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Subject: Aligning a Fork
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: May 11, 2001

aka Bicycle pulls to one side

Riders occasionally complain that their bicycle pulls to one side when ridden no-hands. That is, the rider must lean off to one side to ride straight ahead. This symptom can be from a wheel that is in crocked, something that is easily checked by observing whether the tire is centered under the brake bolt, or by just reversing the wheel to see if the wheel is improperly centered.

Assuming the bicycle still pulls to one side, the reason is usually that the fork is bent from a side impact. Bent from a frontal impact this is easily seen because the blades have a rearward bend just below the fork crown where the blades should be straight both fore and aft and side to side. A frontal bend usually gives a side bend because the blades are not identical and tend to skew to one side. This is harder to fix and requires fixturing.

If the fork is only bent to the side, the correction must be to the side to which the rider must lean when riding no-hands. This bend can be done carefully by bending one blade at a time.

Lay the bicycle on its side, front wheel removed. Place the rubber soled foot inside the crown of the fork and pull the upper blade until the gap at the fork end increases by a couple of millimeters. This should be measured. With the foot in the same place pull the other fork blade until the original spacing is restored. Ride the bicycle and assess the difference. Repeat if necessary. This must be done with a strong arm and a bit of skill but it is simple.

If you have a non steel bicycle, buy a new fork.

Jobst Brandt

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More Articles by Jobst Brandt
Next: Bike pulls to one side
Previous: Frames "going soft"

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