What makes bikes handle differently? Can a bike be too light?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by B. Sanders, Apr 17, 2003.

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  1. B. Sanders

    B. Sanders Guest

    Every spring, I re-learn the handling quirks of my various bikes. I'm somewhat fascinated with bike
    handling, and I keep at least 8 bikes in my collection, usually more. I have owned 30+ bikes in the
    past 10 years, mainly for the purpose of experiencing a wide array of basic designs, frame
    materials, wheel diameters and geometries. I've owned a huge range of bikes, from a sleek M5 low
    racer recumbent (a wonderful beast) to a full-custom Merlin Ti hardtail, and quite a few dumpster
    specials as well. They all have their own handling quirks, and all have contributed to my
    understanding of bike handling factors.

    Even my favorite bikes feel strange when riding them for the first time in a long while. Little
    things like stem length, handlebar width, saddle fore-aft position and BB height become starkly
    apparent. It is only during these reintroductions that I critique the bikes without prejudice, and
    perceive their handling quirks most readily.

    A different stem can affect handling noticeably. Adding a longer travel suspension fork is another
    big factor. Tire size can also noticeably affect handling. MTB's which handle beautifully with 26 x
    2.0 tires will steer like a cow with skinny 1.2" street slicks mounted. This is because of a change
    in fork trail due to different tire diameters. Bikes are finely-tuned machines, and these sorts of
    small changes make a big difference.

    Of course, the rider can get used to almost anything. We humans are supremely adaptable. So, after a
    few rides every spring, my body re-adjusts to the quirks of each bike, and my favorites once again
    emerge. They're usually the same:

    2000 RANS Rocket SWB recumbent 2001 Klein Attitude Race 199? Bianchi Brava single speed conversion

    These are all lightweight bikes. Low weight produces a benefit that I call "flickability."
    Flickability means that the bike responds quickly and effortlessly to tiny side-to-side rider input
    forces. This becomes most evident in out-of-the-saddle maneuvers. Try riding a heavy bike
    out-of-the-saddle, and then a light bike, and you'll see what I mean. I believe this is the reason
    that light bikes feel faster, and may actually be faster. If you rode a heavy bike with minimal
    side-to-side movement, and then a light bike, all other factors being equal there should be little
    difference in achievable speeds; but that isn't how riders ride. Side-to-side movement is a large
    part of upright bike handling, even while riding in a straight line.

    I do think that while lightness is a factor, it isn't important to have the very lightest bike. In
    fact, I think bikes can be too light. Certainly, there is a point of rapidly diminishing returns
    where reliability and price run in opposite directions very quickly. For the vast majority of
    riders, a "light enough" bike is preferable to a "stupid light" race-only megabucks machine.

    What are your thoughts on the topic of bike handling factors?

    -Barry
     
    Tags:


  2. Allan Leedy

    Allan Leedy Guest

    I would say, maybe a bike can be too light to be durable, but unless it has negative weight, its
    weight isn't going to weigh much into the handling question. The bulk of the weight is the rider.

    "B. Sanders" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Every spring, I re-learn the handling quirks of my various bikes. I'm somewhat fascinated with
    > bike handling, and I keep at least 8 bikes in my collection, usually more. I have owned 30+ bikes
    > in the past 10 years, mainly for the purpose of experiencing a wide array of basic designs,
    frame
    > materials, wheel diameters and geometries. I've owned a huge range of bikes, from a sleek M5 low
    > racer recumbent (a wonderful beast) to a full-custom Merlin Ti hardtail, and quite a few dumpster
    > specials as well. They all have their own handling quirks, and all have contributed to my
    > understanding of bike handling factors.
    >
    > Even my favorite bikes feel strange when riding them for the first time in
    a
    > long while. Little things like stem length, handlebar width, saddle
    fore-aft
    > position and BB height become starkly apparent. It is only during these reintroductions that I
    > critique the bikes without prejudice, and perceive their handling quirks most readily.
    >
    > A different stem can affect handling noticeably. Adding a longer travel suspension fork is another
    > big factor. Tire size can also noticeably
    affect
    > handling. MTB's which handle beautifully with 26 x 2.0 tires will steer like a cow with skinny
    > 1.2" street slicks mounted. This is because of a change in fork trail due to different tire
    > diameters. Bikes are finely-tuned machines, and these sorts of small changes make a big
    > difference.
    >
    > Of course, the rider can get used to almost anything. We humans are supremely adaptable. So, after
    > a few rides every spring, my body
    re-adjusts
    > to the quirks of each bike, and my favorites once again emerge. They're usually the same:
    >
    > 2000 RANS Rocket SWB recumbent 2001 Klein Attitude Race 199? Bianchi Brava single speed conversion
    >
    > These are all lightweight bikes. Low weight produces a benefit that I
    call
    > "flickability." Flickability means that the bike responds quickly and effortlessly to tiny
    > side-to-side rider input forces. This becomes most evident in out-of-the-saddle maneuvers. Try
    > riding a heavy bike out-of-the-saddle, and then a light bike, and you'll see what I mean. I
    > believe this is the reason that light bikes feel faster, and may actually
    be
    > faster. If you rode a heavy bike with minimal side-to-side movement, and then a light bike, all
    > other factors being equal there should be little difference in achievable speeds; but that isn't
    > how riders ride. Side-to-side movement is a large part of upright bike handling, even while riding
    > in a straight line.
    >
    > I do think that while lightness is a factor, it isn't important to have
    the
    > very lightest bike. In fact, I think bikes can be too light. Certainly, there is a point of
    > rapidly diminishing returns where reliability and
    price
    > run in opposite directions very quickly. For the vast majority of riders,
    a
    > "light enough" bike is preferable to a "stupid light" race-only megabucks machine.
    >
    > What are your thoughts on the topic of bike handling factors?
    >
    > -Barry
     
  3. David Kerber

    David Kerber Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    > I would say, maybe a bike can be too light to be durable, but unless it has negative weight, its
    > weight isn't going to weigh much into the handling question. The bulk of the weight is the rider.

    Of course the most of the weight is the rider, but the weight of the bike can affect handling. When
    you are sprinting or climbing hard standing on the pedals, do you move the bike from side to side
    with the bars? I do, and on my 33lb LeTank, it's hard to move it as fast and as far as I would like.
    I think a bike 7 to 10 lbs lighter would be much easier to do this to, and I think it would help me
    in these situations.

    ...

    --
    Dave Kerber Fight spam: remove the ns_ from the return address before replying!

    REAL programmers write self-modifying code.
     
  4. B. Sanders

    B. Sanders Guest

    "Allan Leedy" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > I would say, maybe a bike can be too light to be durable

    Definitely. They can actually be dangerous to ride. Wheels can collapse, cranks can snap, etc.

    > but unless it has negative weight, its weight isn't going to weigh much into the handling
    > question.

    The weight of the bike is only a factor in out-of-the-saddle riding, when you are swinging it from
    side to side, negotiating tight corners, technical terrain, etc. That is when you notice the
    difference - and there is a noticeable difference. Try it yourself if you don't believe me.

    > The bulk of the weight is the rider.

    As far as total weight of the bike + rider system, it's true that dropping two pounds off the rider
    is easier and much cheaper than dropping a two pounds off the bike (just take a dump before you ride
    :) However, try riding a heavy bike up a long climb, then try it again with a light bike, and you
    tell me if you notice a difference in climbing speed. I can almost guarantee that you will. For me
    the difference is quite obvious. I was surprised how much of a difference it made.

    -Barry

    >
    > "B. Sanders" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > Every spring, I re-learn the handling quirks of my various bikes. I'm somewhat fascinated with
    > > bike handling, and I keep at least 8 bikes in
    my
    > > collection, usually more. I have owned 30+ bikes in the past 10 years, mainly for the purpose of
    > > experiencing a wide array of basic designs,
    > frame
    > > materials, wheel diameters and geometries. I've owned a huge range of bikes, from a sleek M5 low
    > > racer recumbent (a wonderful beast) to a full-custom Merlin Ti hardtail, and quite a few
    > > dumpster specials as
    well.
    > > They all have their own handling quirks, and all have contributed to my understanding of bike
    > > handling factors.
    > >
    > > Even my favorite bikes feel strange when riding them for the first time
    in
    > a
    > > long while. Little things like stem length, handlebar width, saddle
    > fore-aft
    > > position and BB height become starkly apparent. It is only during these reintroductions that I
    > > critique the bikes without prejudice, and
    perceive
    > > their handling quirks most readily.
    > >
    > > A different stem can affect handling noticeably. Adding a longer travel suspension fork is
    > > another big factor. Tire size can also noticeably
    > affect
    > > handling. MTB's which handle beautifully with 26 x 2.0 tires will steer like a cow with skinny
    > > 1.2" street slicks mounted. This is because of a change in fork trail due to different tire
    > > diameters. Bikes are finely-tuned machines, and these sorts of small changes make a big
    > > difference.
    > >
    > > Of course, the rider can get used to almost anything. We humans are supremely adaptable. So,
    > > after a few rides every spring, my body
    > re-adjusts
    > > to the quirks of each bike, and my favorites once again emerge. They're usually the same:
    > >
    > > 2000 RANS Rocket SWB recumbent 2001 Klein Attitude Race 199? Bianchi Brava single speed
    > > conversion
    > >
    > > These are all lightweight bikes. Low weight produces a benefit that I
    > call
    > > "flickability." Flickability means that the bike responds quickly and effortlessly to tiny
    > > side-to-side rider input forces. This becomes most evident in out-of-the-saddle maneuvers. Try
    > > riding a heavy bike out-of-the-saddle, and then a light bike, and you'll see what I mean. I
    > > believe this is the reason that light bikes feel faster, and may
    actually
    > be
    > > faster. If you rode a heavy bike with minimal side-to-side movement,
    and
    > > then a light bike, all other factors being equal there should be little difference in achievable
    > > speeds; but that isn't how riders ride. Side-to-side movement is a large part of upright bike
    > > handling, even
    while
    > > riding in a straight line.
    > >
    > > I do think that while lightness is a factor, it isn't important to have
    > the
    > > very lightest bike. In fact, I think bikes can be too light.
    Certainly,
    > > there is a point of rapidly diminishing returns where reliability and
    > price
    > > run in opposite directions very quickly. For the vast majority of
    riders,
    > a
    > > "light enough" bike is preferable to a "stupid light" race-only
    megabucks
    > > machine.
    > >
    > > What are your thoughts on the topic of bike handling factors?
    > >
    > > -Barry
    > >
    > >
    >
     
  5. Mark Hickey

    Mark Hickey Guest

    "Allan Leedy" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >I would say, maybe a bike can be too light to be durable, but unless it has negative weight, its
    >weight isn't going to weigh much into the handling question. The bulk of the weight is the rider.

    Having just built up a fixie (nothing's lighter than a fixie...) I can say I did notice the bike's
    tendency to "bounce around" a bit more when I'm out of the saddle. But though it feels like it's
    more likely to crash when the back wheel skips to one side or the other, the force necessary to
    bring it back where it belongs is less as well.

    Net/net - I guess it feels different, but isn't "too light".

    Mark Hickey Habanero Cycles http://www.habcycles.com Home of the $695 ti frame
     
  6. Peter Cole

    Peter Cole Guest

    > Of course the most of the weight is the rider, but the weight of the bike can affect handling.
    > When you are sprinting or climbing hard standing on the pedals, do you move the bike from side to
    > side with the bars?

    No, it's not necessary, and it's hard on the bike.
     
  7. B. Sanders

    B. Sanders Guest

    "Mark Hickey" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > "Allan Leedy" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > >I would say, maybe a bike can be too light to be durable, but unless it
    has
    > >negative weight, its weight isn't going to weigh much into the handling question. The bulk of the
    > >weight is the rider.

    Your reasoning fails to take into consideration the dynamic system that is rider + bike. The weight
    of the bike *does* matter - quite a lot, actually.

    > Having just built up a fixie (nothing's lighter than a fixie...) I can say I did notice the bike's
    > tendency to "bounce around" a bit more when I'm out of the saddle. But though it feels like it's
    > more likely to crash when the back wheel skips to one side or the other, the force necessary to
    > bring it back where it belongs is less as well.

    Nonetheless, it is interesting, isn't it? The rear wheel on my titanium hardtail positively skitters
    over small bumps. But wait, I thought rigid frames are all the same - no vertical compliance, right?
    How is this possible? If the total weight of bike + rider is so similar (less than 1% variance), how
    can such a large difference be felt at the rear wheel? (BTW: Yes, I've tried different tires and air
    pressures, different wheels, etc.)

    > Net/net - I guess it feels different, but isn't "too light".

    You dropped weight in all the right places (well, on the bike anyway ;-)

    -Barry
     
  8. B. Sanders

    B. Sanders Guest

    "Peter Cole" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > > Of course the most of the weight is the rider, but the weight of the bike can affect handling.
    > > When you are sprinting or climbing hard standing on the pedals, do you move the bike from side
    > > to side with the bars?
    >
    > No, it's not necessary, and it's hard on the bike.

    I'm afraid that is quite wrong. Sprinters use their whole body to power the bike forward. This
    necessitates swinging the bike from side to side, transferring force exerted by the arms and upper
    torso into extra downward force against the pedals.

    This is especially important while climbing steep hills. Try climbing a steep hill without using
    your upper body, and keep the bike from moving side-to-side. Then try it again using your upper body
    and allowing the bike to move freely. I can almost guarantee that you'll see a speed increase with
    the latter technique. This might explain why it is so common.

    -Barry
     
  9. Buck

    Buck Guest

    "B. Sanders" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:eek:QUna.513161

    <snip>

    > Nonetheless, it is interesting, isn't it? The rear wheel on my titanium hardtail positively
    > skitters over small bumps. But wait, I thought rigid frames are all the same - no vertical
    > compliance, right? How is this possible? If the total weight of bike + rider is so similar (less
    > than 1% variance), how can such a large difference be felt at the rear wheel?
    (BTW:
    > Yes, I've tried different tires and air pressures, different wheels, etc.)

    Ever thought about the geometry of this bike? Look at the distance between the contact patch of your
    rear tire and two other points - the intersection between a plumb line from the center of your
    saddle and the ground; and the intersection of a plumb line between the center of the bottom bracket
    and the ground. Measure the same distances on a bike that doesn't "skitter." I'll betcha they are
    different!

    -Buck
     
  10. Peter Cole

    Peter Cole Guest

    "B. Sanders" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > "Peter Cole" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    > > > Of course the most of the weight is the rider, but the weight of the bike can affect handling.
    > > > When you are sprinting or climbing hard standing on the pedals, do you move the bike from side
    > > > to side with the bars?
    > >
    > > No, it's not necessary, and it's hard on the bike.
    >
    > I'm afraid that is quite wrong. Sprinters use their whole body to power the bike forward.

    I'm not a sprinter, just a bicycle rider.

    > This necessitates swinging the bike from side to side, transferring force exerted by the arms and
    > upper torso into extra downward force against the pedals.

    The upper body can be used to provide force greater than body weight when standing on the pedals.
    That doesn't require a lot of bike thrashing.

    > This is especially important while climbing steep hills. Try climbing a steep hill without using
    > your upper body, and keep the bike from moving side-to-side. Then try it again using your upper
    > body and allowing the bike to move freely. I can almost guarantee that you'll see a speed increase
    > with the latter technique. This might explain why it is so common.

    It is especially not common on hills, steep or otherwise. The type of pedaling you describe isn't
    sustainable for any duration. Unless it's a finish line sprint, it's posing -- inefficient,
    dangerous, and hard on the bike.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/standing.html
     
  11. Bob

    Bob Guest

    "Peter Cole" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > "B. Sanders" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > "Peter Cole" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > > news:[email protected]...
    > > > > Of course the most of the weight is the rider, but the weight of the bike can affect
    > > > > handling. When you are sprinting or climbing hard standing on the pedals, do you move the
    > > > > bike from side to side with
    the
    > > > > bars?
    > > >
    > > > No, it's not necessary, and it's hard on the bike.
    > >
    > > I'm afraid that is quite wrong. Sprinters use their whole body to power
    the
    > > bike forward.
    >
    > I'm not a sprinter, just a bicycle rider.
    >
    > > This necessitates swinging the bike from side to side, transferring force exerted by the arms
    > > and upper torso into extra
    downward
    > > force against the pedals.
    >
    > The upper body can be used to provide force greater than body weight when standing on the pedals.
    > That doesn't require a lot of bike thrashing.
    >
    >
    > > This is especially important while climbing steep hills. Try climbing a steep hill without using
    > > your upper body, and keep the bike from moving side-to-side. Then try it again using your upper
    > > body and allowing the
    bike
    > > to move freely. I can almost guarantee that you'll see a speed increase with the latter
    > > technique. This might explain why it is so common.
    >
    > It is especially not common on hills, steep or otherwise. The type of
    pedaling
    > you describe isn't sustainable for any duration. Unless it's a finish line sprint, it's posing --
    > inefficient, dangerous, and hard on the bike.
    >
    > http://www.sheldonbrown.com/standing.html
    >
    >
    >
    >

    I have to disagree. I stand almost 1/3 of my ride, and for every hill. I use a combination of
    standing and sitting. I used to only sit, but it was because I wasn't in shape to stand. Now, I
    enjoy standing. I can pedal a larger gear while standing, which makes me go faster. Plus, standing
    makes me get off the seat and provides me with a different position. Plus, when did my rear
    derailleur break? When I was sitting going up a hill. From this, I conclude that sitting is bad.

    --
    Bob ctviggen at rcn dot com
     
  12. Mike S.

    Mike S. Guest

    > > > > Of course the most of the weight is the rider, but the weight of the bike can affect
    > > > > handling. When you are sprinting or climbing hard standing on the pedals, do you move the
    > > > > bike from side to side with
    the
    > > > > bars?
    > > >
    > > > No, it's not necessary, and it's hard on the bike.

    Which weighs less? A 20# bike, or your (insert your body weight here) body? It is always going to be
    more efficient to move the lesser weight (mass?) around. Moving your bars allows you to press
    straight down on the pedals with your full body weight, without moving your torso around.

    The rule of thumb that I was taught way back when was that you shouldn't move the bars
    farther outboard than your shoulder width. The less force you're exerting means less your
    bike needs to move.

    > >
    > > I'm afraid that is quite wrong. Sprinters use their whole body to power
    the
    > > bike forward.
    >
    > I'm not a sprinter, just a bicycle rider.

    You never sprint? At all? Not even to get away from dogs chasing you? Poor guy.
    >
    > > This necessitates swinging the bike from side to side, transferring force exerted by the arms
    > > and upper torso into extra
    downward
    > > force against the pedals.
    >
    > The upper body can be used to provide force greater than body weight when standing on the pedals.
    > That doesn't require a lot of bike thrashing.
    >
    >
    > > This is especially important while climbing steep hills. Try climbing a steep hill without using
    > > your upper body, and keep the bike from moving side-to-side. Then try it again using your upper
    > > body and allowing the
    bike
    > > to move freely. I can almost guarantee that you'll see a speed increase with the latter
    > > technique. This might explain why it is so common.
    >
    > It is especially not common on hills, steep or otherwise. The type of
    pedaling
    > you describe isn't sustainable for any duration. Unless it's a finish line sprint, it's posing --
    > inefficient, dangerous, and hard on the bike.

    How is it dangerous? This I gotta hear!

    I know personally, I can climb faster standing even though my HR goes up 10 bpm or so. I tend to
    alternate in about 100m stretches when I know I'm going to be climbing for a while. Seems to work
    for me, but it may not for everyone.
     
  13. Peter Cole

    Peter Cole Guest

    > The rule of thumb that I was taught way back when was that you shouldn't move the bars farther
    > outboard than your shoulder width. The less force you're exerting means less your bike needs
    > to move.

    You can toss the bike violently from side-to-side, or not at all. Obviously the side-to-side
    thrashing is harder on the bike, the argument is that it is more efficient, or produces more power.
    I don't think either are true, but even if they are, under rather rare circumstances, it still isn't
    a good technique for every day riding.

    > You never sprint? At all? Not even to get away from dogs chasing you? Poor guy.

    I can't recall being chased by a dog in several years, don't know why that would elicit sympathy.

    We generally finish our club rides with a sprint, with riders trying to break away from a fast
    pack on a flat stretch. It's mostly done seated. For one thing, if you stand, you generate a lot
    more drag.

    > > It is especially not common on hills, steep or otherwise. The type of
    > pedaling
    > > you describe isn't sustainable for any duration. Unless it's a finish line sprint, it's posing
    > > -- inefficient, dangerous, and hard on the bike.
    >
    > How is it dangerous? This I gotta hear!

    If your chain skips, or your pedal pulls out, it's easy to lose balance and go down if
    you're standing.

    > I know personally, I can climb faster standing even though my HR goes up 10 bpm or so. I tend to
    > alternate in about 100m stretches when I know I'm going to be climbing for a while. Seems to work
    > for me, but it may not for everyone.

    It's very uncommon for cyclists to climb faster standing. Climbing is cardio-vascular limited, and
    standing pedaling is slightly less efficient for most, enough so that the sustained maximum pace is
    a bit less.
     
  14. Bob wrote:

    > I have to disagree. I stand almost 1/3 of my ride, and for every hill. I use a combination of
    > standing and sitting. I used to only sit, but it was because I wasn't in shape to stand. Now, I
    > enjoy standing. I can pedal a larger gear while standing, which makes me go faster. Plus, standing
    > makes me get off the seat and provides me with a different position. Plus, when did my rear
    > derailleur break? When I was sitting going up a hill. From this, I conclude that sitting is bad.

    I agree entirely.

    I don't stand up as much as you when riding, but I do enjoy doing so; on flats or on hills.

    Standing up on tour is a great way to "take a break", stretch the muscles, get a load off, while
    continuing to cover miles. Climbing while standing for me is exactly as you describe: slower cadence
    pushing a higher gear. Get just the right cadence and gear and you move along faster than sitting,
    and quite comfortable once you've done it a bit.

    Neither do I see why banking the bike back and forth while standup pedaling would be especially bad
    for the bike. Perhaps putting more lateral forces on frame (frame weakest in lateral stiffness), but
    a quality bike frame shouldn't be too upset with such forces.

    I highly recommend stand up riding, on flats or hills. Feels good!

    SMH
     
  15. While my experience is more limited than yours, I have riden/owned quite a few bikes, and while I
    agree they can all feel different, I have come to the conclusion that there is no practical effect.
    I don't think light weight, super rigidity, flexibility, different trail distances, shorter or
    longer seatstays, different materials etc... make any practical difference regardring the speed at
    which corners can be negotiated.

    While I doubt such a test has been done, it is my educated guess that bikes of widely varying
    designs, when shod with similar tires, would all corner at so similar a g level that any difference
    would be lost in the noise.

    I would also point out that corners taken at full g's are a rarity (at least when I ride), and that
    total time spent in all corners is so small when compared to total ride length, that even if there
    were a significant if cornering speed (say 2%), it would still be insignifcant in totality.

    The above comments apply only to bikes used on pavement, as, obviously, mountain bikes are a
    different kettle of fish.

    Bob

    On Thu, 17 Apr 2003 16:29:16 GMT, "B. Sanders" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Every spring, I re-learn the handling quirks of my various bikes. I'm somewhat fascinated with bike
    >handling, and I keep at least 8 bikes in my collection, usually more. I have owned 30+ bikes in the
    >past 10 years, mainly for the purpose of experiencing a wide array of basic designs, frame
    >materials, wheel diameters and geometries. I've owned a huge range of bikes, from a sleek M5 low
    >racer recumbent (a wonderful beast) to a full-custom Merlin Ti hardtail, and quite a few dumpster
    >specials as well. They all have their own handling quirks, and all have contributed to my
    >understanding of bike handling factors.
    >
    >Even my favorite bikes feel strange when riding them for the first time in a long while. Little
    >things like stem length, handlebar width, saddle fore-aft position and BB height become starkly
    >apparent. It is only during these reintroductions that I critique the bikes without prejudice, and
    >perceive their handling quirks most readily.
    >
    >A different stem can affect handling noticeably. Adding a longer travel suspension fork is another
    >big factor. Tire size can also noticeably affect handling. MTB's which handle beautifully with 26 x
    >2.0 tires will steer like a cow with skinny 1.2" street slicks mounted. This is because of a change
    >in fork trail due to different tire diameters. Bikes are finely-tuned machines, and these sorts of
    >small changes make a big difference.
    >
    >Of course, the rider can get used to almost anything. We humans are supremely adaptable. So, after
    >a few rides every spring, my body re-adjusts to the quirks of each bike, and my favorites once
    >again emerge. They're usually the same:
    >
    >2000 RANS Rocket SWB recumbent 2001 Klein Attitude Race 199? Bianchi Brava single speed conversion
    >
    >These are all lightweight bikes. Low weight produces a benefit that I call "flickability."
    >Flickability means that the bike responds quickly and effortlessly to tiny side-to-side rider input
    >forces. This becomes most evident in out-of-the-saddle maneuvers. Try riding a heavy bike
    >out-of-the-saddle, and then a light bike, and you'll see what I mean. I believe this is the reason
    >that light bikes feel faster, and may actually be faster. If you rode a heavy bike with minimal
    >side-to-side movement, and then a light bike, all other factors being equal there should be little
    >difference in achievable speeds; but that isn't how riders ride. Side-to-side movement is a large
    >part of upright bike handling, even while riding in a straight line.
    >
    >I do think that while lightness is a factor, it isn't important to have the very lightest bike. In
    >fact, I think bikes can be too light. Certainly, there is a point of rapidly diminishing returns
    >where reliability and price run in opposite directions very quickly. For the vast majority of
    >riders, a "light enough" bike is preferable to a "stupid light" race-only megabucks machine.
    >
    >What are your thoughts on the topic of bike handling factors?
    >
    >-Barry
     
  16. Terry Morse

    Terry Morse Guest

    Peter Cole wrote:

    > B. Sanders" wrote:
    > > This is especially important while climbing steep hills. Try climbing a steep hill without using
    > > your upper body, and keep the bike from moving side-to-side. Then try it again using your upper
    > > body and allowing the bike to move freely. I can almost guarantee that you'll see a speed
    > > increase with the latter technique. This might explain why it is so common.
    >
    > It is especially not common on hills, steep or otherwise. The type of pedaling you describe isn't
    > sustainable for any duration. Unless it's a finish line sprint, it's posing -- inefficient,
    > dangerous, and hard on the bike.

    There is not much upper body effort required, but one moves the bike naturally from side to side
    when standing to counteract the torque of the pedals that would otherwise tend to tip the bike
    over. Using arm muscles to force the bike to stay upright is possible, but uncomfortable and
    inefficient. All experienced riders tip the bike when pedaling off the saddle, using only a tiny
    amount of arm force.
    --
    terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://www.terrymorse.com/bike/
     
  17. Mike S.

    Mike S. Guest

    "Peter Cole" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:D[email protected]...
    > > The rule of thumb that I was taught way back when was that you
    shouldn't
    > > move the bars farther outboard than your shoulder width. The less force you're exerting means
    > > less your bike needs to move.
    >
    > You can toss the bike violently from side-to-side, or not at all.
    Obviously
    > the side-to-side thrashing is harder on the bike, the argument is that it
    is
    > more efficient, or produces more power. I don't think either are true, but even if they are, under
    > rather rare circumstances, it still isn't a good technique for every day riding.
    >
    > > You never sprint? At all? Not even to get away from dogs chasing you? Poor guy.

    Sprinting is one of the things I love about cycling. The speed, the power, the rush, the sense of
    accomplishment when you're done. Just riding along (JRA) doesn't have nearly the same effect. I
    understand that not everyone is like me, so YMMV when it comes to enjoying sprinting. But just like
    green eggs and ham, try it, you may like it!

    >
    > I can't recall being chased by a dog in several years, don't know why that would elicit sympathy.
    >
    > We generally finish our club rides with a sprint, with riders trying to
    break
    > away from a fast pack on a flat stretch. It's mostly done seated. For one thing, if you stand, you
    > generate a lot more drag.
    >

    Hmmm, the SDBC ride here in San Diego does about the same thing, but is always won by a guy
    standing up sprinting for the last 50-100m. Towards the late spring/summer, I'm actually one of the
    ones up there sprinting "for the win." You ever see Cipollini take an all out sprint seated? He
    gets the big tow to the line seated, but for that last explosive burst to the line, nothing beats
    the standing sprint.

    > > > It is especially not common on hills, steep or otherwise. The type of
    > > pedaling
    > > > you describe isn't sustainable for any duration. Unless it's a finish
    line
    > > > sprint, it's posing -- inefficient, dangerous, and hard on the bike.
    > >
    > > How is it dangerous? This I gotta hear!
    >
    > If your chain skips, or your pedal pulls out, it's easy to lose balance
    and go
    > down if you're standing.
    >
    ...and when was the last time that happened to you? A chain skipping isn't going to cause a crash
    unless you're completely "equilibriumly challenged." Basic maintenence takes care of the rest...

    Hell, you might as well worry about some idiot in a car hitting you if you're worried about a chain
    skipping or a pedal falling out. In the likelihood category, both occurences are very rare for a
    decently maintained bike.

    > > I know personally, I can climb faster standing even though my HR goes up
    10
    > > bpm or so. I tend to alternate in about 100m stretches when I know I'm going to be climbing for
    > > a while. Seems to work for me, but it may not
    for
    > > everyone.
    >
    > It's very uncommon for cyclists to climb faster standing. Climbing is cardio-vascular limited, and
    > standing pedaling is slightly less efficient
    for
    > most, enough so that the sustained maximum pace is a bit less.
     
  18. Buck

    Buck Guest

    "Mike S." <[email protected]> wrote in message news:Gb3oa.1592 <snip>
    > > If your chain skips, or your pedal pulls out, it's easy to lose balance
    > and go
    > > down if you're standing.
    > >
    > ...and when was the last time that happened to you? A chain skipping
    isn't
    > going to cause a crash unless you're completely "equilibriumly
    challenged."
    > Basic maintenence takes care of the rest...
    >
    > Hell, you might as well worry about some idiot in a car hitting you if you're worried about a
    > chain skipping or a pedal falling out. In the likelihood category, both occurences are very rare
    > for a decently
    maintained
    > bike.

    Count me among the "equilibrium challenged." The *last* time I stood up to accellerate it was from a
    dead stop at a stop light. The light changed, I stood up and started pushing a big gear, I made it
    to the middle of the intersection, the chain skipped, I went over the bars. The bike had just been
    through a full overhaul, so I'm not sure what happened. It never happened before and it hasn't
    happened since.

    -Buck
     
  19. Eric Bazan

    Eric Bazan Guest

    > > > > Of course the most of the weight is the rider, but the weight of the bike can affect
    > > > > handling. When you are sprinting or climbing hard standing on the pedals, do you move the
    > > > > bike from side to side with the bars?
    > > >
    > > > No, it's not necessary, and it's hard on the bike.
    > >
    > > I'm afraid that is quite wrong. Sprinters use their whole body to power the bike forward.
    >
    > I'm not a sprinter, just a bicycle rider.
    >
    > > This necessitates swinging the bike from side to side, transferring force exerted by the arms
    > > and upper torso into extra downward force against the pedals.
    >
    > The upper body can be used to provide force greater than body weight when standing on the pedals.
    > That doesn't require a lot of bike thrashing.
    >
    >
    > > This is especially important while climbing steep hills. Try climbing a steep hill without using
    > > your upper body, and keep the bike from moving side-to-side. Then try it again using your upper
    > > body and allowing the bike to move freely. I can almost guarantee that you'll see a speed
    > > increase with the latter technique. This might explain why it is so common.
    >
    > It is especially not common on hills, steep or otherwise. The type of pedaling you describe isn't
    > sustainable for any duration. Unless it's a finish line sprint, it's posing -- inefficient,
    > dangerous, and hard on the bike.
    >
    > http://www.sheldonbrown.com/standing.html

    Disagree. Standing is just a different style, that's all. I'm not going to say it's more efficient
    or faster, but it's a valid technique and appropriate at times.

    For short city rides (< 10 miles) I stand frequently; there have been times (raining, no fenders)
    when I've traveled the entire distance without sitting down once. When done properly standing uses
    very little upper body - just enough to move the bike from side to side and get your weight over the
    pedal. You've got to feel it. My style is very fluid, and I can't believe it's hard on the bike. I'm
    not talking about sprinting here.

    I can't imagine going for a long ride without standing from time to time. Standing allows one to
    stretch and use different muscle groups. Standing allows one to get some circulation to the derrier
    (no ED here, lol). Standing while going up hills makes it possible to push a bigger gear and use a
    lower cadence. Standing is the best form of shock absorption on a rigid bike - I'd rather take big
    hits and bumpy roads on my hands and feet as opposed to my ass. Small hills (rollers) can most
    definitely be taken quicker while standing and sprinting, IMO. On longer hills I'll alternate
    between standing and sitting.

    Not to mention things like trail riding, jumping and curb hopping, which all benefit from being
    comfortable while standing on bike.

    Not to be rude, but as Jobst often says you sound like someone who starting cycling seriously in
    middle age. Posing? Speak for yourself.

    -Eric B
     
  20. Eric Bazan

    Eric Bazan Guest

    "B. Sanders" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > Every spring, I re-learn the handling quirks of my various bikes. I'm somewhat fascinated with
    > bike handling, and I keep at least 8 bikes in my collection, usually more. I have owned 30+ bikes
    > in the past 10 years, mainly for the purpose of experiencing a wide array of basic designs, frame
    > materials, wheel diameters and geometries. I've owned a huge range of bikes, from a sleek M5 low
    > racer recumbent (a wonderful beast) to a full-custom Merlin Ti hardtail, and quite a few dumpster
    > specials as well. They all have their own handling quirks, and all have contributed to my
    > understanding of bike handling factors.
    >
    (...)

    Nice post. I too have owned many bikes, just not at the same time. ;-) Probably at least a dozen or
    so. This winter my last bike, which I'd owned for six years and put at least 50K miles on, got
    stolen (a giant iguana).

    I've been out of the game for a while, so I was saddened when I finally got around to looking for
    another bike. Where have all the cheap steel bikes gone? All the low to mid-range bikes now seem to
    made of aluminum. There's a very large bicycle dealer where I live (budget bicycle center, madison,
    wi). They have several shops in a small area, including a rather large warehouse full of used bikes.
    An overwhelming number of used bikes.

    They allow you to test ride a bike before you buy it, which is essential IMO. It's amazing because
    you can look at a bike all day, but you've got to ride it to really know how it's going to handle
    and feel. For this reason I'll never buy any bike unless I can ride it first. I probably tried
    about six bikes before I chose one, and test riding one after another really made the differences
    in handling obvious. Subtle, almost unnoticable variances in geometry really make a tremendous
    difference in how a bike handles. I don't claim to be able to quantify these things, but I know
    what I like.

    I agree that one can learn to accomodate any bike, and usually the one that feels best of the one
    you are used to riding. I'd have to disagree if you think a light bike really makes you any faster.
    I'd rather have a stiff no nonsense frame that I know is going to last, even if it's heavy. The bike
    I ended up getting is on the heavy side (30+ pounds) but feels very light underfoot. The frame is
    heavy but stout.

    I'm a believer in cheap used bikes. There are legions of good used bikes which need new owners.

    -Eric B

    Regards, Eric B
     
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