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Increase stability uphill

Old 06-20-24, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
Put in some paragraph breaks, and someone might read that wall of text.
Noted and corrected. Thank you.
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Old 06-21-24, 01:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
Well certainly not gearing. A BMX would require standing climbing and not have the endurance of a mountain bike with lower gearing.

Not traction in really soft stuff, as a 26" wheel has a much better cone index (how far it sinks into soft terrain) than 20" for the same tread width.

But in some fundamental things, widely varying bikes are more alike than most folks realize. Wheelbase is quite similar between the two, in fact it's quite common for a 20" folder to have a touch more wheelbase than a road race bike, especially criterium geometry, but quite close to mountain 26". Most folks might think that a 20" has a lot more trail/caster to compensate for the lower inertial stability of smaller wheels, but they don't, trail length is surprisingly close to large wheel bikes. Since a BMX can have landings on steep downhills, one might think it would have longer trail to maintain stability then, but too long a trail on small wheels can contribute to wheel flop, so perhaps not, I don't have exact fork geometry for a BMX at my fingertips.

Don't get me wrong, there are significant differences in different bike types. But in some key fundamentals, they are surprisingly similar. A criterium bike has a bit less stability, intentionally, for more agility on a tight city course, kinda what they refer to as "relaxed stability" on more recent generations of fighter aircraft.

SNIP

The OP's post was asking about what can be done to improve stability. Referencing the fact, that smaller wheel bikes are less stable due to less wheel inertia (angular momentum), and thus have revealed more clearly these mass effects, is important, and applicable to all bikes. I discovered some of this by experimenting on my own bike, but the research paper from Cornell and Delft U's vastly exceed that. They went even further (than my small-wheel bike) into reducing, in fact eliminating, the stabilizing effects of any wheel inertia, and trail, leaving primarily mass effects as the variable. And they determined that mass forward of the steering axis is the key factor. Note, they are talking about unsteered mass attached to the frame;

“SNIP”

What I will concede, however, is that the study mentioned above, was with a bike rolling and not near stopped, and was on level ground, not steeply ascending or descending. I'll have to give thought to both. I wish I had access to the computer simulation written by the researchers, to be able to explore results under those conditions.
Excellent post.,Can you provide links to the studies?
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Old 06-21-24, 01:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
I'm not saying they are not different. But folding bikes also have stability issues. And by looking at the differences in design, versus the differences in stability, that sometimes yields knowledge. It's like in mathematics, asking how a function behaves at zero, versus infinity, it sometimes gives a clue to a solution. My folder has less front stability versus larger wheel bikes, so changes to front weighting make a BIG difference, more evident than large wheel bikes. Some of those lessons can be applied. When they did a study at Cornell and Delft U's on bike stability, they gave their test model, zero gyroscopic stability, and zero trail/caster, in order to concentrate on weight effects, and thus changes in weighting really jumped out. Those weighting conclusions, then applied to my bike, which has some gyroscopic inertia but not a ton, some trail but not a lot, made a big difference. Those lessons also apply to a mountain bike; They'll make a bit less impact than on my bike, but they do apply.
Have rests been done with steering dampers?
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Old 06-21-24, 02:27 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Excellent post.,Can you provide links to the studies?
The following is what I have bookmarked. I also downloaded a much more detailed writeup (PDF) showing the program parameters and videos of rolling tests of the constructed "two-mass-skate" (IIRC), but no way to really post those. (Is there?) I'm sure if you dig deep enough, you can find those based on this info:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...f-stable-bike/
EDIT: STAND BY, I THINK I HAVE MORE DETAILED LINKS TO POST... I THINK IT'S ALL HERE!:
http : //bicycle.tudelft.nl/stablebicycle/ (no spaces)
(EDIT: Some have mentioned the link didn't work. For some reason, and I cannot seem to correct this, when entered as a link, the post system changes the displayed URL to https and eliminates the prefix completely for the actual URL, and it doesn't work. Please copy the above URL to your browser, eliminate the spaces, and it should go there. If not, please notify me. Thanks.)

(This must be a safeguard in the Bike Forums system, perhaps in response to all the foreign spam links constantly seen in New Posts.)

Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Have rests been done with steering dampers?
I don't think in the above noted study. However, steering dampers are not only common, but more the rule than the exception, on motorbikes capable of exceeding speeds for "speed-wobble":

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_wobble

The dynamics of two-wheel systems has become so fascinating for me (initiated to improve stability of my 20" wheel bike), that were I younger, I might have gone in that direction, versus vehicle dynamics of four-wheel systems. In a lot of ways, two-wheel dynamics are much more complex (and four-wheel systems, and tractor-trailer dynamics, are no cake-walk, lemme tell ya). This stuff used to be learned empirically over many years by trial-and-error; Now, these things can be computer modeled. I can't recall if in the above study, they wrote their own code, or used a multibody dynamics simulation software like ADAMS.

I took a 40-hour course in vehicle dynamics of heavy duty truck systems, and immediately understood why my B.O.B. trailer when loaded and on a high-speed descent, would become unstable unless I *locked* the steering and made slow inputs, and this was on a long-wheelbase recumbent. Unmanageable on a conventional bike, even a very rigid one like my Cannondale. There's a huge crossover in applicability in knowledge, even between vehicles with a mass relationship of over 2000:1 .

Last edited by Duragrouch; 06-21-24 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 06-21-24, 03:06 AM
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Duragrouch , steering dampers are used by some downhill mountain bikers also.

I've never read a rider or designer discuss their use much but it seems to me a damper would be used primarily to slow front wheel deflection from hitting rocks at an angle.
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Old 06-21-24, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets
Duragrouch , steering dampers are used by some downhill mountain bikers also.

I've never read a rider or designer discuss their use much but it seems to me a damper would be used primarily to slow front wheel deflection from hitting rocks at an angle.
I would guess that on a downhill racer, a steering damper may be for both reducing hard steering feedback, and possibly speed wobble, but I don't know speeds reached in mountain downhill. That genre of bikes I know nothing about, except the following: Before widespread use and lower costs on e-bikes, a friend put one together for their wife to commute with, and based it on a full-suspension mountain downhill in good shape purchased used; I asked why, and he said, "Uh... because you can drop it off a five-story building and nothing will happen to it."

Steering dampers came into use on some american cars due to poor design; They copied the larger caster angle and trail of a respected euro marque that had excellent steering feel and stable centering at highway speed, but didn't take into account the much greater steered mass on Detroit iron, and at highways speeds would go divergent/bifurcation and become unstable, the exact opposite of the design intent. They were already too deep into the design, so a steering damper was the solution.
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Old 06-21-24, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets
Duragrouch , steering dampers are used by some downhill mountain bikers also.

I've never read a rider or designer discuss their use much but it seems to me a damper would be used primarily to slow front wheel deflection from hitting rocks at an angle.
On off road motorcycles, steering dampers are use to great effect to stabilize the steering in situations where the bike would likely become unstable (slow speed, particularly in sand).

Seems like this might help with slow speed instability on a bicycle.

I'll have to look up downhill steering dampers.
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Old 06-21-24, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
Well certainly not gearing. A BMX would require standing climbing and not have the endurance of a mountain bike with lower gearing.

Not traction in really soft stuff, as a 26" wheel has a much better cone index (how far it sinks into soft terrain) than 20" for the same tread width.

But in some fundamental things, widely varying bikes are more alike than most folks realize. Wheelbase is quite similar between the two, in fact it's quite common for a 20" folder to have a touch more wheelbase than a road race bike, especially criterium geometry, but quite close to mountain 26". Most folks might think that a 20" has a lot more trail/caster to compensate for the lower inertial stability of smaller wheels, but they don't, trail length is surprisingly close to large wheel bikes. Since a BMX can have landings on steep downhills, one might think it would have longer trail to maintain stability then, but too long a trail on small wheels can contribute to wheel flop, so perhaps not, I don't have exact fork geometry for a BMX at my fingertips.

Don't get me wrong, there are significant differences in different bike types. But in some key fundamentals, they are surprisingly similar. A criterium bike has a bit less stability, intentionally, for more agility on a tight city course, kinda what they refer to as "relaxed stability" on more recent generations of fighter aircraft.

But the point I was trying to make in previous posts, is that when you attempt to discern the critical aspects for stability, those are harder to determine when every parameter for stability are all biased toward positive on a design, like a mountain bike; On a bike with inherently less stability, like with smaller wheels, things like the effects of mass distribution, tend to become more prominent and clear. And unlike bike geometry, mass distribution is something that can be altered on a given bike.

The OP's post was asking about what can be done to improve stability. Referencing the fact, that smaller wheel bikes are less stable due to less wheel inertia (angular momentum), and thus have revealed more clearly these mass effects, is important, and applicable to all bikes. I discovered some of this by experimenting on my own bike, but the research paper from Cornell and Delft U's vastly exceed that. They went even further (than my small-wheel bike) into reducing, in fact eliminating, the stabilizing effects of any wheel inertia, and trail, leaving primarily mass effects as the variable. And they determined that mass forward of the steering axis is the key factor. Note, they are talking about unsteered mass attached to the frame; increased steered mass can also "calm" steering that is too twitchy, but this was unsteered mass forward of the head tube, and low. This caused the bike to steer in the direction of falling when rolled, and recovering. Which makes a whole lot of sense, given that the early Moulton "shoppers", with small wheels, had a front rack that was attached to the frame, not the fork. Alex Moulton was an extremely gifted and skilled engineer. It also explains the Brompton "front block" carrier attachment, also frame mounted, not fork, which adds to the stability, especially helpful on a bike with 16"/349 wheels and tires.

My point being: Just because these things have become more clear on small wheel bikes, does not mean they are not applicable to larger wheel bikes like a mountain bike. They are applicable, and advantageous. They may be less *critical* to the stability of a mountain bike than the other applications, but it is beneficial nonetheless. And for a person who is having stability issues, every little bit helps.

What I will concede, however, is that the study mentioned above, was with a bike rolling and not near stopped, and was on level ground, not steeply ascending or descending. I'll have to give thought to both. I wish I had access to the computer simulation written by the researchers, to be able to explore results under those conditions.
Yikes. That's a lot of word salad. But I'll give you credit for explaining how a BMX bike or folding bike is nothing like a mountain bike. Oh...And Mountain bikes are 27.5" or 29" tires these days.

What mountain bike do you own and how much single track trail riding and climbing on trails have you done?
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Old 06-21-24, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
On off road motorcycles, steering dampers are use to great effect to stabilize the steering in situations where the bike would likely become unstable (slow speed, particularly in sand).

Seems like this might help with slow speed instability on a bicycle.

I'll have to look up downhill steering dampers.
Cane Creek makes a steering damper for mountain bikes. I've read that some use them on fat bikes for snow riding, but haven't heard of their use outside of that.

https://canecreek.com/product/hellbender-70-visco/
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Old 06-21-24, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
On off road motorcycles, steering dampers are use to great effect to stabilize the steering in situations where the bike would likely become unstable (slow speed, particularly in sand).

Seems like this might help with slow speed instability on a bicycle.

I'll have to look up downhill steering dampers.
This is a bit of a surprise to me. I don't ride motorcycles, on or off road. I could see a steering damper for on-highway, as speeds could get into the regime of speed-wobble. (EDIT: The above link for the Cane Creek damping headset, specifically mentions high-speed oscillations, speed-wobble.) I could see a damper for off-road to slow down hard steering feedback from hitting an obstacle. But to enhance stability at low speeds... the rider is trying to use balance and steering to stay upright; I would think that a steering damper would just add a level of resistance to steering inputs, which might help in situations where a rider was overcorrecting; Cars designed for high-speed autobahn use have slower steering ratios and/or higher steering force at high speed (via no power assist, or reduced assist, and/or greater steering trail). So perhaps that is the case for a motorcycle steering damper helping at low speeds. There is also the other possibility, that a bike with sufficient trail for good riding at speed, has too much wheel-flop at low speeds, and the damper may help with that. It's complicated; Unlike with four-wheel vehicles, with two-wheel there is complex interation between steering and bike tilt and balance, as well as operator position, that is not present in four-wheel vehicles (to nearly the same amount, though vehicle tilt and balance do matter for roll-couple and steering action as the suspension moves).
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Old 06-21-24, 06:48 PM
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Edited second link in post #29 in response to member saying link did not work. If you tried to pull up the research paper and it didn't work, please see my edit. Thanks.
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Old 06-21-24, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
This is a bit of a surprise to me. I don't ride motorcycles, on or off road. I could see a steering damper for on-highway, as speeds could get into the regime of speed-wobble. (EDIT: The above link for the Cane Creek damping headset, specifically mentions high-speed oscillations, speed-wobble.) I could see a damper for off-road to slow down hard steering feedback from hitting an obstacle. But to enhance stability at low speeds... the rider is trying to use balance and steering to stay upright; I would think that a steering damper would just add a level of resistance to steering inputs, which might help in situations where a rider was overcorrecting; Cars designed for high-speed autobahn use have slower steering ratios and/or higher steering force at high speed (via no power assist, or reduced assist, and/or greater steering trail). So perhaps that is the case for a motorcycle steering damper helping at low speeds. There is also the other possibility, that a bike with sufficient trail for good riding at speed, has too much wheel-flop at low speeds, and the damper may help with that. It's complicated; Unlike with four-wheel vehicles, with two-wheel there is complex interation between steering and bike tilt and balance, as well as operator position, that is not present in four-wheel vehicles (to nearly the same amount, though vehicle tilt and balance do matter for roll-couple and steering action as the suspension moves).
A speed wobble at high speed on a street motorcycle is limited to low end poorly designed bikes.

On a dirt bike “wheel flop” (which I’d never heard of until hearing it on BF) can occur at slow speeds in soft terrain and the bike leans. The soft terrain can then grab the front wheel and toss the rider. Speed solves this problem, but can’t always be used. The steering dampers have a velocity sensitive fluid that resists the wheel flop if it occurs suddenly. A properly tuned damper will deal with the wheel flop, but won’t be noticed in other conditions. For example, rocking the handlebars back and forth quickly, one can barely feel the resistance.

https://slavensracing.com/shop/steer...iABEgIA2_D_BwE

Something like this would be great for our tandem when climbing in a 24-42 gear.

Do these work well? Seems likely might.

https://www.singletracks.com/mtb-gea...straight-line/

To stay on topic, how does weight loading and stem length effect how one experiences wheel flop?
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Old 06-21-24, 07:58 PM
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Found this

https://www.laufcycles.com/product/fsa-lower-damping
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Old 06-21-24, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
A speed wobble at high speed on a street motorcycle is limited to low end poorly designed bikes.

On a dirt bike “wheel flop” (which I’d never heard of until hearing it on BF) can occur at slow speeds in soft terrain and the bike leans. The soft terrain can then grab the front wheel and toss the rider. Speed solves this problem, but can’t always be used. The steering dampers have a velocity sensitive fluid that resists the wheel flop if it occurs suddenly. A properly tuned damper will deal with the wheel flop, but won’t be noticed in other conditions. For example, rocking the handlebars back and forth quickly, one can barely feel the resistance.

https://slavensracing.com/shop/steer...iABEgIA2_D_BwE

Something like this would be great for our tandem when climbing in a 24-42 gear.

Do these work well? Seems likely might.

https://www.singletracks.com/mtb-gea...straight-line/

To stay on topic, how does weight loading and stem length effect how one experiences wheel flop?
Thanks, info appreciated!

Weight and stem length... gosh, I don't know, there's a ton of factors in play, for example, I wonder if, on a steep incline and you suddenly grab the front brake, will that increase wheel flop? Probably, but then you should try to not stop on a steep, plus the front tire will not have much loading to brake. Thinking about this...

In general, front loading going uphill helps stability, if only to bring closer to "normal" F/R loading. That loading at the tire ground contact, will provide more force by which wheel flop happens (the initiating force is happening at the ground, more load equals more lateral friction), but the higher load there is good for everything else. Wheel flop (as I understand it) is mostly a function of how much trail versus the contact patch length; A larger diameter tire with a longer (flat) contact patch, (I think?) should tolerate a longer trail without wheel flop, versus a smaller diameter tire with the same trail. (And I'm talking big diameter differences, like 26" versus 20".) Longer trail gives more stability (at speed), but when heavily loaded like touring, can make the steering feel excessively heavy, which is why bikes intended for loaded touring seem to cut back on trail length accordingly. Which is why, I think, there is not as much difference in trail between tire sizes as I would have thought; They don't put in more trail than they need. (I've thought for years about a fork with two sets of dropouts for changing the trail based on cargo load and/or tire size; There's now a bike in production with an insert at the fork dropout, when reversed, does exactly that.)

Similar for stem length: Longer stem length tends to "slow down" steering feel, as you need some side translation in addition to only angular turning. I'm not sure if this has an effect on wheel flop. I'm still thinking about leverage, whether a longer stem, while slower-acting, might have a longer leverage arm to act on steering... still thinking about that, not sure.

Last edited by Duragrouch; 06-21-24 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 06-21-24, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71
Cane Creek makes a steering damper for mountain bikes. I've read that some use them on fat bikes for snow riding, but haven't heard of their use outside of that.

https://canecreek.com/product/hellbender-70-visco/
That looks interesting. Cane Creek’s support team actually answers the phone. I’ll give them a call.
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Old 06-22-24, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by chueh1
The handlebar likes to swing sideways. s
.
Shorter stem, wider bars.
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Old 06-28-24, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by chueh1
Not sure where my most recent post went to; it doesn't seem to be posted here. In any case, it does appear here without my knowledge, please pardon me for posting it again.

I've ridden gravel bike on paved trails for quite q while. I've just started mountain biking fairly recently. I am not a speedy rider at all, so speed isn't important to me, and I don't enjoy intense or fast peddling. I tend to use higher gear and prefer slight resistance, feeling weighted. paved trails for uphills are rarely problems for me if I standup.

However, I have problems going uphill on mountain trails, especially the narrow ones with slight humped shape sloping down on both sides. I cannot get up to the top, if I don't use lower gear. Since I cannot stand up while going uphill on the narrow trails, I use the lowest gear. The problem is the lower the gear I use, the more unstable I feel. I don't seem to be able to control the handle bar much. The handlebar likes to swing sideways. My husband says that my arms are too weak, which I admit. However, arm strength doesn't build up overnight. I can work with it, yet I wonder if there are other ways to improve the stability issue for uphills.

For example, My RAD is 187cm, yet even my small bike is bigger than my size, to be exact the bike RAD is 194cm. I actually feel more comfortable with smaller sized bike than bigger ones, for the stretching out feels unstable. What do to with this problem?

1. I am thinking of lower the stem, so the RAD number will decrease. Is it a good idea???
2. or maybe change to backsweep handlebar?
3. I don't seem to feel more stable as most all riders say about having wider handlebars. Should I ignore my feelings?? Maybe I feel it wrongly??

Please advise. Any input is welcome. Thanks
.
This really comes down to practice. Try to get your weight forward over the front wheel, stay seated and spin fast and smooth in a low gear. If your mtb has an adjustable fork length then wind it down to get the front lower.

Arm strength is unlikely to be your issue. Core strength maybe. But I find the main limitation on steep, narrow climbs is simply running out of steam on the pedals. If you are unable to spin your lowest gear then grinding doesn’t work on steep, narrow, technical climbs. Watch how pro mountain bikers climb the steep sections. They sit and spin like crazy!
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