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My daughters bike's front wheel doesn't stay straight when it is on the kickstand. Our other 2 bikes only slightly go to the left but her front end "falls" to the left like something is loose. Hopefully I'm explaining the problem enough.

EDIT: Visually I don't care. It just never used to do that. And my daughters say it seems to feel shake/wobbly now. They don't like to ride it because of that. The bike does not fall over while using the kickstand.

 From https://i346.photobucket.com/albums/p418/Mtdewangel/20190825_173444_zpsntzo45cg.jpg

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    If you simply mean that the handle bar twists left when the bike is standing with the kickstand, that's not a problem -- whether this happens or not is largely a function of the front-end geometry. If you mean the bike falls over, that's usually due to a loose/bent kickstand, or the wrong kickstand geometry for the bike. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 25 '19 at 21:30
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    I am not sure I understand what the problem is. The front wheel ”falling” to the side when the bike is on the kickstand is normal (and unavoidable). Can you find a picture online that shows something similar, and post a link? – Simon Lundberg Aug 26 '19 at 9:18
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    I'm guessing the kickstand's leg is not quite long enough for this particular bike. As an experiment, try putting a small thin piece of wood under the kickstand and see if it holds better. Some kickstands can be adjusted for length, some are cut to length and can't be extended. – Criggie Aug 26 '19 at 10:49
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    No, the bike doesn't fall over while using the kickstand. – Amanda Sep 2 '19 at 17:36
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    Visually I don't care. It just never used to do that. And my daughters say it seems to feel shake/wobbly now. They don't like to ride it because of that. – Amanda Sep 2 '19 at 17:37
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Bicycle handlebars and fork are supposed to turn feely, so the fork turning to the side the bike leans is not a problem.

It may be the angle of the fork, weight of the bars or the angle the kickstand put the bike at that make it do this more than other bikes.

You can check the headset bearings (the bearings that the fork turns on) are loose by holding the front brake on and rocking the bike backwards and forwards. If you can feel the fork moving in the frame the bearings are loose, of you cannot feel any movement that are fine.

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The photo shows a smaller 12" or 16" wheel kids bike, with a single front brake and probably a coaster brake.

Sometimes the geometry of the bike (ie the angles of the head tube, and relative positions of axles etc) may not be the same as a larger bike or a different brand.

As long as the headset (bearings in the steering) aren't sloppy-loose then its probably just a cosmetic difference between two bikes.

As long as it rides okay then I wouldn't worry too much about it.


Sounds like the bike's headset bearings are loose.

Heres a scary looking cutaway:

From Wikipedia

And here's a closeup photo of a threaded headset. The washer in this photo is much larger than in the cutaway above.

https://i.stack.imgur.com/UYWc9.jpg

summary there is too much space around the ball bearings at the top of the headset. To close up the extra space you will need some tools:

  • Large adjustable spanner / crescent / wrench that fits the Locknut on top. A 12"/300mm spanner is about right.
  • Something to hold the threaded race. In the photo its knurled so fingers or some sliding plumber's wrench with perhaps some cloth to protect the finish. Some have flats so you could use a second large spanner. Avoid vise-grips.

Method:

  1. Put a leg on either side of the front wheel while facing the saddle. This should support the bike.
  2. Back off the Lock nut a turn or so.
  3. TEST by squeezing the front brake lever with one hand, and hold loosely the other hand around the locknut area. You're trying to detect play between the frame of the bike and the stem.
  4. Try backing out the threaded race a turn and TEST again. The play should get a lot worse.
  5. Tighten the threaded race down too far and TEST, the play will vanish but the steering will be hard/impossible to turn left and right. This is because the bearings are being squished.
  6. Fiddle with the threaded race tightness until you find the happiest medium where there is minimal play but the steering still turns freely and smoothly.
  7. Once you're happy, use one tool to hold the threadded race still, and use the other tool to tighten the lockring down onto the race. If the race moves, it will mess up your tension.
  8. TEST again. If its not as good as you had it, work back and forth until the locknut is tight against the threadded race AND the play is gone AND the steering works.

This is an iterative process so its okay to loop around a couple times.

I bet the race ends up no more than an eighth of a turn from where it started. There is very little movement required to take play out of a headset.

If your bike's a little tired, then it may not be possible to completely remove all the play before the headset binds up and steering is compromised. Just aim for the best you can do.

I haven't gone into lubricating the bearings at this time - that may help too but is a bit more in-depth.

Further reading https://www.sheldonbrown.com/headsets.html and step 7 of https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/threaded-headset-service and What tool is needed to adjust this headset on a children's bike?

Your bike is probably NOT a threadless stem as per How do I fix movement in headset

  • It is actually a 20inch bike. It didn't always turn that loosely. Recently she's complained that it feel like the bike is shakey/wobbly. So I assumed they both went hand in hand. – Amanda Sep 2 '19 at 17:35
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    @Amanda sounds like the headset bearings are loose. That's not a good thing so you're doing right to check. – Criggie Sep 3 '19 at 23:57
  • Ok thank you. Not sure how to fix this. My husband tried testing it by bouncing the tire but he didn't hear any rattling. He also tried moving it forward and back while holding the tire between his legs, but it didn't budge. – Amanda Sep 7 '19 at 20:07
  • Correction: I did it to both bikes and can feel a small bit of movement on the "bad" one. To me it felt more in the handlebars but I don't know anything about bikes and could def be wrong. – Amanda Sep 7 '19 at 20:40
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    Well the bike shop said nothing appears wrong. He road it and said he felt nothing wobbly. Checked the headset and it's fine. I guess my girls are just being picky. Thanks for all the help! – Amanda Sep 11 '19 at 17:11

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