When does the ride get TOO comfortable?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by AyeYo, Aug 8, 2014.

  1. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    My first road bike was full carbon with carbon fork/steerer/seat post (Felt Z5) so for awhile I didn't have much of a frame of reference. I went carbon because the guys at the LBS kept talking about the superior ride quality, plus in the price range I was looking at there weren't any aluminum bikes in the shop anyway. Fast foward to today and I now also have an aluminum Scott and spent a week on a CAAD10 during vacation this year. NOW I can feel the difference, but I'm not sure I like it. I also recently purchased an FSA K-Force carbon bar for the Z5. I got it mostly as a bling upgrade because Nashbar had it on sale so cheap, but also for the better shape vs the stock bar. I figured the vibration/buzz dampening was just hype, so that wasn't factored into the purchase. After installing the bar and going on a few rides, can I safely say it is not hype and I have never ridden such a dead feeling bike. Sure it's perfectly smooth and comfortable, so smooth and comfortable there's absolutely zero road feel.

    To me, what people and magazines/reviewers describe as "vibration" and "buzz" is actually road feel. Now that I've felt the difference, I'm starting to wonder why you'd want to dampen this out on a road bike. Certainly a car with better road isolation is more comfortable, but feed back and road feel are far more important than comfort when driving fast, and I think the same applies to riding fast. The CAAD10 and Scott CX resonate every grain of the road surface into your body, but that makes them feel alive, sharp, and connected. I feel no more fatigued because of it either.

    So when does all this carbon everything and squishy frame insert non-sense become too much? At what point are people going to start thinking that maybe it's good to feel the surface you're riding over and what the tires are telling you about their level of grip remaining? Anyone else have similar thoughts?
     
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  2. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    I tend to agree. My idea of an endurance bike is is to take a standard road bike and make the stays a little longer and the tires a little fatter. A little feedback tells me what kind of contact the tires are having with the ground.

    Then there all of those riders with Roubaixes and Domanes, who would love to argue with us, so I keep it to myself.
     
  3. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    When you get near the limit of your tires grip, you'll know about it. Most people get nowhere near that limit so on a well designed frame the ride will appear uneventful just because the frame is that good. It's designed to be uneventful - so it's just doing its job. The end result is that you're more relaxed, pushing harder than you previously cared to do and still aren't at the limits of what the bike has to offer. A well designed and well fitting frame will remove all the superfluous garbage and just leave you with the thrill of the ride. I suggest you go faster...

    A few years ago, Carbonframes made a funky bamboo bike. They did a test on how compliance (squishy nonsense) helped riders in the long term on very long endurance rides. IIRC, it really did help.

    I sold the K-Force bars that came with my Cannondale Hi-Mod (it was the team issue bike in 2010) as they were to wide. One of the few bike purchases I regret was not replacing them with a narrower version of the K-Force bars and instead buying something else... Ace bars.
     
  4. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    I just bought a new aluminum frame. It took 50 miles before I was comfortable on it. There was just too little stability when I put a lot of power down. But I got used to it.

    tire grip. I don't ride on the edge. I am much smarter than that now. Just watch the pros in races. They fall down a lot. And they have a lot more skill (and ride on much cleaner roads) than anyone you might talk to about tire grip.

    Unless someone is paying you to ride don't ride with the guys who think they are good.
     
  5. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    I haven't gone down since the early '80s so I'm either doing something right or I'm not pushing hard enough. At 62 my bones are getting brittle, but I don't like to wear out brake pads, either. Sharing the road with other users slows me down, too.

    Personally, I don't like "plush" (Roubaix, Domane, Solace, etc.) but I'm not crazy about coal carts. A Scott Foil is a coal cart. I loved the handling, feedback, and fit, but it would beat me up as an all-day all-roads ride. Maybe with 26mm tubulars would work for me. Somewhere in the middle is just right. Exactly where depends on the road where you do most of your riding and the rest of the bike.

    And a patch of rough pavement, water, or gravel can change a bike's cornering limits pretty darned fast. I had to back off coming down Middle St. Vrain Canyon today because it was raining and there's still damage from last fall's flood.

    Sometimes you feel it before you see it.
     
  6. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    That's exactly my point. Any vehicle is going to give feedback at the point at which the tires finally break traction and slide. The ideal situation is getting good feedback prior to that point so you can feel it coming. I feel like that feedback is even more important on a bike because of how thin the edge and abrupt the transition is between traction and broken traction. This especially important during wet weather riding when you're far more likely to be near the limit just riding at your normal pace.

    Like you, I don't really push it in the corners anyway because there's always a plethora of mid-corner potholes, cracks, gravel, sand, water, glass, wildlife, joggers, etc. It's just not worth it.
     
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