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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 10-08-13, 08:42 PM   #1
bobotech
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Do big people suffer potential death wobble on road bikes as easily as lighter people

Something that I have read about riding road bikes is the occasional death wobble. The point where your handlebars start to oscillate and shimmy to the point of a scary death wobble.

I have read that you are supposed to put your knee against the frame to lessen the effects of the wobble and hopefully you can just ride it out.

I wonder about this because I haven't gone super fast but would like to go faster. The fastest I have ridden down a hill in my neighborhood was 34mph.

So do bigger people help with the dampening and prevent death wobble or does it affect all people no matter the size?

I'm a super sized clyde riding a road bike.
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Old 10-08-13, 10:05 PM   #2
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I've been over 70mph on the bike without that problem. It is often a result of a bike that is not completely straight or the steering head is loose. It can also be initiated by hitting something in the road. Besides grabbing the top tube with your knees it's important to not have a death grip on the handle bars. I loose grip and bent elbows are helpful. I don't really know if size matters at all.
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Old 10-08-13, 10:45 PM   #3
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Yes, it's happened to me and I'm a Clyde, going about 38 mph. Very scary. I didn't know about putting my knees against the frame at the time, so I just rode it out, thinking I would go down any second. Fortunately, everything turned out OK. If I'm coming up to a fast downhill section now, I generally start with my knees against the frame, and it hasn't happened since.
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Old 10-08-13, 11:34 PM   #4
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I'm not a clyde, and I've had it happen. Its completely terrifying. Definitely the scariest experience I've ever had on a bike. Checking the truing on your wheels helps some. Ultimately, is a combination of rider and frame. A different bike might be better. Changing your stem or fit may help.

Putting your leg on the top tube does help.
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Old 10-09-13, 12:02 AM   #5
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One of my bikes would start to shimmy at about 40 mph, with the 10 minute 'bike store fit'. I had a pro fit, which moved my saddle up and forward, and my bars down, just about a cm each. After that it runs steady as a rock, and I've had it up to 45 mph, without even a slight wobble. I believe that the adjustment moved more of my weight forward onto the front wheel. I've noticed that sometimes if I'm sitting up with my hands off the bars that I'll get a wobble.
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Old 10-09-13, 05:26 AM   #6
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The only time I've ever experienced severe oscillation on downhills was when I had a Vitus 979 years ago. I only weighed 160 then, so I'm not sure if it happened with even smaller people or not. It was the primary reason I sold it after only one season and went back to a steel bike, which was really the only other choice at that time. (Well, maybe titanium, but they were astronomically expensive.)
I've never experienced it since, although I'm (cough, cough) pounds heavier now. The steel bike that replaced the Vitus was a little squirrelly on fast downhills, but didn't vibrate or oscillate. The carbon bike that replaced the steel bike rides like it's on rails and is extremely stable, possibly due to the large diameter of the down tube and head tube.
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Old 10-09-13, 07:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
I've been over 70mph on the bike without that problem. It is often a result of a bike that is not completely straight or the steering head is loose. It can also be initiated by hitting something in the road. Besides grabbing the top tube with your knees it's important to not have a death grip on the handle bars. I loose grip and bent elbows are helpful. I don't really know if size matters at all.
This, especially the last sentence. I believe I have had it happen more times when I was sub-200 lbs. than when I have been over 200 lbs., not that I have had it happen a lot. As suggested, don't panic.
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Old 10-09-13, 08:18 AM   #8
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I've had it happen over 40 mph a couple of times. Part of the blame were reduced spoke wheels. Going to 32 spokes helped in my case.

The other problem was my jacking up the handlebars with a short, steeply angled stem plus sliding the seat forward so that I could use aerobars better. Once I went back to a more normal setup, the wobble went away - so far.
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Old 10-09-13, 09:23 AM   #9
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I had that problem on my old "10 speed" over 20-some-odd mph both when I was light and when I was heavy. I've never had that problem on the two higher quality bikes/wheels I ride today at up to 40 mph.
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