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Wheel off centre in fork

Old 05-12-17, 12:54 PM
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wannabemekon
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Wheel off centre in fork

The front wheel on my bike is off-centre in my fork. I've checked the dishing (both by flipping the wheel and taking it to a shop) and the dishing is within .5 mm of perfect it seems. The wheel is true otherwise.

So how much off-centre is normal for a high-end bike? Is ~2 mm an issue to justify a return to the manufacturer?

This translates into a ~4mm difference in clearance at the sides of the fork, which is visually noticeable and perhaps a bummer for installing larger tires.

I also wonder: would such a small bit of displacement from centre affect handling? At speed? When riding without hands?
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Old 05-12-17, 01:00 PM
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The real consideration here isn't any fixed or specific measurement. It's how the bike rides.

If it steers true, with no sense of pulling to either side, than the fork and wheel are fine, even if the the wheel is much closer to one blade than the other.

Otherwise, I'd venture that a reasonable working tolerance for the top of a wheel centering in the top of the fork is probably closer to 2mm TIR (or, 1mm off from the center). If this is a new fork, and you haven't installed it yet, and so can't speak to how it rides, I'd return it. Otherwise, how it rides is trumps.
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Old 05-12-17, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by wannabemekon View Post
The front wheel on my bike is off-centre in my fork. I've checked the dishing (both by flipping the wheel and taking it to a shop) and the dishing is within .5 mm of perfect it seems. The wheel is true otherwise.

So how much off-centre is normal for a high-end bike? Is ~2 mm an issue to justify a return to the manufacturer?

This translates into a ~4mm difference in clearance at the sides of the fork, which is visually noticeable and perhaps a bummer for installing larger tires.

I also wonder: would such a small bit of displacement from centre affect handling? At speed? When riding without hands?
So what you are saying is that since the wheel stays in relatively the same position when you flip it, it's gotta be the fork that's messed up?

Yeah, I'd return it. The front wheel should be perfectly centered at the fork crown when fully mounted in the dropouts.

I've never seen a new bike have anything other than that. (Ok, maybe a mm off, but that's it.)

Alternatively, you could mess with dishing or axle spacers.
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Old 05-12-17, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
The real consideration here isn't any fixed or specific measurement. It's how the bike rides.

If it steers true, with no sense of pulling to either side, than the fork and wheel are fine, even if the the wheel is much closer to one blade than the other.

...Otherwise, how it rides is trumps.
Well, I've ridden it for about 5 months, almost all of that with fenders (and hence without noticing the issue). Only after removing them recently and spending five hours staring at my wheel (I look like a less-skinny version of Chris Froome) did I notice it. But I've always found the bike a bit less than stable at high speeds on our local big hills. And I've found it hard to ride without hands. I wouldn't say I feel like it "pulls" to one side, but there is something slightly unnerving at high speed (I'd guess over 40-50kph; I have no garmin/gizmo)--a kind of wavering.

Thanks for the replies.
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Old 05-12-17, 02:06 PM
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if the fork is off center, or more important, the wheel off from the central plane, there would be consistent pulling to the same side. Absent that, It's reasonable to assume that the wheel track is within acceptable tolerances.

High speed wobble is often discussed here. It's a harmonic phenomenon, resulting from a number of factors, and solvable by a number of methods, from changing the harmonics, lowering front tire pressure, changing weight distribution at high speed, and so on.

The fork being off, though not enough to cause pull, may contribute, but equally so, it may not, and changing the fork may not change anything.

In any case, I suspect that it will be hard to warranty a fork for alignment after 5 months is going to be difficult. And fixing the "problem" requires analyzing the specific issue, which may be one dropout slightly higher than the other, or the fork ends being off center with respect to the steering axis.

FWIW - and to give a sense of perspective, if it's a question of dropout height (easily fixed with a round file), there's a multiplier effect, and it takes less than half a millimeter to cause the 4mm TIR you report.

Also, know that if you elect to "fix" the fork, you might actually move it from OK to not OK and cause the very problem you're hoping to avoid.

So, my advice is to leave bad enough alone Or if you can't, to remove the fork and do a series of precise measurements to discern the EXACT errors, then address them specifically and correctly.

BTW - the easiest, though not assured, way to manage high speed wobble is to descent with pedals horizontal and one knee braced against the top tube. This changes the harmonics and dampens and usually totally resolves the wobble.

Another is to relax or tense slightly. Part of the harmonic system is related to how firmly you resist the wobble by bracing the bar. Often relaxing a bit slows and eliminates the wobble, other riding in the drops and bracing harder by pushing both sides forward does the trick. There's no set one size for all fix, but most cases can be cured through trial and error until you dial in the formula.
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Last edited by FBinNY; 05-12-17 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 05-12-17, 02:17 PM
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What is the fork material?

Steel should be able to be adjusted slightly.

Carbon would depend on the cause of the problem. You might be able to shave a fraction of a mm off of the top of a dropout to move the wheel over by a mm or two at the top, but whether that is appropriate depends on whether it is a dropout problem or a blade alignment issue.

Make sure the wheel is installed with both dropouts firmly resting on the axle.
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Old 05-12-17, 04:01 PM
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fork material: carbon. i overlooked including that. and it's thru-axle, so no dropout shaving/filing here.

thanks for the replies. i'll follow up with seller and see what they think. extremely friendly.

thanks for the high-speed wobble tips.
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Old 05-13-17, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by wannabemekon View Post
fork material: carbon. i overlooked including that. and it's thru-axle, so no dropout shaving/filing here.

thanks for the replies. i'll follow up with seller and see what they think. extremely friendly.

thanks for the high-speed wobble tips.
Was the wheel checked for dish with the tire inflated to normal riding pressure?
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Old 05-13-17, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by operator View Post
Was the wheel checked for dish with the tire inflated to normal riding pressure?
Yes, it was.
I'm taking it to a local builder to get it checked to make sure before I send it back.

The manufacturer said he's happy to swap it out.

Thanks for all your suggestions and help.
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