I noticed something on a ride recently that I see all too frequently. Following a couple of cyclists today, it was hard to pass them since they kept swerving as they looked over their shoulder.
I see this all the time; a cyclist looks over their left shoulder and their bicycle swerves to the left. It creates a dangerous situation for them, with all the trucks and cars on the streets. And it’s dangerous to any fellow cyclists around them as well.
So, what’s going on? Why does a bicycle swerve to the left when you look over your left shoulder and swerve to the right when you look over your right shoulder?
It’s All About COG – Center Of Gravity
Next time you are out on your bicycle, try this simple test.
Pick a road that’s straight, making sure there is no traffic on the road. As you ride, try keeping your bike in a straight line. Now, lean your upper body to the left.
What just happened?
The bicycle started going to the left. Why? Because you just changed the center of gravity from the middle of the bicycle to the left of the bicycle.
Since you are balancing on 2 wheels, the bicycle will want to “fall” in that direction.
Try This Trick to Hold Your Line While Looking Back
Again, keeping the bicycle in a straight line, lean your upper body to the left – but this time, push the bars to the right.
Don’t turn the bars, just use the bars to push/lean your entire bicycle to the right.
Why are you still going straight down the road instead of swerving to the left? Because you are keeping the center of gravity centered between you and the bicycle.
And that’s the trick. When you look over your left shoulder, push/lean the bicycle slightly to the right. Using this trick, you will continue to travel in a straight line.
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist and Bike Fit 101: Your Toolset for a Great Bike Fit in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.