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Am I riding off kilter? Does everybody?(17 posts)

Am I riding off kilter? Does everybody?lc21998
Dec 30, 2002 8:00 PM
I'm still fairly new to road cycling (about a year or so). I've noticed while riding that when I look down at my bike, I seem to be leaning it slightly to the left even when I'm trying to go straight.

Lately, I've started using rollers. Even then, when I look down, the bike is leaned to the left. In other words, if I look at the front wheel, I see through it from right to left. I see the right side of the hub, etc. Because I'm on rollers, I know I'm going straight.

Why is this? Here are some of my thoughts: 1) It has something to do with the fact that I'm right handed. Maybe the right side of my body weighs more because it's got more muscle? 2) It has something to do with the fact that the bike's drive train is on the right side and I'm leaning to compensate for it? Or 3) I'm just a lousy rider.

I can't imagine that leaning can be as efficient as being straight up. On the other hand, how much can it matter?

Any thoughts are appreciated.

(It may be obvious by now that I really have nothing better to think about during my time on the rollers.)
This is really a long shot, but...BowWow
Dec 30, 2002 8:06 PM
when you ride and look at the front wheel, try closing your right eye to see if your perspective changes. I am strongly right-eye dominant, which means I favor looking at things with my right eye. This occasionally skews my perception, especially when looking straight on at symmetrical things - like top tubes and wheels and handlebars and how they relate to each other...

Well, ya wanted something to think about didn't ya!!!
If it works, don't fix it.Juanmoretime
Dec 31, 2002 6:36 AM
I originally come from a running background. I have about a centimeter leg length difference and pronate quite a bit. Several times when I was big into racing, running, I would start suffering from injuries that I contributed to my mechanical alignment problems. When in actuality, they were probably over use injuries, 2,000 miles to 4,000 miles of running would be a normal year. I would head off to the sports med clinic eventually winding up at the podiatrist and get casted for orthotics. Even after wearing them for a couple of months and many corrections, the orthotics would create more problems than I was trying to fix. I wouldn't run as well and they would cause knee pain since I was causing everything to track different then they have in the past. My legs have run into the many tens of thousands of miles and they are used to tracking in a certain path. I would wind up taking a little time off, throw away the orthotics and when I would start back, everything would be fine.

I guess what I'm leading up to is that if you aren't experiencing any injuries, leave well enough alone.
most of us are asymmetricallonefrontranger
Dec 30, 2002 10:31 PM
although as regards riding the rollers, I strongly agree with the eye dominance issue the above poster raised.

Many cyclists are asymmetrical or have some kind of imbalance. Most of us adapt, some adopt corrective measures, which sometimes work and sometimes don't. My own personal imbalance is a pretty good one. My right leg is almost a full centimeter shorter than my left, coupled with the fact that it's my strong (dominant) leg. This means I ride with my hips cocked over to the strong side. I've done this ever since I can remember. Even as a kid when I was riding horses I had this problem; my stirrup leathers would stretch like the dickens on the right side (strong leg) and I was constantly adding holes to keep them even, or what felt even to me. When riding "away from the judge" in horsemanship classes, I always had to consciously ride with my right foot barely on the stirrup so the judge wouldn't see me tilted in the saddle and mark off for it. Hindsight being 20/20, I'm fairly certain my issues are due to a mild case of scoliosis that wasn't caught. Nothing for it now that I'm 35.

Well, a few years into my bike racing career, a well-meaning coach tried adding orthotics and shimming up my cleat on the right side to "correct" my tilt as well as some pretty radical pronation issues I have. This was an utter disaster that ultimately led to me tearing a psoas and doing some pretty serious hip flexor damage, which torpedoed an entire season. I threw away the orthotics and the shims, got Speedplay pedals so that I'd quit stripping the bolt receivers out of my shoes (that's how serious my pronation is), and haven't had a problem in five years.

In my case, I'd rather be tilted than injured. I've ridden and raced off kilter for ten years and only when they tried to fix it did I actually have problems. It's amazing how the body compensates. The only time my imbalance ever causes me grief is when I ride in bad shorts; the 'short' side saddle sores quicker. Solution: don't use bad shorts.
most of us are asymmetrical!dzrider
Dec 31, 2002 5:35 AM
My left leg started out shorter than my right and, after a motorcycle crash, is more shorter than it used to be. Judging by the size of the muscles it's also my dominant leg. I've thought of using a longer crank for my right leg, but never gotten around to doing it. A football injury and competitive tennis have left me with shoulders that look like they belong on two different bodies and a right hand that reaches about 2 inches further forward than the left.

I can't say if my bike leans one way or the other. My body feels like it's straight up and down, but I'm not really sure about that either. I do turn the stem a few degrees so my right brake hood is forward of the left when the front wheel is straight. It's the only concession I make to being lop-sided. Until something starts to hurt, I'll be content to ignore it.

I agree with your assessment of bad shorts. For all we write about frame design and comfort the difference between a Cannondale (short and stiff) and a Vitus (long and flexy) is less noticeable to me than the difference between my best and worst shorts.
I notice the same thing on my bikescottfromcali
Dec 31, 2002 9:55 AM
so much so that the rear tire wears on the left hand side.
Careful now!Kerry
Dec 31, 2002 5:01 PM
Any chance that your tires wear on the left side because you are riding crowned roads that slope up to your left?
Welcome to my world.Len J
Dec 31, 2002 5:05 AM
The above poster is right, it has to do with one eye being dominant. I was born with my left ey almost closed. This was not corrected (with surgery) until I was 3 1/2. As a result, my right eye became incredibly dominant, to the point where I have a hard time making sure that my seat is on straight (after I remove it). When I ride, I always feel like I'm way over the right side of the stem. Pictures, However, show me to be dead center.

Len
Great..Something Else I can Obsess Over! =( hahaBigLeadOutGuy
Dec 31, 2002 6:17 AM
Oh man, Your killing me with this. I used to be obsessed with which one of my legs were doing more work that the other...Than it was if my bars were full on straight...then it was if my pedal stroke was smooth through the whole circle...then if my saddle was full on straight....or if my cleat position gave the same amount of float from side to side...from shoe to shoe....So after obsessing about things like that and doing many tests and measurements and other things to make sure everything is the way its supposed to be or as close to normal as possilbe...you throw this out at me!!!
Oh man... this is gunna haunt me for awhile!!
I am going to have to shut down my computer and pretend that i never saw this post!!
hahahaha
oh boy =)
happy new year everyone
Great..Something Else I can Obsess Over! =( hahaJon Billheimer
Dec 31, 2002 8:52 AM
And here I thought I was the only one with this particular psychosis! Maybe there are enough of us closet obsessives to merit a new entry in the DSM:)-
Let the brotherhood unite!BigLeadOutGuy
Dec 31, 2002 9:06 AM
hahaha
I thought I was the only psyco out there.
good to know im not alone =)
re: responses to Am I riding off kilter? Does everybody?lc21998
Dec 31, 2002 7:22 AM
Thanks folks for the thoughts.

The dominant eye idea is interesting. Even more so because my left eye is much more nearsighted than my right. On the other hand, the angle/lean seems a little extreme to be explained by mere eye dominance. Maybe if I were like a hammer-head shark. But if my nose is over the stem, my eye even if dominant, probably couldn't see at such an angle.

As far as body shape goes, I am/was a runner before taking up cycling. I was also advised to get orthotics because of numbness in a toe during runs. Then my hip started causing me trouble so I don't wear them anymore. (This seems to be the common story with orthotics.) So maybe it's my messed-up body structure causing the trouble.

Anyway, is it just us misfits that have this problem? I'm sure Lance A. doesn't, but do average riders ride perfectly straight up?

Here's a thought for Bigleadoutguy to chew over: with the drive train on the right side of every bike, shouldn't every bike be slightly off balance? Do bikemakers compensate for that? How? If they don't, why not? I've noticed that the rear wheel is flatter on the side with the cassette. Is balance part of that reason?

Anyway, the sky is bright blue here in Los Angeles. But the predicted high for today is only 62. I'll just have to use the rollers again.
62, I'd be out in shorts and a short sleeve jersey!Juanmoretime
Dec 31, 2002 7:51 AM
re: responses to Am I riding off kilter? Does everybody?BigLeadOutGuy
Dec 31, 2002 9:09 AM
Oh gosh,
Now I am going to have to come up with an idea to balance out the weight of the drivetrain being on the right side!
ugh
look what youve done to me!
Ive gotta get to the blueprints and fix this =)!!!
j/k
hahaha
Happy new year!!
They a plumb line?SnowBlind
Dec 31, 2002 8:53 AM
Gravity does'nt lie.
I personally noticed that the bike's back end drifts to the left, gonna call the frame maker and see if he will take a look.

The first thing I noticed on rollers (other than I only THOUGHT I knew how to ride a bike) is that my saddle was off center and too far back. The rollers really bring out any little problem with fit, that's for sure.
<i>Try</i> a plumb line?- God I need more coffee.SnowBlind
Dec 31, 2002 8:55 AM
re: Am I riding off kilter? Does everybody?lc21998
Dec 31, 2002 9:44 AM
All right, I just got off the rollers. (In truth, I would rather be outside riding Ballona Creek to the beach but I have a sixth-month-old son and I just finished a six-week trial, which meant long, long hours at the office. Thus, I just can't tell my wife, "Here, you take the baby for a couple hours, I'm going to the beach." The rollers let me get in a quick workout when I wouldn't otherwise be able to.)

Anyway, I tried looking with only one eye. If I close my right eye, I see the stem right over the wheel and I can't see through the wheel at all. If I close my left eye, I get the usual leaned-over view. Conclusion: the dominant eye explains part of the issue but not all of it.

A new thought: Maybe I'm just tucking my head a bit towards my right shoulder. That would make things look tilted even if I were riding straight.

On the other hand, maybe it has something to do with compensating for the rotation of the earth. I ride facing the equator, which means that the rotation is to my left . . . .

A Happy New Year to All!