Probably a basic wheel question
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  1. #1
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    Probably a basic wheel question

    When I mount my back wheel on the bike (an old 14 speed road bike), once I make sure the wheel is centered between the chain stays I find it is not centered between the seat stays. It's off to the non-drive side by over a centimeter. If I switch to a different rear wheel it's off by even more. What causes this? Are my wheels dished improperly? Should I dismantle things and try to get the hub moved over on the axle so things line up better, or doesn't it matter? When riding, the shifting and braking are pretty much fine. Do you need to get things centered between both the seat stays AND the chain stays, or is the position between the seat stays less important? Just wondering, what is the basic principle? Am I missing something?
    Last edited by Hallsey; 1 Week Ago at 04:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    It could be that neither wheel is properly dished; a wheel-builder's setup will tell you the answer for that. But there are a couple of other things to consider:

    1) Is it sitting properly centered in the dropouts? Especially if you have horizontal dropouts.

    2) Could the seatstays and/or chainstays be out of position? A framebuilder could answer that question.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  3. #3
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    FYI:
    1. The frame is Columbus steel and it has never been bent or traumatized in any way. It is exactly as it was when manufactured, in every detail.

    2. I will take the wheels to a wheel builder for an opinion as to dishing later this week. Maybe they can opine on my question as well.

    3. The rear axle is properly centered in the drop outs, which are by the way horizontal (as I understand it, that's why the wheel is perfectly centered between the chain stays, NO?). I have adjusted the drop out screws to achieve that. And both screws are in identical positions relative to the drop outs.

    It seems to me like, with things as they are, I have a vertical front wheel and and rear wheel that must be on a slight tilt, rather than perfectly vertical, viewed from the rear. If so, is that a big problem?
    I would tend to think not. Do you agree? Maybe I'm obsessing over nothing...

  4. #4
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    Your frame might be out of alignment. Take it somewhere where wet tires make marks easily visible on the pavement. Put some water down and ride straight through the puddle and as straight as possible for 20' or so. Look at the tracks, are both wheels in one track, or is one .5" to the side.
    IMO, if one is .5" to the side, you have a problem.

    Dish usually can be visually verified by flipping the wheel in the dropouts.
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  5. #5
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    All the wheel dishing advice above is good.

    Once that's ironed out, you have to look at frame alignment.

    After checking for frame alignment, and if aligning the frame won't correct the problem, here's what I suggest.

    Use a vernier caliper or good ruler to verify the seatstay brake mounting hole is centered between the seatstays.

    Is the brake mounted tilted to one side?

    Last resort once you've checked all that is to file the top slot of the offending dropout to center the wheel.

    By the way, is it possible there's excess paint in the dropout slot?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hallsey View Post

    It seems to me like, with things as they are, I have a vertical front wheel and and rear wheel that must be on a slight tilt, rather than perfectly vertical, viewed from the rear. If so, is that a big problem?
    I would tend to think not. Do you agree? Maybe I'm obsessing over nothing...
    Tilt? Spin it and find out.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post

    Dish usually can be visually verified by flipping the wheel in the dropouts.
    This is the 1st thing you should do. It will give you a better idea if the problem is the wheel or the frame. If the alignment of the wheel changes the problem lies with the wheel, if the alignment stays the same look at the frame.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Tilt? Spin it and find out.
    OP should put the wheel in the frame and let the weight of the frame put the wheel in the dropouts and then clamp the quick release. Then take the wheel out, flip it (freewheel on the left when viewed from the back) and do the same thing. A lot can be learned by doing this simple exercise and looking at what it means for where the wheel sits in the frame. If the dropouts are square and the frame aligned, there should be no need to be forcing the wheel to sit properly in the frame.

    Wheel dish is a likely suspect, but you would think that both the seat stays and chain stays would show the same degree of offset. The fact that they don't points to the frame.

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