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touring bike stability question

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touring bike stability question

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Old 07-13-10, 10:20 AM
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Grovern
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touring bike stability question

I just bought a 1983 Schwinn Voyageur SP, which is a full-out touring bike. I've noticed that I can't ride no hands with it. This is my first touring bike, and I was under the impression that it should be more stable than, say, my old crit racing bike, which I can ride no-hands. I was just curious if anyone knows whats going on here? Does it have to do with trail/rake? Or wheels out of true? (which they are, but only slightly, I think; I've been able to ride no hands on more severely out-of-true wheels.)
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Old 07-13-10, 10:31 AM
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LeeG
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I had the same experience comparing a 56cm 700c LHT to a 56cm Cross-Check or 56cm 26" LHT. The LHT is obviously designed for carrying more crap but its not as easy for hands off riding as the CrossCheck or 26" LHT. See what happens if you use low riders, the handling might be slow enough to make it more comfortable although corrections may still be more difficult hands off.
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Old 07-13-10, 10:34 AM
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I can see where this might be a problem if you TOUR no hands. On the other hand (pun intended) many 'full-on' touring bikes will handle better when fully loaded. I personally do not ride hands free for safety reasons, and do not know for a fact that you could with a 'load on'. You could try it, and find out if this is one of those bikes that likes to 'get loaded'!
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Old 07-13-10, 10:34 AM
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having owned a number of older touring bikes, I'd say you really need to check the headset for wear, grease and proper adjustment.

the VO roller bearing headset would be a great choice if you need a new one.
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Old 07-13-10, 10:37 AM
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incidentally, the bike will almost certainly ride better with a front load.

you should certainly be able to ride without hands... that is not too much to ask, I cant imagine not being able to ride hands-free.
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Old 07-13-10, 10:56 AM
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Frame aligned ? Really need to take the bike apart and have the alignment checked on a measuring alignment table , well you may not really want to pay for that level of accuracy.
Micrometer dial indicators, frame clamped (by BB shell) on a perfectly flat machined surface..

they do that on high end pro bikes, when it matters, for the paid riders ..

note how they can feed out of the musette bags, no handed , that's because the frame and fork are dead on.

Lesser level of accuracy, take the fork out, and find a shop with a Park fork alignment jig [it goes in a bench vise], at least that will get that close .

may have one blade not as far forward as the other, or each not exactly 50mm off the center line.

Park makes another rough alignment checking tool to see of the dropouts in back are an equal distance from the center line..

headtube needs to be not torqued off line either ..

then check both wheels for dish, centering rims between the axle ends.

now see if you can ride no hands , at least you will know if the frame is not tweaked out of line..

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-13-10 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 07-13-10, 11:35 AM
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fietsbob, that post was sort of terrifying. The seller mentioned that his father crashed the bike and broke his collar bone. The anecdote didn't give me pause as the bike looks very clean, but perhaps it should have.
Embarrassingly, I'm not sure what to look for to see if the headset needs work. Any tips?
As far as frame alignment, etc., I don't have a lot of money to spend: buying the bike was a bit of a stretch as it is. The no hands thing isn't a huge deal in and of itself, I was/am just afraid that it was a harbinger of something worse. The steering does feel weird to me, but I haven't really spent any time on a touring bike.
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Old 07-13-10, 11:48 AM
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What's the headtube angle? My LHT @ 71 Degrees tends to wander at slow speed when riding no handed. Once it gets up to speed it becomes more stable and then rides no handed fine. I've noticed this effect on bikes with headtube angles < 72 Degrees.
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Old 07-13-10, 11:57 AM
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I took a used fork I bought, to a bike shop, and they did the cold setting and double checking, till it was right within a eyeball tolerance , It didn't cost too much.

rear frame alignment rough test , can be done with nothing more than putting the bike in the repair stand and laying the test tool against the head and seat tube.. there is an adjustable finger on the tool that touches the outside of the dropout, then you flip the tool over and touch the other side and compare.

main triangle centerlines of head tube and seat tube should be in the same plane.
you can eyeball that, probably..

before heading out on a major trip you should do a overhaul anyhow .. fresh cables , maybe housing,
grease and bearings, .. so reducing likelihood things don' t go out on you in the middle of nowhere ..
and learn how to replace a spoke on the right side of rear wheel, as that is the most likely one to go..
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Old 07-13-10, 12:03 PM
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It is all a matter of trail, as noted above. The LHT, like most tourers since the '80s is designed primarily to be loaded in the rear, then in the front. It has high trail for that (meaning that the wheel touches the ground very much before the projected line passing through the center of the head tube does). The trail on a 700c LHT is somewhere around 64 mm. For the 26" LHT it is more around 59 mm which explains the behavior observed by Lee G.

High trail bikes are floppers: if you lean the bike with your butt on the saddle to drive it, the front wheel will exagerate and dive into the turn more and more until you do something. Hence the difficulty to ride no-hands. The more you'll load the front the worse it'll get but the position of the load matters the most: keep it low. Using low-riders racks with a moderate load around 30 lb actually increase the inertia of the front wheel which some, like me, like. A handlebar bag loaded with even just 10-15 lb is murder, hateful, whatever evil is.
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Old 07-13-10, 02:40 PM
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Grovern
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Thanks for all the help everyone. I spent some time looking at the bike and the headset definitely needs work. The bike has what I think is called "indexed steering." Or it sort of clicks into going straight. Does that account for the steering oddities I'm experiencing? And does that mean that I should replace the headset, or just overhaul it? I've heard that some of the Voyageurs had strange-sized headsets. This one is a Tange New Lavin. Would it just be J.I.S., or something more exotic? This might not be the right place to be asking about headset sizes, but I just thought I'd see if anyone knew anything.

Also, either the front wheel is more out of true then I thought, or the fork isn't aligned. After taking the wheel off and putting it back on I realized that you have to force it between the break pads before closing the quick-release or it will be out of center.
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Old 07-13-10, 03:41 PM
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I knew it was the headset. That is almost certainly your problem- it is very common and definitely screws up steering in just the way you describe.

your best bet is a new headset. shouldnt be more than about 20-45 bucks, and 10 -20 to install it. The sizing issue is that of the crown race (the part that slides onto the fork) and JIS is bigger than ISO. Any good bike shop can mill the JIS race-seat down to ISO as part of the headset install. or you could buy one of these:

http://www.velo-orange.com/voalloyheadset.html

in jis size.

personally, i would look at this one for the sealed bearings, and have the shop mitre the tube:
http://www.velo-orange.com/grcru1sebehe.html

or a NOS roller bearing headset (I guess the VO roller bearing set isnt out yet, but you might find a stronglight A9 or miche on ebay)
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Old 07-13-10, 03:56 PM
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LeeG
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Originally Posted by Grovern View Post
The bike has what I think is called "indexed steering." Or it sort of clicks into going straight. Does that account for the steering oddities I'm experiencing? .
oh hell yes
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Old 07-13-10, 04:01 PM
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LeeG
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Originally Posted by JeanM View Post
The trail on a 700c LHT is somewhere around 64 mm. For the 26" LHT it is more around 59 mm which explains the behavior observed by Lee G.

High trail bikes are floppers: if you lean the bike with your butt on the saddle to drive it, the front wheel will exagerate and dive into the turn more and more until you do something. Hence the difficulty to ride no-hands. The more you'll load the front the worse it'll get but the position of the load matters the most: keep it low. Using low-riders racks with a moderate load around 30 lb actually increase the inertia of the front wheel which some, like me, like. A handlebar bag loaded with even just 10-15 lb is murder, hateful, whatever evil is.

I really don't see the reasoning for the 56cm 700c LHT handling. Yes the bikes ride was enjoyable and I could carry a load of stuff but there really wasn't anything preferable about it's handling compared to the 26" version. With the 26" wheeled version I can load up to the gills and still be able to maneuver up curb ramps better. Straight line riding was more responsive. I wonder if this is just one of those things where a stock fork is used for a variety of head angles and it's a crap shoot how the bike handles.
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Old 07-13-10, 04:38 PM
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Grovern
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The headset is ISO from what I've been able to garner searching the forums... The problem is that it seems that a lot of the Schwinn bikes used a older stem size (.833" or 21.15mm) instead of the standard 22.2mm stem. This bike though has a 22.2mm technomic tall stem, so hopefully it's not an issue. I saw this mentioned in another post: "The headset cups, the threads on the fork, etc., will all be ISO, but the stem, inside diameter of the steerer, and the inside diameter of the top locking nut on the headset assembly will be .833". I've taken headsets off of Schwinns and used them on other bikes with 1" threaded forks, but I've had to sand out the inside diameter of the locking nut to allow the 22.2mm quill stem to slide through and down into the steerer." The technomic stem isn't what came with the bike; I suppose it's possible the original owner had the headset sanded down so that he could use the tall stem? I'd ask, but he's deceased.
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Old 07-13-10, 05:22 PM
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positron
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just get a new headset and all will be right with the world.
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Old 07-13-10, 08:47 PM
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Grovern
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Okay, thanks positron. I've taken a deep breath.

I think I will just get a Miche. I'd like to get the Grand Cru but they are unavailable until further notice.
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