Front wheel feels "slippy"

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audaxer
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Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby audaxer » 19 Oct 2017, 10:23am

A week or so ago my front wheel started to feel "slippy" for want of a better word. There was something about the way it felt when cornering. It would feel as if it wanted to "slip" sideways. Most disconcerting. When riding off the bars the bike has started to show a marked tendency to veer to sharply to the right and when cornering slowly (walking pace) the steering is doing the same thing. It just feels like the front wheel wants to pitch to the right and the bike's balance goes to pot. High speed cornering on a long downhill is less affected and barely noticeable. I was wondering if it was the headset (2015 Croix de Fer) as the tyre is less than a year old and looks fine, no cuts etc and runs perfectly smoothly. It's just like it feels the road is permanently "wet" at slower speeds (12-20mph). Has anyone else come across this behaviour with steering and was it the headset just needing a good clean?

thanks,

Alistair

Samuel D
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby Samuel D » 19 Oct 2017, 10:30am

Is the headset bearing preload set correctly? Is there any play in the wheel bearing? Do the rim and tyre look centred in the fork crown?

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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby Vorpal » 19 Oct 2017, 10:32am

I would suspect the headset.

I would first check that the wheel spins properly in the forks and maybe try a new tyre, just in case (and because it's easy), but it sounds more like a headset.
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pwa
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby pwa » 19 Oct 2017, 10:42am

With anything that manifests itself as a steering problem I would exercise extreme caution and not trust that bike until I'd got to the bottom of it. Just in case I had a cracked fork steerer or blade about to do something nasty under heavy braking. Not likely but worth considering.

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mjr
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby mjr » 19 Oct 2017, 11:17am

I think the usual headset check is to apply the front brake on solid ground and try to push the bike forwards by the handlebars (not while sat on it) while steering various ways and see if it clunks or you can feel it rock.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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audaxer
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby audaxer » 19 Oct 2017, 11:19am

tyre is fine, runs perfectly smoothly, no kinks. I haven't touched the headset so I suspect it might need a cleanout but I'll give the forks a good inspection. The roads here are appalling but under heavy disk braking there's no veering off so I assume it's the headset. I'll do the rocking test too to make sure, thanks.

iandriver
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby iandriver » 19 Oct 2017, 11:35am

I'd check for play in the front axle of the wheel also. Cones do come undone.
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mjr
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby mjr » 19 Oct 2017, 12:05pm

iandriver wrote:I'd check for play in the front axle of the wheel also. Cones do come undone.

Yes - that may be visible by watching the gap between rim and fork while pushing the top of the wheel to the side.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Samuel D
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby Samuel D » 19 Oct 2017, 12:18pm

I already asked about that. No answer.

I mean, this is simple. Either something is visibly wrong or you’re imagining the whole thing. Just study the front half of the bicycle carefully in good light and you’ll find your answer.

pwa
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby pwa » 19 Oct 2017, 12:20pm

You can get sloppy handing with loose spokes, though I would expect that to show at all speeds.

audaxer
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby audaxer » 19 Oct 2017, 12:29pm

It's definitely better at high speed downhill, can't detect any play at all. It's only at slower speeds and worse at walking pace. I've tried the usual bearing test, rocking the wheel, pushing it side to side, look at when spinning when on or off the bike so I don't think it's the wheel. I'll try the spokes though, hadn't considered that. I'm tending to think it's the headset. It's unrideable off the bars now as it darts to the right and the front end just feels too light and skittish, almost as if it's lifting up. It's a very weird feeling. When I first encountered it, it felt like there was a slick film of grease on the front tyre causing it to slide on the road. I much check...

Brucey
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby Brucey » 19 Oct 2017, 3:54pm

might be the front wheel moving about in the dropouts...?

But I agree it is easy enough to check the headset, the state of the wheel etc.

BTW if the headset is bad, it may not feel so bad at speed because the centring force is higher at high speed

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bigjim
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby bigjim » 19 Oct 2017, 4:19pm

Which bike is it? What type of fork? Have you googled that model to see if there are any problems or recalls. I'd be wary of using that bike until problem is solved.
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Debs
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby Debs » 19 Oct 2017, 5:46pm

You may have rode over something slippery which has contaminated the tyre rubber; ...diesel spillage?
Give it a sniff test, and good scrub with Muc Off and a hose down if pongy.

audaxer
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Re: Front wheel feels "slippy"

Postby audaxer » 20 Oct 2017, 10:35am

thanks for all the replies. I've had a good rummage round the bike based on suggestions (which has been superb for the two years I've had it from new). Just noticed that slowly turning the bars with the front wheel off the ground, the headset "locks" into the straight ahead position. There's a very slight resistance to moving it away from straight ahead in either direction, as if it's notched in that position. It's not friction from the cables on the frame but a definite "notch" feeling. Like a circular switch that has a default position in the middle. That would explain the "slippy" feeling I suppose. With my weight on the bars it would make the notching more pronounced and the force needed to change direction would build up until it suddenly overcame the notch and the bike lurched to the right. So rather than turning the bike I'm trying to move the headset out of the notch. I'll overhaul it once the new tool and grease arrive...

Alistair