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Bike leans to right with no hands- would new headset correct it?

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Bike leans to right with no hands- would new headset correct it?

Old 05-16-14, 10:19 PM
  #1  
jowilson
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Bike leans to right with no hands- would new headset correct it?

My fixie, a converted 1971 Triumph, has had a problem with leaning to the right when I'm ridin with no hands. It's getting pretty annoying, so I started narrowing the causes. Seat misadjusted, no. Wheels not installed correctly, no. Dropouts aligned, no. Wheels dished wrong, no. Loose/tight headset, no. If there's anything else I'm missing, please point it out. But tomorrow I'm planning on purchasing a new headset (1" threaded) and seeing if that helps. I'm really annoyed with this, as it's such a seemingly easy thing to fix.

TIA,

Josh
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Old 05-16-14, 10:30 PM
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Is your current headset too tight, preventing the fork from moving smoothly ?
Maybe you are involuntarily leaning to one side.
Or there's a frame-fork alignment problem.
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Old 05-16-14, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Is your current headset too tight, preventing the fork from moving smoothly ?
No, it is adjusted quite well in fact. Could another possibility be misaligned headtube faces?
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Old 05-16-14, 10:38 PM
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I've also ruled out myself leaning, because a friend of mine experienced the same issue when I asked him to test ride it. Also ruled out the roads as well.
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Old 05-16-14, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jowilson View Post
No, it is adjusted quite well in fact. Could another possibility be misaligned headtube faces?
I doubt either one.
More likely that the frame or fork is a bit off one way or the other.
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Old 05-16-14, 11:17 PM
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What I have used now on three frame/forks that pulled, etc. is to hang the bike upside down by good string looped over the rim and hung at about the dropouts. If there is a frame/fork issue it will show up as the front and rear wheels misaligned. The more the front fork/wheel is at an angle to the frame the more handling issues. A good frame builder with a frame and fork alignment table can get it straight again.
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Old 05-16-14, 11:24 PM
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...I get to analyze and diagnose this issue on converted fixie's on a regular basis at the co-op here.

The great majority of the bikes i see are either misaligned, because someone stuck the wrong OLD wheel
in the back or the front, or both. Wheel dish also comes up regularly as an issue.


The headtube faces is unlikely, but certainly if your headset is incorrectly installed, your handling will suffer.

You state your "dropouts are aligned", but say nothing about overall frame alignment (string test) to check the
rear triangles for equidistance from center plane, and don't really say how you checked fork alignment, including
how straight the front wheel sits in the fork.

Unless you are pretty good with frame alignment, I suggest you find someone who is, because you won't pick this up over the internet.
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Old 05-16-14, 11:45 PM
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Rule out the headset entirely unless there's fretting (false brinneling) causing a detented action. And then only if the cup were knocked out and put back rotated a few degrees to one side. You'd know because the steering would click into place offset to one side.

The other symptom of a problem, sticky, binding or tight headset is random pulling as you end to overcompensate when steering.

Consistent pulling to the same side is an alignment or tracking issue caused by a bent frame or fork, or wheels not in plane with bike's center of gravity.
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Old 05-17-14, 08:14 AM
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Thanks for all the comments guys. I've kind of branched off from what some of you said and I came up with another possibility. The bike is leaning to the right as opposed to steering/turning to the right. So that led me to think that something like this couldn't be on the front of the bike, as it would cause the bike steer/turn to the right. So it's something on the rear maybe? I'm thinking it's the rear seat stay & chain stay alignment, and the rear wheel is angled slightly to the right (as in pointing to the right). Or would it have to point left to lean the bike to the right? Thoughts on this please?
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Old 05-17-14, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by jowilson View Post
Could another possibility be misaligned headtube faces?
No; that would prevent you from properly adjusting the headset, but wouldn't influence the problem you describe. Have you checked frame alignment, e.g. the "string test?" Another possibility is that the head tube and seat tube are not co-planar. This is harder to check, but sighting from the front of the frame, the edge of the head tube should be parallel with the edge of the seat tube. Fork misalignment is also a possibility; the blades might be twisted with respect to each other. Sighting from the side of the fork, do both blades line up with each other? This is also difficult to judge accurately; a fork alignment gauge may be needed:


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Old 05-17-14, 09:54 AM
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Roads are crowned to drain water off the center , it may be the slope ..
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Old 05-17-14, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Roads are crowned to drain water off the center , it may be the slope ..
I've already ruled out road slope, but the leaning is exaggerated when on a sloped road.
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Old 05-17-14, 11:14 AM
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I'll reiterate what others have posted: most likely a bent frame or fork.

A really subtle way to have this happen is for your fork to be bent in a way so that the front wheel is just a wee bit to one side or the other. Is the front wheel perfectly centered in relation to the head tube - and I mean PERFECTLY? If it is, take it off, flip it around 180 degrees, put it back on, and see if it's still centered.
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Old 05-17-14, 11:31 AM
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When I got this frame from my co-op, it originally came with 90mm dropout spacing (on the front, of course) and I used our frame bending tool to spread the spacing to 100mm. It could very well be possible that one side got spread more than the other, so I'll check out the wheel and headtube alignment and report back.
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Old 05-17-14, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by jowilson View Post
..... I came up with another possibility. The bike is leaning to the right as opposed to steering/turning to the right. .... Thoughts on this please?
The bike is leaning to the right and steering straight because your brain is programed to do what's necessary to keep you from falling over. You're leaning in one direction to counter the bike's tendency to steer in the opposite direction, and thereby steering the course you want and not falling over.

As others and I have said, it's a misalignment or tracking issue. It could be at the front end, rear end, both, and or the wheels. For example you could have a basically aligned frame with a wheel off plumb.
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Old 05-17-14, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by jowilson View Post
When I got this frame from my co-op, it originally came with 90mm dropout spacing (on the front, of course) and I used our frame bending tool to spread the spacing to 100mm. It could very well be possible that one side got spread more than the other, so I'll check out the wheel and headtube alignment and report back.
Well, that would be the first thing to check, before going off in all these other directions.
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Old 05-17-14, 01:28 PM
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Check the dish on both wheels.
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Old 05-17-14, 02:18 PM
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Bike Forums doesn't feel like letting me upload an image with my iPad or iPhone right now.
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Old 05-17-14, 02:40 PM
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if you've got another fork, IME, switching forks eliminates a lot of variables.

i know how frustrating this can be. i've spent a number of hours on one bike of mine ('79 trek 710, unwrecked with original fork) sorting out a hands free steering bias. turned out to be the narrow 20mm tires. the frame/fork geometry was so sensitive that when the 20mm tires wore out and i switched to 25mm tires, the problem vanished.

... at least that's my story, and i have no reason to not stick to it.

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Old 05-17-14, 02:40 PM
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Sorry about that, turns out my images were just too large.
Here's the bike, from the front end. I tried to center and level my images as much as I could, but I'm only a human without a tripod at the moment. To me, it does look like the fork off center– and to the right (reverse from the image)– which would absolutely explain the funky steering. Thoughts?

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Old 05-17-14, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
Check the dish on both wheels.
Dish is top notch on both wheels.
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Old 05-17-14, 02:47 PM
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It does appear bent off to the right side, but that's easy enough to confirm.

Loop a piece of string from inside one dropout, up and over the stem as near the expander as possible, and back under the inside of the other dropout. Pull tight, and use the wheel and QR to trap it in place. Measure from the string to the lower HS cup on both sides. I should be the same.
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Old 05-17-14, 02:54 PM
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I got a three-speed fixer-upper. It was from 1973 and had been used since then, with no maintenance. And the front wheel pulled to the right. The headset looked alright. But when I pulled the fork off to clean everything, the seemingly normal headset fell apart - starting with the lower fixed-cup rattling on the floor. Turns out it had never been correctly seated. I took out my Cyclus press and some Locktite and went to town. It's perfect now.

I was frankly amazed as it looked normal. But as it was never truly seated, it was like having a brand-new vintage headset.

Happy wrenching.
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Old 05-17-14, 04:26 PM
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It does appear from your pics that the front wheel is rotated clockwise as compared to the head tube.

Like FB said you'll need to take some measurements to confirm but that would explain leaning to the right to maintain a straight trajectory.
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Old 01-20-20, 04:13 PM
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There is a simple fix for this barring the lean isn’t to extreme. And as I am somewhat new to forums I can’t post a photo which could be worth a thousand words. I understand that this procedure may be highly criticized by the more knowledgeable bicycle riders on this forum, but here goes. The instructions detailed here are for a lean to the right but should work for a lean to the left by reversing the procedure. Begin with bike resting on its wheels. 1. If necessary open brake pads as if to remove wheel. 2. Loosen QD or axel nuts. 3. Position top of wheel off center in fork toward the right side, but not touching the fork. Left side of axel should be seated in dropout while right side of the axel will not be. 4. Tighten QD or nuts. 5. Adjust brake pads to accommodate new wheel position if necessary. Hope this helps someone.
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