Re: [CR]Re: thread on change in styles

Example: Humor

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Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2008 16:15:03 -0800
To: "John Wood" <>, "Emily O'Brien" <>
From: Jan Heine <>
Subject: Re: [CR]Re: thread on change in styles

At 2:37 PM -0700 2/1/08, John Wood wrote:
>On Feb 1, 2008 2:02 PM, Emily O'Brien <>
>> Actually, I'd disagree that it's the geometry of modern racing bikes.
>> I've ridden plenty of them and even have one, although my favorite bike for
>> long rides is an on-topic Raleigh. They are plenty stable, and tend to be
>> easier to ride no-handed than my Raleigh.
>For what it's worth (not much), my opinion has always been that ease or
>difficulty of hands free riding is mostly due to frame alignment. I have
>had both new and old bikes that were either hard or easy to ride no hands,
>and I have not been able to correlate it to a specific geometry trait.

For difficulty of riding no-hands, there are at least 3 factors at play.

1 Geometry: Difficulty of riding no-hands usually is associated with excess wheel flop. The bike wants to dart off to one side or the other. It isn't consistent to which side it darts. Many modern racing bikes have a lot of trail and a lot of wheel flop.

Most bikes get stable enough for no-hands riding at high speeds - the sprint finish is the easy part. Try riding no-hands on an uphill while stretching and eating a banana to test your bike's no-hands riding ability. I used to have a Bike Friday that had so much wheel flop that I could ride no-hands only above 30 mph. Needless to say, I rarely go that fast.

2 Alignment: If the bike always turns one way, then it is an alignment problem. You usually can compensate by moving your body to one side. I have ridden some poorly aligned frames, and on some, I had to move my body 30 degrees to one side, but I always could ride no-hands.

3 Skill/confidence: I have seen riders on very nice bikes who could not ride no-hands. I can't fathom why not.

BTW, earlier, somebody mentioned that old racing bikes had similar geometries to modern touring bikes. That is only partially true. Some of them, especially in the 1930s, did. By the 1950s, most racing bikes had pretty steep head angles (73 degrees was common), with large fork offsets, to result in a relatively low trail. Typical is a 1960 Cinelli Supercorsa with 73 degree head angle and 55 mm fork offset. Not exactly what you find on most touring bikes today.

Jan Heine Editor Bicycle Quarterly 140 Lakeside Ave #C Seattle WA 98122