear wheel will mount to parallel flat surfaces and will stay put when pedaling.

All the more reason to make sure wheels track in the same line.
It is probably just the quick release.vanzutas
Nov 13, 2001 3:15 PM
I think that chances are this dump scrounger has not used quick release in the past, so he is not farmiliar with it.

Do you know how to properly use a Quick release lever? if not when you go to the shop have them show you.
It is probably just the quick release.Buzzy
Nov 13, 2001 7:10 PM
Could be right. So many things about bikes have changed in 40 years. My first multi-speed was a 2 speed benedix on a coaster brake that I shifted by back pedaling just a touch, and not engaging the brake. Delivered newspapers on that husky brute in high school.

I learn so many things now every trip to the LBS. Today I knew a SpeedPlay from a Time ATAC. The time before, I learned how to adjust the tension on my brake caliber so that it would return to resting position and not ride the rim. Maybe tomorrow, I'll learn how to properly adjust the quick release. I used to be able to rebuild a bike, by tearing it down. I hesitate now to touch anything, tolerances seem to be so close and fine.

And I did not scrounge this bike, I paid cash, but I know where I can find a 52 cm road bike that is in a ditch with 2 bent wheels. It's been there for 3 weeks. Interested?
sounds like a good LBSvanzutas
Nov 14, 2001 8:27 AM
I like to hear of people going into a shop hanging out and learning something. That is the most important function of a shop.

Did you look next to that 52 to make sure there wasn't an injured person lying in the ditch next to it?

sounds like a good LBSBuzzy
Nov 14, 2001 6:47 PM
I stopped and looked at the bike. If it stays there much longer, I might consider a rescue mission, new wheels, and a new bike for some kid in need.

By the way - it was the rear wheel nuts. I was hitting it on a hill today, and the wheel pulled over against the frame again. I was surprised to find the release so loose. The guys at the LBS are all young bike nuts that have probably hung out there as kids, so the owner put them to work. When my bike was in the rack, they showed me some of the adjustments. When my brake caliber would not return, I went back, pointed out one on a similar bike and one of the LBS kids showed me the screw that changes the pressure of the return spring.
They provide life-long free maintenance, so this adds to their interest that bike owners become self-sufficient.
I buy stuff there to give them my support. Maybe a lot of support. I am hearing from my spouse - "Where's my new bike??"
Hate to say this, butMikeC
Nov 14, 2001 5:49 AM
...there's another possibility.
You note that you're in your fifties. No matter how good our overall conditioning is, our sense of balance tends to degrade with age.
I'm 49, and have ridden consistently through the years. I am clearly aware, however, that even though I have great bike handling skills that have become consistently more refined, I do not have the same balance as I had as a kid. Sorry, dude.
Hate to say this, but We ain't kids anymoreBuzzy
Nov 14, 2001 7:00 PM
Hey - At my age, I'm just thrilled to be out there. Finally did 30 miles today, I probably could not have done 5 miles 6 months ago. I am moving to shoes soon, and possibly to a Brooks B-17 later. Then I should have a good 3 point position of stability.

I am not trying to do any stunts, just remarking that I
b ain't a kid anymore.
34 years ago I was learning to fly helicopters prior to my army sponsored two years in a SouthEast Asia paradise. Hovering a helicopter is like standing on a basketball. I know that I am a far cry from the one who lived on bikes back in high school. They may have laughed at me on my bike from their '55 Chevies, but two years later, I was flying a $1.3 million helicopter, so who gets the last laugh.