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Old 04-21-11, 12:47 PM   #1
RonH
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Specialized vs Litespeed --- No, not what you think.

I bonded with my 2001 Litespeed Tuscany (all Ultegra) during the summer of 2003. It has 53/39 chainrings and an 11-23 nine speed cassette.
I got my 2011 Specialized Tarmac Elite (SRAM Apex) 4 months ago. It has 52/36 chainrings and an 11-28 ten speed cassette.
I've set up both bikes so they are almost identical (saddle to handlebar, saddle to center of crank, knee over pedal axle, etc.).
When I do my typical 35 mile ride on the Litespeed I come home refreshed.
The Specialized is lighter and has more gears but when I do the same route on the Specialized I come home whipped.
My average speed for both rides is the same.
Seems to me both rides should be about the same or maybe I should be less tired after the Specialized ride.

What am I missing?
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Old 04-21-11, 01:17 PM   #2
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RonH, Possibly the middle gears of the cassette aren't as ideal on the Specialized as with the Litespeed WRT your effort/speed/cadence. I am guessing that the frame is also stiffer on the Specialized, drop to about 85% of max pressure in the tires.

It's really hard to get two bikes to fit exactly the same when taking into account differences like handlebars, stems, crankarm length (maybe), geometries, wheelsets and so on. You'll have to tinker with the Specialized to get it to fit you and don't worry about deviations from the Litespeed's set-up.

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Old 04-21-11, 01:45 PM   #3
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Are you running the same tires on both bikes? Perhaps the tires on the specialized bike have more rolling resistance?
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Old 04-21-11, 02:23 PM   #4
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I have the TCR-C and the Boreas Ignis. Both bikes are now identical on fit but that did take a lot of juggling. Till recently they both had compact 50/34 fitted and 12/27 cassette. Although wheels were different they both have Mich PR2/3 tyres in 23 running at the same pressure. Weekend runs and it is whichever comes out of the rafters first. They ride the same- but if the ride is going to take in more hills- then I will use the TCR. It seems to climb better. Extra milage and it will be Boreas. It is more comfy and less fatigueing up to a Metric.

I know the frames are different materials but both have near identical components. Few changes here and there and they both feel the same on rides. The thing that gets me is that of the two materials- CF and aluminium- I would have expected Boreas to give a harsh ride. It doesn't. And I got the TCR-C expecting to have a compliant ride. It didn't till I finally got it sorted.

Doesn't bother me as I ride both and enjoy both. Think it would be pointlessif I had two bikes that felt identical. As it is I have a particular bike for a particular type of ride.
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Old 04-21-11, 02:55 PM   #5
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My 1996 Litespeed Classic is smooth,fast and light, so much, that I don't ride it!! The thing feels like I am riding on air and gliding. I ride my old vintage bikes, where I get some feel. They are heavier, I have to put some effort into shifting, no where near as smooth as the Litespeed, however, they got something the Litespeed don't have..What is it? Can't put my finger on it, but it is there!!

My choice for both of your bikes would be to throw a vintage bike in there, something like a Paramount, Raleigh Professional, etc.. and see what gives...
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Old 04-21-11, 03:05 PM   #6
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Some bikes work with you, some work against you. Looks like you've figured out which does which.

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Old 04-21-11, 06:30 PM   #7
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Thanks for your input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
RonH, Possibly the middle gears of the cassette aren't as ideal on the Specialized as with the Litespeed WRT your effort/speed/cadence. I am guessing that the frame is also stiffer on the Specialized, drop to about 85% of max pressure in the tires.
The Litespeed cassette is 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23.
The Specialized cassette is 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-28.
I'll try the tire pressure tip. The Specialized has Specialized brand tires (that came on the bike) and they recommend 120-125 psi. Sometimes the ride feels rough.
The Litespeed has Conti GP 4 Season tires. I run them at 110-115 psi.

I've been playing with the fit and setup since I got the Specialized. I'll keep playing with it and see what happens. When the Specialized tires wear out I'm replacing them with a pair of Conti GP4000 that I have in the shed. Perhaps that will help.
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Old 04-21-11, 06:34 PM   #8
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Could be tires if the crank arms are the same length.
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Old 04-21-11, 07:14 PM   #9
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My experience is the same.

I have too main rides, the Simoncini (mid 90's vintage steel lugged frame with Campy compact chorus) and the Tarmac Expert, Ultegra. It took me a long time to get the fit right on the Tarmac but it is pretty good now. I am about the same speed on the Simoncini as I am on the Tarmac for normal riding over rolling terrain, even though the Tarmac has better tires & wheels and is 2lbs lighter. Climbing and the Tarmac wins. The rides on these two bikes is subtly different. The Tarmac is precise, carves a turn and goes like scalded dog down hills - it is stable as rock. The Simoncini has a tiny bit more play, a little softer ride and takes a little finesse on a high speed descent. The Tarmac does tend to beat me up over the long haul. I tend to feel more exhausted after a long ride on it. I suspect it is a lot of things including what I expect from myself when riding the two bikes. On the Tarmac I am looking for fast averages and rapid accelerations, on the Simoncini I am looking for good speed over the long haul.

Like you, I am not sure the real reason and I have given up trying to figure it out but I can tell you that if I sold a bike it would be the Tarmac, no way would I part with the Simoncini.
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Old 04-21-11, 07:44 PM   #10
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Try changing the cassettes and swapping the wheelsets between the bikes?
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Old 04-21-11, 10:01 PM   #11
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You don't say whether you mean whipped in the sense of beat up, or whipped in the sense of fatigued. Big difference between the two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RonH View Post
I'll try the tire pressure tip. The Specialized has Specialized brand tires (that came on the bike) and they recommend 120-125 psi. Sometimes the ride feels rough.
The Litespeed has Conti GP 4 Season tires. I run them at 110-115 psi.
I run 25mm Conti GP 4 Seasons on my 1996 Litespeed Classic. I've been running 70/80 PSI F/R without any sort of trouble since I got it a year ago. (I run the same on my 1999 Schwinn Peloton, and my 2000 Trek 1000.) I weigh 170-175. I arrived at these figures using the recommendations in PSI Rx.
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Old 04-22-11, 06:44 AM   #12
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Try changing the cassettes...
Why? The cassettes are identical except for the largest cogs, which I never use.
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Old 04-22-11, 06:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
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You don't say whether you mean whipped in the sense of beat up, or whipped in the sense of fatigued. Big difference between the two.

I arrived at these figures using the recommendations in PSI Rx.
I mean fatigued.
The PSI link had some interesting info. Thanks. I'll try different psi on both bikes to see what works best.
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Old 04-22-11, 04:18 PM   #14
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I mean fatigued.
Doubling my fleet last year from two to four, I had a heck of a time getting the bikes set up the same. While all four fall broadly in the "road bike" category, they're all different geometries. In the process of getting things sorted out, I paid a lot of attention to which muscles in my legs were being used. It was different on every bike. This was the cause of the fatigue I'd feel after seemingly normal rides on one of the new bikes.

It all went back to saddle position. I found that measuring from the center of the crank to the saddle top wasn't the definitive measurement for me. I had to start with saddle setback--the horizontal distance from the nose of the saddle to the center of the cranks. It differs due to different seat tube angles and the amount of setback in the seatposts. Drop a plumb bob from the nose of the saddle and measure forward from the plumb line to the center of the cranks.

All four of my bikes had a different measurement, even though they all had the same saddle height from the cranks. This was causing my legs to work differently on each bike. I'd work one set of muscles on one bike, and an entirely different set on another. Some overlapped.

I took the bike I liked best and readjusted the saddle fore/aft position on the other three bikes to match. Then, keeping the fore/aft position the same (it changes with saddle height) I re-set the saddle height of each bike. Once that was right, I redid the reach to the bars and saddle to bars drop.

Bingo! All problems solved. For me, the saddle fore/aft position--relative to the crank--was crucial.

Last edited by tsl; 04-22-11 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 04-22-11, 05:13 PM   #15
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That is supposing the saddles have identical dimensions, or are the same on both bikes. But otherwise, the logic is sound in how you'd do the set-up, tsl.

RonH, I haven't run tyres above 90-95 psi for years. You learn that on randonnees, anything on 23C tyres over 100psi (or even 95psi in my case) will beat up your butt even with a Brooks saddle.

However, if you are used to running higher pressures, that shouldn't be the issue in the comparison between the two bikes.

Are you running the same saddle on each bike? Same rail material, same padding, etc? If not, maybe swap saddle between bikes temporarily to see if that has an effect.

Swap over the wheels as suggested by billydonn as another starting point. That will determine if they have an influence on ride quality.

Set up each bike against a wall, and position yourself (by leaning against the wall with your shoulder) in the same position you would have on the road. Have someone take a picture, then analyse the two shots side by side on your computer to determine just what subtle differences there are in your position that may be stressing your body on the uncomfortable bike.

If that doesn't shake anything out of the tree, you might just have to resign yourself to the fact that the geometry that doesn't influence fit, and the materialsmay make the Tarmac ride more harshly.

When I was investigating my Merlin C110 as my first CF bike, I asked on the road forum if anyone had owned one. I got a reply from a poster who said yes, but he found the ride a little harsher than he liked and he had acquired another "softer" CF frame to replace it.

I took that advice on board, and indeed, I have found the Merlin to be harsher than, say, my old steel-framed Shogun 400 converted to fixed gear. I have yet to build up my new Ti Hasa/Saga frame, but am aniticipating it to be my go-to road and randonnee bike because I expect it to be less harsh than the CF frame.
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Old 04-22-11, 08:53 PM   #16
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That is supposing the saddles have identical dimensions, or are the same on both bikes. But otherwise, the logic is sound in how you'd do the set-up, tsl.
Absolutely, Rowan, and thanks for clearing up my oversight.

I already had similar, although not identical, saddles on each bike. The core dimensions are the same, but the shapes are a little different as I experiment. I need a narrow "ass hatchet" saddle to go with my narrow ass, which puts me into racing saddles, which are all governed by the UCI to nearly identical lengths. This caused me to overlook the matter.

EDIT: I recently came across the Park Tool Road Positioning Chart. It's a convenient way to record all the fit and positioning details of the bikes, in order to transfer the measurements to other bikes. Scroll down the page for methodology. On the chart, it's measurement "E" that makes a world of difference for me.

In terms of bike setup, A and E interact, so I work those out first. Then I do D, saddle tilt. Next I set the reach, C, and finally bar height, B.

One measurement the Park chart misses is reach of the bars themselves, or the distance from the centerline of the bar tops forward to the hoods.

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Old 04-22-11, 09:03 PM   #17
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I am not sure yet, but I am experimenting with crank lengths to see how much influence they might have in relation to saddle position and ride comfort. I went from 175s to 170s several years ago on most of my bikes, but have reverted to 175s on the new Santana tandem. RonH hasn't mentioned anything about crank length, so I am presuming they are the same length. If not, there might be something there, too.

I know I got caught out a little when putting a new Brooks on Machka's old Giant OCR3 the other day, and took the saddle height measurement from the BB spindle rather than from the crank at BDC. The cranks were 175 compared to 170 on her other road bike. It made a significent difference to her fit.

The Brooks saddles also highlight the need to take measurements from the compression point when seated rather than unloaded (if you know what I mean). The same applies to padded saddles. I remember a woman rider who had trouble getting comfortable on a bike until she found out the foam in her favourite saddle had basically collapsed on one side and was making her ride crooked.
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Old 04-22-11, 09:17 PM   #18
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Why? The cassettes are identical except for the largest cogs, which I never use.
I thought you said one bike was 9 and the other 10 speed... so the cassette swap would be necessary to swap the wheels.

My main idea was to swap the wheelsets between the bikes in interest in determining if wheel/tire differences were responsible for bike performance differences.
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Old 05-01-11, 01:55 PM   #19
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My last few rides have been with lower psi. Much better. Thanks for the info.
I was still fatigued after yesterday's ride and I think much of the problem comes from the handlebars. They're Specialized Comp Ergo flat top bars. The flat place is supposed to be restful but not for me. And if the bars are swiveled slightly so the flat part isn't just right, it isn't comfortable.
The handlebar on my Litespeed is a 25.4 mm round bar.
I ordered a standard round handlebar (Easton EA50) and will let you know if it solves the problem.

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Old 05-01-11, 07:48 PM   #20
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I ordered a standard round handlebar (Easton EA50) and will let you know if it solves the problem.

Lemme know how these bars measure up. I just put these bars on my Portland. Ordered 42cm like on everything else. They do measure 42cm across the tails, however across the hood, they measure 39cm. At first I was dismayed, but I'm finding I like it narrower. Just wondering if I got a weird one, or if they're all like that.
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