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  1. #1
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    Litespeed Veneto - bad case of the shimmies!

    I bought a used 2004 Litespeed Veneto on ebay this winter. I have long legs, short torso, and some hereditary lower back issues, so I went for the taller headtube frame after reading some good responses in these and other forums. I've gone on a few rides so far this spring, but Saturday was my first long ride with a few descents. On the first descent I hit about 30 mph, then as the hill was flattening out I pedaled hard to keep my speed, and started to notice a bit of a shimmy in the front. I backed off and it went away. A bit later I hit a short steep hill, and reached about 40-45 mph, and the front wheel started to shake like crazy! I barely got it under control by feathering the brakes and squeezing the top tube between my knees. I got off the bike and checked the usual things...quick releases tight, wheels seated properly in the drops, loose hubs etc. Everything seems tight. I have Krysrium Elite wheels, I'm I'm unsure as to how tight the hubs should feel, but there is no side to side play.

    So I'm wondering...is this a characteristic of the frame geometry? I've got a 1984 handbuilt steel bike, and I've gotten that up to 50-55 mph and it's rock solid, but it's a traditional geometry. Other reviews of the Veneto have stated that it is very stable on descents, so I'm wondering what's up with mine.

    I'll probably take it to a mechanic for a once-over, but I'm a bit gun-shy of it now.

    I'll cross post this on the Litespeed forum as well, but I'd be interested in any ideas.

  2. #2
    duh...
    Reputation: FatTireFred's Avatar
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    large frame right? not all that uncommon... not a whole lot you can do, even tho tons of stuff will be suggested

  3. #3
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    Actually.. it's an XL

    XL frame, the biggest they made in that model. It rides very well, other than the shimmy, and some serious toe overlap!

  4. #4
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    My experience with a 2005 Litespeed Vortex...........

    may or may not be similar to yours but, I have a 60 cm Vortex that is very sensitive to seat/weight positioning. Too far rearward, which is how I initially had mine set up and there was not enough weight on the front end for stabilty. After moving the seat more forward, keeping my KOP relatively good, I had greatly improved stability and balance. My Colnago C50 is not that sensitive to position with its more relaxed geometry. But the Vortex needs to be carefully dialed in for optimum performance. A bike I considered selling now handles and rides like the racer it is.

  5. #5
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    My story is similar to yours. On descents, Ti bike = shimmy while steel bike = smooth as silk.

    I wonder if high-speed shimmies are a common characteristic of Ti bikes. My 55cm Macalu (it's actually a Litespeed Arenberg) shook like crazy on a mid 50 mph descent. It scared the beezeeus outta me. A fellow cyclist told me to press my knees into the top tube before the shimmies started. I took his advice the next time I went down that hill and to my complete and utter surprise, it worked.

    On a group ride, I rode beside this gal who was on a Litespeed Ghisallo - dunno the frame size. We went down the same hill and topped out in the mid 50s. Her bike was wobbling so bad I thought she was going to lose control. I yelled out to her to press her knees into the top tube, but she didn't hear me. She was pretty shaken up after that descent.

    On another high-speed hill, but on my old steel 56 cm Basso Loto, I hit 56 mph w/o a hint of wobble. Whoosh! That was a blast.

  6. #6
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    Not hte material

    Quote Originally Posted by crankee
    My story is similar to yours. On descents, Ti bike = shimmy while steel bike = smooth as silk. I wonder if high-speed shimmies are a common characteristic of Ti bikes.
    Wonder away, but it is absolutely, unequivocally NOT a characteristic of the frame material. Shimmy is a combination of frame geometry and tubing characteristics, weight balance, bike setup, and rider inputs. All you need to do on virtually any bike is to clamp the top tube between your knees BEFORE the onset of shimmy, and it will never happen. Beyond that, things like headset adjustment, out of balance wheels/tires, and how firmly or lightly you grip the bars can be big contributors. All that said, tube stiffness is tube stiffness, regardless of the material of construction.

  7. #7
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    Trickey issue. Some of the mentioned year models of Litespeeds have had the shimmy reported. I would shoot Litespeed a mail because they can help you and your wrench work through this. Just be honest and tell them that you want help. If I recall there are certain factors like forks chosen that help with the situation.

    It is not indicative of the current bikes like the Icon and Archon as they are now new designs and not based on any of the marriage to the older models and company past (aside from the fact that they are ti).One of the very first rides I took on my Archon (55 traditional) included a descent of the Tourmalet in France. It was rock solid. In fact it was one of the best descending bikes, if not the best bike I have ridden in the mountains. It held a line at high speed through turns and nary a wobble on the long straight sections going down.

    I owned a 2002 or 2003 Siena and though it didn't rail as well as the Archon it also never had the shimmy, while spending nearly 2 weeks in the Alps and Pyrenees.

  8. #8
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    Shimmy

    It is definitely not the Ti material. I did 59.5 mph on a long descent last Sept on an Eriksen Ti frame without a hint of shimmy. Before looking at the speedometer ( max speed) the only sense of speed was watering eyes.

    There is a good article on this issue by Craig Calfee on his website: calfeedesign.com

    Perhaps your fork is asymmetric.

  9. #9
    Number10
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    Quote Originally Posted by crankee
    My story is similar to yours. On descents, Ti bike = shimmy while steel bike = smooth as silk.

    I wonder if high-speed shimmies are a common characteristic of Ti bikes. My 55cm Macalu (it's actually a Litespeed Arenberg) shook like crazy on a mid 50 mph descent. It scared the beezeeus outta me. A fellow cyclist told me to press my knees into the top tube before the shimmies started. I took his advice the next time I went down that hill and to my complete and utter surprise, it worked.

    On a group ride, I rode beside this gal who was on a Litespeed Ghisallo - dunno the frame size. We went down the same hill and topped out in the mid 50s. Her bike was wobbling so bad I thought she was going to lose control. I yelled out to her to press her knees into the top tube, but she didn't hear me. She was pretty shaken up after that descent.

    On another high-speed hill, but on my old steel 56 cm Basso Loto, I hit 56 mph w/o a hint of wobble. Whoosh! That was a blast.

    Definitely not a Ti characteristic as my Dean Ti has no shimmy on descents. Going by all these posts I would say it is more a Litespeed trait attributed to poor frame design.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by orthobiker
    There is a good article on this issue by Craig Calfee on his website: calfeedesign.com

    Perhaps your fork is asymmetric.
    Interesting website. Thanks!

  11. #11
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    What fork are you running?

    I have an '04 LS Firenze which shimmied a bit on descents and would wobble excessively if you jarred or shook the handlebars. I replaced the stock LS fork with a Reynolds Ouzo fork and the problem miraculously went away. BTW, the aluminum tubed Reynolds fork weighs less than the full carbon Litespeed fork.

    It's worth looking into.

  12. #12
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    What fork

    I've been getting some similar advise from the Litespeed forum regarding the fork. Apparently the one I have has been known to lack lateral stiffness. There's a Reynolds Ouzo I'm thinking of buying on ebay. It sounds like that might be the fix.

  13. #13
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    I have ridden a Veneto (L) extensively in mountains out here in CO. Had three different forks on it at various times, Litespeed profile design, Easton EC90 SLX and an Ouzo Pro. No shimmy from any of them. My vote goes to the adjustment in the fork / headset area. Also have a mechanic check the wheels more closely - although those are sealed bearing hubs - if something is slightly loose you can have problems.

    Picked up the Ouzo pro on E bay brand new for $125.00. Came in at 285mm uncut. You have to be careful with some new forks because you may need more than 285 because your HT is longer than mine.

  14. #14
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    Had this issue with a cf frame. It's geometrie was just a little to long for me. Every time when I was riding 30km/h with headwind, it started to shimmy. BUT ONLY when I took my hands of my bars.
    In descents in the alps I didn't have any problems, again until taking my hands of my bars, even with over 70km/h.
    When you put some serious stiff wheels in it, it really differs. With my campy shamals (those silver alloy rims, yea the old ones) it wasn't an issue at whole..

    And that was with cf. now with my giant tcr, I have no problems whatsoever..
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  15. #15
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    I ride an '03 size L, Veneto with Lite Tec fork and have always found it hyperstable on steep fast descents and generally an excellent handling frame/fork. It's possible that the Lite Tec was an upgraded fork, but that's what it had in the LBS when I bought it new. The Litespeed Web site lists the LSP fork as the standard fork, and if that's what you have, it might be worth upgrading.

  16. #16
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    It's not the Ti.

    Start simple and check the headset. This will cost you nothing or maybe a few bucks to your local mechanic.

    Next go with the knees on toptube everyone has been telling you about.

    If none of these suggestions work, then you can check frame alignment and finally the fork (most expensive option).

  17. #17
    PSC
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    I have noticed that I get shimmies when the road surface is rough (chip and seal) and winds are gusty. The other day I was going down one of the rough hills and at 35 mph the shimmy started, as soon as I found a smooth spot in the road it stopped. I just try and stay relaxed, elbows bent and let the bike do its thing.

  18. #18
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    Hi PSC, Just stay relaxed, was the answer I also came across among reviews on the Richard Sachs website. On a 85km/h descent of the Col du Somport into Spain (fine roadsurface) my Richard Sachs started to shimmy. I loosened my grip on the bars a bit as I had read and...presto! The bike smoothened out in an instant.
    Last week at similar speeds in Luxembourg my 1988 Merlin Extralight seemed to shout FASTER because it was all so easy. Shimmying to my mind seems to be caused by something besides frame material. See you on the road.

  19. #19
    PSC
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    Relaxing seems to help me. I'll be out in your neck of the woods next week, Planning on bringing my bike to Germany and riding around the Bitburg/Trier area. Only able to ride for a day or 2, but should be fun.

  20. #20
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    I have heard of several people with Litespeeds have this problem.

    What kind of headset do you have? I have heard that Litespeeds had problems with their integrated headsets which caused a high-speed shimmy.
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  21. #21
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    I worked at Litespeed when the Veneto was made and a lot of them came back with bad shimmy problems. It is a combination of flexy head tube, flexy fork and rear biased weight positioning. The tall head tube puts most of the weight on to the rear wheel and the front is unweighted. The flexy head tube and fork allows the top and down tubes to go in different directions compared to each other.

    So the head and down tubes flexing in diferent directions and no weight on the handle bars to stabilize them and you have a shimmy.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarryG
    I ride an '03 size L, Veneto with Lite Tec fork and have always found it hyperstable on steep fast descents and generally an excellent handling frame/fork. It's possible that the Lite Tec was an upgraded fork, but that's what it had in the LBS when I bought it new. The Litespeed Web site lists the LSP fork as the standard fork, and if that's what you have, it might be worth upgrading.

    Me too still on an 03 Veneto and it is rock solid stable with an Easton SL 90 fork. The frame is the bomb but there is toe overlap which is a minor issue for me.

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