Today I had my most enjoyable ride on Electra with her balance wheels set at level two, and expect the best is yet to come. Back on May 2nd, I installed the balance wheels and set them to level two. They seemed lined up alright, and each balance wheel would toggle off the ground ~1” +/- 0.5”. I had previously tried balance wheels on a 29er mountain bike; it was shortly after being vacated from the hotel I lived in ~5 years because Long Beach bought the property and planned to build another shopping center. I was temporarily living with a friend from college and not allowed to work on my bike; rather, the roommate put them on the bike, through away the packaging and u-bolts for the upper frame stay; told me they didn’t fit so thrown away. The bike wouldn’t ride the way it was setup…
That got me used to riding at an extreme lean on either side for a month (4 years ago). On Electra, the right mount wasn’t right; the balances wheels on both sides rose the same distance, but the geometry of the right mount was at an angel causing an extreme lean on the right side I wasn’t aware of. Yeah, I rode her like that 4 days that first week; very slow in bike lanes by heavy traffic, but fast in residential neighborhoods were I could ride fast enough to keep both balance wheels of the road. Then I tried level one although it put the balance wheels underground. Instead of going underground, they originally put the drive wheel in the air unless my weight was in the saddle. Then the metal created an angel so the balance wheels only contact the ground with the sides of the tread. But riding became comfortable without leaning against an extreme right lean, and average speed increased 20%.
A couple days ago I set the balance wheels back to level two and they seemed alright on my neighborhood test ride; however, yesterday I rode out of the neighborhood intending to ride to the beach. In the bike lane with heavy traffic the extreme right lean returned. I was sure I worked it out during the past month, so I figured it was mechanical; hence, I returned home to work on it. I loosened the 3 u-bolts and slid it up ~1” and forward ~1”. Broke one u-bolt; too much torque and/or fatigue from May. Used a spare from 2017, and the right performs like the left now.
Today I felt comfortable enough not wearing pads, playing music, and spinning at high speed. I think both balance wheels were off the ground 70% of the time. That is based on the position of the head set when both balance wheels are off the ground while not moving and the absence of side to side motion which is common at lower speeds. Hopefully my balance will improve enough to remove the balance wheels and still ride safe in stop-and-go traffic.