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Some time ago I had a little accident with my bike. With the accident the front wheel got unaligned from the handlebar.

I simply put it in the right position holding the wheel with my legs and turning the handle bar. Easy solution.

Since than the wheel has a strange behaviour. If I let go of the handle bar when riding the wheel (and handle bar) turns right "automatically". Do you have any idea of what is happening?

Note: Initially I thought it could be a warped wheel but it doesn't seem to be the case.

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6 Answers

It might be that the tire was pushed in a weird shape due to the accident. Try deflating it and re-inflating to try to set it straight.

Otherwise, it might be something wrong in the front hub but the effect is indeed strange.

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Maybe you have bended fork, so now your right fork blade is little behind left blade? Or maybe you have dented something in headset?

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Depends on the bike, but a common problem is that your fork and handlebars are out of alignment. This is more common on older bikes that don't use a threadless headset. It used to happen to me frequently.

If you have an older bike with a threaded headset and fork, you can just loosen the bolt at the top of the stem, adjust the bars so they line up with the wheel, and re-tighten the bolt. This style of clamp tends to allow this more easily than the newer threadless fork/headset/stem designs.

If you have a newer bike with a threadless headset, you'll probably need to loosen the star nut on top of the steerer column as well as the clamp bolts on the stem before you can adjust the position and re-tighten. Though, this is much less common with this setup since the stem tends to be clamped directly on the fork's steering tube, which prevents them from going out of alignment easily.

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Depends on how "little" the accident was.

First double-check that the handlebar really is "square" to the fork, and not slightly cocked one direction or the other. (Though this problem shouldn't cause the wheel to turn when you let go.)

Next, oddly enough, do the same check with your seat. If the seat is slightly angled to one side or the other then it will put your weight off-balance and you will get the tendency to turn. (Also, note that you'll have this problem if you put weight in a basket on one side of the bike or some such.)

If not those, pick the front end of the bike up and spin the wheel -- make sure it doesn't wobble at all as it turns. Do the same with the rear.

If not those, I'd suspect that the frame is bent. If you stand in front of the bike and imagine a line going down through the center of the steering shaft, that line should be exactly in line with the frame of the bike behind. If it twists to one side or the other then that's your problem -- bent frame.

Also look at the fork itself (a slightly more difficult thing to do accurately). In your accident one "tine" of the fork may have gotten pushed back relative to the other. Especially likely if the accident involved hitting something.

In any event I'd suggest you take the bike to a bike shop (or a knowledgeable friend) and have it checked out.

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Holy hell. Ever since I've been riding a new (to me), bike, I've been unable to ride without holding the handlebars, despite it being trivial on my previous bike. I've never been able to figure it out until now. Turns out, it was the seat. Have an upvote, sir. –  Stephen Touset Feb 13 '13 at 18:50
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If you think that something may be bent then have a shop inspect it.

However your test is meaningless. Any bike that I ride will also go to the right because I tend to lean to the right.

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Another check not mentioned yet:

The bearing in the head tube may have been bashed giving you a point which the handlebars prefer to remain in.

I had this happen with an older bike and as this point was slightly off to one side, the handlebars would end up moving to that spot if I tried taking my hands off, which meant it could not be ridden hands free.

The fix was to replace the bearing completely.

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