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I am cycling on the highway these days, dealing with tremor of my handlebars or a slight loss of control resulting from either oncoming vehicles or the high winds.

I'm wondering how pro cyclists manage, especially if my bike could be modified and the suitability of mountain biking versus road biking against these conditions.

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    A little can be done by getting a stiffer frame, but mostly the sort of stability you seem to seek is dependent on the geometry of the steering mechanism, particularly the tilt and "rake" of the fork. These parameters can be adjusted (in the factory) to make the bike more "stable" (on the one hand) or more "responsive" (on the other hand). Also, the shape and "reach" of the handlebar can significantly affect handling. This explains it pretty well. Aug 6 '18 at 0:54
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    Most manufacturers provide measurements corresponding to the measurements discussed in the referenced article. Unfortunately, interpreting them is a challenge even for an experienced cyclist. Steering geometry is very tricky. Aug 6 '18 at 1:48
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    Pro cyclists in races are generally on closed roads, so no big trucks, and any cars supporting the race are driven at similar speeds by skilled drivers.
    – Criggie
    Aug 6 '18 at 3:46
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    don't bike on highways.
    – Max
    Aug 6 '18 at 12:41
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    @Criggie Yes, very skilled drivers. Aug 6 '18 at 14:15
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Some things to try to make your bike less susceptible to wind gusts.

  • Maintenance - check your headset is not loose and has no discernible play. Ensure your bike frame is true so that the front wheel leads the back wheel precisely and that the fork is not bent at all. Check your wheels are true and that your wheel bearings are smooth with no wobble.
    All these things minimise the bike's reaction to a sudden gust.

  • Get more aero in your body. Sitting up will catch more air than getting bent over.

  • Get less aero on your wheels. Deep section aerodynamic wheels are getting better, but classic old box-section wheels are best at coping with side winds and gusts. Good for the training bike

  • Geometry changes to your bike - longer wheelbase is more stable at speed but corners worse. Fiddling with Rake and Trail in the fork can change the feel too.

  • Be more visible - gusts are worse as the vehicle gets closer. So at the very least wear a high vis top (not black!) and run a blinking Daytime Running Light on the rear of the bike. This helps vehicles to see you and take avoiding action.

  • Be less on the road. Consider moving a small amount to the kerb. That's not the same as ducking way-over into the road detritus and rocks.
    Likewise if you are forced to take the lane (and your location legally allows this) then clearly take the entire lane. Don't half-it and let a driver think they can squeeze through. Of course if you do take the lane then get up and go - its good road manners to minimise the delay.

  • (michael) Wider handlebars help with adding leverage. You can control a swerve faster as your hands are further apart. HOWEVER this makes you less aero and more likely to catch-22 wind.

  • (andyp) More tight fitting clothing, lower volume tyres (big sidewalls catch more wind), and removing mudguards

  • Finally, be NOT on the road. If you have an isolated/protected cycle lane, then use it. If you have a side street that isn't quite as tight as the main road then consider it. Going 10% further is a good trade for a safer road.


Longer term, look into supporting local bike advocacy to get those protected cycle lanes and shared roads.

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    Getting your body down is particularly good for 2 reasons: wind speed tends to increase with distance off the ground over these scales; you're reducing the surface area with the most leverage considering a fulcrum at the contact patch.
    – Chris H
    Aug 6 '18 at 8:22
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    The worst I've had twisty, gusty side/headwinds was on a protected bike path: over the Severn Bridge (someone else's youtube video on a still day, but you can see the layout). Even with a few metres lateral separation the wind shadow of lorriies passing was significant, but we were leaning into the wind quite a bit and had already crashed once (not wind-related, but it affects the nerves).
    – Chris H
    Aug 6 '18 at 8:27
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    Get more aero on your wheels. Deep section wheels are getting better That seems as if it might come across as misleading - that deeper, more aerodynamic wheels handle better in a cross winds. They usually don't. The problem with deep aerodynamic wheels is they tend to be much more susceptible to side winds. Newer designs tend to be better at not doing things like swerving madly in a really strong side gust (force difference between leading and trailing rim), but even newer deep wheels will be subjected to greater side forces in strong side winds than shallow old non-aerodynamic box rims. Aug 6 '18 at 14:19
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    Minor things that no-one mentioned yet. More tight fitting clothing, lower volume tyres (big sidewalls catch more wind), and removing mudguards.
    – Andy P
    Aug 6 '18 at 14:51
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    Moving a small amount to the kerb can put you at risk of being blown into it (or steering into it passing into wind shadow from something like a bus stop). It's a trade-off, especially as vehicles may still drive the same distance from you
    – Chris H
    Aug 6 '18 at 21:02

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