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First speed wobble crash

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Road Cycling ďIt is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

First speed wobble crash

Old 05-05-21, 05:46 AM
  #101  
Cyclingpotter
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Today I experienced a shimmy that I couldn't control. I went for a ride today and twenty minutes in I was descending a hill at 56 km and then in no time I am skidding along the pavement. The shimmy turned into a full out wobble that I just couldn't get under control.

Two weeks ago I experienced shimmy at 82 km an hour and I was able to slow the bike down and control it. I had a smaller one a few days ago at about 70 km/h. Today's was much slower but I had hit some rough pavement that may have contributed to the wobble.

Did I help contribute to this mishap, you bet I did. I didn't grab the top tube between my legs, I didn't raise my weight above the saddle or loosen my grip on the bars. These are all solutions but they are counter-intuitive when it is happening. I was hanging on for dear life, just trying to slow the bike down. I think I need to start training for this to make sure it doesn't happen again. I have done a lot of reading on speed wobble and one thing is clear, there is no definitive answer. Different solutions work for different people and the solutions are not universal. My biggest obstacle will be fear. The fear to go downhill fast again.

This is just a narrative of what happened. I was one of the unlucky ones that couldn't control today's shimmy.

The bike was the Trek Domane SL6 that is one year old exactly today.
I have just bought the Trek Domane SL7 and have now had two cases of speed wobble in the first 8 weeks. Both around 50kph, both with cross winds but both controllable by reducing speed and both terrifying. I have been cycling for years and am used to descending at higher speeds than this. I have changed my seat position and height to take more wight off my bars and have changed my bar grip (both times happened when on my hoods). After the second time I have been reading a lot and have learnt about squeezing the top tube with my knees etc but am not looking forward to my next down hill with a cross wind. It almost makes me want to go back to my Cannondale SuperSix Evo - which was a lot twitchier but ever subjected me to a speed wobble.
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Old 05-05-21, 07:02 AM
  #102  
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Originally Posted by Cyclingpotter View Post
I have just bought the Trek Domane SL7 and have now had two cases of speed wobble in the first 8 weeks. Both around 50kph, both with cross winds but both controllable by reducing speed and both terrifying. I have been cycling for years and am used to descending at higher speeds than this. I have changed my seat position and height to take more wight off my bars and have changed my bar grip (both times happened when on my hoods). After the second time I have been reading a lot and have learnt about squeezing the top tube with my knees etc but am not looking forward to my next down hill with a cross wind. It almost makes me want to go back to my Cannondale SuperSix Evo - which was a lot twitchier but ever subjected me to a speed wobble.
There are probably some things you can do with tires, tire inflation, tire balance etcÖ Some frequency related to road imperfections, tire rotation sped, and/or hitting some bump is causing the frame to oscillate. Itís related to control theory way to complicated and math heavy to discuss here, but you need to change the frequency response of the frame.

One key place to look would be using a wider tire at a lower pressure. This could have the effect of adding considerable damping to the system and preventing some of the frequency input from the road in terms of repetitive imperfections in the surface or filtering out some of the higher frequencies from a pot hole hit from getting to the frame.

Avoiding impulse hits like potholes is key because, in the frequency world, this is like a square wave. Any sharp edge like that is comprised of the sum of many sinusoidal frequencies at high frequency. If any of those component waveforms are at the resonant frequency of the frame in sufficient amplitude, the frame will be coerced into oscillation. When you get an impulse hit like that, youíre injecting lots of different frequency inputs to the bike all at one time which can invoke a very complex and unpredictable response.

The problem with trying to figure that out is you risk more crashes until you find it. Iíd hate to suggest it, but if it were me, Iíd ditch the bike and look for another that was probably a little stiffer and maybe a bit beefier.

The Domane frame is a much more complex case when you look at the elastic couplers it has for adjusting ride quality. That sort of changes the frequency response and makes it a lot more complex.

So my suggestion would be to either ditch the frame, play with the tires and inflation as a starting point, and avoid impulse response type road imperfections (pot holes are a good example) like the plague.

You didnít mention any injuries from the crash so Iím hoping thatís the case. Hope youíre ok.
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Old 06-10-21, 08:21 AM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
At 0:28...fugging hell...

https://youtu.be/VfngbsIUSj8?t=28
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Old 06-11-21, 01:26 PM
  #104  
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What a good reminder!

Started reading this, selectively so as not to give myself a mental hurdle too (I don't think I often get above 30, so there's that), but it seems like a great reminder for me to get gloves. I have been thinking about it because I grip with my left hand and have to remind myself frequently to switch my grip to lesson the numbness I get (G.I. Joe grip) but aside from something with gel pads for that, I am reminded it will help protect my hands when I fall. Any suggestions?
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Old 06-11-21, 06:02 PM
  #105  
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Scary stuff! Touch would Iíve never experienced a speed wobble on any bike. It seems to me like an unlucky combination of mass and frequency leading to an undamped resonant oscillation. If I ever experienced a speed wobble like this I would never trust that bike again. But a different rider on the same bike with a slightly different mass (lighter or heavier) might never have an issue as it would change the resonant frequency.

I agree with the poster above who mentioned that wider, lower pressure tyres are likely to help damp out this kind of resonance. They certainly feel more stable to me at high speed. My current road bike (Giant Defy) on 32c tyres at 65-70 psi is rock solid on descents. But I do hope I donít think about this thread next time Iím bombing down a hill!
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Old 06-12-21, 10:12 AM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by Cyclingpotter View Post
I have just bought the Trek Domane SL7 and have now had two cases of speed wobble in the first 8 weeks. Both around 50kph, both with cross winds but both controllable by reducing speed and both terrifying. I have been cycling for years and am used to descending at higher speeds than this. I have changed my seat position and height to take more wight off my bars and have changed my bar grip (both times happened when on my hoods). After the second time I have been reading a lot and have learnt about squeezing the top tube with my knees etc but am not looking forward to my next down hill with a cross wind. It almost makes me want to go back to my Cannondale SuperSix Evo - which was a lot twitchier but ever subjected me to a speed wobble.
It has been almost ten months since that crash and I have not recovered mentally from it. I refuse to go faster than 50 km on any downhill, the risk is too great but I do miss the thrill and excitement of downhills. This is the 24th bike I have owned and never had a problem before this. It is also the best bike I have ever owned in terms of comfort and handling. The easiest thing would be to sell it it as suggested to you above but I really do love this bike. My compromise is to slow down on the downhills and enjoy the rest of the ride. There is lots of good information of why it happens, but the solutions seem more elusive. What works for one person doesn't work for another.

I wish I had a fix for you but what works for me (slowing down) may not be the solution you want to hear.
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Old 06-12-21, 10:36 AM
  #107  
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If you read the sales pitch for the Trek Domane you will understand why speed wobble is more likely with the Domane then most other road bikes.

It's the IsoSpeed technology that gives it that smooth ride. It allows the frame to "move with the road". We know a stiff frame reduces the likelihood of speed wobble, And limits the amplitude as well, Sometimes enough to allow us to keep control. But too stiff makes for a jarring ride.

It might be prudent to limit your speed to 50 kph down hill. Perhaps have a 2'nd bike when you feel speedy.

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Old 06-12-21, 11:56 AM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by xroadcharlie View Post
If you read the sales pitch for the Trek Domane you will understand why speed wobble is more likely with the Domane then most other road bikes.

It's the IsoSpeed technology that gives it that smooth ride. It allows the frame to "move with the road". We know a stiff frame reduces the likelihood of speed wobble, And limits the amplitude as well, Sometimes enough to allow us to keep control. But too stiff makes for a jarring ride.

It might be prudent to limit your speed to 50 kph down hill. Perhaps have a 2'nd bike when you feel speedy.
I donít agree. If anything the damper would limit oscillations of the frame and change the mechanical resonance. Think what happens if you were to put a rubber piece in the middle of a tuning fork.

The stiffness of the frame is not all that important as is the frequency of mechanical resonance is determined by lengths of tubing among other things. Everything on the bike is part of a system - frame, wheels, rider, location of mass etcÖ if it was as simple as a damper in a frame or not, or stiffness of a frame then solutions would be obvious and they simply arenít.

You have to do a deep dive into Laplace mathematics and mechanical characterization and simulation to get this right. None of this is intuitive. In point of fact, intuitive solutions are as counterproductive as they are helpful.

Last edited by JohnJ80; 06-12-21 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 06-12-21, 03:14 PM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
I donít agree. If anything the damper would limit oscillations of the frame and change the mechanical resonance. Think what happens if you were to put a rubber piece in the middle of a tuning fork.
it depends how much damping there is in that flexible part. It could actually act more as an un-damped spring, which would tend to make things worse at the resonant frequency.

This makes me wonder about bikes like the Specialized Roubaix. Early versions of that had an undamped spring above the headset. The latest version also has a damper.
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Old 06-12-21, 08:53 PM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
it depends how much damping there is in that flexible part. It could actually act more as an un-damped spring, which would tend to make things worse at the resonant frequency.

This makes me wonder about bikes like the Specialized Roubaix. Early versions of that had an undamped spring above the headset. The latest version also has a damper.
My point is this: itís unknowable without knowledge of the entire system at resonance at that instant in time and without some knowledge of the impulse that set the system into resonance.

None of this is due to a single cause or, by now, all of those things would have been eliminated and there would be no resonance/under damped instances in bicycles and this would never happen.

This stuff is always complex and multidimensional. Thatís why itís hard to isolate, replicate and pin down. Every time this happens, Iím sure it scares the crap out the bike manufacturerís lawyers and engineers (been there done that - different industry). The big guys are going to have a lot better handle on simulation and analysis of what causes this in their bikes than the little guys.
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Old 06-12-21, 09:29 PM
  #111  
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One thing I've noticed lately is my bike is much less wobbly if I keep one leg down and one up (as if you are going into a turn). For some reason I seems to stabilize my bike when going downhill. I suspect either the leg is acting like a brace or the center of gravity is lowering.

Anyone else notice this?
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Old 06-13-21, 12:08 PM
  #112  
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I've been plagued by this for quite a few years, across several bikes and across road and TT position. In my case it's always down hill and for me I think 3 components are present when it's likely to happen. There is a road surface component, certain types of regular & higher frequency bumpiness, think rumble strips or roughed up chip seal. There is a visual component. On a wide open descent I feel more prone to wobble than on a tree lined, visually closed in road. And there is a mental component. Anticipating the onset of a wobble on every down hill I'm certain leads to more tension.

Two simple things that really helped me (other than just avoiding some routes, which I do). First is having my head up on descents. Second to a much lesser degree is the standard knees on the top tube. I would also agree that at times I feel more stable with one foot down, or even pedaling.

On the positive side. My current frame, a Felt FR1, is the most stable I've felt in years. It also happens to have a very stiff front end in a sprint, coincidence or related? I'm using HED Jet wheels with 25's. Together a soft but fast feel, a lot of road roughness doesn't make it to the bars. On this bike I can actually tuck on down hills again! Something I have not had the confidence to do in a long time.
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Old 06-13-21, 04:27 PM
  #113  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
My point is this: itís unknowable without knowledge of the entire system at resonance at that instant in time and without some knowledge of the impulse that set the system into resonance.

None of this is due to a single cause or, by now, all of those things would have been eliminated and there would be no resonance/under damped instances in bicycles and this would never happen.

This stuff is always complex and multidimensional. Thatís why itís hard to isolate, replicate and pin down. Every time this happens, Iím sure it scares the crap out the bike manufacturerís lawyers and engineers (been there done that - different industry). The big guys are going to have a lot better handle on simulation and analysis of what causes this in their bikes than the little guys.
I agree it is complex. But if you add any undamped spring into a system it is likely to make things worse rather than better if resonance occurs. Now the elastomers used in the Domane frame may well have some level of self damping so they may not be a problem. But we do know that this bike is not immune to speed wobbles, whatever the cause.
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Old 06-13-21, 05:05 PM
  #114  
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Unless I missed it in the thread, did anyone mention spoke tension?
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Old 06-13-21, 06:53 PM
  #115  
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3 answers, damp the vibration, change the frequency, and pedaling faster can do that, 3 and most
important, loosen up. Not only will staying loose help stop the vibration, youíre not going to crash from the wobs unless you tighten up and add to the problem.
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Old 06-13-21, 07:06 PM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
I agree it is complex. But if you add any undamped spring into a system it is likely to make things worse rather than better if resonance occurs. Now the elastomers used in the Domane frame may well have some level of self damping so they may not be a problem. But we do know that this bike is not immune to speed wobbles, whatever the cause.
Do you really think Trek engineering didnít think of that and simulate it before they committed huge money to molds for the frames? If only it where that simple.

Again, itís unknowable until all the masses, springs, damping rug and resonances are identified and the nature and frequency domain composition of the input impulse response are known.

The reason we keep seeing this stuff happen is largely because of simplistic solutions that donít account for multiple effects simultaneously.

So no, I donít agree. You simply have no idea what the effect of their frame components are.
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Old 06-14-21, 06:34 AM
  #117  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Do you really think Trek engineering didn’t think of that and simulate it before they committed huge money to molds for the frames? If only it where that simple.

Again, it’s unknowable until all the masses, springs, damping rug and resonances are identified and the nature and frequency domain composition of the input impulse response are known.

The reason we keep seeing this stuff happen is largely because of simplistic solutions that don’t account for multiple effects simultaneously.

So no, I don’t agree. You simply have no idea what the effect of their frame components are.
You've lost me now. I wasn't disagreeing with anything you've said. You stated in response to what someone else posted. "I don’t agree. If anything the damper would limit oscillations of the frame and change the mechanical resonance".
I just pointed out that it's actually a spring, not a damper (although it may have some self-damping). Neither of us would know what the effect of that additional spring is, we can only speculate. My own experience of undamped springs in the automotive world is that they make resonance effects worse. I would have thought that was quite a reasonable view, no? It's one of the primary reasons why dampers even exist.

Trek engineering might not have looked that closely at resonance, presuming it wasn't a problem in their field testing. But if they did, then it didn't really help the OP and at least one other poster who had a problem with this bike.
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Old 06-14-21, 08:52 PM
  #118  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
You've lost me now. I wasn't disagreeing with anything you've said. You stated in response to what someone else posted. "I donít agree. If anything the damper would limit oscillations of the frame and change the mechanical resonance".
I just pointed out that it's actually a spring, not a damper (although it may have some self-damping). Neither of us would know what the effect of that additional spring is, we can only speculate. My own experience of undamped springs in the automotive world is that they make resonance effects worse. I would have thought that was quite a reasonable view, no? It's one of the primary reasons why dampers even exist.

Trek engineering might not have looked that closely at resonance, presuming it wasn't a problem in their field testing. But if they did, then it didn't really help the OP and at least one other poster who had a problem with this bike.
its unknowable because itís a complex system and everything interacts. There wonít be an intuitive answer because itís going to a take deep dive into the math. Thatís my point.
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Old 06-17-21, 01:51 PM
  #119  
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Glad you are okay, considering the circumstances. Thanks for posting this cautionary account too, and I hope you heal up fast. I try to clamp my knees on the top tube but I forget at times. This has never happened to me and I hope it never does but very interesting to read through the responses.
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Old 06-17-21, 03:00 PM
  #120  
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Now the elastomers used in the Domane frame ...
FYI, there are no elastomers used in the Domane frame. IsoSpeed is essentially the use of a pivot point to allow flex along longer sections of tubing.
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Old 06-17-21, 03:49 PM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
FYI, there are no elastomers used in the Domane frame. IsoSpeed is essentially the use of a pivot point to allow flex along longer sections of tubing.
Ah okay, I see now. I'm not going to dare speculate on what effect that flex might or might not have on speed wobbles.
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Old 06-17-21, 06:22 PM
  #122  
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Jeez! Six or seven times and you were still gutsy enough to get back on that bike? Wow, I am so glad you were not seriously injured. That could easily have been a disaster for you.

I had these high speed wobbles two or three times on different bikes. Scary as hell but I was lucky to never go down.

High speed wobble can be caused by so many things; fork, headset, wheel bearings, spokes, wind, speed, road surface, etc... and any combination of those and other things.

The Trek Domane has yet another set of considerations that have been hinted at but (unless I missed it) have not been specifically mentioned; the IsoSpeed decouplers. Never ridden with them, and I'm sure Trek researched the hell out of the design and implementation. But aren't the ones on the Sl6 adjustable? Is there some possibility that the ones on this particular bike are a little off?
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Old 06-18-21, 01:09 AM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
Unless I missed it in the thread, did anyone mention spoke tension?
early on.
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Old 06-19-21, 11:28 PM
  #124  
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Had a scary wobble at 45+ MPH, it was caused by a fork that was not rigid enough. Replaced the fork with a new carbon one from a different manufacturer and no issues.

OP get your wheels trued and maybe some new rubber. Those would be cheap first steps.
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Old 06-20-21, 10:06 AM
  #125  
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Blakcloud. Do you recall what your tire pressure was on the ride when you encountered the wobble?
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