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Today bike suddenly began pulling right

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Today bike suddenly began pulling right

Old 10-07-19, 09:56 AM
  #1  
WGB 
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Today bike suddenly began pulling right

I went out for a quick ride this morning on my League Fuji. I rebuilt this frame last year (new cables/cable housing/brake pads/all bearings brand new/replaced grease - for headset/BB/hubs/seatpost greased and bar stem greased.

Zero issues until about 6 weeks back when two flats in 100m so Gatorskins (700 x 23) gone and replaced with Vittoria Rubino (700 x 28). Unsure if relevant but I found riding with the 28mm tires to be harder and steering then seemed sluggish compared to the ride with the narrower tires, but I got used to the ride.

I rode Thursday and Friday for 20km (about 12 miles). Zero issues.

This morning ride started all fine. About 5km (3 miles) I turned left onto a sideroad and steering suddenly felt very sluggish.

I stopped immediately and checked the front. Headset tight, wheel centered, tires fully inflated, brakes not rubbing and bars centered. I'd had no impact. Assumed it must have a been a freak incident and continued. Didn't notice anything odd. Turned left at next intersection but this time had to stop and wait for cars so was fully stopped and foot down. A tractor was approaching with a wide load so I moved towards the right shoulder to give extra room and pulled right off the pavement! This road has only a very narrow grass shoulder and then a grassed ditch. I was moving pretty quick so couldn't stop fast and luckily I was able to ride through ditch.

I stopped immediately and checked the front. Headset tight, wheel centered, tires fully inflated brakes not rubbing and bars centered (exactly as before).

I quit my planned ride and rode home slowly. There was one grade on the way (very slight) and riding down it was unnerving. During the ride I stopped twice. Nothing seemed out of whack and I am at loss to explain it. At home I checked headset for loose parts or binding but nothing noticeable.

Plan

I am going to open up the headset and see if it's just bad bearings but that is a guess. I had planned to strip this bike over the winter anyway and replace bearings and grease throughout as well as all cables and housing and also the headset as starting to rust.

I have a Park ***-1 that I bought after using the string method on a bent frame and by coincidence I just bought a Park FFS-1 straightening tool so if I open the headset up I can check the frame with the ***-1. I don't have a spare fork that will fit a 25inch frame.

Questions

Could a wheel hub "go bad" on just one side?

Could a damaged/dirty brake cable be the cause?

Can photo later if required and update

wesley
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Old 10-07-19, 10:09 AM
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Headset tight. Maybe too tight? Does the fork pivot freely?
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Old 10-07-19, 10:53 AM
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Problem might be with the back wheel.
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Old 10-07-19, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Problem might be with the back wheel.
+1

Bearings don't do that suddenly. Look for something broken: axle, frame, fork, dropout, steerer, etc.

If you can't control the bike, don't ride it until you find something definitively wrong and correct it.
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Old 10-07-19, 12:41 PM
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I am going to bet that AnkleWork is correct in his/her assessment that something has broken, likely in the back by the OP's description.
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Old 10-07-19, 12:54 PM
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The only time I had weird steering issues is when I over-tightened the headset. And if I remember correctly it was pulling to the right.
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Old 10-07-19, 01:10 PM
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Debris inside the headset? Loose headset that is tightening as you turn left and then binding? String or debris thrown up by the tire into the bottom headset? Fork issues (crack starting in a blade or steerer tube)?
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Old 10-07-19, 01:33 PM
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Seems to turn right under acceleration + freewheel(?) rear hub = check for a broken rear axle first.
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Old 10-07-19, 01:38 PM
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Headset cage bearings? perhaps they're arse about face
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Old 10-07-19, 01:48 PM
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Given that a bicycle has only two contact points and that to go in a straight line the planes through the wheels always have to be parallel, the only way that the a bike is forcing the fork to be turned one way or the other when going straight is if one or both of the wheels is not aligned with its mounting (either the fork or the frame, depending on which wheel). This could be crack or bend in the fork or in the frame. On the other hand, a tug of the fork to the left could be a cracked headset bearing (or, again, a cracked steer tube on the fork).

Good catch to get off the bike. Let us know what you find when you pull the fork to inspect the headset.
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Old 10-07-19, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by WGB View Post

Questions

Could a wheel hub "go bad" on just one side?

wesley
yes. I've pulled hubs apart that had 1 too many ball bearings in them. That can really mess everything up. Mixing ball bearings from different batches doesn't help either. It's usually better to replace all the ball bearings using new from the same package.

Inspect the entire frame, stem, seat clamps, etc for cracks, including the steerer tube on the fork when you have it out.

I've seen plenty of bikes where someone put cages in the wrong direction or the cages got chewed up due to bad adjustments. Loose balls are usually an improvement. The cages are mostly for quick assembly in the factories.

As pointed out, a broken rear axle will sure make any bike ride squirrely. If you take the wheel out, a broken axle is real obvious, not so much when it's still in the bike where the axle nuts or QR are holding it.
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Old 10-07-19, 02:59 PM
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Just got back home. Didn't see anything on the front but didn't even think of back!

I won't ride it until I've taken the rear wheel off and inspected it and the frame minutely. If I find nothing there I will return to the headset. Hopefully it's something small.

I did check the headset with a Park 32mm wrench and it was tight. If the headset tightened I am at loss as to why it self tightened since it was tightened last time I checked the stem and seatpost to see they were greased and came free and I've ridden it perhaps 500km since without issues. I would've hand tightened the stem bolt using an allen key but that shouldn't be the issue.

Perhaps this is sign and I'd better just rebuild it now and not wait for winter.

I will post what the cause is when I find it.
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Old 10-07-19, 03:13 PM
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Are the frame and fork intact? When my fork broke, it was beyond my imagination, so I wound up checking a lot of arcane things before noticing the obvious.
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Old 10-07-19, 04:02 PM
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Okay. You've had about 10 guys respond with their best guess on this unusual issue. If and when you figure it out, please post back with what was actually wrong.
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Old 10-07-19, 04:32 PM
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^^^ "I've got three of my best guys on it" like that old Pep Boys commercial.

The suspense is killing me!
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Old 10-07-19, 05:44 PM
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I went out and first looked over bike from stem to stern. No visible damage. I then checked front and rear hubs. No real issues and though I will get wheelset trued on principle the wheels now seem straight with very slight - very slight - wobble to rear. All spokes tight. Brake pads not rubbing. Crankset is not loose. I have had a lock cable wrapped around the TT up against the HT for the past year. I took that off incase it was weighting the right side. I pulled the front wheel and reversed it. I then took a very short ride. It seems better. Possibly several minor corrections have added up to make it safer but I'm still not happy. I believe I will have to advance my rebuild schedule.

Tomorrow I will try adjusting the headset and see if maybe that is too tight. Just baffled how it could have magically tightened.

If it doesn't get better after that I may take it to a local frame builder and see if he has any ideas.
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Old 10-07-19, 05:53 PM
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Sorry forgot. No cracks found.
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Old 10-07-19, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by WGB View Post
Could a wheel hub "go bad" on just one side?
Yes, but for the reasons stated in my other post (the wheels planes have to be parallel) and because the hub is rigid, and force on one side of the hub is transmitted to the other side. So you can't get the thing pulling to one side due to a sticky bearing on that side. The pull left has to be a frame or fork component.
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Old 10-07-19, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by WGB View Post
If it doesn't get better after that I may take it to a local frame builder and see if he has any ideas.
If the fellow is generous enough to help you, that would be a great learning experience. Good luck.
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Old 10-08-19, 06:11 AM
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wgb-

Swap out the wheels with another bike. Test ride.
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Old 10-08-19, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by WGB View Post
Sorry forgot. No cracks found.
Did you try applying pressure on the back drop/forks/frame/tires whilst checking for cracks? You'd likely not see them otherwise if they originated near a connection point.
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Old 10-08-19, 06:28 AM
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1) headset caged bearings flipped
2) broken rear axle
3) crack at seatstay-seatpost lug
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Old 10-08-19, 06:33 AM
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Wheels might be running straight but did you check wheel dish?
You have a frame alignment tool, what's the alignment like?

If everything checks your forks might be out of alignment
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Old 10-08-19, 07:11 AM
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Sounds like something is broken. My bet is the frame or fork. I can't see from here, though.
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Old 10-08-19, 07:55 AM
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As I said it is running better than yesterday morning, now that I reversed the wheel and removed the lock cable.


I pulled on front forks from either side and same with rear triangle. Both sides. No cracks found anywhere. I set the bike up in the stand and turned it so it was standing end and the wheel didn't flop over. Both wheels fully seated in fork dropouts and centered. I even photo'd the front axle from either side and compared the photos.


Using the alignment tool and also string test the frame appears straight.


I plan to bring to the Co-op this evening and have the mechanics look at it. Between now and then I have some wife jobs but will try and replace the headset bearings. Hoping having a second set of eyes will see what I didn't.


Please note that when I something is working that doesn't mean it is working, it's just that I think it's working which might not be the same thing!


The forks are parallel (see photo 3)






Wheel is centered between forks (photo is offset to right)





Bike balances on end without front wheel flopping


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