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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
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    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
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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.
  • 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
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    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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This exact same thing happened to me, I realised my front bike wheel was the wrong way round!! I was fuming as I had purchased it from Halfords? So, I turned the bike wheel around and it was fine!

  • Welcome to the site -- you might like to take the tour. Could you explain what you mean by the front wheel being on the wrong way around? Some tyres are designed to work better when rotating in one direction than the other, but they'll still work if put on the wrong way around. And, in any case, the wheel is round -- if you put it on the wrong way around, it's still in exactly the same place. – David Richerby Apr 2 '17 at 11:33
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    I guess the wheel and handlebar got a 180 degree turn, to the front fork points backwards rather than forwards. – Willeke Apr 2 '17 at 11:40
  • Yes, this is a common assembly problem when buying a BSO. The assembly tends to be done by non-cyclists, and I've seen some jawdroppingly bad jobs, like brake levers that face the rider, and front disk wheels installed with the rotor on the wrong side. – Criggie Apr 2 '17 at 20:33
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    @stanley It would be a good idea to get your bike checked over from top to bottom by a qualified person. Just for piece of mind. – Criggie Apr 2 '17 at 20:34
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As in the link that OP posted and the suggestions here most of the actions focus on changing the riding technique. There is one other option mentioned in the link and one that I thought of should the new technique be no solution.

  • change the fork rake - by replacing the front fork for the one providing larger wheelbase you increase the distance between the front axle and the bottom bracket thus you decrease the toe overlap, probably to the measure that it is not occurring.
    On the other hand you also decrease the patch trail of the bike making it more agile when it comes to steering stability (it will be more difficult to ride "no hands") and you increase the wheelbase making the bike slightly more difficult to manoeuvre in slow tight corners.
    Hence, solving one problem you create another.
  • change the cranks to one size shorter - changing from e.g. 170mm cranks to 165mm will decrease the toe overlap slightly.
    This may be beneficial if the rider's inseam is on the shorter size - they won't need to stretch their legs that much.
    On the downside is that shorter cranks require more power needed to maintain the same cadence. But since you are replacing the cranks, replace the chainring for a size smaller. The rider will need to increase their cadence but riding will feel like it requires less effort.
    And a biker riding with higher cadence appears to be riding faster, let alone that lower load and faster repetitions (at the gym) allow for more fat burn and muscle tone up, opposed to high load and less repetitions cause mainly muscle build up.
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Just make sure your fork is oriented the correct direction. I bought a Spot bike, and when it arrived to my house the factory had put the fork on the wrong direction. Actually, they put the handle bars on the wrong direction, and when they oriented the handle bars correctly it turns the fork 180 degrees in the wrong direction. This isn’t immediately obvious, and all you may notice is that the pedal hits the front tire.

  • This has already been mentioned in a previous answer. It's certainly worth checking that the fork is fitted the right way but it's important to note that toe-overlap is a completely normal feature of bicycles. Not every bike has it, but it's very common. – David Richerby Apr 28 at 9:07

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