Front wheel wobble causes?

christob

Well-Known Member
Hi;
Getting a little envious of the bikers who go whizzing by me, sitting upright in their saddle, with their hands off their handlebar entirely... not because I always, or even frequently, want to ride that way, but because I do sometimes miss that sensation on coasting along on long, even flats hands-free, or the ability on a long flat run, to sit fully upright, stretching my spine a bit, etc...

BUT. My front wheel (and thus the handlebar) wobbles/wiggles a good bit when I'm simply coasting (no pedal, no electric assist) say, under 15mph on basically level paved surfaces. So I have no confidence in my ability to ("safely") ride along a long, even, flat stretch, hands-free. Let alone while trying to pedal!

What are the typical leading causes of this kind of wobble? My first thought was perhaps wheel out of true? But are there other "usual culprits" to investigate as well?
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Hi;
Getting a little envious of the bikers who go whizzing by me, sitting upright in their saddle, with their hands off their handlebar entirely... not because I always, or even frequently, want to ride that way, but because I do sometimes miss that sensation on coasting along on long, even flats hands-free, or the ability on a long flat run, to sit fully upright, stretching my spine a bit, etc...

BUT. My front wheel (and thus the handlebar) wobbles/wiggles a good bit when I'm simply coasting (no pedal, no electric assist) say, under 15mph on basically level paved surfaces. So I have no confidence in my ability to ("safely") ride along a long, even, flat stretch, hands-free. Let alone while trying to pedal!

What are the typical leading causes of this kind of wobble? My first thought was perhaps wheel out of true? But are there other "usual culprits" to investigate as well?
I've had that happen with a new bike. There's a number of easy things you can try and if you can't get it resolved, yet still want to there's a number of difficult and possibly costly solutions you can try. I'm afraid it's all trial and error.

Seeing pictures of your bike I see you ride with at least one pannier. Weight distribution can be a big factor with wobble. Try a pleasure ride with just you on the bike. Next play with tire pressure; max, min and in between. While your messing with tires make sure the bead is even all the way around in the rims. Both tires. If you're using Slime or similar sealant, that can be a factor.

Now more hands on. Are both rims true and dished properly? All spokes are evenly tensioned? Next the headset bearings need to be properly adjusted. Tire replacement. A good rolling tread like Schwalbe Marathon Plus might help.

If none of the above helps in the end, some bikes don't have the best geometry unfortunately. It's rare, I've seen it though where a bike is made for looks over function and just doesn't have the proper rake and trail to roll well. Your bike is a classic design though, I'd bet tried and true.

You can try the things your willing to do. I went through all the mechanical fixes on a bike, I didn't get it fixed until I changed the tires. Live and learn. The reason I went with the mechanical fixes first is I could do them at home myself. If you can, great! If not you might want a shop to look at it and go with their assessment. It's hard to evaluate online.

Good luck!
 

christob

Well-Known Member
Thank you both (and JR for that detailed list of options...) Lots to consider / try out...
 

christob

Well-Known Member
Fortunately, when I took the bike into LBS to have new rear wheel installed, I mentioned the wobble for them to look at -- they resolved it (though I didn't get any details on what they did, when I picked up the bike later.)
 

fcraigs

New Member
I have a wobble with my
Fortunately, when I took the bike into LBS to have new rear wheel installed, I mentioned the wobble for them to look at -- they resolved it (though I didn't get any details on what they did, when I picked up the bike later.)
Is there any way you could contact the bike shop and ask what they did to get rid of the wobble. I have a bad wobble and have tried everything with no luck. Thanks
 

christob

Well-Known Member
@fcraigs not at this point, unfortunately, nearly a year later.
However, a few months after my forum posts above, I had a new rear hub / whole wheel put on the bike, provided by the manufacturer.
A few months after that went on, I started feeling the wobble/shimmy again... Back to the LBS for investigation. To me, it felt just like before -- ie, a wobble that I sensed happening in / coming from the front wheel.

In fact -- once the shop tech rode on it (barely 20 feet!) he immediately said "Woah, you've got some loose spokes somewhere!" -- sure enough, probably 40% of the *rear wheel's* spokes were ridiculously loose. So the shop did an all-spokes check & tighten & wheel re-true, and the wobble disappeared immediately.
I'd never have guessed on my own as a novice, that the rear spokes being loose would cause a "feels like the front wheel" kind of sensation...!
 

fcraigs

New Member
@fcraigs not at this point, unfortunately, nearly a year later.
However, a few months after my forum posts above, I had a new rear hub / whole wheel put on the bike, provided by the manufacturer.
A few months after that went on, I started feeling the wobble/shimmy again... Back to the LBS for investigation. To me, it felt just like before -- ie, a wobble that I sensed happening in / coming from the front wheel.

In fact -- once the shop tech rode on it (barely 20 feet!) he immediately said "Woah, you've got some loose spokes somewhere!" -- sure enough, probably 40% of the *rear wheel's* spokes were ridiculously loose. So the shop did an all-spokes check & tighten & wheel re-true, and the wobble disappeared immediately.
I'd never have guessed on my own as a novice, that the rear spokes being loose would cause a "feels like the front wheel" kind of sensation...!
Thanks for the update. I have mag wheels so that is not the problem.
 

Mike's E-Bikes

Well-Known Member
Hi;
Getting a little envious of the bikers who go whizzing by me, sitting upright in their saddle, with their hands off their handlebar entirely... not because I always, or even frequently, want to ride that way, but because I do sometimes miss that sensation on coasting along on long, even flats hands-free, or the ability on a long flat run, to sit fully upright, stretching my spine a bit, etc...

BUT. My front wheel (and thus the handlebar) wobbles/wiggles a good bit when I'm simply coasting (no pedal, no electric assist) say, under 15mph on basically level paved surfaces. So I have no confidence in my ability to ("safely") ride along a long, even, flat stretch, hands-free. Let alone while trying to pedal!

What are the typical leading causes of this kind of wobble? My first thought was perhaps wheel out of true? But are there other "usual culprits" to investigate as well?
What bike is it ? Frame design and where battery is mounted can create wobble.
 

fcraigs

New Member
Cast mag wheels often require balancing, like a car or motorcycle where wheel weights are added.
When I lift the tires and spin them they look aligned. How do you check the balance ? I asked the dealer and they said there is not a machine like auto tire alignment machine. Thanks
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
When I lift the tires and spin them they look aligned. How do you check the balance ? I asked the dealer and they said there is not a machine like auto tire alignment machine. Thanks
I don't know there is a machine. There are tools. Requires a good wheel builder to balance bicycle wheels. Some competition riders balance their wheels, or have them balanced. If you try all other suggestions earlier in the thread, it might resolve the issue. Mag wheels would seem to be important to have balanced since traditional truing isn't really applicable. I have never owned a bicycle with mag wheels.

The first 8 seconds of this video shows an unbalanced wheel. Note how the frame wobbles. Then the second half of the video shows a balanced wheel.


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