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Old 08-19-07, 10:25 AM   #1
George
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down hill speed

Do any of you, with steel bikes, have any problems going down hill above 30mph. I've read on the touring forum, that some people were all over the road going down hill with steel bikes, or they started to go into a high speed wobble. I'm thinking it may be because of the way the bike is loaded, but I thought it may be a good question here, as we don't load up that much, when we ride.
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Old 08-19-07, 10:51 AM   #2
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I've had my nothing-fancy Schwinn steel fixed gear conversion up to 32mph on downhills. Only problem was spinning fast enough to keep up!

It may be the loading, plus the likelihood that touring bikes aren't built mainly for speed.

I think the limiting factors are design and build quality rather than the material. Generations of racers and fast recreational riders have been riding steel bikes down hill- and mountainsides just fine.
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Old 08-19-07, 11:09 AM   #3
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Steel bikes can be fine descenders, but I would never try to go fast downhill with a loaded touring bike. That's just crazy.
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Old 08-19-07, 11:37 AM   #4
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All of my road bikes are steel, IMHO are there any other kind worth riding??

Descending is not about the bike, its about the rider.

If you have the skill and the ability( and the nerve) then high speeds are exciting, although it can be a little scary at times. In the UK we have sheep and cattle grids which can add a frisson to a descent.

My tourer is steel too, and I ride with an BOB Ibex trailer, they has been up to 49 mph.

Have faith in the bike , brakes and your ability, and go for it.


50+ at 50+ mph,,what a rush!!!

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I thought this forum meant that when I first joined
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Old 08-19-07, 11:39 AM   #5
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I have descended mountains on my Bridgestone at speeds up to around 50mph without wobbles. There are many things that can cause a bike to wobble. I don't think frame material is very high on the list. I would not expect a bike with any well designed, well aligned frame to develop a wobble at speed unless there were imbalanced loads or misaligned wheels on it.
I would be careful about taking some of the so called "expertise" often found on these forums. There is a natural tendency to take a very limited set of experiences and make broad generalizations and conclusions. Especially when you add the tendency to try to justify our own choices.
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Old 08-19-07, 12:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
I have descended mountains on my Bridgestone at speeds up to around 50mph without wobbles. There are many things that can cause a bike to wobble. I don't think frame material is very high on the list. I would not expect a bike with any well designed, well aligned frame to develop a wobble at speed unless there were imbalanced loads or misaligned wheels on it.
I would be careful about taking some of the so called "expertise" often found on these forums. There is a natural tendency to take a very limited set of experiences and make broad generalizations and conclusions. Especially when you add the tendency to try to justify our own choices.
That's kind of what I was thinking. One, of my many motorcycles, would always get a high speed wobble at about 80 mph. If I kept going, at about 100 mph it would stop. None of my other bikes would do this and one day while sitting in the garage it dawned on me. I took the back case off of the 750 Honda and took it for a spin and it was gone. Anyhow there is a person that had a high speed wobble on a loaded touring bike and he wont ride steel anymore. I really think it would be hard to beat the ride of a steel bike, but I'll find out next week. Thanks guys.
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Old 08-19-07, 12:29 PM   #7
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My inability to go faster that 30 MPH has nothing to do with wobble but to do with my ability to envision what it would feel like to come off the bike at 50+ MPH.
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Old 08-19-07, 12:42 PM   #8
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Have to admit that I regularly reach 45 + on my bikes but they are aliminium. Now the Tandem is aluminium and offroad we reach quite high speeds over very rough ground. That Cannondale frame has no flex in it whatsoever but I would have thought that the rough ground would throw it about a bit but the Weight of the thing and the very long wheelbase does give it a lot of stability at speed. Now that Tandem has been loaded even further with Panniers and Top bag and the only reason the speed was kept down was the fear of blowouts with the extra weight.
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Old 08-19-07, 01:08 PM   #9
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If you get wobble, clamp the toptbe/seat with your legs. It will often smooth out.
I think on teh forum you were on they must have been talking about riding with loads.
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Old 08-19-07, 02:05 PM   #10
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My top speed downhill was on a Bianchi Squadra with Columbus SL frame. Hit 53 mph in Pomfret, CT.
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Old 08-19-07, 02:18 PM   #11
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I recently came to the conclusion that the faster I went downhill, the sooner I had to start climbing uphill again. Now I tend to use a downhill as a rest/recharge break so I have something "in the tank" for the next uphill.
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Old 08-19-07, 04:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
If you get wobble, clamp the toptbe/seat with your legs. It will often smooth out.
Yes, that is the best first-line emergency response to the problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
I think on teh forum you were on they must have been talking about riding with loads.
The high-speed wobble problem seems to be related to resonance, which is a function of load (rider and cargo) and frame stiffness. The resonance itself can be induced by out-of-balance or out-of-round wheels, headset bearing issues, a mis-dished rear wheel, or bad wheel bearings, but the speed at which a given bicycle will start to oscillate dangerously, or at least disconcertingly, varies with the other factors mentioned. When too many customers complained about resonance in early 25" Nishiki Competition frames, Kawamura re-engineered the frame, replacing one of the butted tubes in the main triangle with a straight gauge tube, which shifted the resonance enough to solve the problem for most riders.

The 1960 Capo I rode in Los Angeles (full double-butted Reynolds 531) used to wobble badly on descents if I overloaded the Pletscher rack with textbooks. My 1959 Capo (evidently straight-gauge Reynolds 531, based on the seatpost diameter it takes), sometimes wobbled with a previous wheelset, but it has been well-behaved since it got new paint (yes, probably irrelevant), a different wheelset, and a headset rebuild.
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Old 08-20-07, 07:49 AM   #13
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FWIW, I've found that my Columbus steel bikes and my aluminum frame/carbon rear & forks bikes felt more stable than my Titanium LeMond. That is not to say that the TI was unstable or dangerous. Just had this "flexy" feel to it.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:17 AM   #14
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Don't forget geometry.........my sport touring Romulus is a far smoother, more stable and confidence inspiring fast descender than my twitchy criterium bike.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George View Post
Do any of you, with steel bikes, have any problems going down hill above 30mph. I've read on the touring forum, that some people were all over the road going down hill with steel bikes, or they started to go into a high speed wobble. I'm thinking it may be because of the way the bike is loaded, but I thought it may be a good question here, as we don't load up that much, when we ride.
I was just out last week with a load of over 40 lbs in bags front and rear. No problem shooting down a hill at about 34 mph. I was a bit concerned about the brakes overheating, but that's a different post.

I don't think frame material has as much to do with high speed wobble as frame alignment, the wheels being true, how weight is distributed, etc. I'm wondering if what you saw wasn't just another type of steel bashing, which some folks feel a strong need to do.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:41 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Jet Travis View Post
Steel bikes can be fine descenders, but I would never try to go fast downhill with a loaded touring bike. That's just crazy.
I was touring down in the Hill Country and I exceeded 30 mph on some hills---the ones I climbed at about 4 mph.

I guess I'm crazy, but experienced no wobble or anything. Only problem I had was nearly running over a deer.
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Old 08-20-07, 09:00 AM   #17
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Frame material will effect resonance but it is not fair to say that steel or TI or Carbon etc is the ultimate difference. Tubing diameter, wall thickness and the geometry of the frame and fork all contribute to the ultimate point at which a bike will oscilate due to resonance.

I suspect as mentioned here that the loaded touring bike reference had to do with basically stable frames being loaded in such a manner as to bring the total into resonance.
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Old 08-20-07, 09:35 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by George View Post
Do any of you, with steel bikes, have any problems going down hill above 30mph. I've read on the touring forum, that some people were all over the road going down hill with steel bikes, or they started to go into a high speed wobble. I'm thinking it may be because of the way the bike is loaded, but I thought it may be a good question here, as we don't load up that much, when we ride.
I have a hill that's good for a solid 40mph close by. I've gone down it on no less than 4 different steel framed bikes without a wiggle. The idea that a steel frame is responsible is ridiculous, unless it was badly made or been damaged.

In my youth, I toured on a steel-framed Peugeot. It never wiggled either. More likely it is bad loading as you thought.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:40 AM   #19
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I tend to use a downhill as a rest/recharge break so I have something "in the tank" for the next uphill.
+1
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Old 08-20-07, 11:40 AM   #20
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Hit 42mph recently on two different hills on my 4130 long wheelbase recumbent. No instability.
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Old 08-20-07, 11:56 AM   #21
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I've not had any problems with the Coda going down hills at what feels like high speed to me. The fastest so far has been 42.8 and no wobbles. I do like the disc brakes when I'm going that fast on longish hills.
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Old 08-22-07, 10:57 AM   #22
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40+ on my Mercian and rock steady. I have experienced high speed wobble on other bikes and while not pleasant, its pretty easy to clamp the top tube with your knees, and gently apply the brakes an slow down till the wobble subsides.
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Old 08-22-07, 11:06 AM   #23
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Quote:
...or they started to go into a high speed wobble.
See this...

http://www.pro-am.com.au/speed_wobble_on_a_bicycle.htm
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Old 08-22-07, 11:32 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrossChain View Post
Don't forget geometry.........my sport touring Romulus is a far smoother, more stable and confidence inspiring fast descender than my twitchy criterium bike.
Bingo, we have a winner with this response.
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Old 08-22-07, 03:35 PM   #25
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Terrierman, do the disc brakes help you stop quicker, or is there some other reason you feel safer with them?
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