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10 speed road bike stability issues

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10 speed road bike stability issues

Old 09-15-21, 07:02 PM
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777funk
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10 speed road bike stability issues

I found a couple of old bikes cheap today (Austrian Puch made sears branded bike and and old made in france St. E something)?

Anyways, I notice after years of riding cheap mountain bikes that these feel a little unstable. Is it just me or is this really the case?

I figure I will ride on typical fine gravel packed bike trails and some pavement... never off road. I would have thought this would be a good bike. Maybe it's something a person can get used to?

I had a scare a few years ago with a road bike. I was going pretty fast and going around a turn on a road hit some fine gravel (something that usually should have been street swept by the city) and those thin tires didn't stand a chance. I hit the curb at high speed going down hill and got airborne into grass along side the road. Since then I've been a little leary of road bikes. Maybe MTN bike tires would have handled this a little better. But I do feel a little unstable on a road bike and my wife says the same. Is it our imagination?

Last edited by 777funk; 09-16-21 at 06:12 AM.
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Old 09-15-21, 07:18 PM
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It's mostly imagination. But, also some differences in bike geometry.

In mountain bikes you generally have lots of leverage over a long lever so steering inputs are easy & smooth over a great distance. This is done for a minimal effort & maximum forgivness of controls at the generally slow speeds a mountain bike usually travels at.

A road bike is designed around much higher speeds. So, narrower bars for less leverage & the concept of counter-steering is employed for smooth, stable, planned high speed curves.

If a road bike had mountain bike geometry it would be very mentally fatiguing to ride at very high speeds for very long. It would be neigh impossible to track a straight line with all the thousands of tiny micro over-corrections the uber light steering would cause.

My guess is you are experiencing a differential between expected influence of input to the bike & expected results. So it "feels" unstable because by the time you realize your micro-correction isn't enough, it now needs to be a major correction. Try "relaxing" into it & steering not with your hands so much as with your hips...Look where you want to be. You'll get it.

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Old 09-15-21, 08:00 PM
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You don't need a road bike any more than you need an "expensive" bike. Don't force it and you'll settle in to your happy place.
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Old 09-15-21, 08:44 PM
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777funk
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
You don't need a road bike any more than you need an "expensive" bike. Don't force it and you'll settle in to your happy place.
I see you saw my other thread here. I think I got to thinking about a more expensive because my huffy's wheels (rims?) were out of round enough to cause a pretty bumpy ride at higher speeds on the trail. High being about 20MPH which I realize isn't high but with the rim issue, it was as high as I felt ok with on a hilly curvy wooded paved bike trail.

These road bikes are much higher quality than the huffy mtn bike. But maybe they will take some getting used to.

EDIT: to ad a link.

Last edited by 777funk; 09-15-21 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 09-15-21, 10:22 PM
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Geometry and tires will make a world of difference.
If the bike is Puch that would put in the 70-80s. The common geometry for road bikes in those days was for criterium races. Meaning a road race but done in a loop, so to handle the tight turns, the frame was shorter. For this, it was very common for your toe to hit the front wheel whilst turning. The instability you're referring to, is caused by the front wheel, thus the handle bar being closer to you.
If you are not used to it, it can be uncomfortable and, (I use the word) 'twitchy'. It is not a bike I would use on gravel, I would stay on the asphalt. It makes a great city bike.
I would like to see a pic to bring back some old memories.
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Old 09-15-21, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by 777funk View Post
...after years of riding cheap mountain bikes that these feel a little unstable.
Not a problem. You will get used to it. The real problem comes to guys like me who never did Mountain biking or off road motor cycle or even BMX. Its a skill best learned young. You actually have an advantage over people who have not ridden off road. It has taken me a long time to get used to my torn up asphalt gravely bike routes. I have seen guys with mountain bike experience blast past me on the single tracks using 1-1/4 street tires. Skill to be sure...

Now about that Puch. That's a fine bike. We have an old Sears Ted WIlliams step through with a Puch frame. Its a real sleeper and one of our favorites. I had stripped the bike of parts and was about to toss the frame when PING!, I noted how light the frame was. Ended up reassembling it from the parts bin. Its a FrankenTed-Puch... Ha
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Old 09-15-21, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by 777funk View Post
after years of riding cheap mountain bikes, these [cheap road bikes] feel a little unstable. Is it just me or is this really the case?
Who knows without pics? Did you overhaul any part of the bike at all?
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Old 09-16-21, 02:03 AM
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Assuming the road bikes you're trying are in safe operating condition, sure, it takes a few rides to get accustomed to any unfamiliar bike.

Tonight I rode my 1980s steel road bike for the first time in weeks. Mostly I've been riding a 2014 carbon fiber road bike with integrated brakes/shifters. My older bike has downtube shifters, and the brake levers/hoods are shorter, narrower and a bit lower. So while I've ridden that bike more than 10,000 miles, it took a few miles to get reacquainted after not having ridden it for a few weeks.

And when I first got that bike it felt like roller skates on ice, compared with my familiar upright hybrid.

Keep at it. Adjust the bike(s) as needed to suit yourself. You'll get accustomed to them.
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Old 09-16-21, 07:11 AM
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St. Etienne is likely the other brand. Usually nothing special, this is likely similar to most steel-cranked, steel rimmed, straight gauge tubed boom bikes with Simplex and Mafac kit. Although a photo could quickly disprove anything I've said.
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Old 09-16-21, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
St. Etienne is likely the other brand. Usually nothing special, this is likely similar to most steel-cranked, steel rimmed, straight gauge tubed boom bikes with Simplex and Mafac kit. Although a photo could quickly disprove anything I've said.
Yep! That's the brand. I think it rides pretty smooth. I don't know much though. It's probably close to the Sears Puch in ride quality from what I can tell.
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Old 09-16-21, 07:25 AM
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base2 covered your question well. I'm just chiming in to relate my personal experience.
I have two road bikes, one is a touring bike with relaxed geometry and wider (35 mm) lower pressure (I run at 65-75ish PSI) tires. The other is a "racier" bike (not a crit bike, but more a stage race geometry - note that I put "race" and related terms in quotes because I don't race) with narrower higher pressure tires (23 or 25 mm run at 100ish PSI).
After riding the touring bike for a while, when I get on the "race" bike it feels twitchy and I have to be careful not to overcorrect, it is harder to ride no-handed, etc.
This could be what you're experiencing. It is a matter of getting used to the quicker response and adjusting your steering and balance inputs to take advantage of the greater precision offered by the racier bike.
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Old 09-16-21, 07:58 AM
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It is a bit about perception. One person's "responsive" handling can be seen as "twichy" by another.
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Old 09-16-21, 08:15 AM
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If you are used to mountain bikes, every road bike will feel a little wobbly at first. They are fine though, and you'll get used to it.
Fine gravel will knock you down no matter what bike you are on. It's best to go slow if a turn features going through gravel.
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Old 09-17-21, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by 777funk View Post
Anyways, I notice after years of riding cheap mountain bikes that these feel a little unstable. Is it just me or is this really the case?

I figure I will ride on typical fine gravel packed bike trails and some pavement... never off road. I would have thought this would be a good bike. Maybe it's something a person can get used to?
’Boom Era’ 1970-1980s ten-speeds typically come with 40cm width drop bars, which will feel very, very different from the ~560mm straight bars on your MTB.
Steering, in particular will need to be smoother and more deliberate, especially on loose surfaces like gravel trails, since trying to make corrections on narrow bars can easily become an over-correction than it can on straight bars. (That’s why extra-wide drop bars are a ‘thing’ on gravel bikes)
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Old 09-17-21, 04:37 PM
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This could be an issue - it's fairly easy over the years for a bike's frame or forks to get whacked out of alignment. Most good bike shops have the tools to check and realign fork ends, dropouts, etc.
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Old 09-18-21, 01:32 PM
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In the old days most road bikes had the frame geometry of criterium race bikes and so had steeper head tube angles and less fork rake. Great for short criterium race courses but terrible on the open road, especially at high speeds. At the other end of the spectrum are the bikes built for use by triathletes. I owned a Dave Scott Centurion Ironman bicycle and it was perfect for long rides and fast downhill descents with full control of the bike.
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Old 09-18-21, 01:57 PM
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No bike should feel unstable. Don’t ride an unstable bike.

cyclic Eric above hits on one possible problem. And a common one. Other likely issues would be a bad headset (loose or tight, notchy or worn out) wheels not centered, wheels loose on axle, excessive tire pressure, inadequate tire pressure, saddle too high, handlebars too far away. There are probably some I missed, all on this list are very common.

No manufacturer is going to sell an unstable unsafe bike. They do not want to kill the customers. What customers will do with the bike they can’t control. Pretty much all tales of twitchy bikes are from riders who attempted to do something strange and unlikely. All race bikes in particular are quite stable. Couldn’t race them if they weren’t.
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Old 09-19-21, 07:26 AM
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How to pick out a bike to ride:
1. Acquire ANY bike. Ride it wherever and however you like. Where and how you really ride is important.
2. During or after every ride, make a mental list of what you like and what you don't like about your bike. Color matters, price matters. Anything that you think might matter, matters to you so it counts.
3. When you start looking for your next bike, try to maximize the things in your like column and minimize the things in your don't like column.
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Old 09-22-21, 01:04 PM
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one might double check their tire pressure. a lower front pressure will make the bike less "twitchy". I used to ride w/ both tires at max pressure listed on the sidewall, but don't anymore & always ride the front tire a bitter lower
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Old 09-22-21, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
No bike should feel unstable. Don’t ride an unstable bike.

cyclic Eric above hits on one possible problem. And a common one. Other likely issues would be a bad headset (loose or tight, notchy or worn out) wheels not centered, wheels loose on axle, excessive tire pressure, inadequate tire pressure, saddle too high, handlebars too far away. There are probably some I missed, all on this list are very common.

No manufacturer is going to sell an unstable unsafe bike. They do not want to kill the customers. What customers will do with the bike they can’t control. Pretty much all tales of twitchy bikes are from riders who attempted to do something strange and unlikely. All race bikes in particular are quite stable. Couldn’t race them if they weren’t.
I think people see race bikes as twitchy because they ride them slow. At 5 mph my road bike is twitchy. At 30 it is smooth and stable.
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