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Old 06-25-07, 06:48 PM   #1
jasclermont
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Steering issues..

Hey y'all - I'm a relative newbie and I have a bit of a problem which I discovered out on the trail today. I seem to be so concerned with overcorrecting my turns that I actually "undercorrect" and sometimes end up going striaght into the woods. Or worse into a tree (or 3 like today). I try to pick a good line ahead of time, but I'm pretty "shakey" goin' into the turns. Could a slightly misaligned fork cause such lack of control - or (as I suspect) is it me. As to the fork thing, I have noticed it's quite difficult for me to do the "look ma, no hands" thing on this bike (on flat level ground, of course). Any advice / ways to overcome this are greatly appreciated. Oh - I have a Trek 4300.
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Old 06-25-07, 07:09 PM   #2
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Best advice, go slower on that trail.

If you are flying off the trail for correction errors, it usually means that the rider is going a bit faster than they should be. SKetchy is cool, but wiping enough that it's a concern is a sign of something else.


Now, if it's the bike actually feeling loose (verify this on pavement if you can), then that's a cause for concern. A wheel that's flexing through turns will feel about like the shifting of an underinflated tire. Wobbly could be a serious wheel true issue, a loose skewer (check them, always), or something else.

If you think the fork is misaligned, then do this:

draw a chalk line from a wall about 4 feet out.
set the bike on top of it so the tires are split in half by that line (front and back tires)
now put two plumb bobs on your handlebars, one each end...see where they drop. if one is in front of the other (use the chalk line on the floor for determining this), then your bars and fork are not aligned to each other.
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Old 06-25-07, 07:23 PM   #3
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Yea, I tried to slow it down a bit, but I seem to have the problem even when I'm goin' slower. It may be an issue of me just needing to learn the bike a bit (I had about a year hiatus and didn't ride it on the trail all that much before - maybe 8-10 rides). Should I be leaning into the turns like a riders do on a motocycle, or stay upright and throw the bike thru the turns? I'll check the alignment as you recommended. I'll also check out the skewer (once I figure out what that is).
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Old 06-25-07, 09:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasclermont
I'll also check out the skewer (once I figure out what that is).
The skewer is part of your quick-release mechanism. It's what holds your tire on. The skewer is the small rod that goes through the axle to the other side. You want to be sure that your wheel is properly on the frame, properly seated, not crooked, not loose.
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Old 06-25-07, 09:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasclermont
Hey y'all - I'm a relative newbie and I have a bit of a problem which I discovered out on the trail today. I seem to be so concerned with overcorrecting my turns that I actually "undercorrect" and sometimes end up going striaght into the woods. Or worse into a tree (or 3 like today). I try to pick a good line ahead of time, but I'm pretty "shakey" goin' into the turns. Could a slightly misaligned fork cause such lack of control - or (as I suspect) is it me. As to the fork thing, I have noticed it's quite difficult for me to do the "look ma, no hands" thing on this bike (on flat level ground, of course). Any advice / ways to overcome this are greatly appreciated. Oh - I have a Trek 4300.
If it's the bike...it may be that your headset bearings are too tight. If it's you,well then you'll have to figure out how to correct this. If you need to lean in to the turn, then you will need to steer in the opposite direction of a corner to get it to lean on the edge of the tires.
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Old 06-26-07, 04:07 AM   #6
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I forgot to mention that seat height matters too. A MTB seat should be slightly lower (less than 1" difference) than a road bike's seat would be. Yes it's less than optimal lege extension, but it allows you to get out of and behind your saddle as needed (which really makes technical handling easier).

Make sure your tires are not rolling over themselves when going around corners too (underinflation is the main cause of this, second is the tire could be overloaded....like my 250lb butt on a set of tires rated for 45psi).
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Old 06-26-07, 04:10 AM   #7
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Yes, lean it thru the turns, bikes... motorcycles the same dynamics are at work when turning.
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Old 06-26-07, 06:03 AM   #8
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I like to run a few maneuvering drills on the flat as well, I pick someplace open and start riding figure eights as fast and tight as I can. Until six weeks ago it had been over thirty years since I'd been on anything with two wheels, not only has bike geometry changed radically but my own geometry as well, I thought that running such drills would help and it has.
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