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I just received the Retrospec Speck 20".

I'm a 69 y.o. 5'8, 160 lb woman and thought this simple bike would be easy to ride (single gear with rear pedal backward brake).

I could not ride it because the handle bar had me going 1 to 3 ft left or right despite my efforts to keep it straight. A friend, who doesn't like these bikes in general) thinks the straight handle bar is a big part of the problem.

I'm thinking of returning it but it is easy for me to fold & keep in my trunk (my last bike was stolen from our buildings bike room). Would you know if the handle bar can be changed on this bike?

I know a front brake can be added and would do that as well. Thanks for any advice.

Stock image of this bike

enter image description here

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I've never ridden one of these bikes.

I response to your question, I Googled to check it out. The reviews are not flattering.

But to answer your question, I see that the angle of the steerer and front forks looks very steep. I'm not surprised that it feels like you're all over the place. Combined with the narrow handle bars, it would take a while to learn to control it - so I do agree with your friend.

Wider handlebars would help, but check that it still folds correctly with them on it before you pay for them.

If you can practice riding somewhere there is plenty of room, with time you should be able to learn to control it.

But if possible, I would return it, and invest the money in a better product.

  • Thanks Andy. I did return it. I'm now looking at the Dahon Briza D8 which has 24" wheels and folds. I don't need to tuck it under a desk in a closet, just in my Sonata trunk. If you have any information re: comfort, steering, and shock absorption on this bike, I'd love to read it. – Anne Dilorenzo May 17 '15 at 17:11
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On the Retrospec website, the page for this bike states that the handlebar clamp has a diameter of 22.2mm. It seems that there are some handlebars of that diameter available, for example: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004JKEYUO

However, I'm not sure what kind/shape/size of handlebars would make this bike easier to handle for you. I'm guessing the handling is currently a bit twitchy because of the short handlebars ? So maybe longer handlebars would make things better. Perhaps you should measure the width of the current handlebars and then look for something that is significantly wider.

In principle, it's very simple to replace the handlebars. You would have to remove one of the grips, and loosen the clamp bolt in the center.

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I own a folding bike very similar, and you're right that is a very responsive or reactive steering input. Its way different to a regular road bike, or the sit-up bike with basket you might have ridden in the past.

Mostly this is because of the relatively small and light front wheel so it can turn with less input force, and because the handlebar geometry has little trail / follow / rake (not quite sure which, but its very "flat")

It always takes me a couple hundred metres of riding to acclimate when changing from/to the folder.

Some suggestions and reasons

  1. Hold the handlebars as far out toward the end as you can. This gives more leverage on the steering, meaning you have more control. Not so far you can't reach the brakes though.

  2. Try and hold your torso/upper body relatively still. Attempt to use your arms for steering, not your shoulders.

  3. Make sure the tyre/tire is inflated fully - mine's 65 PSI. This should reduce the wheel's desire to turn itself, and make the steering lighter to turn back and control

  4. That stem (again not quite the right word) has a clamp on it. You can raise or lower the handlebars, and see if that helps. Do this stopped of course.

  5. Check your saddle height - its harder to ride anything when the seating position is wrong.

Your last option is to try fitting one of those steering restrainers that the Dutch seem to like. "Steering Damper" seems to be the name.

enter image description here

More info at What is this spring between the fork and the frame? and http://www.dutchbikebits.com/hebie-steering-damper

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