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Why is my wife's bike harder to pedal?

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Why is my wife's bike harder to pedal?

Old 05-04-20, 05:23 AM
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jharmon203
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Why is my wife's bike harder to pedal?

I got my wife a new/used diamondback serene and it just seems like her bike is a bit more difficult to pedal. The brakes are not rubbing. I switched her tires out for a more road type of tire, but her original ones were not that knobby.

Is the pedal length a standard length on all 26in sized tire bikes? I measure the center to center of the pedal and the connection to the front cassette and my bike seems to have the same length as hers. However, when I am riding her bike it just feels like arc of the pedal is just a bit narrower.

Also what can be done to improve coasting on a bike beside always going downhill?
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Old 05-04-20, 05:48 AM
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There can be a lot of factors involved in what is happening. Crank lengths can vary though that isn't always a big difference. Maintenance and use over time can effect things. It's surprising how much friction the pulleys in the rear derailleur can add. Pull, clean and grease them: clean, grease and adjust the hubs and BB. Freewheel or cassette adding a little light lube to the freewheeling mechanism will let it coast nicer. Better, lighter tires can help it feel livelier as can smoother one if they are knobby.
It can also be that your bike has nicer parts, this means that bearings can be a touch more precise along with cones and races which will make you faster..
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Old 05-04-20, 05:51 AM
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Phil_gretz
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Perceived difficulty in pedaling can come from three sources: bio-mechanical inefficiency (i.e., the way things fit your body), sources of bearing friction (more about that below) and resistance to the rolling surface (which you partially addressed in your original post).

Others will chime in. Bearing resistance may be the culprit here. Three main contributors come to mind: front hub bearing, rear hub bearing, and bottom bracket (crank) bearing. You have to "feel" each of these independent of the bike. Front hub is easiest. Remove the wheel from the bike. Stand the wheel up with your hands holding either side of the axle that runs through the hub. Using your index finger and thumb, gently turn the axle while "feeling" whether there is any resistance or roughness. If so, the bearing preload is likely set too tightly. YouTube can show you how to adjust that out. If the hub feels loose, but has side-to-side play, then the bearing pre-load is too loose.

The crank bearing is next easiest. With the front wheel back on and the front derailleur changed to its innermost position, gently lift the chain off of the smallest chainring, allowing it to fall down onto the bottom bracket shell of the bike. It should now be free of the crank. Rotate the crank slowly, feeling whether or not it resists. It should be smooth and free to spin, with maybe a slight viscous resistance from the bearing if it is new.

The rear hub bearing is last. You have to remove the rear wheel. Feel the axle resistance in the same way that you did the front. To correct this, You'll have to gain access to hub cones, which can involve removal of the rear cluster, but doesn't necessarily require it. Come back if that's the culprit. Good luck.
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Old 05-04-20, 05:54 AM
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jharmon203
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thanks so much for this information!
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Old 05-04-20, 07:19 AM
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I've seen the seals on hubs cause a ton of drag. Even if the rest of the bike is adjusted perfectly.

Most of the time, you can remove the seals with no real downside. They're just cup and cone underneath. Bontrager and probably others have a modern take on this. They have a pressed cartridge bearing with a seal directly touching it. It looks like a simple cup and cone until disassembled. These suck, there is no way to get them rolling smoothly. The seal is part of the spacing of the axle.
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Old 05-04-20, 07:22 AM
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jharmon203
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Thanks I will check into this as well.
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Old 05-04-20, 09:52 AM
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Plus check the pedals. They always seem to be far too tight. Mine will spin 5 and 10 times when flicked. One set I had to take apart and relube and loosen the cones.
Recently I tried to spin them on brand new Linus bikes. Wouldn't even go around once. WTH.

The best test of the wheels, is to turn the bike upside down and spin them. My CCM front wheel, with 1/4" ball cage, goes several minutes. I like a bit loose better than a bit tight. There should be some rattle when test jiggling side to side. I can still feel a rumble when holding the end of the axle, but hear nothing. Back wheels will stop in half that time. They should rock back and forth a while until it stops.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 05-04-20 at 09:57 AM.
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Old 05-04-20, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
... I like a bit loose better than a bit tight. There should be some rattle when test jiggling side to side...
This may be your preference. During my apprenticeship decades ago, an expert taught me that the best pre-load adjustment allows for the smallest side-to-side movement that should be taken up by the tightening pressure of the quick release skewer when closed. Too loose of a hub bearing is said to contribute to hub wear. I've not been able to confirm this. I've handled a few hundred wheel sets.
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Old 05-04-20, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by jharmon203 View Post
Thanks I will check into this as well.
Just pick the bike up and spin the wheels. They should spin freely without any resistance. I suspect that the bearings are too tight and the wheels won’t spin. This is a fairly common problem on machine built wheels on many bikes. I think they tighten the bearings so that the hub doesn’t spin as freely in the lacing/tensioning machine and then no one checks the bearings. I’ve seen this problem since at least 2005. We discovered the problem 350 miles of travel between Missoula, MT and Umatilla, OR. Things went better after we adjusted the bearings.

At the co-op where I volunteer, I see it on a lot of new bikes that haven’t been prepped properly.
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Old 05-04-20, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
This may be your preference. During my apprenticeship decades ago, an expert taught me that the best pre-load adjustment allows for the smallest side-to-side movement that should be taken up by the tightening pressure of the quick release skewer when closed. Too loose of a hub bearing is said to contribute to hub wear. I've not been able to confirm this. I've handled a few hundred wheel sets.
+1
I use the preload method and it results in a hub that spins nicely without any play I went over our school district's bike safety fleet this winter and did 37 sets of hubs. It was amazing the differrences in the bearings smoothness/reistance before working on them.

Last edited by Doug64; 05-04-20 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 05-08-20, 12:50 PM
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Phil_gretz Very well written explanation here! Super informative.
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Old 05-09-20, 07:34 PM
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Consider posture too. A less aggressive posture puts the legs in a less efficient position.
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Old 05-09-20, 07:51 PM
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Unless something is really weird with the bearings, small differences in seals or bearing should not be noticeable to a novice without power meter. Spinning the wheels or cranks will reveal that.

I guess geometry is different or the gearing is different. Not sure if the OP rode with he same gearing (i.e wife's bike has higher gearing).
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Old 05-10-20, 12:14 PM
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LOL, side story:

my wife also complains her bikes (all 3 I’ve gotten her now) pedal “harder”. I’ve checked them out and of course they are fine.

i tell her, the problem is the engine
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Old 05-10-20, 12:41 PM
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When I got a new bike a few years ago, it felt harder to pedal than my road bikes. It turned out that the preload on the the crankset was too high and it was hard to turn the cranks. Take the chain off the cranks and see they spin freely.
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