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  1. #1
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Look, Ma - no hands! Not.

    For the last couple of years, I've been riding an early '90s vintage Specialized Hardrock, which I've fitted up with fat road tires, fenders, Wald folding baskets, a stem extender and trekking bars (to give an upright ride). I've noticed that the bike has always been more fatiguing to ride than any other bike I can remember riding, but I thought it was just me, because I was so much heavier than when I used to ride a lot. Today I decided to make the experiment of trying to ride with no hands, which is something I always used to do.

    I couldn't do it. The bike won't track straight unless I'm holding the bars. Is this something common to MTB geometry, or should I suspect some other issues that I might be able to correct? I've found that the bike actually seems more stable when it's loaded up with 20-30 lbs of groceries.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  2. #2
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    could be weight distribution and proper balancing but I have no clue.

  3. #3
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Might look into the headset. If the bearing race has a pit, it tends to stick and does not move freely. You can tell by lifting the front end off the ground and swinging the hb's left to right slowly. Feel for the sticking point.

    I had to replace the hs on my tandem for that reason. I thought I was just tired but the hs was sticking causing a counter steering feel.

    I ride rather well with no hands. But going from one roadie to another or to the mtb, takes a few minutes to get it under control. Ya never know.

  4. #4
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    Can you roll the bike in a straight line walking beside it and just holding the back of the seat?

  5. #5
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    I would think it should be possible to ride most mountain bikes no-handed. I can ride both of my mountain bikes no-handed without any problems.

    That wasn't always true, though. When I first built-up the frame I welded, it was nervous as heck and would barely track straight even with my hands on the bars. Turned out I'd installed a fork that was too short: the frame was designed for a 100mm suspension fork and I'd installed a rigid fork that was equivalent in length to an 80mm suspension fork. That effectively steepened the steering angle and reduced trail, which lead to the nervous handling.

    As others have pointed out, there's a lot that goes into handling in addition to the geometry of the frame: weight distribution, frame straightness, headset condition, fork length, fork straightness, etc.

  6. #6
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I'm with you on that. I have a 90's mtb that I've converted into a drop bar commuter and I can't go no hands either. If I try pushing it with the saddle the fork turns one way or the other so I always have to push by the stem if I'm pushing it with just one had. Don't know if the design isn't set up to have the weight of the bigger bars more forward or what. If that's the case, I'm sure the 140 mm stem isn't helping any.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  7. #7
    2nd Amendment Cyclist RichardGlover's Avatar
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    Some geometries don't handle front loads well. Others don't handle rear loads.

    Google / wiki 'Trail' with regards to bicycle geometry for more info. Too much or too little can impact a bike's handling, especially when you add a load to the front.

    Also... with adding stuff to the front - fenders, rack, basket, etc.... it's possible that something attached to the fork crown is rubbing the bottom cup of the headset (at the bottom of the head tube). That'll make any steering feel 'sticky', and make it impossible to ride no-handed for more than a few feet (because you won't be able to micro-adjust steering by adjusting your body weight).*

    * - When I first built my new bike, my front caliper cable hanger rubbed like this. Made the maiden voyage to work a bit of a chore. Tore it down and filed it down before I went home that day. Have since added spacers to give me a bit more clearance.
    DFL > DNF > DNS
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  8. #8
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Interesting replies, thanks. The weight, right now, is mostly in the back - I intend to add a front rack and removable basket, but right now there are only the Wald folding baskets on the rear rack. There are fenders, but they're really light. The stem extender and trekking bars probably add some weight, but not much.

    And no, it won't steer straight if I try to push it along from the seat. It seems to pull to the left. I'll take a look and see if anything's rubbing.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  9. #9
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    It’s really quite simple. Go to this web page and read the explanation. Make sure you read to the very end to get a full grasp of why riding a bike is easier than being a physicist.



    http://sites.google.com/site/bikephysics/english-version/no-hands-riding-equilibrium-conditions
    What's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.

  10. #10
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    Of all bikes I have owned, my 2006 Specialized Allez road bike was by far the best no hands bike. Went riding with my brother once and on a backroad I just sat up and cruised for a while with no hands and he asked how I was able to for so long. Told him it was all in the bike.

    Seems now I can't ride no handed anyway. Oh well, I don't really need to...

    Check headset bearings. Also, how are the hub bearings? have they been re-packed recently? If not, do so! I re-pack my bearings every 2-3 years, overkill for my amount of riding, but it takes maybe an hour to do two hubs (I never rush) and I have a 1lb tub of Park grease, so...why not?
    2012 Diamondback Podium 2 - Ready for spring! :D
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  11. #11
    Senior Member maidenfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Might look into the headset. If the bearing race has a pit, it tends to stick and does not move freely. You can tell by lifting the front end off the ground and swinging the hb's left to right slowly. Feel for the sticking point.

    I had to replace the hs on my tandem for that reason. I thought I was just tired but the hs was sticking causing a counter steering feel.

    I ride rather well with no hands. But going from one roadie to another or to the mtb, takes a few minutes to get it under control. Ya never know.
    Had a similar problem and it had to due w/an improperly adjusted headset. Definately check that.
    "Others don't understand because I train every day of my life as they have never trained a day in theirs." Alexandr Karelin - the most dominating Greco-Roman wrestler - ever

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Its all about Rake and Trail.

    I can ride no hands on my friends Felt Z100 (compact geometry) all day long. I can only do it for about 200 feet on my F75 (race geometry), and it gets a wobble on.

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