Handling problems: indexed headset at fault?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by [email protected], Apr 18, 2006.

  1. Hi all,
    I have some slight handling problems with my hybrid bike.
    (Bear with me: English is not my mother tongue.) My bike feels as if it
    slightly skids sideways, especially when going downhill and coasting,
    even at moderate speed (15mph). It feels like I hit some bits of gravel
    every now and then, even if the tarmac is perfectly clean. It is not a
    "wobble", more a subtle feeling of instability (maybe
    micro-jerkyness?).
    I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem?
    I am reluctant to replace it, but if it could solve the handling
    problems I would do it.

    Thanks in advance
     
    Tags:


  2. On 18 Apr 2006 02:52:15 -0700, "[email protected]" <[email protected]>
    wrote:

    >Hi all,
    >I have some slight handling problems with my hybrid bike.
    >(Bear with me: English is not my mother tongue.) My bike feels as if it
    >slightly skids sideways, especially when going downhill and coasting,
    >even at moderate speed (15mph). It feels like I hit some bits of gravel
    >every now and then, even if the tarmac is perfectly clean. It is not a
    >"wobble", more a subtle feeling of instability (maybe
    >micro-jerkyness?).
    >I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    >lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem?


    Maybe -- but when the headset is like that, the problem feels not so
    much like "jerkiness." Instead the bike tends to want to swoop to one
    side or the other. It doesn't self-correct to go straight so well.

    >I am reluctant to replace it, but if it could solve the handling
    >problems I would do it.


    If you have the tools, you could try removing and reinstalling the
    headset cups. The indents won't line up and the headset will work
    better for a short while. If that makes the problem go away, then
    replacing the headset if probably the best thing to do.

    JT

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  3. Nick Payne

    Nick Payne Guest

    "John Forrest Tomlinson" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > On 18 Apr 2006 02:52:15 -0700, "[email protected]" <[email protected]>
    > wrote:
    >
    >>I have some slight handling problems with my hybrid bike.
    >>(Bear with me: English is not my mother tongue.) My bike feels as if it
    >>slightly skids sideways, especially when going downhill and coasting,
    >>even at moderate speed (15mph). It feels like I hit some bits of gravel
    >>every now and then, even if the tarmac is perfectly clean. It is not a
    >>"wobble", more a subtle feeling of instability (maybe
    >>micro-jerkyness?).
    >>I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    >>lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem?

    >
    > Maybe -- but when the headset is like that, the problem feels not so
    > much like "jerkiness." Instead the bike tends to want to swoop to one
    > side or the other. It doesn't self-correct to go straight so well.
    >
    >>I am reluctant to replace it, but if it could solve the handling
    >>problems I would do it.

    >
    > If you have the tools, you could try removing and reinstalling the
    > headset cups. The indents won't line up and the headset will work
    > better for a short while. If that makes the problem go away, then
    > replacing the headset if probably the best thing to do.
    >

    Or if the headset is cup and cone using a bearing cage, have a look at the
    cage and see if there are spaces between the balls. If so, you can try
    replacing with loose balls to see if you can fit any extra. Depending on the
    design of the cage this may or may not be possible. I once resurrected a
    cheap headset that had become indexed for several extra years of unindexed
    use by replacing the 15 caged balls, which had considerable gaps between
    them, with about two dozen loose balls.

    Nick
     
  4. Josh Hassol

    Josh Hassol Guest

    [email protected] wrote:
    > Hi all,
    > I have some slight handling problems with my hybrid bike.
    > (Bear with me: English is not my mother tongue.) My bike feels as if it
    > slightly skids sideways, especially when going downhill and coasting,
    > even at moderate speed (15mph). It feels like I hit some bits of gravel
    > every now and then, even if the tarmac is perfectly clean. It is not a
    > "wobble", more a subtle feeling of instability (maybe
    > micro-jerkyness?).
    > I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    > lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem?
    > I am reluctant to replace it, but if it could solve the handling
    > problems I would do it.
    >
    > Thanks in advance


    Forgive me if you've already checked this, but it sounds like it might
    be slightly loose cones in the hubs. A small amount of side-play in
    the hubs could give you that "micro-jerkiness" (that's a great
    description, by the way). If the cones are properly adjusted, you
    might check the grease - is there enough, or are the hubs getting dry?

    Josh
     
  5. Art Harris

    Art Harris Guest

    [email protected] wrote:

    > My bike feels as if it
    > slightly skids sideways, especially when going downhill and coasting,
    > even at moderate speed (15mph). It feels like I hit some bits of gravel
    > every now and then, even if the tarmac is perfectly clean. It is not a
    > "wobble", more a subtle feeling of instability (maybe
    > micro-jerkyness?).
    > I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    > lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem?


    I doubt that a slightly "indexed" headset would cause what you are
    describing. If the bike seems to be pulling to one side, the frame or
    fork may be out of alignment. Or it could just be nervousness on your
    part. Try not to tense up. Relax, bend your elbows, and don't grip the
    bars too tightly.

    Art Harris
     
  6. Mark Hickey

    Mark Hickey Guest

    "Art Harris" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >[email protected] wrote:
    >
    >> My bike feels as if it
    >> slightly skids sideways, especially when going downhill and coasting,
    >> even at moderate speed (15mph). It feels like I hit some bits of gravel
    >> every now and then, even if the tarmac is perfectly clean. It is not a
    >> "wobble", more a subtle feeling of instability (maybe
    >> micro-jerkyness?).
    >> I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    >> lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem?

    >
    >I doubt that a slightly "indexed" headset would cause what you are
    >describing. If the bike seems to be pulling to one side, the frame or
    >fork may be out of alignment. Or it could just be nervousness on your
    >part. Try not to tense up. Relax, bend your elbows, and don't grip the
    >bars too tightly.


    Good advice. Also, wind can cause the same effect.

    Mark Hickey
    Habanero Cycles
    http://www.habcycles.com
    Home of the $795 ti frame
     
  7. alans

    alans Guest

    I had these exact symptoms caused by a set of tires I tried over the
    winter. The rear tire would not track straight, but built up some sort
    of asymmetrical stress or force which released with a tiny but
    noticeable sideways hop/slide every so many yards. This produced the
    "subtle feeling of instability" you describe. Since the only thing new
    was the tires, I changed them out and the problem disappeared. I
    suggest some sort of tire/wheel/hub problem as your culprit.

    Alan
     
  8. On Tue, 18 Apr 2006 02:52:15 -0700, [email protected] wrote:

    > I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    > lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem?
    > I am reluctant to replace it, but if it could solve the handling
    > problems I would do it.


    The only problem I ever had with an indexed headset was when trying to
    ride no-hands. But, if yours is bad enough, it might cause some trouble.
    Other things to look for:

    Frame alignment. Best checked by a shop that does framebuilding.

    Brake/shifter cables interfering with steering -- either too short, so
    they pull the bars one way, too long, which can push them and just
    restrict motion, or possibly just preventing smooth motion of the bars.

    Out-of dish wheel, or badly out of true wheel.

    --

    David L. Johnson

    __o | "What am I on? I'm on my bike, six hours a day, busting my ass.
    _`\(,_ | What are you on?" --Lance Armstrong
    (_)/ (_) |
     
  9. In article
    <[email protected]>,
    "[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Hi all,
    > I have some slight handling problems with my hybrid bike.
    > (Bear with me: English is not my mother tongue.) My bike feels as if it
    > slightly skids sideways, especially when going downhill and coasting,
    > even at moderate speed (15mph). It feels like I hit some bits of gravel
    > every now and then, even if the tarmac is perfectly clean. It is not a
    > "wobble", more a subtle feeling of instability (maybe
    > micro-jerkyness?).
    > I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    > lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem?
    > I am reluctant to replace it, but if it could solve the handling
    > problems I would do it.


    If it is a mystery problem with handling, assume the
    worst. Your frame may be cracked. Thorough inspection. Two
    likely places:

    * seat tube - bottom bracket joint
    * head tube - down tube joint

    Inspect all joints, stem, bars. Do not dismiss any idea
    that comes to mind. What about the hubs?

    --
    Michael Press
     
  10. F? Cozzi writes:

    > I have some slight handling problems with my hybrid bike. My bike
    > feels as if it slightly skids sideways, especially when going
    > downhill and coasting, even at moderate speed (15mph). It feels like
    > I hit some bits of gravel every now and then, even if the tarmac is
    > perfectly clean. It is not a "wobble", more a subtle feeling of
    > instability (maybe micro-jerkyness?).


    > I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    > lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem? I am
    > reluctant to replace it, but if it could solve the handling problems
    > I would do it.


    Dimple in the head bearing races are only a nuisance and cause some
    chatter when braking lightly on rough roads. Unless you try to adjust
    that local clearance away, which causes binding when steering off
    center, this will have no effect on handling. It may be disconcerting
    to listen to the chattering head bearing but that is not a functional
    problem.

    > Thanks in advance


    Thanks, (is good enough)

    Jobst Brandt
     
  11. I had similar symptoms and also wondered about the headset. I replaced
    it and the odd feeling didn't go away. After another couple thousand
    miles I had the (steel) frame break at the junction of the right
    chainstay and the dropout, while climbing. The micro-jerkiness
    suddenly became macro-jerkiness. So now I wonder if those early, vague
    feelings of instability were actually due to a growing crack.

    I'd double-check the play in the hubs, check for loose spokes, and
    also make sure none of the spokes are going slack when you're full
    weight is on the bike.... but you might also want to pay some close
    attention to the frame especially if it's seen a lot of heavy use.
    Look for cracked paint on or near the joins.
     
  12. [email protected] wrote:
    > Hi all,
    > I have some slight handling problems with my hybrid bike.
    > (Bear with me: English is not my mother tongue.) My bike feels as if it
    > slightly skids sideways, especially when going downhill and coasting,
    > even at moderate speed (15mph). It feels like I hit some bits of gravel
    > every now and then, even if the tarmac is perfectly clean. It is not a
    > "wobble", more a subtle feeling of instability (maybe
    > micro-jerkyness?).
    > I am not able to find any fault with the bike, except for a very
    > lightly indexed headset. Could it be the cause of the problem?
    > I am reluctant to replace it, but if it could solve the handling
    > problems I would do it.
    >
    > Thanks in advance


    Try this:

    Remove the rear wheel. Hold the locknuts in your hands and give the
    wheel a spin. Does it feel rough/uneven/"catchy"? Is there play in the
    axle? If all is well, try the same with the front wheel.
     
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