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My girlfriend got a new city bike today and she touches the front wheel every time she has to make a hard turn.

Is there anyway to avoid this besides replacing the whole bike?

LATER EDIT: I think I found my answer here.

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This is a problem with many (perhaps most) bikes. Basically, you have to learn to have your foot in the right position. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 3 '12 at 18:02
That certainly shouldn't be happening if she's riding the bike properly. I'm actually struggling to imagine how this is even possible, unless the bike has a ridiculously short wheelbase, she's using her ankles to pedal instead of the balls of her feet, and she has unusually large feet. – GordonM Nov 3 '12 at 18:02
I think the link I added answers my question. Daniel was right to the point. I never noticed that while biking. But I think it's because she tried it on her street which is very narrow and requires small speeds to turn. I'll take her out for a real test drive tomorrow and I think everything is going to be okay. Thanks! – Paul Irofti Nov 3 '12 at 18:09
@GordonM - Most 29'r MTBs have this problem to some degree - big wheels, short wheelbase. My toes clear the front wheel by less than 1 cm when clipped into my pedals, and I have a normal size foot. – mattnz Nov 5 '12 at 23:50
up vote 14 down vote accepted

This is a common problem, but really not a big deal. I've usually heard it called "toe overlap". I have it on all my bikes.

Basically, it's a bit shocking the first time it happens, but you get used to it. It's no big deal. If you're simply aware that it can happen at slow speeds, you'll avoid it easily enough. Since it can only happen at slow speeds, it's not particularly dangerous.

It's most common on racing-style road bikes due to their short wheelbase or on smaller frame bikes. Big tires and/or fenders can make it more likely. Big feet and shoes that stick forward of your toes very far also make it more likely.

Possible solutions include:

  1. Try not to worry about it. It's usually just an annoyance and you get used to it pretty quickly.
  2. Don't go slow (can't turn the wheel far enough for it to be a problem unless you're going slow).
  3. When going slow and making a sharp turn, pay attention to where your feet are.
    • Don't pedal while turning
    • Pump the pedals instead of normal pedaling, so that only your inside foot goes forward
    • Get your feet into a good position (outside foot just below where the pedal overlap happens) as you start to turn.
    • Also pay attention when starting from a stop.
  4. Pedal with the ball of your foot over the spindle of the pedal. This is generally considered the "correct" place, and leaves your foot only going a little forward of the pedal. Some beginners put the arch of their foot on the pedal, which is likely to be uncomfortable on platform pedals, and puts your foot more forward.
    • Maybe slide your foot back a bit as you're making a slow turn, so that you pedal with your toes instead. I find this uncomfortable, but it's tolerable for a few seconds.
  5. When you're shopping for bikes, look at how much toe overlap there is. You don't even need to ride the bike, you can tell by putting the pedal forward, putting a foot on the pedal at about the right position, and turning the handlebars.
    • Smaller riders may find that bikes with smaller wheels give them less toe overlap. 650b or 26" instead of 700c?
  6. Really, don't worry about it too much.
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Thank you for taking the time to write this up. It's been very useful! And encouraging :-) – Paul Irofti Nov 4 '12 at 0:55
I have this problem but as I have clipless pedals and short legs relative to long back (hence small frame size compared to feet size) this problem is unavoidable. – robthewolf Nov 4 '12 at 7:15
Maybe an extreme measure in case the problen is too anoying is to install shorter crankarms, but that will wave effects on its own, so must be done carefully. – Jahaziel Nov 7 '12 at 21:04

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