I have been riding bikes and motorcycles since I can remember. Doing no hands is no problem, my question is with this particular generic bike frame that I built: I cannot do no-hands riding. Is the frame straight, or is the problem with the fork? I have another road bike and a mountain bike.

  • That's hard to tell without a photo. You can upload photos to imgur and edit those into the question. – Klaster_1 Jan 30 '19 at 8:22
  • Steering of two-wheeled vehicles depend on several parameters of the fork, including head tube angle, offset, rake, headset bearings, profile of tire tread. It may just be that this particular fork/frame have very unstable steering. – Grigory Rechistov Jan 30 '19 at 9:14
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    Oh, come on. We cannot tell if it's your fork or your frame because you've told us absolutely nothing about them. – David Richerby Jan 30 '19 at 12:08
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    Some bikes are more naturally stable than others. This has to do with several factors, but mainly the geometry of the fork and head tube. The decision made by the frame designer is whether to emphasize stability or "nimbleness". – Daniel R Hicks Jan 30 '19 at 13:26
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It may not necessarily be the untrueness of the frameset that's preventing you from riding hands-free. As was already said in the comments, it's the overall frame geometry that determines that, and in fact it's one most important parameter.

I've found this very informative picture at http://cog-nitivedissonance.blogspot.com/2012/01/low-trail.html:

bicycle frame geometry

It is the trail that determines how easy it is to ride hands-free - the longer the trail the easier it is. The trail in turn is determined by the head tube angle and the fork rake (fork offset).

As I said earlier, the longer the track the more stable the steering of the bike is. This characteristics was used in e.g. motor-paced bicycle speed record setting. Have a look at the picture of Alfred Letourner on his record bike (found at http://piedmontvelosports.blogspot.com/2011/08/alfred-letourner-set-motor-paced-speed.html):

Alfred Letourner

Notice that the front fork seems to be reversed providing a negative rake that increases the track even more.

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    Yes the trail will make it easier to ride in a straight line hands-free, but it will also makes it more difficult to turn hands free on tighter turns, pretty much any bike I've come across is absolutely fine to ride hands free given a little while for your muscle memory to adapt, the really slack and stable bikes are actually the scariest, since you have to really throw your weight into corners to get it to turn... just not too much... tbh 75HA bmx or 63HA downhill couch, they're all fine for no hands, just takes a little while to adapt from whatever you've been riding recently. – Purr Jan 30 '19 at 23:16

I'd be suspicious that it's the wheels more than the frame that make your bike unstable. First confirm that the wheels are true up/down and left/right with the tire off. Also, wheels that aren't properly dished won't be centered between the forks and brakes, making your weight unbalanced. Dishing can be corrected by tightening/loosening all the spokes equally on one side, but it's difficult to get it right - better left to an experienced professional with the right tools.

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