Unbalanced wheels - why?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Patrick, Jan 27, 2003.

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  1. Patrick

    Patrick Guest

    I've probably had at least a half dozen pairs of wheels over the years, and each and every pair has
    been "unbalanced" (in the sense that car wheels are balanced/unbalanced). I'm talking about quality
    wheelsets built by experienced builders - nothing factory made or wildly non-traditional. I assume
    it just doesn't make much difference, as long as they're round & true (which they always are). But
    I'm curious *why* it doesn't make a difference. I can really feel them bob up & down sharply when I
    give them the old hand-spin. I would think that should translate into some handling problems, but it
    doesn't. Physics explanation, anyone?
     
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  2. Lincoln Ross

    Lincoln Ross Guest

    Acceleration when rotating is something like v^2/r, so if you go 60mph instead of 30, then you have
    4X the force. Also, I'd venture to guess that perhaps car tires are more compliant in relation to
    the wheel's weight so that they can hop more when out of balance.

    Patrick wrote:
    >
    > I've probably had at least a half dozen pairs of wheels over the years, and each and every pair
    > has been "unbalanced" (in the sense that car wheels are balanced/unbalanced). I'm talking about
    > quality wheelsets built by experienced builders - nothing factory made or wildly non-traditional.
    > I assume it just doesn't make much difference, as long as they're round & true (which they always
    > are). But I'm curious *why* it doesn't make a difference. I can really feel them bob up & down
    > sharply when I give them the old hand-spin. I would think that should translate into some handling
    > problems, but it doesn't. Physics explanation, anyone?

    --
    Lincoln Ross NOTE ADDRESS CHANGE: [email protected]
     
  3. Antti

    Antti Guest

    Bicycle wheels are not balanced by the small extra weights as the car wheels are balanced. Thus, the
    small unbalancies due to the valve holes, spoke reflectors, speedmeter magnet, inner tube or the
    tyre or whatsoever remain there. But the loads on the wheel are quite different, wether the wheel is
    rotating freely in the air without touching the ground, or when supported by both the bearing and
    the ground, and also with part of the rider's weight dampening the vibrations.

    Antti

    Patrick wrote in message <[email protected]>...
    >I've probably had at least a half dozen pairs of wheels over the years, and each and every pair has
    >been "unbalanced" (in the sense that car wheels are balanced/unbalanced). I'm talking about quality
    >wheelsets built by experienced builders - nothing factory made or wildly non-traditional. I assume
    >it just doesn't make much difference, as long as they're round & true (which they always are). But
    >I'm curious *why* it doesn't make a difference. I can really feel them bob up & down sharply when I
    >give them the old hand-spin. I would think that should translate into some handling problems, but
    >it doesn't. Physics explanation, anyone?
     
  4. Not a detailed answer, but it's probably just a function of the mass of the wheel and the speed of
    rotation. Cars have a LOT more of both. It does make a difference in the amount of vibration you can
    feel on a fast descent, but typically not enough of a difference to translate into a handling
    "problem".

    SB

    "Patrick" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I've probably had at least a half dozen pairs of wheels over the years, and each and every pair
    > has been "unbalanced" (in the sense that car wheels are balanced/unbalanced). I'm talking about
    > quality wheelsets built by experienced builders - nothing factory made or wildly non-traditional.
    > I assume it just doesn't make much difference, as long as they're round & true (which they always
    > are). But I'm curious *why* it doesn't make a difference. I can really feel them bob up & down
    > sharply when I give them the old hand-spin. I would think that should translate into some handling
    > problems, but it doesn't. Physics explanation, anyone?
     
  5. On Tue, 28 Jan 2003 01:41:45 -0500, Antti wrote:

    > Bicycle wheels are not balanced by the small extra weights as the car wheels are balanced. Thus,
    > the small unbalancies due to the valve holes, spoke reflectors, speedmeter magnet, inner tube or
    > the tyre or whatsoever remain there.

    I found that the balance of my front wheel was greatly improved by adding a second speddometer
    magnet. I also managed to maintain a much faster pace for twice the distance, so it seems that
    balance is indeed very important.

    --

    David L. Johnson

    __o | Arguing with an engineer is like mud wrestling with a pig... You _`\(,_ | soon find out the
    pig likes it! (_)/ (_) |
     
  6. David Ornee

    David Ornee Guest

    "Antti" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Bicycle wheels are not balanced by the small extra weights as the car
    wheels
    > are balanced. Thus, the small unbalancies due to the valve holes, spoke reflectors, speedmeter
    > magnet, inner tube or the tyre or whatsoever remain there. But the loads on the wheel are quite
    > different, wether the wheel is rotating freely in the air without touching the ground, or when
    > supported
    by
    > both the bearing and the ground, and also with part of the rider's weight dampening the
    > vibrations.
    >
    > Antti
    >
    > Patrick wrote in message <[email protected]>...
    > >I've probably had at least a half dozen pairs of wheels over the years, and each and every pair
    > >has been "unbalanced" (in the sense that car wheels are balanced/unbalanced). I'm talking about
    > >quality wheelsets built by experienced builders - nothing factory made or wildly non-traditional.
    > >I assume it just doesn't make much difference, as long as they're round & true (which they always
    > >are). But I'm curious *why* it doesn't make a difference. I can really feel them bob up & down
    > >sharply when I give them the old hand-spin. I would think that should translate into some
    > >handling problems, but it doesn't. Physics explanation, anyone?
    >
    I like Antti's explanation. You can choose the location of spoke reflectors, speedometer magnet, and
    other items to mitigate the imbalance situation. I suppose that you could also put lighter or
    heavier nipples at the appropriate balance points on the wheel since there are alloy nipples, 12 and
    16 mm nipples, etc. However, I would not make the nipple compromise for the purpose of achieving
    balance. David Ornee, Western Springs, IL
     
  7. Nick Payne

    Nick Payne Guest

    With three magnets you could have gone even further and faster...

    "David L. Johnson >" <David L. Johnson <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > I found that the balance of my front wheel was greatly improved by adding a second speddometer
    > magnet. I also managed to maintain a much faster pace for twice the distance, so it seems that
    > balance is indeed very important.
     
  8. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    "Patrick" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I've probably had at least a half dozen pairs of wheels over the years, and each and every pair
    > has been "unbalanced" (in the sense that car wheels are balanced/unbalanced). I'm talking about
    > quality wheelsets built by experienced builders - nothing factory made or wildly non-traditional.
    > I assume it just doesn't make much difference, as long as they're round & true (which they always
    > are). But I'm curious *why* it doesn't make a difference. I can really feel them bob up & down
    > sharply when I give them the old hand-spin. I would think that should translate into some handling
    > problems, but it doesn't. Physics explanation, anyone?

    Because spinning the wheel and noticing that one spot always ends down, while true, is just not
    significant. A variance of, say, a gram is enough to initiate that effect but lost in the noise of a
    complete bike/rider system.

    Try a large spoke reflector on a light wheel. Spin the wheel with the bike in midair, even held in a
    sturdy stand, and it will bounce all over hell. When you ride the bike, even that much "imbalance"
    is hardly noticeable.

    So "balance" your wheels if it makes you feel better but don't claim any great advantage from it.
    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  9. Patrick Most riders average speed is under 25 mph which keeps the wheel rpm low enough that a small
    imbalance in the wheel is hardly felt. What causes the imbalance is the insert at the seam where the
    rim is assembled. A large imbalance can cause handling problems at higher speeds. My average speed
    in races often excedes 30 mph ( streamlined recumbents ) and have done 100 kilometers at an average
    of 35 mph. At these speeds a wheel imbalance is noticable and a source of fatigue. My method to
    balance the wheels is to hang the wheel horizonal and look for the low side by eye against an
    acurrate level. Just as a "rule of thumb" most wheels are balanced with about 4 inches of solder on
    the valve stem side. For spoked wheels, wind it around the nipple. Or place it under the rim tape on
    the inside. For further details your welcome to call. Steve "Speedy" Delaire 707 591 0915

    Patrick wrote:

    > I've probably had at least a half dozen pairs of wheels over the years, and each and every pair
    > has been "unbalanced" (in the sense that car wheels are balanced/unbalanced). I'm talking about
    > quality wheelsets built by experienced builders - nothing factory made or wildly non-traditional.
    > I assume it just doesn't make much difference, as long as they're round & true (which they always
    > are). But I'm curious *why* it doesn't make a difference. I can really feel them bob up & down
    > sharply when I give them the old hand-spin. I would think that should translate into some handling
    > problems, but it doesn't. Physics explanation, anyone?

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