Subject: Bike pulls to One Side
From: Jobst Brandt
For less than million dollar bikes this is easy to fix, whether it corrects the cause or not. If a bike veers to one side when ridden no-hands, it can be corrected by bending the forks to the same side as you must lean to ride straight. This is done by bending the fork blades one at a time, about 3 mm. If more correction is needed, repeat the exercise.
The problem is usually in the forks although it is possible for frame misalignment to cause this effect. The kind of frame alignment error that causes this is a head and seat tube not in the same plane. This is not easily measured other than by sighting or on a plane table. The trouble with forks is that they are more difficult to measure even though shops will not admit it. It takes good fixturing to align a fork because a short fork blade can escape detection by most measurement methods. Meanwhile lateral and in-line corrections may seem to produce a straight fork that still pulls to one side. However, the crude guy who uses the method I outlined above will make the bike ride straight without measurement. The only problem with this is that the bike may pull to one side when braking because the fork really isn't straight but is compensated for lateral balance.
This problem has mystified more bike shops because they did not recognize the problem. Sequentially brazing or welding fork blades often causes unequal length blades and bike shops usually don't question this dimension. However, in your case I assume the bike once rode straight so something is crooked.
A bicycle may also pull to one side because the rear triangle is bent to one side, or because a wheel is incorrectly dished. Anything which displaces either wheel from the centerline of the frame will cause the bicycle to pull to one side. -- John Allen
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