How Come?

by skitza   September 22, 2013  

As a lad i could ride for miles at a time no handed and fairly comfortably did it on my mtb but as soon as i try my stage winner impression on the road bike i start wobbling and veering like a geriatric!? Am i now officially an unbalanced old fart!?

20 user comments

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I'm the same I suppose. A few possible contributing factors:

1) Fear
2) Fork trail
3) Lower back flexibility
4) Clipless pedals
5) More fear.

posted by msw [126 posts]
22nd September 2013 - 23:21

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lol all of the above methinks plus fear ! Fork trail?! explain ?

posted by skitza [16 posts]
22nd September 2013 - 23:29


Physics. You have a much higher center of gravity on a road bike.
Other answers may be somewhat true but are stupid in comparison to mine.

[custom] '12 Cannondale CAAD10 - Rival

badkneestom's picture

posted by badkneestom [132 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 1:29


Basically trail and weight distribution - Bromptons ride with tank-slapper mode when unladen+hands-off but put weight forward and it cures issue. Bikes go into tank slapper when front unloads and trail reduces - cure = ease off and let weight gently move forward. Two things happen - contact patch gets bigger (length grows faster) and trail from steering pivot goes forward from contact point pivot.

Had similar with badly loaded trailers (nose light) and fortunately we managed to pull the oscillation out by very gentle acceleration, and very gentle correction.

If you want to ride relaxed and hands off buy classic 'Dutch'/Flying Pigeon/UK roadster geometry.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [523 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 1:55

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Road bikes are harder to ride no handed. I ride my MTB to work and can do so no handed easily. I'm not so confident with my road bike. Possibly the steering is lighter and so it takes less to move it.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1381 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 2:56

1 Like

Headset too tight? Steering needs to move freely so it can turn when you lean the bike.

jezzzer's picture

posted by jezzzer [339 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 5:14

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jezzzer wrote:
Headset too tight? Steering needs to move freely so it can turn when you lean the bike.

I was going to suggest this as well. Also check that your front wheel is correctly fitted/aligned. I'd put mine in quickly at some point and it wasn't properly located in the forks - only by a tiny amount but it made a big difference to the handling.

These are the only two things I've had cause me problems.

ColT's picture

posted by ColT [243 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 6:44

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badkneestorm Applause Rolling On The Floor Laughing

posted by skitza [16 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 7:10

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Its all just practice really,start by leaving one hand on bars whilst u take off gilet etc then try to progress by doing with both hands.always keep a decent speed and steer with thighs.within 6 months of road biking i could eat a yoghurt etc on my bike.3 years and improving skills

posted by Shanefutcher [121 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 8:46

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You can tell how well a road bike fits you by how easy it is to ride no handed. Weight distribution front/rear innit.


posted by arrieredupeleton [580 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 11:22


skitza wrote:
Fork trail?! explain ?

When I was about 15 and could do no hands for ever I don't think I ever saw a road bike with straight forks. I think I'm right in saying that a bit of curve makes steering a little less twitchy. Also, the trend for small frames, long stems and enormous saddle to bar drops hadn't yet happened in the pros (and therefore in the non-pros...) - see and more on Vroomen's site.

Also good point about the saddle being lower on an MTB.

posted by msw [126 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 20:55

1 Like

i love this forum!!! So many interesting comments and opinions (and links),actually rode for 20 mtrs or so comfortably tonight (no handed!) until i heard a car behind me and bottled, seriously thinking about taking my bike and paying for a bike fit now to see if they change owt and it rides better , my main problem is as this is road bike number one i have nothing previous to work against,

posted by skitza [16 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 22:00

1 Like

Couldn't resist digging this one out again

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1099 posts]
23rd September 2013 - 23:05

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When I was a fool of about 19 years I could ride all the way from the uni back to my student house - a journey of 2km featuring mutiple sharp turns, bollards and the crossing of a major road junction - handless. I'm not saying it was the cleverest stunt, but you've got to find something productive to do with your day after a 1pm lie-in!

posted by chokofingrz [370 posts]
24th September 2013 - 1:57

1 Like

I used ride a mile or so to school handless. One right turn, a large roundabout and a tricky right bend. Mind you, I was on a BMX at the time. Used to outrun roadies by taking corners at full pelt.

posted by Argos74 [320 posts]
24th September 2013 - 6:33


Who else in Bath has ridden through Combe Down tunnel hands-free the whole way,gently flapping arms and pretending to be a bat?

Or is that just me.


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posted by oddbydefault [103 posts]
25th September 2013 - 8:46

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No-hands on a road bike is a bit harder than other bikes just because of the basic geometry. Fork rake and headtube angles make some difference but the key factor that make it tricky is that the bars are low and the seat is high. This means that you have to sit up a long way compared to the chopper you had as a kid, where your body position doesn't really change when you let go of the bars. With a big seat-bars drop you might even have to 'spring' off of your arms a bit to sit up straight which is a bit of a leap of faith if you're not 100% confident.

posted by Matt eaton [575 posts]
25th September 2013 - 9:18


My road bike isn't too bad, the Brompton is tricky though. I unintentionally tried it this morning while signalling right to change lanes on Blackfriar's Bridge. Hit a pot hole and my left hand came off the bars too, swerved sharply into the right lane but fortunately didn't come off or hit anything.

posted by pwmedcraft [24 posts]
25th September 2013 - 10:12


oddbyedefault pmsl! Laughing

posted by skitza [16 posts]
25th September 2013 - 14:14


My tip would be, don't look at the front wheel. Trust your innate balancing skills and don't try to point the front wheel. Overtaking people whilst holding on to the back of the saddle (which helps with getting the power down) pisses other riders off - just a word of caution. Devil


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posted by Wardy74 [31 posts]
26th September 2013 - 22:05

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