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Making a Touring Bike Handle Better?

Old 06-07-18, 04:11 PM
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Making a Touring Bike Handle Better?

Iím overall satisfied with my touring bike. The one thing I donít like about it is that it just doesnít handle well/naturally. I hop on my other bikes and lean into a turn and the bike just turns. Then on my touring bike itís like I have to really lean on the bike to get it to turn even reasonably sharply. Then due to having to force the bike to turn, I also donít feel as comfortable making sharper or higher speed turns on it. I was wondering if swapping the fork might solve the problem. Thoughts? I canít think of any other options that would help it handle better.
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Old 06-07-18, 05:59 PM
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Generically, touring bikes are designed to hold to a straight ride pretty well so that after a long day in the saddle when you might not be concentrating very hard you are less likely to suddenly find you went off the road or something like that. And with a heavy load on a bike, you should not be taking really tight corners, so for those reasons the bikes are not really designed for good cornering. Which may in part be why touring bikes often have a low bottom bracket, if you are not taking tight corners then there is less concern about grounding a pedal when you turn. I do not know if the longer chainstays have very much impact on cornering, I suspect a tiny bit due to a slightly longer wheel base.

I am not knowledgeable enough on frame geometry to make any suggestions for forks.

I have no idea how lightweight your wheels are, but a really light set of wheels with light tires would have less gyroscopic effect. I used to have a 700c touring bike with rim brakes front and rear. And I had two sets of wheels for it, a heavy duty set with heavy tires four touring and a lighterweight set with skinny thinner supple tires if I wanted to feel like I was going fast. My recollection was that the lighter wheel set handled quicker. If you have access to a lighter set of wheels with light tires that would fit on your touring bike you could try that for comparison.
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Old 06-07-18, 06:21 PM
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It might be helpful if I could see your bike fully loaded. Unloaded might be useful too. ( I.E. photo ) It might also be helpful to know your bikes head tube angle and fork offset are. I do not know if you are using a front rack and if so, what type? I am using a low rider rack, which locates my front panniers weight at the bikes front axle, which is the most stable, and has the least effect on front steering. I am able to ride no-handed to adjust my helmet/ sunglasses, sit up using both hands to wrestle open a food bar etc. For touring bikes, I usually have a 71- 72 degree head angle with 50 mm of fork offset/ rake.
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Old 06-07-18, 06:40 PM
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Not much you can about long wheelbase. A longer trail fork would shorten the wheelbase, but the net result might be even more stability.
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Old 06-07-18, 08:21 PM
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If all of the weight is on the back you might try shifting some of it forward, especially if you have a large steel frame that's a bit wippy--e.g., a handlebar bag can help stabilize the front end.
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Old 06-07-18, 08:36 PM
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You need less trail.

What bike are you currently riding? There are a range of good forks to get you trail numbers anywhere from the high 30s to the low 60s if needed.
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Old 06-07-18, 08:49 PM
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long wheelbase, heavier wheelset, heavier tires, fatter heavier tires, etc, who knows----what bike?
photo por favor and more info regarding this, that and the other (bike, racks, tires, where are panniers, what weights in panniers)

all I can say is that my touring bike is one of the best handling bikes Ive ridden, but then I purposely chose a quick (er) steering bike instead of a slow steering truck, as I take an inordinate amount of pleasure hauling ass around a corner, especially on this bike loaded, and its multitude of reasons why its the best handling touring bike Ive had.
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Old 06-08-18, 01:24 PM
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The bike in question is an Advocate Cycles Sand County in size 52, custom build up. Wheels are on the lighter side for a touring bike with Stans ZTR Crest rims(355g), butted stainless spokes, XT hubs. Tires are ~500g each. The handling that Iíd like to sort out isnít fully loaded when touring, but rather a lighter load commuting(one rear bag) or unloaded on a sunny day fun ride. The bike rides fine for touring, but is such a slug commuting around town. Iíd like to get it turning a little better if I can.
https://advocatecycles.com/dev/wp-con...SandCounty.pdf
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Old 06-08-18, 02:34 PM
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Steepen the head angle, shorten the chainstays, run a 50mm stem, mount light tires on skinny rims and it'll handle a lot zippier. However, it will now be a crappy touring bike. Seriously, about the only thing you can do is try to run a shorter fork (over all length) which will drop the head tube closer to the ground, thereby increasing head tube angle. Shorten the stem too if you can. These two things will put a little more sharpness into the handling. You should know that if you drop the front end to increase head tube angle, you'll also be increasing seat tube angle as well as dropping bottom bracket height.


-Kedosto
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Old 06-08-18, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
460mm chainstays, same as a Long Haul Trucker. You're stuck with a slower-turning bike. Accept it and learn to adjust.
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Old 06-08-18, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
The bike in question is an Advocate Cycles Sand County in size 52, custom build up. Wheels are on the lighter side for a touring bike with Stans ZTR Crest rims(355g), butted stainless spokes, XT hubs. Tires are ~500g each. The handling that Iíd like to sort out isnít fully loaded when touring, but rather a lighter load commuting(one rear bag) or unloaded on a sunny day fun ride. The bike rides fine for touring, but is such a slug commuting around town. Iíd like to get it turning a little better if I can.
https://advocatecycles.com/dev/wp-con...SandCounty.pdf

talk to the builder, my gut sense is youíre asking the bike to do something itís not designed to do.
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Old 06-08-18, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
The bike in question is an Advocate Cycles Sand County in size 52, custom build up. Wheels are on the lighter side for a touring bike with Stans ZTR Crest rims(355g), butted stainless spokes, XT hubs. Tires are ~500g each. The handling that Iíd like to sort out isnít fully loaded when touring, but rather a lighter load commuting(one rear bag) or unloaded on a sunny day fun ride. The bike rides fine for touring, but is such a slug commuting around town. Iíd like to get it turning a little better if I can.
https://advocatecycles.com/dev/wp-con...SandCounty.pdf
what width tires btw?
Even on my 26in wheeled Troll that has reasonably fast steering, with the 2in slicks on it (light ones) it steers slower than with 1.5in tires (that are actually heavier than the 2in ones)
I remember clearly how going from 32mm to lighter 28mm on my first good touring bike made the bike feel much more sprightly and zippier, handling included.
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Old 06-08-18, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion
460mm chainstays, same as a Long Haul Trucker. You're stuck with a slower-turning bike. Accept it and learn to adjust.

Thatís what I thought at one time until I got a 56 cm 26Ē LHT to replace a 56 cm 700c LHT. According to their specs the 26Ē version has an even longer wheelbase but the handling is as different as night and day. The 26Ē wheel version is actually pretty quick handling.
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Old 06-08-18, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by LeeG



Thatís what I thought at one time until I got a 56 cm 26Ē LHT to replace a 56 cm 700c LHT. According to their specs the 26Ē version has an even longer wheelbase but the handling is as different as night and day. The 26Ē wheel version is actually pretty quick handling.
I ride a couple of 26in bikes and a couple of 700 bikes, the two 26in bikes (essentially mtn bikes) steer nice and quickly. One of the 700 bikes, a Tricross, steers fine but slower than the 26 ones, especially at speed. The other 700 bike is an old hybrid, maybe 20 yrs old, and it steers quicker than all of them, almost too quickly. Part of that might be because of the trekking bars I have on it, but I think its just the geometry, but I have no idea what this is and frankly dont have the knowledge to know what from what.
Ill take quick handling over slow any time, especially when panniers will go on, which slows stuff down in any case.
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Old 06-08-18, 04:09 PM
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Steering stability can let you look around and see the places
you went on your bike tour to see,

and the bike wont need your undivided attention..

I use 4 panniers , for front/rear balance.

& Pack for side to side balance, especially on the front.




..

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-09-18 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 06-08-18, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
Then on my touring bike it’s like I have to really lean on the bike to get it to turn even reasonably sharply.
If this is less pronounced at lower speeds, then what you're noticing is likely the high-trail geometry. Trail is the distance between the contact patch of the front tire and the spot where the steering axis touches the ground; it's influenced by the bike's head angle, the offset of the fork, and the inflated diameter of your front wheel. More trail tends to make the handling stiffen up more as you go faster.

Assuming your bike is still uses the stock tire size of 700x40, you probably have about 73mm of trail. By comparison, racing road bikes that prioritize tight nimble feel usually have less than 60mm of trail. And your heavier wheels and larger contact patch will only exacerbate the weightiness of the steering.

The solution would be to use a fork with more offset, which results in lower trail.

Originally Posted by tyrion
460mm chainstays, same as a Long Haul Trucker. You're stuck with a slower-turning bike. Accept it and learn to adjust.
If a few centimeters were a big deal, then stuff like tandems, or long cargo bikes like the Big Dummy, would be unrideable. Adding a few centimeters to the chainstays will calm the curvature of a turn involving a given amount of steer, but only by a small fraction.

Within reason, long chainstays also don't have dramatic effects on road turning radius. Even long road bikes are very short compared with the corners they take, and do not require the steering axis to be rotated very much when turning.
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Old 06-08-18, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
If a few centimeters were a big deal, then stuff like tandems, or long cargo bikes like the Big Dummy, would be unrideable.
It's not a big deal. It's just noticeably slower to initiate a turn.
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Old 06-08-18, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev
If this is less pronounced at lower speeds, then what you're noticing is likely the high-trail geometry. Trail is the distance between the contact patch of the front tire and the spot where the steering axis touches the ground; it's influenced by the bike's head angle, the offset of the fork, and the inflated diameter of your front wheel. More trail tends to make the handling stiffen up more as you go faster.

Assuming your bike is still uses the stock tire size of 700x40, you probably have about 73mm of trail. By comparison, racing road bikes that prioritize tight nimble feel usually have less than 60mm of trail. And your heavier wheels and larger contact patch will only exacerbate the weightiness of the steering.

The solution would be to use a fork with more offset, which results in lower trail.


If a few centimeters were a big deal, then stuff like tandems, or long cargo bikes like the Big Dummy, would be unrideable. Adding a few centimeters to the chainstays will calm the curvature of a turn involving a given amount of steer, but only by a small fraction.

Within reason, long chainstays also don't have dramatic effects on road turning radius. Even long road bikes are very short compared with the corners they take, and do not require the steering axis to be rotated very much when turning.
I hadnt seen that the stock bike uses 40mm tires. Putting on some narrower tires would seem to me to be the easiest tryout to quicker steering, but then we dont know what tires he is using
--what specific tires and what widths

and then, going narrower changes the feel of the bike over rough stuff, which he might not want to change--but then you get into the whole diff fork issue, which I personally would be hesitant to take someones word of how the bike will be with a diff fork, with diff length and all that stuff that could make the bikes handling go funny---and only to be known after purchasing a fork, headset and installation-a pricey option.

I dunno, talking directly to the builder would seem the most prudent thing to do, and even then, I suspect they would be hesitant to officially answer a fork change question perhaps, not knowing what the customer would actually put on (and given that they designed the frame with x and y, and to behave in a certain manner)
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Old 06-08-18, 08:25 PM
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Looking at the geometry, the 71 head angle with 47 fork rake along with 46 stays is shouting TOURING BIKE. It is not a race bike, but a stable and comfortable ride loaded and unloaded. Incidentally the head angle and fork rake are such so that toe overlap is minimized along with a stable platform for touring. If you desire crisper handling, get a performance oriented machine and keep this one for touring.
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Old 06-08-18, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion
It's not a big deal. It's just noticeably slower to initiate a turn.
It mostly isn't, though. Turn initiation is done by creating lean through the steering, and the leaning moment of a bike is practically unaffected by chainstay length. For a given chainstay length, you do need more steer angle to produce the same turning rate, but this doesn't necessarily make the steering feel any weightier and it's something that can be partially compensated for through the front-end geometry.

A lot of bikes with long chainstays also happen to have weighty steering, but this is predominantly because most bikes with long chainstays also have slack high-trail front-end geometry.
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Old 06-09-18, 04:29 AM
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and let's not even begin to touch on "counter steering" to initiate leaning into a corner!
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Old 06-09-18, 05:05 PM
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Iím actually running 650b wheels on this bike with fat 52mm tires. They ďshouldĒ be equivalent to ~700x25c I think. Maybe Iíll try throwing some 700c wheels on it and see how that changes things. As for toe overlap, interestingly I think it has more than any bike I own. When the pedal is forward and the wheel turned slightly, thereís only about 1 1/2Ē gap between them. I simply can not pedal and turn on this bike without foot-to-tire scrub. If the wheel swap doesnít help, Iíll try out a different fork. Unfortunately Iíll be making my toe overlap worse, but I can deal with that. I would just use a different bike, and have others to use, but Iím traveling at the moment and am limited to one bike for a while. I opted to take the ďall arounderĒ touring bike.
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Old 06-10-18, 10:36 PM
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New bike

Originally Posted by tyrion
460mm chainstays, same as a Long Haul Trucker. You're stuck with a slower-turning bike. Accept it and learn to adjust.
Or buy a new bike!.

He's right. My Fuji has 440 stays and it turns more efficiently than the LHT
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Old 06-11-18, 12:12 AM
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Yeah!

Saw a guy on a fully loaded bike and he was trying to counter steer into a turn and cooked it. Luckily just hit a mound and we checked he had no damage to his bike.

OP is this the first time you've ridden a bike with that much load? It takes a while to get used to riding a fully loaded bike. So maybe give it a few rides before you make drastic changes. Touring bikes are designed for stability and it comes in handy more often than not!

Originally Posted by djb
and let's not even begin to touch on "counter steering" to initiate leaning into a corner!

Last edited by raria; 06-11-18 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 06-11-18, 09:09 AM
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I’m actually running 650b wheels on this bike with fat 52mm tires. They “should” be equivalent to ~700x25c
the contact patch , 'pneumatic trail' , is much larger with a tire 2X as wide working at a lower psi.
should be a factor to consider..
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