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stability with suspension

1995 P-38 with 17 inch suspended front wheel. I'm new to the bike so unsure, but the front end feels slightly loose. I'm getting close to being ready to take her onto descents at speed. But I don't feel confident in the front end. Two questions:

1) is the suspended front end inherently less stable overall?

2a) is it worth disassembling the front end entirely to identify any possible loose parts/pieces? OR

2b) is a 20 inch fork w/o suspension inherently more stable? If so, is it worth changing?

Thing is guys, I've been through a major, major crash on a steep incline. So to this day I have to get used to high speed descents, have to develop confidence over time in the bike. BUT, if up front there is potential for problems I want to know.

There are some tips on adjusting the suspension fork somewhere on the official Lightning website. Poke around and you will find it. It might help you.

You might also have a slightly loose headset. Sit on the bike, apply the front brake tightly, and see if you can rock the bike forward and backward a little bit. If you can, your headset may need adjustment.

When the suspension fork and headset are adjusted correctly, everything should feel just right. If you are not confident that things are OK, try talking directly to Tim Brummer at Lightning. Or perhaps you have a recumbent-friendly local bike mechanic who can lend a helping hand.

I would keep the 17" suspension fork. But make sure it is working properly. Your concern about descending at speed is fully justified.

Safe riding,

going to take it up to coventry cycles in Portland on Tues and let them check it out. i think i'm going to ask them to disassemble and reassemble the headset AND I may replace the headset. i want something that is rock solid and reliable as can be on descents because i want to let it go fast without fear.

do you have any ideas about a premium headset?


Did you try the rocking forward and backward while gripping the front brake test? Did the bike seem like it was not "tight feeling" at the fork/headset area?

There are instructions on basic bike maintenance at the Park Tool website. Probably something about adjusting threaded headsets. Try this first. Do not replace a bike component unless you have to.

If you are not the sort of person who likes working on your own bikes, you need to find a bike shop with mechanics that you trust.

In line with what I said about V-brakes, I am not inclined to spend big bucks on "premium" headsets, such as the Chris King. An ordinary Shimano or something similar works just fine. My first Lightning bike came with a Suntour headset that was of extremely high quality and lasted a very long time.

Safe riding,

Thanks for answering Joel. Overall how have you found the descents with the P-38? Fastest i ever descended on a my Merlin road bike was 48 and it was rock solid. i ran out of hill or i'd have gone faster. that was years ago and before the bike crash.

i work weekends and come home beat so haven't tried the rocking front end test yet. i did scope around for info on the suspended fork on the lightning site and found a short blurb from Tim on adjustments.

i am very inclined to work on my own things / bikes but gave away all my tools a year or so ago before i became interested in bents. i even gave away my Bicycling Magazine Tome on bike maintenance. i did however keep my stand.

since my interest is so keen, i guess i'll start reacquiring tools. what i would prefer to do is obtain the schematic for the 17 inch suspended fork and the headset and disassemble it myself. depending on the cost of any special tools needed i may do just that. more likely i'll run up to Coventry and ask them to.

as for component quality, i recognize there are many "good" components out there and there are also some "high end" components that are definitely not worth the 100%+ increase in cost. I feel that way about most shimano components. 105 is just fine. ultegra is better for a bit more. but dura ace is usually not worth it. however,

i do believe that there a couple components for which buying the excellent variety can definitely make a difference. years ago i came across a wheel set for my DF that had dura ace hubs. I didn't expect them to be that much better than 105s, etc. but they are. they are in fact amazing, almost like perpetual motion devices--those wheels will turn forever almost.

i also feel the same about headsets and bottom brackets. i've had crummy headsets before and replaced them with better Crane Creeks. i noticed a definite difference. don't know about Chris King.


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