Any so-called expert can state that this or that head-angle is ideal, and may go on to give some prosaic reasoning, but, unless important specific additional information accompanies the claim, it is incomplete, and thus meaningless.

For me to make any meaningful statements about the steering geometry of the Landseer, I have to include quite a lot more information. But that’s not all. No-one in the world fully understands how bicycle steering works. Few agree, and vast numbers think they know everything about it.

Therefore, before anything else, you need to know where I’m coming from, so to speak; there’s no recognised ‘standard work’ on this subject. I’d have to explain my overall understanding of bicycle steering and how it is all done by shifting your centre-of-gravity, starting at the very basics, to distinguish active steering from re-active steering; hence these drawings of castors.

CastorSetOnce you have my perspective on the matter, you will know the basis of my claims, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. You can then relate that knowledge to the Landseer’s steering geometry, or to that of any other bicycle, for that matter.

My understanding of bicycle steering is wide-ranging, although by no means complete. It includes a number of factors generally ignored by experts, particularly how bicycle steering behaves at very slow speeds and on uneven terrain.

Explaining this will involve a helluva lot of work on my part, spread over many posts and requiring a large number of illustrations and diagrams. Before I embark on this considerable venture, I want to know it’s actually going to be read by enough people to make the effort worthwhile. If fifty or more readers promise to read my treatise on bicycle steering, in the comments area below, I promise to produce it.

Just to whet your appetite, below is one of the sketches I did for Mike Burrows to go in his book on bicycle design.

8X8-018 copyIt illustrates that you can maintain the exact same trail dimension, as well as the positional relationship between the handlebar, saddle and bottom bracket axis, yet have differing frame configurations. Clearly, each of the configurations illustrated would also have quite distinct steering characteristics. Yet there are ‘experts’ who claim the trail dimension alone determines steering characteristics. Who do you listen to, who do you believe?

Or you could just take my word for it.

Click here to go to the beginning of the whole story.


About gmacleland

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16 Responses to Castoration…

  1. Ian... says:

    Life may well be too short but I want to read it Geoff so please share. I know you’ve mentioned wheel flop elsewhere which the 3rd bike will suffer from. The 1st bike has a huge tiller (prev’ post) whilst the 2nd will have the least.

    I built a recumbent last year with a huge amount of tiller but with a c of g the polar opposite of an upright bike the effect was probably not relative!

    Apart from reducing tiller, is there any benefit by having caster angle at low speed?

  2. Phil Moss says:

    Hi Geoff, I too would like to read your more detailed explanation. As someone who has recently returned to cycling after a lengthy gap, I have found your alternative take on bicycle design completely fascinating. I regard myself not so much a cyclist, but rather someone who just likes to get out and ride his bike, and the Cleland is definitely the bike for that. Currently I am riding a 1980’s Dawes Galaxy originally bought from new, but the dreaming of something more appropriate, inspired by your work, has begun …

    Regards, Phil.

  3. epicyclo says:

    I would like to see more of this. There’s too much of the black art or latest marketing advertorial confusing the issue, “particularly how bicycle steering behaves at very slow speeds and on uneven terrain”.

    I’ll be directing a few here.

  4. firedfromthecircus says:

    I might just be one of the 5, but just in case I’m one of the fifty I’m signing up as someone who would like to read it. Think of it as another addition to your legacy Geoff. Besides, the nights are fair drawing in and even you can’t ride 24:7. 😉

  5. Tony Lambert says:

    If you have any energy left after riding your new Landseer, please continue your discourse on bicycle steering. Fascinating stuff, well presented.

  6. stuart mcdonald says:

    Hmmm very interesting bicycle experiments – I’d like to read more – before I ‘create my next’ .

  7. Mike says:

    Count me in! Have always found your ideas very interesting. Looking forward to these.

  8. Tyler Linner says:

    I clicked through to this from MTBR’s fatbike section, and would very much enjoy seeing some quality diagrams on the subject. I bookmarked this page, so hopefully you find your fifty!
    If you do a good job at it, I’d gladly share it on my own blog over on Kinja. And, seeing your illustrations, I have a feeling you’ll do a great job.

  9. Ian... says:

    We’re all up for it & interested Geoff 🙂

  10. Martin says:

    I am interested to read more on this subject. The new bike looks great.

  11. AndyZ says:

    More please, Geoff. If i understood the geometry better, maybe next time I ride the Landseer I won’t crash it! See you soon,

  12. Pingback: Tiller effect… | Cleland > L A N D S E E R

  13. Steve says:

    Yes please!

  14. Petor says:

    Write it and they will read

  15. Doog says:

    More please Mr Apps, the cloud lifted for me when I pictured how riders (myself included) always relax by taking their hands off the bars. Amazingly, without falling off and steering even!

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