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Old 06-04-03, 07:37 PM   #1
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Bike wobbling

I put my bike together and I finally got out on a long ride, and that's when I really noticed I was having some problems. The short rides are ok, but when I'm out there for longer periods, it became apparent that my bike was wobbling.

I'm wondering if anyone knows what this phenomenon is- when I'm going fast, it wobbles like crazy. I have to fight to keep it from turning to the right (I believe), and that causes the bike to wobble like crazy. I was going down a hill and if I try to go fast, it wobbles like crazy. I had to ride the brakes big time and pray I didn't have an accident.

It was pretty scary. And tomorrow, they're saying rain, and I planned on doing an all day bike tour of the city. Any suggestions or specuations?

Koffee
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Old 06-04-03, 07:41 PM   #2
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Sounds like a loose headset to me.

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Old 06-04-03, 07:50 PM   #3
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Most likely problem is a loose headset. Go over the headset, in particular the socket head bolt visible when the cap that you look at from the riding position is removed. Or there may be a hole through the cap for the hex wrench. Tighten this up and see if
that improves matters. This presumes threadless, which most bikes have these days. See Chap 11, Barnett's Manual starting
page 21. Lesser possibilities: Handlebar/stem clamped tight? Wheels locked in and not wobbly on their axles? Wheels fully seated in the frame axle slots? Least likely: cracked frame, fork or head tube. Steve
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Old 06-04-03, 07:56 PM   #4
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Ditto with the headset.
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Old 06-04-03, 08:14 PM   #5
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Yeah, it's not a loose headset. I tightened up that puppy big time.

I'll check the Barnett's Manual. Thanks for the help, guys.

Koff
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Old 06-04-03, 08:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Koffee Brown
I have to fight to keep it from turning to the right (I believe), and that causes the bike to wobble like crazy.
Now, you were asking about how to get your headset together a little while ago, right? I wonder if the bearing retainers (the rings that hold the ball bearings) are not seated properly in the cups, or perhaps a bearing seal has gotten out of place and is preventing proper adjustment of the headset.

If the headset might be assembled incorrectly, then it's probably best to fall back on your LBS, because one possibility is munched bearing retainers, which will need replacement. Worst-case scenario, you might need a new headset. Nothing money can't fix, though

Another possible reason that the bike may pull to one side is if the front wheel isn't in straight. Eyeball it... does it appear to be in the center of the fork where it passes between the blades? If fenders/brakes are preventing a direct eyeball view, try feeling between the fork blades and the rim with your fingers... does it feel like it's on-center?

If the front wheel might not be on center, first take your wheel off and ensure that your cone-shaped quick-release springs are on the skewer with the small end inwards. Next, put the wheel back on, adjust the QR, and make sure the wheel is all the way up into the dropouts on both sides (easiest method: bear down on the stem while the bike is standing vertically, while closing the QR).
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Old 06-04-03, 08:24 PM   #7
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You know, I think you hit something on the head! Shoot!

I do know the bearing retainer was a bit bent, but I just forced it back to a circular shape and pushed it into the headset. Plus, some of the little ball bearings had falling out too. I didn't think anything of it.

If that is so, perhaps I can just take it to a shop and ask for a replacement and put in a new one, and it will solve my problems? The wheel looks straight to me- I spent like an hour or so just making sure everything was aligned in a stright line.

Feeling sad now...
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Old 06-04-03, 08:54 PM   #8
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$2-3 should get you a new retainer for that Ask them if they can spare a tablespoon of grease in a baggie, if you don't have some on hand.

When you reinstall the retainer, it's important to make it face the right way too. A typical retainer has a metal "ring" structure with "fingers" reaching outward to hold the bearings. When you put the retainer into the bearing cup, the ring should be into the cup and the fingers should reach outwards at you. Barnett's probably has some illustrations of that.

If you want my 2c worth... for the kind of riding/travelling you seem to do, you deserve a Chris King headset They're simpler in design, and have a sterling reputation and a 10-year warranty. Even if your fork came out again, you wouldn't have this hassle. Just put the fork back through the frame, slide the top ring down the fork, and then your stem & any spacers you might have.
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Old 06-04-03, 09:06 PM   #9
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Ok, I will definitely do this. I'm not totally familiar with Montreal, but if I can't find it here, I'll make it my first stop after I get home. I'll go to my favorite LBS. Knowing them, they'll just insist I take it and/or install it themselves to make sure it's done right.

I will definitely look into the Chris King headset. I like that warranty part, especially as you said, I do a lot of travel. I still have a possible Italy and Sweden trip coming up, plus a possible south-east Asia and Australia trip coming up in Feb 2004. That doesn't even include the short weekend trips I'm looking forward to planning so I can start working on some hill climbing out in the northern tip of Illinois and the extreme southern tip of Illinois.

I am thinking of converting this bike into a foldable one. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Thanks again for the imput from you and everyone else who responded too!

Koff
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Old 06-04-03, 09:21 PM   #10
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How are the wheels? Check if there is any movement in the axle bearings. How is the tire pressure, lastly, how are the wheels aligned?
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Old 06-04-03, 09:28 PM   #11
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The wheels look like they're aligned fine. The tire pressure is at 100 psi for 700x 23 road tires too. The axel bearings? No movement.

Thanks, thanks, and thanks again for the double check. Just keep on throwing out anything you think may be the problem so I can continue checking my bike.
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Old 06-04-03, 09:44 PM   #12
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If you have to limp along on it for a while, one time-tested tip is to put your knee firmly against the top tube if your bike starts to shimmy like that. It damps out the oscillation somehow.

Regarding a conversion to folding... I don't know what type of bike you have (steel/aluminum/titanium) but if it's steel, there might be the possibility of building some high-quality couplers into it. Davidson Cycles in Seattle, WA is one possibility that comes to mind, you could drop them an email asking whether they do such stuff: Davidson.

Incidentally, the King headsets are expensive, as you might guess. But they're pretty www.chrisking.com shows some of the color combos. They'll make them in custom color combos and without the laser-etched logos if you like. I got one for my Paramount frameset, black with silver logos... mmmmm! You can even buy the top parts required to convert the threadless version into a threaded version, if you end up re-using the headset in another frameset later.
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Old 06-05-03, 05:42 PM   #13
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Chris King headsets go for $90 and up.
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Old 06-05-03, 08:45 PM   #14
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Hmmmmm. All right.

I have a night ride coming up tomorrow night in Montreal. I'll give that knee thing a try and say a prayer....

I have an aluminum bike. It's just such a bother to pack when I'm travelling sometimes that I wonder if I should just convert it to a folding bike. I'll probably drop you an email when I get back home to see what info I can pick up from you.

I'm strongly considering the Chris King headsets. I need to do right by my bike!

Thanks!

Koff
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Old 06-05-03, 09:38 PM   #15
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Well, I think as you get better at taking your bike apart it won't be quite so bothersome.
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Old 06-05-03, 09:57 PM   #16
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i know this might seem menial, but check to see if your tire is seated correctly. I know that when I run certain tires, they don't quite seat correctly, as in the bead doesn't seat itself right against the lip of the rim, or check to see if your tubulars if you have em are straight. like I said might seem menial, but then again details are important, especially if it could mean the difference between a good ride or a full body rooad rash.
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Old 06-06-03, 06:53 AM   #17
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Koffee,

If you'd stop drinking that mad-dog maybe your bike
wouldn't wobble . . .


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Old 06-07-03, 10:07 PM   #18
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Update!

I took my bike in to replace the retainer, and guess what? Since half the ball bearings were missing, I managed to wreck the headset, so they had to replace it right there- they didn't have Chris King headsets, so I had to go with what they had.

After they replaced it, I had an awesome ride. And it was some damn good riding to be had today too- the weather was perfect here.

The Chris King headsets are not in the cards right now, since I just paid to get this new one put in, but thanks for everyone's imput.

Koff
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Old 06-07-03, 10:50 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Koffee Brown
I still have a possible Italy and Sweden trip coming up, plus a possible south-east Asia and Australia trip coming up in Feb 2004.
What about NZ!!!??? It's a wonderful country. I'll even be your guide when you are in Auckland and take you for some rides

Brendon
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Old 06-08-03, 07:47 AM   #20
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Don't be funny.... I may be there while I'm working my way through Australia...

I have a friend that goes to NZ every year for riding in our wintertime. He loooooooooves NZ. He's almost got me convinced to go.

After his last trip, he sprung for a new bike- a nice Lemond with all the fixins. I thought that must have been one awesome bike trip if he was so inspired to get such a bike after riding the countryside.

I'll let you know what I work out in a PM probably in November.
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Old 06-09-03, 10:14 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Koffee Brown
Update!

I took my bike in to replace the retainer, and guess what? Since half the ball bearings were missing, I managed to wreck the headset, so they had to replace it right there- they didn't have Chris King headsets, so I had to go with what they had.

After they replaced it, I had an awesome ride. And it was some damn good riding to be had today too- the weather was perfect here.

The Chris King headsets are not in the cards right now, since I just paid to get this new one put in, but thanks for everyone's imput.

Koff
Ah haaa! LOL!!

Well, I'm glad you got it fixed...LOL!! I wish I had been a fly on the wall at that shop!
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