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Old 12-05-08, 09:10 AM   #1
5kdad
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Remove Reflectors from Wheels?

I have an older Bianchi Strada road bike that I ride. For as long as I can remember, when I hit speeds of over 30mph off hills, I feel a bit of unevenness....not sure how to describe it, almost like brakes occasionally dragging, as if wheels were out of alignment, just a mild "pulsating". It's a "forward to backward" motion, not "side to side".
Mechanic at LBS suggested I try removing the reflectors from my wheels.
Ever heard of reflectors causing such a problem?
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Old 12-05-08, 09:22 AM   #2
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at high speed, yes

easy to test. get rid of them and run the route again


you could dump all reflectors and get some reflective tape
(auto zone truck tape and scissors)

then strategically place a strip on your crank for the blink effect from behind,
a square or two on the seatstays, or on the rims, and be done with the chunky plastic things
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Old 12-05-08, 09:45 AM   #3
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Hadn't thought about the reflective tape. Not much of a handy-man, if I take off the reflectors, I doubt they will be reusable.
I'll give that a shot!
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Old 12-05-08, 09:48 AM   #4
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I have an older Bianchi Strada road bike that I ride. For as long as I can remember, when I hit speeds of over 30mph off hills, I feel a bit of unevenness....not sure how to describe it, almost like brakes occasionally dragging, as if wheels were out of alignment, just a mild "pulsating". It's a "forward to backward" motion, not "side to side".
Mechanic at LBS suggested I try removing the reflectors from my wheels.
Ever heard of reflectors causing such a problem?
I had one of those front wheel reflectors jam up in my spokes on a less expensive bike that I had...back in that day. But you may never have a problem.

The higher end bikes I bought since don't come with 'em. My wife's recently purchased hybrid (Trek Navigator) had reflectors and I took them off (but she doesn't ride at night either).

I suggest removing them and using strategically place reflective tape.
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Old 12-05-08, 12:05 PM   #5
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If you don't ride at night, it doesn't much matter if they're there or not.

If you do ride at night, I'd leave them on. Perhaps consider a second reflector 180 degrees from the first to balance it out?

(My local bike store has a big tub of reflectors from off bikes, ask around and see if you can find them like that.)
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Old 12-05-08, 06:17 PM   #6
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When you buy that high end wheelset for $1,000, it won't come with reflectors.
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Old 12-05-08, 07:31 PM   #7
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id just say ditch them as well. they do tend to imbalance a wheel at speed and like mentioned, expensive sets don't come with them. if reflactive wheels are thaat big a thing to you, find a good set of tires with reflective sidewalls.
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Old 12-05-08, 07:40 PM   #8
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I can't think of how the reflectors could cause that sensation, but I haven't ridden with them in years, so I dunno (I'm not saying you should take them off, only that I did, except on my commuter, which is reflecto-taped and plastic-prismed within an inch of its life).
Have you checked the brakes to be sure they're not dragging at some point? Also the wheels or tires could be slightly out of round, which you can check by spinning them and holding something so it just brushes the surface. I once had wheel that was nearly a half-inch out (that's out of ROUND, diameter-wise, not out of true side to side). If you could borrow a set of wheels from a friend, you could rule that out (or in) with a ride around the block.
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Old 12-05-08, 11:49 PM   #9
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Unless you are a better man than I not going to get to 30 MPH on a ride around the block, the speed the original poster mentioned.

A plastic reflector unbalances a wheel. It can cause odd sensations at higher speed. You can see the imbalance by just picking up the front of a bike with a reflector on the front wheel. Unless the bearings are shot or brake dragging the wheel will rotate until the reflector is at the low side of the wheel.
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Old 12-06-08, 12:09 AM   #10
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I went with the reflective tape route myself

however, briefly, before i got ahold of the tape, my solution was to take the reflector off the front wheel
and put it on the rear wheel opposite the other reflector so they counterbalance each other

might try that
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Old 12-06-08, 12:17 AM   #11
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My Orbea didn't come with wheel reflectors or a dork disk, my old Bianchi did and I got rid of them.
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Old 12-06-08, 12:35 AM   #12
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Could be the rim. Some have a bead at the seam inside. My Velocity rims have that fore and aft movement while spinning on the trainer (by hand, not seated). Mavic OP's have the inner weld bead, noisey to, I hate them!

I've known a few riders that place the front speedometer magnet opposite the valve stem for balance.
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Old 12-06-08, 12:39 AM   #13
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Unless you are a better man than I not going to get to 30 MPH on a ride around the block, the speed the original poster mentioned.

A plastic reflector unbalances a wheel. It can cause odd sensations at higher speed. You can see the imbalance by just picking up the front of a bike with a reflector on the front wheel. Unless the bearings are shot or brake dragging the wheel will rotate until the reflector is at the low side of the wheel.
Did I piss you off by trying to be helpful, tatfiend, or what? Of course a reflector adds weight to one spot on the wheel, but in roughly 60,000 miles of riding more than two dozen bikes over the last 35 years at speeds up to 50+ mph (lots of big hills around here), I've never had one add enough weight that I could feel it. On the other hand, I've had several tires and a couple of wheels that were badly enough out of round that they produced a feeling similar to the one the OP described. I thought that information might steer him in a direction he hadn't considered.
FWIW, if that tats are that cool, you shouldn't need to call attention to them with your screen name. People would just KNOW you were inked.
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Old 12-06-08, 10:41 AM   #14
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If you venture into the woods on any proper mountain bike trail, you'll see a lot of these things lying by the side of the trail....

Most "enthusiasts" with high-end bikes won't tolerate the things; they are a bit dorky. On the other hand, I doubt if they really affect much, and they do put on a bit of a light show from the side when riding at night.
If you spend a lot of time riding at night, especially commuting, probably as well to leave them in place.
I confess I always toss 'em.....
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Old 12-06-08, 10:56 AM   #15
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Have you noticed that bikes come with the reflectors installed opposite the valve stems? How much imbalance would be caused by the valve with no reflector to counteract its mass?
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Old 12-06-08, 08:54 PM   #16
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Being a driver that has seen the bicycle "ghosts" flash out in front of him at night with no reflectors, I would say you would be crazy to take off your wheel reflectors unless you have reflector tires.

When you go at really high speeds, there are a lot of things that can make your bicycle shake and chatter. One is wheel and tire balancing which is, of course, affected by reflectors, but it is also effected by a lot of other things. Bicycle tires aren't balanced because the wheels rarely reach critical speed rpm.

Another thing that can make your bike shake is your forks - are they straight, undamaged, and true? If not, shake-shake-shake-your-booty.
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Old 12-06-08, 10:30 PM   #17
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From what you describe, I am betting that the wheel is a bit out of true and is hitting a brake pad once per revolution. That would feel like a front-back pulsation. Also, could your bearings be loose enough to let the wheel slop against the pads?

Seems far more likely than the reflectors.

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Old 12-07-08, 06:57 PM   #18
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If you can slide the reflector closer to the hub, it won't be as far out of balance.
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Old 12-07-08, 07:19 PM   #19
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I don't run reflectors on my wheels. I want to see the car coming and be out of it's (drunken - no doubt) way BEFORE it sees me BROADSIDE. So reflectors, aside from potentially unbalancing the wheels, also can give a nut-at-the-wheel a target to prove to his pals how tough he is. Seen it happen. So I just get out of range. If I want to light up like a Christmas tree, I'll get out the reflective tape and apply same to my clothing.
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Old 12-07-08, 07:22 PM   #20
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so a slight revision to my prev advice. make sure the wheels are true, the bearings are good and axles straight. then go buy a set of relective sidewall tires if you wanna be seen at night. your headlight and rear relector should work well too. im just biased cuz of bad exp with spoke mounted reflectors.
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Old 12-07-08, 08:23 PM   #21
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Try taking the reflectors off. They're easy ...1/4 - 1/2 turn with a screwdriver and the plastic screw in the center can be pushed out. No need to break them off if you feel you want them. If that does not do it check for true. That means not only side to side true but also out of round. You can usually do that yourself. Now if neither of those do it check the bearings and see if the cones are overly loose or the bearings need replacing. If you don't feel comfortable about checking them your LBS should be able for a small charge. Start with the simple things first. One at a time.
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Old 12-07-08, 08:35 PM   #22
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I don't run reflectors on my wheels. I want to see the car coming and be out of it's (drunken - no doubt) way BEFORE it sees me BROADSIDE. So reflectors, aside from potentially unbalancing the wheels, also can give a nut-at-the-wheel a target to prove to his pals how tough he is. Seen it happen. So I just get out of range. If I want to light up like a Christmas tree, I'll get out the reflective tape and apply same to my clothing.

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Old 12-07-08, 08:37 PM   #23
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If it's out of true/round, you'll see it even when spinning the wheel slowly. Check it on a stand or leave it on the bike and check the clearance between the rim and the brake pads.

If it's straight and you still feel wobbling, something's out of balance. Spin it and let it coast to a stop. Spin it again, slowly (like, half a revolution per second), then let it stop again, and repeat a few more times. Put the reflector on the spoke that seems to end up at the top of the wheel every time.
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Old 12-07-08, 08:38 PM   #24
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From what you describe, I am betting that the wheel is a bit out of true and is hitting a brake pad once per revolution. That would feel like a front-back pulsation. Also, could your bearings be loose enough to let the wheel slop against the pads?

Seems far more likely than the reflectors.

jim
I can see what is being got at but I always had them 1/3-1/2 way down and not in the way of the pads.

If you have a true wheel then it's slipping at the axle from a nut coming loose.
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Old 12-07-08, 08:39 PM   #25
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Of course, the reflector-less imbalance may be slight enough that the reflector will imbalance it the other way anyway. That's when you either get a smaller reflector, get a second one on the opposite side, switch to reflective tape, or just go without.
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