06 August, 2010

Wheel Stabilizer


I don't usually order accessories or components that I've haven't tried, but we'd received a fair number of e-mails suggesting that we stock wheel stabilizers. Tom has been lobbying for a year to add them to our inventory. What the heck is a wheel stabilizer?

Wheel stabilizers are common on European utility bikes. They are a spring connecting the fork to the down tube. They add a subtle self centering action to the front wheel, making loading and unloading of a bike with a basket, or say....our Porteur rack....much easier. You don't fight the bike while putting stuff in it. The front of the bike stays put. The spring offers some resistance to steering, so it counteracts deflections from hitting potholes and road debris, too.

It's pretty universal - any bike with a down tube of 1-3/8" or smaller can be fitted. It connects to the fork via the brake pivot hole. The hole diameter is made for nutted calipers or a M6 bolt. For recessed mount calipers, minor modification with a drill is necessary. It's rust resistant, includes all the required brackets and hardware, and has a pinch guard to cover the torsion spring. Not bad for $10.

Since we added them to the site a couple of days ago, they've been selling very well. Who would have thought?

Update: We sold out. More are on order, but no ETA yet.

28 comments:

Aaron said...

You're surprised that they're selling? There's only one other website I can find in the US that sells something like this and it's more than twice the price. I'm probably going to order one myself for my wife's Polyvalent. I do wish that the band that clamps on the downtube was skinny (and silver). The big black ring kind of "uglifies" the very nice downtube logo.

superfreak said...

does the spring bounce around hitting the downtube and fender? any other noticeable interactions when ridding? does it make the stearing wierd?
thx superfreak

Chris Kulczycki said...

Most of us at VO have ridden the Polyvalent with it. Our reactions are very consistent and can be summed up as:

- It feels a little bit different, but not unpleasant, and you get used to it in a few minutes.

- The only time you really notice it is in very tight low speed turns.

Tom said...

The torsion spring is under tension and doesn't bounce around. The plastic pinch guard keeps it from marring the frame and the fender if there is some contact, depending on your particular bike/frame/geometry/etc.

It is a utilitarian accessory for a utilitarian type of bike. It's definitely function over form. Framebuilders could braze a little tab under the downtube to make a cleaner install. That's what I'm hoping will happen once word gets out that we have them in stock.

Anonymous said...

This might be a can of worms but, does it potentially make a bike easier to ride with no hands?

Wayne said...

It would be cool if it could be set to prevent the wheel from turning when the bike is parked.

Alex W said...

Wayne, it's designed to stop the wheel from turning when the bike is parked. not in the sense of the Rhode Gear device from the late 70s, ie. parallel to frame and rigid, but in the sense that it's not designed to stabilise the wheel when you're riding. if its a Hebie, and i believe they're the best, the package design is a picture of a bike with a front basket, on the ground with groceries scattered about . . .

Alex W said...

oops Wayne i think i misunderstood your comment, now that i've gone and answered it . . . apologies. you surely mean turning in the direction of travel, not singing left and right. sorry 'bout that. that Rhode Gear thing, then, would be good for that. will that come back in some form?

Jim G said...

For recessed-mount brake calipers, you could mount this device using a Sheldon Fender Nut.

Anonymous said...

By pulling back on the brake center bolt would this stabilizer help balance the added stress that an Ene front rack would place on the brake bolt ?

I want my brake bolt balanced so the bike won't shimmy, especially after I've been drinking, and I start to shimmy.

Maybe with these two contraptions all hooked up I can carry a couple of six packs of beer home on the Dia Compe front rack. I hate when I fall over and those darn cans of PBR go off rollin away and I can never find em' till I wake up the next day. Urp.
I think there might be a potentially huge market for this item amongst Hipsters and whatnot. Can you get these made with a cigarette lighter in em' somehow ?

Ivan Mawesome said...

Huh? Is it April 1st already?

Uncle Ankle said...

Tip: the fork crown connector needs to be REALLY tight, or it will work its way loose from the torque from the spring, causing annoyance and possibly damage. Ideally, there should be some kind of brazed on tab on the fork as well.

robbo said...

The Flickstand returns! That's what I first thought when I saw this, but I see it works differently, has a different purpose in mind.

Chris Kulczycki said...

We're almost sold out of Wheel Stabilizers. That was unexpected, at least by me.

Johan said...

Chris - what about riding with no hands? The bikes I have used here in Sweden with devices like this have been really hard if not impossible to ride with no hands, and usually you can easily detach the spring or cord from the frame, only using the device when needed.

On my Batavus delivery bike, you turn a ring on the headset and there's a friction ratchet locking the wheel. It's locking it pretty stiff, but not so much that it prevents steering if you pedal away forgetting you locked it up. I works beautifully, not just stabilizing the wheel, but actually keeping it rigid when putting stuff on the front rack. I think it's made by Shimano, and I plan to visit my Batavus dealer and try to get a headset like this when I finish my own porteur build. It doesn't look very good though, it's a bit plastic.

Reading Wayne and Alex's comments - are they talking about some sort of parking brake? But I don't understand why that would be needed in any way? If you load you bike, you have it on the kickstand, and then it stands still...

yakym said...

....and now they're sold out.

dang :(

when can we expect more?

randy said...

hi, ordered one without measuring the downtube on a surly big dummy. won't fit, of course. don't forget to measure!

Anonymous said...

Sold out already ?

Like I suspected, there are an awful lot of unstable people out there.

Adam said...

Just installed mine. Works great. I gave it a test ride and noticed no discernible effect on steering, whether city riding, slow riding or track standing. Keeps the front from flopping when parked, both locked to parking meter and using the kickstand, which I haven't used in ages. After reading the comments I even tested out riding with no hands and didn't notice a problem, but with a front load floppy bike I didn't ride with no hands much before either. I was able to take both hands off the handlebars while waiting for red lights under all conditions, which before I could only do if I was pointed down a hill.

It doesn't surprise me these sold out in 3 days. I've been looking for one of these for a year, but since I didn't really know what they were even called had a problem. Google searching: "front fork springy thingy for big basket bicycle" was shockingly unproductive. I suspect many others were in the same boat as me. I'd expect your sales for these will stabilize quickly now that everyone in the English language market now knows where they can find one.

Doug said...

Is there a way to be notified when you get 'em back in? I'd like to pick up 3 of 'em.

ianjohn27 said...

I'll order two just as soon they get back in stock!

K said...

I tried the stabilizer with my touring bike with front basket and found that this does no help if the load was more than 5kg..

Anonymous said...

If you have heavier loads you should tighten the spring with the knob.

lee.watkins said...

this could also be great for kids just learning to ride a bike. This should totally be standard on children's bikes!

K said...

2 day ago I dropped the knob on road.
I heard the clatter, looked back and didn't see nothing so I kept going.. Found the knob 4 hours later at same location. I was lucky.
I'll loctite it later.

Anonymous said...

bought one ... but the bike frame is too thick for the clamp. Will have to figure something else out.

Joe in Baltimore said...

Great idea, but won't work on my bike because the diameter of the down tube is a little too big for the clamp. If there's a larger clamp available, or if anyone knows of a workaround, please post!

Christina said...

My spring keeps popping off the head of the connector to the down tube. What can I do?