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N. Hollywood, CA
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got almost a year of road riding on a steel sport/touring frame. Generally a neutral handling road bike, with heavier tubes for carrying some cargo weight. I was happy with the LBS fitting experience and the resulting bike. 58 frame, 72.5 head, 73 seat, 17" chainstays. My knee position is a few millimeters behind pedal spindle, reach is 10cm stem, and bar tops perhaps 1" lower than saddle.

Anyway, unloaded the bike handles perfectly. But with rear panniers, my front wheel slightly oscillates between 14-18mph. I notice it most when riding the handlebar tops with light pressure. It's happened with about 30# of rear weight while on tour, as well as recently with about 15#. I've also noticed it with loaded front low rider panniers, so they didn't seem to make a difference. I've also used just the front low riders, but it was last summer and honestly can't recall if there was a wobble or not (but probably not).

Seems like the rear pannier weight, possibly centered behind the rear axle (on a hefty tubus cargo rack), somehow affects the front end. Any opinions?

And a related question - would shifting weight/position on the saddle likely have any +/- affect on this situation? Thanks for your thoughts...
 

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This is a common occurence when loading up a bike. From the description of others, it's unpredictable which bikes, what geometry, etc. can cause it -- so although the bike design certainly contributes, I don't think you can blame it on "bad design".

I don't mean that it's acceptable. I just wouldn't automatically blame it on the designers. There are too many variables with rider weight, center of gravity, etc.

The usual recommendation is to balance the weight, front to back. On other touring forums, a lot of people are swearing by a 60/40 split -- that's 60% of the weight on the front. There's no reason why the front wheel couldn't handle that; it might take a bit of getting used to but I always delight in the feeling of "riding on rails" on a fully loaded bike.

I ride a steel frame, and I've never experienced load-induced oscillations. My wife has; rebalancing her load seemed to fix the problem (at least she hasn't complained about it anymore). Since I end up carrying the tent, extra water, most of the groceries, etc. I can't seem to shift enough weight forward to get 60/40 -- but like I said I fortunately haven't had that problem. Making small changes to saddle or stem reach might help with the shimmy, but I wouldn't change those if the bike is a perfect fit now.

-- Mark
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
60/40

EmmCeeBee said:
...a lot of people are swearing by a 60/40 split -- that's 60% of the weight on the front...
I guess I could try running my large panniers on the front in order to put more mass up front. Then run the smaller "commuter" panniers on the back. But I'll still have extra load on top of the rear rack. Gotta admit, if I only run one pair of panniers I prefer the back, but maybe I'll change my habits just to avoid the slight wobble. Guess that's the safest thing to do, although I haven't felt particularly "threatened" by the wobble.

I tend to carry more of the load than the wife - sounds familiar...
 
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