Front wheel off-center in forks -- NOT the wheel.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Front wheel off-center in forks -- NOT the wheel.

    I've noticed that my front wheel is not centered between the forks (I'm talking about the forks, NOT the hub.) The wheel is true, and when I used a tool to check for proper dishing it seemed to check out okay. When I put it on the bike, however, it's clearly about an eighth of an inch closer to one fork at the rim, and it's consistant as the wheel spins. The axel is properly seated in the dropouts, and there is no debris that could be interfering with proper fit.

    I know about the trick where you revese the wheel to troubleshoot this sort of issue, but I can't do this on this bike since the disc brake mechanism hits the spokes when I try it. Instead, I switched the wheel with another bike whose front wheel is properly centered in the forks. When I put this wheel on my bike, it is ALSO off center by the same amount as my wheel. My wheel, on the other hand, appears centered in the other bike's forks. This basically eliminates the wheel as the problem.

    As far as I can "see," the forks seem fine. I measured the top portion of the tube and confirmed the neither fork is compressed more than the other. There is no visible problem, but I realize that even a tiny error can have a decent effect out at the rim of the wheel. My problem is that I have not idea what is "normal" for this type of situation.

    When I ask around and read posts about this, I get opposing responses. Some say that this is normal and within tolerences, while others say that the wheel should be dead center and that something sounds wrong. I have no idea who is "correct," and I have no point of reference to decide how much of a problem this might be. It can't really notice any specific problems when riding, but it seems like it could theoretically make handling a bit worse, and if something is "wrong," I'd like to fix it.

    Thanks for any help or opinions on this,

    Larry

  2. #2

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    If you can visually see a problem, then it is not normal.

    A common probelm is certain skewers will consistently push the wheel out of the drop-out every time you tighten the skewer no matter how careful you are.

    Also, it is common with some forks that one leg of the lowers will be slightly longer than the other leg. This causes your wheel to then be tilted to the one side resulting in the wheel having camber. This will result in a few possible problems. First being that your disc rotor will not be aligned on axis to the fork legs. You will need to readjust the caliper mounting to compensate for this so that the brake pads do come in contact with the rotor flat. The second obvious one is the trie rubbing on one side with bigger tires. And third one is the front wheel of the bike will track off to one side while riding due to the camber on the front wheel.

    You can fix this be either getting a new set of lowers. Or, you can take a round file the same size as the slot in the fork drop-outs and file the slot deeper on the one side to correct for this. If you do file the drop-out slot deeper, make sure you don't go too far so there is still room left for the skewer nut inside the recessed area. Also, the drop-out slot will wear with time (as hub axle threads bite into lowers) so make sure you leave some extra for that too. If you do file the slot, make sure you realign your disc brake caliper afterwards or the brakes will squeal and the pads will wear unevenly.

    Just remember that a very small change at the drop-out will make a big change at the wheel due to the distance ratios.

    This is a common problem on Manitou forks, especially the Black's series.

  3. #3
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    loolol. need I say more?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by GearHead
    If you can visually see a problem, then it is not normal.
    Thanks for the responses.

    I can definitely "see" it. The odd thing is that I asked some people that I trust to be very knowledgable on this subject, and I was told that even though it IS visible, it is still within tolerances. Others (like you) say that this is not the case. This is making the situation confusing.

    A common probelm is certain skewers will consistently push the wheel out of the drop-out every time you tighten the skewer no matter how careful you are.
    I can see the error even before I tighten the skewer, so this is apparently not the case with me.

    You can fix this be either getting a new set of lowers. Or, you can take a round file the same size as the slot in the fork drop-outs and file the slot deeper on the one side to correct for this. If you do file the drop-out slot deeper, make sure you don't go too far so there is still room left for the skewer nut inside the recessed area. Also, the drop-out slot will wear with time (as hub axle threads bite into lowers) so make sure you leave some extra for that too. If you do file the slot, make sure you realign your disc brake caliper afterwards or the brakes will squeal and the pads will wear unevenly.
    I thought of this, but I was afraid that the problem could be due to something else such as a bent arch, which could theoretically cause the same sort of off center appearence. If this was the case, I was afraid that filing the dropouts would not "really" fix the problem since I'd be compensating for one error with another error.

    This is a common problem on Manitou forks, especially the Black's series.
    This statement interests me a great deal. This would seem to imply that Manitou considers a certain amount of error to be within acceptable tolerances, which might explain why I've been told by some people that this is not something to worry about. The really important question therefore becomes: Just how much off center is "too much"? Can you give me any approximate measurement numbers just to make sure we're on the same page here? Saying "visible" is one thing, but if you could give me a number, there would be no misunderstanding as to what constitutes enough of an error such that it needs addressing.

    Thanks again,

    Larry

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fisty
    loolol. need I say more?
    Ironically, I'm not sure how to interpret your comment. Are you agreeing that Manitou Black forks are prone to this issue, or are you simply saying that the previous poster covered everything?

    Thanks again for you input on this,

    Larry

  6. #6
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    What kind of fork do you have?

    I'd check out your dropouts and axle cutouts. From what i've read so far that/they are your problem(s), just as Gearhead has pointed out.
    I ..... need ..... DIRT!!!!!

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTO
    What kind of fork do you have?

    I'd check out your dropouts and axle cutouts. From what i've read so far that/they are your problem(s), just as Gearhead has pointed out.
    They're the 2004 Manitou Black forks -- the ones with the 90mm to 120mm adjustment but no lockout.

    What do you mean when you say "check out" my dropouts and axel cutouts? Aren't these the same thing, and what am I checking for? I can say that they "look" completely normal. I checked for things like burrs or extra paint that might be causing an uneven surface in the dropouts, but there is no sign of any such problems.

    Thanks for further details,

    Larry

  8. #8
    kneecap
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    Larry,seems to me that if you file one of the dropouts the wheel will "tip" sorta crookedly to the other side. The dropouts might not be in the same plane, or perpendicular to the rest of the fork, unless that is what is happening in reverse now. This would result in unparallel disc mounts, maybe.
    I'd want to take some precise measurements before I did any filing.
    I have a zoke fork that is similar to your's, it's about maybe 1/8" ofset to one side. Zoke claimed it was well within specs, despite different wheels produce the same symptoms. I just live with it, only really big tires rub on one side of the fork.
    If you do any home remedies, I'd be interested in the results.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by lalittle
    I thought of this, but I was afraid that the problem could be due to something else such as a bent arch, which could theoretically cause the same sort of off center appearence. If this was the case, I was afraid that filing the dropouts would not "really" fix the problem since I'd be compensating for one error with another error.
    Larry
    There are a couple of ways to determine if it is one fork leg that is longer than the other which is causing this problem or if it is something else.

    One of the first things to check is if the front wheel sits dead center under the steer tube/head tube. It may be easier to visually see this if you take the spring/air out of the fork so you can compress the fork all the way down. The next thing to check is if the axle sits perpendicular to the fork lowers. This can be done by taking a 12" carpenter's square and placing the short side into both dropouts at the same time, and see how the long side aligns with the lowers. Do this on both the left and right side of the fork and see if you can see any differences. If the wheel does not sit centered under the steer tube and the drop-outs are not perpendicular to the lowers, then you have your answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by lalittle
    This statement interests me a great deal. This would seem to imply that Manitou considers a certain amount of error to be within acceptable tolerances, which might explain why I've been told by some people that this is not something to worry about. The really important question therefore becomes: Just how much off center is "too much"? Can you give me any approximate measurement numbers just to make sure we're on the same page here? Saying "visible" is one thing, but if you could give me a number, there would be no misunderstanding as to what constitutes enough of an error such that it needs addressing. Larry
    To me, if the wheel is even off at all by a noticeable amount I correct it, 3 mm would be a enough to deal with it.

    When correcting the problem, tape up the smaller tapered half of the round file with electrical tape. That way, you can slide that end of the file in the opposite drop-out you are correcting so it acts as a guide. This will make sure both slots stay aligned relative to each other. Use a carpenter's square and visual examination to judge your results. Just remeber that the threads on the axle will sink into the drop-out again after the first few rides so it is better to go not quite far enough than all the way perfect otherwise you will have over compensated.

    Really what you want to know is how much this will affect how the bikes handles. This can be determined by doing a simple roll test. Push the bike by the head tube such that you have no influence at all on how the bike steers through a puddle. Roll the bike across a dry concrete floor and observe the tire marks. If the tire marks overlap, the effect is very samll, if they are offset themn the effect is actaully significant. You just need to keep in mind that not all of the effects may be due to the fork alone, there could be other issue like the frame itslef not being aligned correctly.
    Last edited by GearHead; 02-06-2006 at 04:03 PM.

  10. #10

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    Is the problem always present?

    Just curious...I had a similar problem a while back, but the problem was not always present. Instead, about 50% of the time that I put the wheel back in the fork, the wheel was visibly off center.

    Turned out that I'd slightly (I mean VERY slightly) bent the wheel axle in a crash. That minor tweak was enough to keep the wheel from sitting square in the dropouts. A new axle fixed it.

    Just a thought.

    Que?

  11. #11
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    I'm with Que on this one.....

    I would HIGHLY recommend that you revove the axle from the hub and carefully check it. I have seen this happen before and 9 times out of 10 a slightly bent axle has been the cause rather than the fork drop outs. I would definately say check ALL other posibilities before you go filing down the fork drop outs! The fact that two wheels do the same thing in that fork would lead me to think it very well could be the fork, but it is better to exhaust all posibilities before you start modifying expensive components. Once you have made sure that there is absolutely nothing else it could be, then do the mods, but be very careful and go slow with the file. As was mentioned before, it's very easy to go too far.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kneecap
    Larry,seems to me that if you file one of the dropouts the wheel will "tip" sorta crookedly to the other side. The dropouts might not be in the same plane, or perpendicular to the rest of the fork, unless that is what is happening in reverse now.
    Larry ^^^ that is what I meant.

    If you measure the axle cutouts and they look good it's one thing. If the dropouts are cast poorly and they're out by XXX amount then it'll produce what you're finding.

    At any rate, no matter if it's the dropouts or the axle cutouts you'll have to fine the axle cutouts to correct the problem. A quality rat-tail file would do the job nicely, using Gearhead's procedure. Just remember that the material is SOFT and it won't take long to get the material you need out.

    If you DO do this - STOP AND CHECK OFTEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ONLY remove enough material to correct the problem, no more, no less.
    I ..... need ..... DIRT!!!!!

    ... and cookies. :D

  13. #13
    SLX
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    I would true the wheel so that it fits your fork. I dont think there is a fix for this besided that you have a unique fork since nothing can be fixed. If it does bother you try putting the wheel on another bike and seeing if its the fork and if it is call mantoiu

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by SLX
    I would true the wheel so that it fits your fork.
    This is not a good idea as it will cause the bike to track incorrectly.

  15. #15
    kona-tize me captain
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    this happens to me to, its probly just ur QR
    Looking for a 7.87 x 2.25mm shock, any brand any age that runs well!! cheap would be appreciated!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by austinb89
    this happens to me to, its probly just ur QR
    What is "QR"?

    Thanks,

    Larry

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by lalittle
    What is "QR"?

    Thanks,

    Larry
    Quick Release Skewer

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by GearHead
    Quick Release Skewer
    Thanks -- I should have gotten that.

    I'm pretty confident at this point that it's a slight difference in the casting of the dropouts. I've spoken with a lot of people and done a lot of reading, and based on the tests I've done, this seems to be the most likely culprit.

    Larry

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by lalittle
    Thanks -- I should have gotten that.

    I'm pretty confident at this point that it's a slight difference in the casting of the dropouts. I've spoken with a lot of people and done a lot of reading, and based on the tests I've done, this seems to be the most likely culprit.

    Larry
    Still a little gun-shy at fixing it?

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by GearHead
    This is not a good idea as it will cause the bike to track incorrectly.
    Just curious. How much difference do you think this will make?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by GearHead
    Still a little gun-shy at fixing it?
    I guess I still am a bit.

    Larry

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by threevok
    Just curious. How much difference do you think this will make?
    Try to ride with no hands on a bike that doesn't track very well, not much fun. It is very noticeable but I don't know what other effects it really has.

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