Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 36
  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    50
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Look, MA! No hands!

    I haven't quite hit the 50 mark, but I thought you all might have the answer to this question...

    When I was a kid/teenager, I could ride my 10 speed for great distances with no hands on the handlebars. I could even lean through corners without having to hold on! But now that I'm 44, I can't take my hands off those bars without getting wobbly. I'm riding a Lemond Tourmalet. So the style of bike is similar. Have any of you noticed a lack of balance? Is it just me? Is it the fact that I'm riding a different bike even though they are of similar style? The "teenage" bike was a Schwinn Continental 10 speed that I, unfortunately, no longer have....dang ex-husband anyway!...so I can't ride the old bike to see if it is the bike or if it is me.

    So my question is -- is it me or the bike? Does the ability to balance decline as we age? (I'd love to be able to sit up and just stretch for a minute while still moving forward.)

  2. #2
    Senior Curmudgeon
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Directly above the center of the earth
    My Bikes
    Electra Townie 1-speed with basket & fenders
    Posts
    3,304
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    It isn't your balance - it's the bike. The bike you rode when you were a kid had laid back seat tube and head tube angles - approximately 70 to 72 degrees from horizontal. The Lemond you're now riding has probably 73 to 74 degree angles. These angles used to be considered "racing only" angles because of their twitchy handling. The more upright angles (and the more twitchy handling) has, sadly, become standard on almost every current "road" bicycle made.

    With practice, you can sit upright on even today's bikes, but it isn't as easy. Practice, practice, practice. I can ride both of my bikes without hands, including going around corners. A bit more speed helps smooth out the wobble.

    Also, the "longer" your saddle (from front to back) the more control you can exert with your thighs while upright.

    Bicycles can still be bought that have geometry like your old Schwinn, but such "custom builds" aren't cheap. Your easiest option might be to buy a used Schwinn on e-Bay & bring back the good old days!

    Good luck with it, and yes, it IS nice to be able to sit up & stretch for a while whilst riding!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    776
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    chalkdusty,

    Another point might be the wheelbase. It seems to me that most modern bikes
    have a much shorter wheelbase than bikes of old. As a novice rider the first time I
    tried taking my hands off the handlebars I almost freaked. My guess is that the market
    for bikes for the past few years has been the younger crowd who are more interested
    in performance than comfort. Even the new Trek Pilot series, touted as a comfortable
    bike, 'Ride Hard Without The Hard Ride', has a wheelbase shorter than my Trek 1200.

    Just my .02 worth. Keep the rubber side down.

    LastPlace

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    50
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thanks, FarHorizon and LastPlace.

    I've pondered this question for many months and you have explained the geometry of the problem. I sure wish that I had that old Schwinn back! Been looking on ebay the last couple of weeks, but haven't seen anything that looks either in good enough condition to restore or the correct size. And yes, my son is getting tired of hearing about the "old Schwinn." I just bought him a Trek1500 today. Got a good deal on it and it is straight 105, which for a 20 year old's first road bike isn't too shabby. And he does like speed! I was in his slipstream at the local trail coasting at 25mph until I said how much I was enjoying being pulled along. Then he started pedaling and I fell out of the slipstream and had to pedal furiously (26mph) to catch up. And this was when he was riding an old steel frame Gitane....he's gonna leave in the dust with his new ride!

    Thanks again for the explanation!

  5. #5
    Riding a bitsa
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM, USA
    Posts
    519
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I was in REI yesterday and, although I wasn't looking so didn't study the bikes, it seems to me that the store had repros of those older style bikes. Worth a look if that's what you want.

    I was at a bike store auction and saw those older brand name bikes going for a brutal amount PLUS they needed a lot of work. Why spend so much money if the function is available in a repro bike?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Red Baron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    On a Road in Central Bluegrass KY
    My Bikes
    Not enough
    Posts
    1,249
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I've found that the headset is critical. I have a trek madone with a chris king HS - no problem I can ride and steer with my balance, a lemond BA with a generic and I must watch iot close or it will 'shimmy'. Also have a KOna Jake/snake, can't dare let loose.
    **Fate is a fickle thing, and in the end the true measure of a person is not fate itself, but how they master it**

  7. #7
    wildjim
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Baron
    I've found that the headset is critical. I have a trek madone with a chris king HS - no problem I can ride and steer with my balance, a lemond BA with a generic and I must watch iot close or it will 'shimmy'. Also have a KOna Jake/snake, can't dare let loose.
    Wrong - It isn't the brand of headset that "may" be a problem. A minor adjustment will take care of a loose or tight headset.

    I also own a Jake The Snake and I can ride "no hands" on it all day. I frequently drink and eat while riding with "no hands"

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    6 miles inland from the coast of Sussex, in the South East of England
    My Bikes
    Dale MT2000. Bianchi FS920 Kona Explosif. Giant TCR C. Boreas Ignis. Pinarello Fp Uno.
    Posts
    19,915
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Wheelbase length could be the problem, or weight distribution. Weight on the saddle as far back as possible and I can ride no hands-just. On the Tandem my pilot scared me the other night as he asked me to sit very still in the saddle for a while. 30 seconds later he told me that we had just gone 100yards no handed. He just wanted to see if it was possible. The reason he asked me to sit as still as possible is that the one on the back of a tandem really does affect the stability of these beasties. 100yards no handed and I should have felt chuffed, but not at 30mph on a road that was not exactly free from traffic.

  9. #9
    My Alphabit's say "Oooo" InfamousG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Biddeford, ME
    My Bikes
    Trek 4100 MTB
    Posts
    743
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'm far from the 50's bunch (only 20) but I'll drop a comment anyway..

    make sure your handlebars are true with your wheel. I hadn't ridden no hands since I was 15 before I got the bike I'm currently on. For about 3 months I couldn't do it. As soon as I took my hands off, the bike would begin to sway left or right, attempting to balance it only caused it to swing the other direction. After a while, I figured out what it was.

    The handlebars didn't line up with the front fork. They were tilted at about a 5-10 degree angle. This caused the bike to be unevenly balanced and have an "odd" center of gravity. The first time on the road after correcting the problem... no hands unless I wanted them on.

  10. #10
    Senior Member dagna's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    690
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Good topic; thanks for asking the question. Now I won't feel like a total klutz when I get my new bike, if I have difficulty riding with no hands. Like the OP, I used to ride without hands all the time in college, on my old-style 70s 'ten-speed'. I was kind of wondering why people in other threads were talking about riding with no hands as if it were hard .

    Dagna

  11. #11
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Wilkes-Barre, PA
    My Bikes
    Many
    Posts
    7,286
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I had some problems riding no handed on my bike, even though like the OP I could ride several miles including corners without even a twinge of need to hold the handlebars.

    I assumed it was related to my suspension fork, but I tried today, and I had a much easier time. I thought that in my case moving from egg shaped rider toward normal proportioned rider was helping. But, after reading the comment about the handlebars being straight, I think that was part of it. A couple of months ago I straightened the bars that had been irritating me for quite some time (but they were close enough that I didn't think it would bother me.

    Next time I ride my Univega I'll have to see how I do...
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

    People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  12. #12
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Weaving thru the cowpud outside Modesto CA
    Posts
    1,123
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    No one has brought up the psychology of no-hands....as in Digital Gee's comment that "cycling is 50% physical, 90% mental". The upright, twitchy criterium bike I've ridden for 18 years is easy for me to ride no-hands because I'm familiar with it and confident on it. My laid back sport tourer, 73 head/72 seat, is even easier of course.

    It just might take a day, when you're feeling good, to just sit up at moderate speed, pull your hands back and have a breakthrough (hopefully nothing more broken than that)--

    A friend told me a no-hands training thing to do is to practice switching from the hoods to the drops by simultaneously taking both hand off the hoods and dropping them to the drops. And then going back up. For a moment your bike will be "no-hands" but not enough to cause trouble. Gradually increase the no-hands time until you're ready to sit up!

    Ultimately, bikes like to go straight (older, longer wheelbase bikes especially) and there's a bunch of physical laws keeping you upright.....despite what very normal anxieties whisper in our ear. It'll come.

    P.S. When you're tired and balance/motor control is sparking and short circuiting on you....not the best time to learn no hands. Likewise when you just get on and roll out of the driveway, you're mind/body isn't fully "bikey" yet.

  13. #13
    hello roadfix's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Los Angeles
    My Bikes
    thank you for asking
    Posts
    18,502
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Frame geometry is a MAJOR factor. Most of my bikes, a mix of road, fixed, & mountain can be ridden under 5mph, no hands, while a couple others I have a problem maintaining balance under 20 mph, riding no hands....
    Last edited by roadfix; 08-14-05 at 05:20 PM.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
    .litespeed.classic.litespeed.firenze.bianchi.pista.dean.colonel.plus.more.

  14. #14
    Posterior Transport Richard Arthur's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Colorado City, Texas
    My Bikes
    1995 Colnago, 2004 Trek Project 1
    Posts
    19
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    The wind or hill angle will also effect the effort required to make this happen. Going down hill and with the wind is a good place to start.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    North Carolina Piedmont
    My Bikes
    1984 Peugeot P8; 2006 Trek 5200
    Posts
    766
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I enjoyed catching this thread today. I also had wondered if my age had caught up with me. I used to love riding no hands all the way from my friends house to my own home, (a couple of miles). I could even start out with no hands. No such luck on my current bike. I am pleased to know it is geometry and not senility or some such thing.

  16. #16
    Senior Curmudgeon
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Directly above the center of the earth
    My Bikes
    Electra Townie 1-speed with basket & fenders
    Posts
    3,304
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    By the bye.. Speed has a lot to do with "no hands" riding. The faster you're going, the easier to remain stable because of the gyroscopic effect of wheel rotation.

  17. #17
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Southern California
    My Bikes
    2011 Madone 5.2, 64 cm, 180 mm cranks
    Posts
    1,067
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Sit up and LEAN BACK! I know that's the last thing you feel like doing at first, but it's what you have to do to ride with no hands. Steer with your butt.
    JavaMan!
    Faster than a speeding moped!
    More powerful than the Santa Ana winds!
    Able to bunny-hop railroad tracks in a single bound!

  18. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    776
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    chalkdusty,

    Since this thread is wandering a bit I'll add another useless bit. If you are in the
    market for a bike and buy into my long wheelbase theory; Trek has a model called
    the 7700Fx that has a wheelbase longer than their 520 Touring model. In a perfect
    world I would win the lottery and add road bars and STI shifters to one of those.
    Probably couldn't keep up with the younger crowd, but what the heck, I can't do
    that now.

    LastPlace

  19. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    50
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by LastPlace
    chalkdusty,

    Since this thread is wandering a bit I'll add another useless bit. If you are in the
    market for a bike and buy into my long wheelbase theory; Trek has a model called
    the 7700Fx that has a wheelbase longer than their 520 Touring model. In a perfect
    world I would win the lottery and add road bars and STI shifters to one of those.
    Probably couldn't keep up with the younger crowd, but what the heck, I can't do
    that now.

    LastPlace

    In that perfect world....

    I think your wheelbase theory, along with the tube angles, are the answer to my problem. I took a look at the 7700. Not sure that my back would tolerate the aluminum frame though. I've noticed lately that the steel frames seem to have gone to the high end of pricing. I'll have to sneak a ride on my son's 1500 to compare the feel of the ride.

    I have only tried the no hands approach on downhills, so I have a fair amount of speed going for me (18-23mph). I have been able to ride with one hand without much wobble. I've lifted the hand off a few inches and the wobble is prominent. I've not noticed any angle to the handlebars in relation to the wheel/frame.

    I've also noticed that I can not stand in the pedals on this bike to attack any hills. The bike just wants to lay down when I attempt this. Very unsettling.

  20. #20
    Riding a bitsa
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM, USA
    Posts
    519
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'm new to bicycles, but have been many years on motorcycles. I'm completely baffled about a bicycle which won't work for you when standing. This doesn't, to me, seem that much different than sitting as far as bike/rider stability in the sense that you can control the entire bike standing or sitting. The idea that the bike wishes to lay over implies to me that you aren't applying your mass evenly to the bike when you try to stand.

    OTOH, can you ask another ride your bike to see if it's you or the bike? How about asking an expert at the LBS where you got it?

    BTW, there seem to be many of us who hang around this forum for the feeling rather than being over 50. Once outside of there, the atmosphere for a newbie or a reentry seems, at best, condescending and at worst, openly hostile. Maybe this board needs a newbie corner to separate the age unrelated new questions from the specifics of the silver crowd.

  21. #21
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    North Carolina Piedmont
    My Bikes
    1984 Peugeot P8; 2006 Trek 5200
    Posts
    766
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I've also noticed that I can not stand in the pedals on this bike to attack any hills. The bike just wants to lay down when I attempt this. Very unsettling.[/
    QUOTE]

    I have never noticed this problem with standing in the pedals. It makes me wonder if there is a specific problem with your bike set up, seat position etc.

  22. #22
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Around now and then
    Posts
    20,851
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by slide

    BTW, there seem to be many of us who hang around this forum for the feeling rather than being over 50. Once outside of there, the atmosphere for a newbie or a reentry seems, at best, condescending and at worst, openly hostile. Maybe this board needs a newbie corner to separate the age unrelated new questions from the specifics of the silver crowd.
    Just a little background.

    I was involved in getting this forum going a couple of years ago.

    There was a lot of dissension at that time about having a 50+ fourm, and we still have folks 50+ who refuse to participate.

    Generally, it has been the attitude of the moderators that ONLY questions and discussions specifically related to concerns and problems of 50+rs should be in this forum, and we had a period of time when a number of posts thought to be irrelevant were regularly "moved" to another, seemingly more appropriate forum. This also caused a lot of dissension, as folks could not understand why their posts were moved.

    This "moving" has slowed down a bit the past several months. One of the problems is that as the forum has received exponential growth, a post, say in the "road cycling" forum, is rapidly lost in that the posts come in so fast and furiously a new post can be on page 2 of the new posts in a matter of a few minutes!

    Also, as the forum has grown so much, you don't have a group of "old-timers" with whom you feel comfortable discussing issues. I used to be that having 10 people signed in at one time was a large group - and you knew each of those ten people.

    Perhaps you would like to suggest a "newbies" forum? Sounds like a great idea. You can do so in the "Forum Suggestion" section.

    Thanks for your input.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Ann Arbor, MI
    My Bikes
    Terraferma 650b, Mondonico SL and ELOS, Masi Gran Criterium, Trek 610, Breezer Liberty, Georgena Terry Classic
    Posts
    11,048
    Mentioned
    4 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'm late to this thread, but I think I have some insights. I think that if you "knew" how to no-hand, then you still do, and therefore the bike is preventing you due to some assymmetry that creates sideforces when none should be there.

    I have three bikes, a Masi, a Mondonico, and a Trek (no, I do not have the chops to live up to their distinguished reputations...). All three will no-hand very well. The Masi has a short 95 cm wheelbase, about 58mm trail, and I had the frame aligned. The Mondonico (most twitchy) has a normal 99 cm wheelbase, about 52 mm trail, and has not been aligned, but I have paid strong attention to symmetrical wheel alignment and correct dish. The Trek has a longish 101 cm wheelbase, has been aligned, has a new headset, and has had the trail adjusted to about 57 mm. They are all from the early and mid '80s.

    Before the Masi was aligned, it pulled while no-handed. After alignment, it no-handed without effort and seems to glide over bumps and edges. Same for the Mondonico after getting the wheels lined up right, but it's still a faster-responding machine. The Trek had a trashed headset, a bent fork, and a headtube-seattube twist, and it had only 45 mm trail. After alignment and fork adjustment I put in a new Chorus headset, and now it rides as if on rails, unless I want to turn. It is so easy to ride in traffic because it really is easy to go straight on it. I can even make cell phone calls on it (don't try this at home kids, only trained professionals were injured in this film ...).

    So, I'd recommend first get your headset checked for free and smooth motion. Then get your wheels trued and dished properly and fit them in your frame as centrally as possible. If your handlebars are not centered in the stem, get them centered for balance. Make sure your handlebar stem is pointing forward. If all this does not help you find balance, perhaps the frame is in need of alignment. My order of operations is headset, wheels, balance, then frame. After the frame is fixed, the bike is about as good as a bike can be in terms of balance, so then it can only be you. But remember, you knew how to do this once, right?

    Ken the 50+ hot dog.

  24. #24
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Below 14th Street
    My Bikes
    Sirrus
    Posts
    1,976
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Having grown up riding tradtional "women's" or double downtube bikes, I found it was nearly impossible to ride "no hands" on many double downtube frames, while it was relatively easy on many traditional diamond frames. So my guess is, the answer lies somewhere in frame geometry.

    Nowadays I ride a Sirrus, with compact frame, that doesn't seem tolend itself to no-hands riding either, although the head angle is supposed to be around 71.5 degrees. Maybe it's the wheelbase?

  25. #25
    Jim Shapiro
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Boulder, Colorado
    My Bikes
    Bianchi Imola (road), Bianchi Axis (general), Centurion Elite RS (fixed gear), Centurion Elite GS (lunch rides at work), Miyata (work in progress), Trek 7000 (mountain biking)
    Posts
    104
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    The responses so far have avoided the issue of whether ones sense of balance gets worse with age. Of course it does, but, that said, that doesn't mean one can't still do (some of) the things we used to take for granted, albeit with more effort, concentration, and practice. My son taught me to ride no-handed again last year (at age 64), but it took a lot more concentration than I remember from my teenage years. Now I make sure I have a no-handed session each time I ride.

    I do repair bikes at a local thrift shop, riding each one briefly, and I find that I can ride every one of them no-handed. My take is that the ability to ride no-handed is more physiological and perhaps mental than bike specific.

    Jim

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •