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Old 09-12-05, 06:00 PM   #1
mr.goggles
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tracking problem

My newly assembled bike has a problem. it tracks to the left. when i let go of the handlebars its hard to stay upright it is tracking so badly.

there are two possibilities that i think might be causing this -

First off, the headset is 30 years old and has some quirks. it's an old stronglight (p-3 i believe?) with loose ball bearings. I regreased it thoroughly on reassembly and it turns smoothly during normal operation. however, when you turn the wheel more than about 30 degrees to the right, it encounters resistance, and when put at the full right of its motion wont move unless you turn the bars (wont shake loose or anything. it's pretty tight). this only happens when its turning to the right, and since i never really turn that far in normal operation, i didnt think it would be a huge deal, but now i'm suspecting this is what is causing the tracking to the left.

secondly, i think i may have bent the front fork at some point during dissassembly trying to get the rusty stem out of the headset. i have tried bending it slightly back, but dont want to bend it too much without adressing/eliminating the headset problem first (as i could do more damage than good).

one last thing, since the ball bearings all fell out when i took apart the headset, i didnt have a chance to count them. so i put 27? per side i believe, just enough to "fit" with the grease in there. when i was test-fitting them without grease, i think 29 fit with no room to spare.

also, any other ideas that you may have that would be causing this tracking issue, let me know. thanks!
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Old 09-12-05, 06:07 PM   #2
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hate to say it, but sounds like a combination of a bent fork and possibly steerer tube. the fork would probably be easy enough to get in alighment, the steerer is a lot harder if not impossible. you also have 1 ball too many in the headset, would could possibly cause the binding, but the fact that it binds in one direction rather than all around makes me think otherwise.
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Old 09-12-05, 06:17 PM   #3
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Could be a lot of things.

The first thing that I would check is the rear wheel dish. If it's off by very much it'll make your bike track funny. The reason I would check that first is because it's easy to check and fixing it is cheap.

I have a gauge that checks fork alignment. It looks like two mushrooms that you screw into the dropouts. When the mushroom heads match up perfectly with one another, your fork's straight.

Headset adjustment is another thing that can cause your problem and is cheap and easy to fix. Make sure that your front wheel will flop easily from side to side when you lean your bike over. I'd suspect that a 30 year old headset might be iffy anyway.

Hope that helps.
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Old 09-14-05, 03:04 PM   #4
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Sounds like its a bent front fork, the headset should not cause the problem because it is just hte bearing between the frame and steerer tube. What you can try and do is align the wheel so that regardless of where the forks point, when the hadlebars are levle, the wheel points forward, if you are banking to 1 side it justm eans when the bars are levle the wheel is not.

This is only a temporary fix, if you have a bent fornt fork what you really need to do is get a new one.
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Old 09-15-05, 08:10 AM   #5
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You mentioned a Stronglight P-3. Is it a French bike? It won't be easy to find a replacement fork if it is. I'd get the fork professionally realigned. If it turns out that you need a new headset, a Stronglight A-9 is at least twice as nice as the P-3 for half the price. I got mine from Harris Cyclery.
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