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questioning my competence as a rider...

Old 04-04-16, 02:19 PM
  #1  
dougmon 
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questioning my competence as a rider...

I have two whole months of cycling experience under my belt now, and while I've become better, there is one thing happening that still bothers me. When I remove one hand from the handlebars to signal, the front wheel twitches a bit -- 7 mm to the left, 8 to the right, 6 to the left, etc. etc.

I know it's possible for this not to happen, but is it a core strength issue? An issue of experience? Any pointers will be helpful....except, of course, "just don't signal..."

Thanaks.
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Old 04-04-16, 02:22 PM
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Practice Standing to coast, then pedal when standing.

It will increase your overall balance.
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Old 04-04-16, 02:28 PM
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Get some rollers and ride on them for a few weeks.
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Old 04-04-16, 02:32 PM
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Practice makes perfect.
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Old 04-04-16, 02:32 PM
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You'll get used to it after a while. Look straight where you're going; not down or back.
Next thing you know; you'll be grabbing a drink, taking a sip and putting the bottle back
with out any problems.
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Old 04-04-16, 02:41 PM
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Practice riding one handed, while coasting, then no handed, and finally one or no handed while pedaling.

Your problem is that you're over committing your body while pedaling, either because you're in a too high gear, the saddle is too high or too low, and your leg motion is rocking your hips. These causes and/or others are causing the bike frame to rock side to side as you pedal, and the steering is responding to the lean. The right saddle height, combined with lower gears will allow you to turn pedals without the frame moving.

Once you get used to seat of the pants steering (bicyclists were doing this before airplanes) coasting or pedaling won't make a difference.
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Old 04-04-16, 02:45 PM
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It's just balance as has already been noted, but I'll add that slight twitches of the wheel are part of our balance. Watch your handlebars some time riding no-handed, they'll twitch as you shift your hips to keep the bike straight. In fact, the balance and control is more from the hips than controlling the bars, along with keeping your mass centered above the top tube.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:05 PM
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Same way as you get to Carnegie Hall.

(One way to practice is to use the fog line on a straight section of good pavement without too much traffic, if you can find such a place.)
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Old 04-04-16, 03:10 PM
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This is worrying too much about things that don't matter. Keep signaling, if you twitch, so what.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Practice riding one handed, while coasting, then no handed, and finally one or no handed while pedaling.

Your problem is that you're over committing your body while pedaling, either because you're in a too high gear, the saddle is too high or too low, and your leg motion is rocking your hips. These causes and/or others are causing the bike frame to rock side to side as you pedal, and the steering is responding to the lean. The right saddle height, combined with lower gears will allow you to turn pedals without the frame moving.

Once you get used to seat of the pants steering (bicyclists were doing this before airplanes) coasting or pedaling won't make a difference.
Oh yeah, I've been on group rides with a few riders like that. The front wheel moves left-right with every pedal stroke, even with both hands on the bars.

I realized how much balance affects the bike when I was riding my old mountain bike in an inch of snow on the road. Just a little lean to one side would start the tire sliding out. It's easy on dry roads to use the tire friction to bring the bike back in line, but that doesn't have the same effect in slippery snow conditions.

Sometimes, when riding solo, I practice riding the white line at the side of the road, and feeling my balance point over the center of the bike. (I have to look ahead, not down near the wheel, to go straight.)
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Old 04-04-16, 03:21 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
This is worrying too much about things that don't matter. Keep signaling, if you twitch, so what.
While on the one hand, I agree, and think he'll be fine so long as he doesn't panic, twitching of the handlebar can cause an inexperienced rider panic and lose control. He just needs to be careful, but he'll be alright with practice.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
...
I realized how much balance affects the bike when ...
It's a common misconception that we somehow "balance" a bicycle. The reality is that we're in a constant state of falling to one side or the other. We stay upright by steering the bicycle back under our center of gravity, using the same mental/physical processes we use when walking and running.

With some experience, we detect and respond to the beginning of a fall sooner and need ever smaller corrections. This is also why riding very slow is difficult. With greater speed the time, required for the front wheel to track back across is shorter, so our corrections happen that much faster before we're as far off out point of balance.

Bicycle fork geometry, and mechanical steering forces help, but the core of the process is learned reflexes, which is why it's nearly impossible to ride a bike where the steering inputs are different or reversed.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:31 PM
  #13  
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Thanks, everyone, for your input. My favorite reply was, of course:

Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
This is worrying too much about things that don't matter. Keep signaling, if you twitch, so what.
...because it requires no effort on my part.

Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
You'll get used to it after a while. Look straight where you're going; not down or back.
Next thing you know; you'll be grabbing a drink, taking a sip and putting the bottle back
with out any problems.
This is good, also. I'm probably paying too much attention to the wheel. Perhaps I should be concentrating on relaxing.

Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Practice Standing to coast, then pedal when standing.

It will increase your overall balance.
And this I will do also. I'm already standing to coast, but I lose my balance when I try to pedal standing. So there may be some validity to the point @FBinNY makes; that my leg motion is rocking my hips.

Again, everyone who replied had a point to make, and they all gave me something to think about. So thanks!
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Old 04-04-16, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Roadwanderer View Post
While on the one hand, I agree, and think he'll be fine so long as he doesn't panic, twitching of the handlebar can cause an inexperienced rider panic and lose control. He just needs to be careful, but he'll be alright with practice.
Fortunately, panic was not a component here. Frustration over lack of control, yes.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
This is worrying too much about things that don't matter. Keep signaling, if you twitch, so what.
^This is my thought as well.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmon View Post
Fortunately, panic was not a component here. Frustration over lack of control, yes.
You're fine then. Like everyone is saying, practice can cure the issue you're experiencing. I routinely ride with no hands at all, but it took some time to get there.
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Old 04-04-16, 05:08 PM
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Kinda the functional equivalent of just learned to drive and now have my driver's license. Competent enough to be allowed on the road but not really there yet. Give it time and miles experience and all should be fine.
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Old 04-04-16, 05:41 PM
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6 to 8 mm? You're looking at your front wheel too closely. Look at traffic.
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Old 04-04-16, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by GP View Post
6 to 8 mm? You're looking at your front wheel too closely. Look at traffic.
But really, the total travel side-to-side is 14mm! An entire half-an-inch!

Yeah, you're right. Also you made me laugh; at myself, but that's ok.
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Old 04-04-16, 06:20 PM
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Just like driving a car. Your bike follows your eyes. Look way ahead. Don't fixate on things you're trying not to hit, like bollards or glass. Look at the clear space next to them.
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Old 04-04-16, 06:32 PM
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Could just be the bike design. My old Motobecane Mirage balanced easily for one-handed or even no-hands riding. My current Globe Carmel comfy/hybrid feels twitchy if I even think about no-hands riding.

Handlebar design strongly affects one-handed riding. Narrow drop bars are less twitchy, particularly when gripped along the top of the bar where the hand is nearer center. My Globe has a wide handlebar and any uneven pressure on one side immediately shifts balance and direction. It feels somewhat more stable when gripped slightly closer to center, although the brake and shifter position limit versatility. I may trim 1/2" to 1" from the ends to get the grips and controls closer to center. It'll also feel better on those narrow bike paths and bridges -- sometimes I worry about smacking oncoming riders with my handlebar end-mounted mirror.
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Old 04-04-16, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Get some rollers and ride on them for a few weeks.
My favorite response! But, OP, don't take it too seriously. Riding rollers at this stage might well turn you off from cycling completely.

Rollers are "trainers" that consist of three cylinders about 18" long and 6" in diameter in a low rectangular frame. Two cylinders run across the frame at one end and one at the other. The bicycle rear wheel fits on top of the two. A belt drives the one at the other end. You ride the bike just like you are on the road but this road is only 18" wide and has no visual guides to assist balance. Very demanding balance-wise. And if you can get comfortable on them, riding a precise straight line on the road doing anything at all is child's play. (There are racers who can sit up and pull their jerseys over their heads riding them but I'll wager they have hundreds of hours on them.)

Rollers have been around for 100 years. Racers still use them. Races are held on them.

I forgot to point out that any time you deviate from that 18" "road", you crash. Zero speed so the road rash is negligible. But plan your furniture around your rollers accordingly.

The friends who kept an eye on me after my head injury set me up on rollers and would not let me get back on the road until I had proven to them I had mastered the rollers. True friends.

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Old 04-04-16, 08:30 PM
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I think what you'll find is that it still happens occasionally no matter how much practice you get. I get annoyed with myself if I really get a wobble when removing my hands. While it's true that bikes are fundamentally unstable, they really will stay up pretty well by themselves as long as you don't make too many mistakes
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