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  1. #1
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Foldies vs Roadies

    I always know that roadies are faster than foldies and recently orgz a comparision ride. The fastest foldie I have, the Dahon Speed Pro vs 3 roadies. 9 of my Dahon Club riders (all SP and one MU P8) joined in as well. This was for a 4.5km sprint on a relatively flat road with some very slight descents & climbs.

    2 of our strongest riders manage to keep up with the roadies at 35-40kmh. I max 51kmh on the slight down slope on Schwalbe Marathon tires (not as good as Stelvios for sprints expectedly). At the finishing point, #1 roadie (Ridley Carbon ridden by a young 23 yo guy) was 20 secs ahead of #1 SP. #2 position was another roadie with #2SP just at its heels. #3 roadie was in the middle of the pack.

    So in this rough shootout test, roadies are indeed faster as expected. In another race over 160km (with the same rider), the difference is even greater - abt 10%. Would this be your experience as well?

    http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2008...shoot-out.html
    Last edited by OldiesONfoldies; 08-04-08 at 09:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldiesONfoldies View Post
    I always know that roadies are faster than foldies and recently orgz a comparision ride. The fastest foldie I have, the Dahon Speed Pro vs 3 roadies. 9 of my Dahon Club riders (all SP and one MU P8) joined in as well. This was for a 4.5km sprint on a relatively flat road with some very slight descents & climbs.

    2 of our strongest riders manage to keep up with the roadies at 35-40kmh. I max 51kmh on the slight down slope on Schwalbe Marathon tires (not as good as Stelvios for sprints expectedly). At the finishing point, #1 roadie (Ridley Carbon ridden by a young 23 yo guy) was 20 secs ahead of #1 SP. #2 position was another roadie with #2SP just at its heels. #3 roadie was in the middle of the pack.

    So in this rough shootout test, roadies are indeed faster as expected. In another race over 160km, the difference is even greater - abt 10%. Would this be your experience as well?

    http://lovethefold.blogspot.com/2008...shoot-out.html
    OldOne, maybe next time convince the riders to switch steeds... for the sprint.. then you could average the results and draw additional conclusions..

  3. #3
    jur
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    +1

    By having different riders riding different bikes, you are changing more than 1 thing so the conclusion is muddled.

    Plus it is important that all drive trains are optimally cleaned, lubed and adjusted, so that they don't schew the results. It will be difficult to have a strong conclusion.

    I wouldn't call it 10% though. I would call it 1 or 2%, as by my experience my Swift is about 5-10% faster than my R20, but indistinguishable from a roadie I had. This assumes that in both cases, ie roadie & folder, you can aero tuck down equally to eliminate wind resistance from the equation as much as possible.
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  4. #4
    Small wheels ARE better! OldiesONfoldies's Avatar
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    Good points esp abt switching steeds. The aero riding position does make a lot of difference esp after 30kmh in my opinion.

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    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    If the test was able to have all the riders with the same ability then a correctly geared Moulton, Bike Friday or Swift should be very close to a full sized roadie.

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    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevegor View Post
    If the test was able to have all the riders with the same ability then a correctly geared Moulton, Bike Friday or Swift should be very close to a full sized roadie.
    Ah, but there's still a significant weight difference between the Moulton and a good roadie. Even the New Series Moulton is about 22 lbs, a good roadie nowadays is 16, 17 lbs. That may not be significant on the flats, but in the hills (which is hard to avoid around my area) it is a big disadvantage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    Ah, but there's still a significant weight difference between the Moulton and a good roadie. Even the New Series Moulton is about 22 lbs, a good roadie nowadays is 16, 17 lbs. That may not be significant on the flats, but in the hills (which is hard to avoid around my area) it is a big disadvantage.
    I thought smaller wheels fare better on hills, am I misinformed?

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    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffy1021 View Post
    I thought smaller wheels fare better on hills, am I misinformed?
    If everything else is equal, I agree that smaller wheels are better for hills, as they spin up faster. I actually have a 17 lb 20" folder, and it's very good for climbing.

    However, my earlier statement in this thread is that a heavier bike is a disadvantage on the hills.

  9. #9
    jur
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffy1021 View Post
    I thought smaller wheels fare better on hills, am I misinformed?
    There is some misinformation out there about smaller wheels climbing better. Some howlers out there:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Friday
    Small wheels climb better due to a smaller diameter that needs to be rotated.
    -I have NO idea what this is supposed to mean in physics terms.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 Olympic Men's Road Race Gold Medal winner, Alexi Grewal
    Tests have shown that up to 16 mp/h, the small wheel is more efficient that a big wheel. Between 16 and 33 mp/h there is little difference. Over 33 mp/h the gyroscopic effect of the big wheel makes it more effective. Most folks do not go over 33 mp/h.
    -"Tests?" What "tests?" Show me the money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Moore, professional bike mechanic at Abbotsford Cycles
    Reducing the weight of rotating parts, especially wheels, is doubly useful, as you effectively have to lift them up twice!
    *awoooooo hoooooowl*
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  10. #10
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffy1021 View Post
    I thought smaller wheels fare better on hills, am I misinformed?
    For whatever this is worth, my 20" wheels skip off the pavement on steep hills unless I stand to pedal. My 700c wheels don't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceMetras View Post
    OldOne, maybe next time convince the riders to switch steeds... for the sprint.. then you could average the results and draw additional conclusions..
    +1 brilliant point! Then some truths would be revealed. Need similar conditions on the day too.

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    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    Ah, but there's still a significant weight difference between the Moulton and a good roadie. Even the New Series Moulton is about 22 lbs, a good roadie nowadays is 16, 17 lbs. That may not be significant on the flats, but in the hills (which is hard to avoid around my area) it is a big disadvantage.

    Ok then, I wonder if you had a folder and a roadie at exactly the same weight, with 2 riders of exactly the same weight and ability if there would be any difference on the flats, climbing, descending and sprinting?

  13. #13
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevegor View Post
    Ok then, I wonder if you had a folder and a roadie at exactly the same weight, with 2 riders of exactly the same weight and ability if there would be any difference on the flats, climbing, descending and sprinting?
    I actually have this situation. My black Fuji Team Issue is a carbon fiber 17lb bike with full Dura Ace drivetrain. My Dahon XX Anniversary Helios is also right around 17 lbs.

    They're both excellent bikes and fun to ride. I have not done "scientific" tests on them for performance difference, but here are my anecdotal and honest thought about their differences:

    - Flats - Probably very little difference. Although, I feel that 700C wheels roll more efficiently at higher speeds due to the higher angular momentum. Also, the Dahon's top gearing was around 95 gear inches with its stock setup, so it was a little disadvantaged when the paceline is going faster than 25mph or so. But, that is easily remedied.

    - Climbing - As I said earlier, I actually do believe that smaller wheels are better for climbing,due to the fact that it spins up faster. My Rolf wheelset on the Dahon weighs 995 grams (!), the Easton wheelset on the Fuji weighs 1550g. Factor in the angular momentum impact and one can certainly see how it is harder to spin up the big wheels.

    - Descending - I definitely feel more stable on the 700C wheels than the 406's. Maybe it's just my poor riding skills, though ..

    - Sprinting - The Fuji wins again, I'm afraid. The hinges at the handlebar and mid-frame take a significant toll on rigidity when stomping on the pedals and pulling on the 'bars. There's no way around it. On a one-piece full size frame, it's a very confident feeling when I stand and pull on the bars. On the Dahon, particularly the Helios design, I just cannot pull as hard.

    I have been on a two year search for a "portable roadie" - a folder than can keep me in the hunt on my weekend rides with the group. However, I have abandoned that idea because I simply have not been able to find one. That's why I put the Dahon up for sale and it is on its way to a new home. Maybe the Moulton TSR will come close, but it will weigh 24lbs.

    Don't mean to start any wars here, just noting my honest observations about the bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffy1021 View Post
    I thought smaller wheels fare better on hills, am I misinformed?
    That's a half-truth that comes from the assumption that smaller wheels will always be lighter, but due to lack of engineering or just plain economics smaller wheels rarely achieve this potential. For example, in theory smaller wheels should be able to use fewer spokes, but in practice they never seem to be built that way because standard spoke placement, thicknesses, angles, alloys, etc have all evolved to be optimal for larger wheels and, thus, need to be relatively overbuilt when shoehorned onto small wheel designs (killing any advantage). That's not to say that there aren't small wheeled bikes being built with low spoke counts, it's just that for a given strength it seems that smaller wheels need to use more spokes than they would if optimally designed components were available.

    Since the economics of the situation dictates that no manufacturer will custom engineer anything sufficiently close to what is available off the shelf, you have to look to radically different designs to see the effect. For example, an inline speed skater can usually beat the pants off a roadie in sprints or going up hills and, although the mechanics of skating are not as well understood as cycling, due to their re-engineering, inline skate wheels probably exhibit all the purported advantages of smaller wheels.

    That's one of the things I find so interesting about being an engineer (albeit not a mechanical one): To engineer a superior product one must engineer a trojan horse that can not only trump existing products, but also weave its way past the status quo. In my opinion, small wheel racing designs have thus far failed to achieve this goal (though I would contend that the 8" wheeled Carryme from Pacific Cycles will blow any other commuter bike out of the water in terms of getting up to speed or going up hills with the minimal amount of effort).

    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Friday
    Small wheels climb better due to a smaller diameter that needs to be rotated.
    -I have NO idea what this is supposed to mean in physics terms.
    I'm pretty sure they're trying to refer to the rotational inertia, but you can file this under the "don't you have to pedal more?" myth about small wheels because once you account for the higher gearing (and subsequent wheel spinning) the inertia is the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 Olympic Men's Road Race Gold Medal winner, Alexi Grewal
    Tests have shown that up to 16 mp/h, the small wheel is more efficient that a big wheel. Between 16 and 33 mp/h there is little difference. Over 33 mp/h the gyroscopic effect of the big wheel makes it more effective. Most folks do not go over 33 mp/h.
    -"Tests?" What "tests?" Show me the money.
    I agree, unless he's referring to the (very difficult to measure) energy expended steering the bike it's hard to see how the gyroscopic effect could come into play (which, by the way, Jobst Brandt has argued is negligible compared to the qualitatively similar affect of fork trail).

    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Moore, professional bike mechanic at Abbotsford Cycles
    Reducing the weight of rotating parts, especially wheels, is doubly useful, as you effectively have to lift them up twice!
    *awoooooo hoooooowl*
    Well, don't you agree that, neglecting surface friction, it requires twice as much energy to roll a wheel than slide it? Granted, "lift" is a bit misleading as gravity doesn't pull any harder on a rotating mass than a stationary one, but going over a hill is a longer distance than tunneling through it.

    Quote Originally Posted by stevegor View Post
    Ok then, I wonder if you had a folder and a roadie at exactly the same weight, with 2 riders of exactly the same weight and ability if there would be any difference on the flats, climbing, descending and sprinting?
    Even two different road bikes of different design, but equal weight, are not guaranteed to perform exactly the same. There are too many other variables. The biomechanics of cycling is more complicated than most like to admit.
    Last edited by makeinu; 08-06-08 at 09:41 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    I actually have this situation. My black Fuji Team Issue is a carbon fiber 17lb bike with full Dura Ace drivetrain. My Dahon XX Anniversary Helios is also right around 17 lbs.

    They're both excellent bikes and fun to ride. I have not done "scientific" tests on them for performance difference, but here are my anecdotal and honest thought about their differences:

    - Flats - Probably very little difference. Although, I feel that 700C wheels roll more efficiently at higher speeds due to the higher angular momentum. Also, the Dahon's top gearing was around 95 gear inches with its stock setup, so it was a little disadvantaged when the paceline is going faster than 25mph or so. But, that is easily remedied.

    - Climbing - As I said earlier, I actually do believe that smaller wheels are better for climbing,due to the fact that it spins up faster. My Rolf wheelset on the Dahon weighs 995 grams (!), the Easton wheelset on the Fuji weighs 1550g. Factor in the angular momentum impact and one can certainly see how it is harder to spin up the big wheels.

    - Descending - I definitely feel more stable on the 700C wheels than the 406's. Maybe it's just my poor riding skills, though ..

    - Sprinting - The Fuji wins again, I'm afraid. The hinges at the handlebar and mid-frame take a significant toll on rigidity when stomping on the pedals and pulling on the 'bars. There's no way around it. On a one-piece full size frame, it's a very confident feeling when I stand and pull on the bars. On the Dahon, particularly the Helios design, I just cannot pull as hard.

    I have been on a two year search for a "portable roadie" - a folder than can keep me in the hunt on my weekend rides with the group. However, I have abandoned that idea because I simply have not been able to find one. That's why I put the Dahon up for sale and it is on its way to a new home. Maybe the Moulton TSR will come close, but it will weigh 24lbs.

    Don't mean to start any wars here, just noting my honest observations about the bikes.
    Your observations are consistent with my beliefs about the physics of cycling and the state of small wheel technology.

    That said, I personally would like to know more about the relationship between fork trail and contact patch shape when it comes to self-correcting steering at high speeds ("stability descending"). Since contact patch shape depends on wheel diameter and trail can be adjusted independently of wheel diameter and both influence "stability" what I'm curious about in particular is to what extent trail can be used to cancel the rounder contact patch of smaller diameter wheels. Is it like inertia where the higher gearing can exactly cancel the size difference in all circumstances or is it like the frequency of oscillation when hitting a bump which Jur showed can be mostly (though not exactly) canceled out with wider tires?

    I personally think that at lower speeds the rounder contact patch of small diameter wheels is more "stable" because it gives you more leverage to hold the wheel steady when a bump or pothole tries to turn it (which is far more likely to cause a crash than endoing without the wheel turning). However, I suppose at higher speeds one wants the opposite effect where the longer contact patch gives the force of friction of the tire against the road more leverage against you so that the wheel holds itself steady despite the input of the rider. The question is, to what extent can one get the best of both worlds? The first low speed affect should be independent of trail, while the other is closely related to trail. Can adjustment of trail produce exactly the same affect as adjustment of contact patch shape? If not can trail be used to approximate a longer contact patch at all speeds? If not, can trail be used to approximate a longer contact patch at one or more target speeds?

  16. #16
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    I don't have much of an opinion on flats, hills, sprints, etc--but I haven't seen anyone mention road conditions. My experience is that larger-diameter wheels deal noticeably better with grooves and potholes, so I'll tend to take uneven asphalt a little faster and more confidently when I'm not riding my Swift.
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    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    I have been on a two year search for a "portable roadie" - a folder than can keep me in the hunt on my weekend rides with the group. However, I have abandoned that idea because I simply have not been able to find one. That's why I put the Dahon up for sale and it is on its way to a new home. Maybe the Moulton TSR will come close, but it will weigh 24lbs.

    Don't mean to start any wars here, just noting my honest observations about the bikes.


    SesameCrunch,

    Have you considered a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro? According to BF, with a Durace groupset and light pedals you can get it down to approx 18.75 lbs, (8.6kg), maybe lighter if you use a carbon Campag Record groupset, that's about 6 lbs lighter than the Moulton.

  18. #18
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevegor View Post
    SesameCrunch,

    Have you considered a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro? According to BF, with a Durace groupset and light pedals you can get it down to approx 18.75 lbs, (8.6kg), maybe lighter if you use a carbon Campag Record groupset, that's about 6 lbs lighter than the Moulton.
    Yeah, that would be pretty good. However, $4,500 for that configuration is an issue. Also, I've kinda given up on that search for the portable roadie. I keep having to ask myself "why not just ride the big bike?". Haven't come up with a good answer yet. Finally, I just committed to the Moulton, and will have to remain faithful for an acceptable amount of time .

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    What makes for a roadie? What makes for a good candidate for a good roadie?

    Sorry if these are stupid questions, I don't know.

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    It's a matter of POWER,

    20" inches wheel is OK, depending how:

    You will need more POWER to be able to SPIN enough to make the same distance as a big wheels bicycle.


    Regards

  21. #21
    Senior Member stevegor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdYago View Post
    What makes for a roadie?

    A bike that fits your measurements properly, that is reasonably light, has drop bars and good quality tyres.


    What makes for a good candidate for a good roadie?

    Somebody who can ride a good bike properly.....I have raced on my cheaper bike against rich guys who have the best bikes, latest gear and huge egos and have soundly trounced them. I think if you are reasonably fit and used to hard exercise, have good stamina and lastly, enjoy pushing the limits, you're a good candidate.

    Sorry if these are stupid questions, I don't know.
    Not stupid, hope this helps

  22. #22
    Senior Member alhedges's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tovar View Post
    It's a matter of POWER,

    20" inches wheel is OK, depending how:

    You will need more POWER to be able to SPIN enough to make the same distance as a big wheels bicycle.


    Regards
    Why?

  23. #23
    Car free since 1995 pm124's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
    I actually have this situation. My black Fuji Team Issue is a carbon fiber 17lb bike with full Dura Ace drivetrain. My Dahon XX Anniversary Helios is also right around 17 lbs.

    They're both excellent bikes and fun to ride. I have not done "scientific" tests on them for performance difference, but here are my anecdotal and honest thought about their differences:

    - Flats - Probably very little difference. Although, I feel that 700C wheels roll more efficiently at higher speeds due to the higher angular momentum. Also, the Dahon's top gearing was around 95 gear inches with its stock setup, so it was a little disadvantaged when the paceline is going faster than 25mph or so. But, that is easily remedied.

    - Climbing - As I said earlier, I actually do believe that smaller wheels are better for climbing,due to the fact that it spins up faster. My Rolf wheelset on the Dahon weighs 995 grams (!), the Easton wheelset on the Fuji weighs 1550g. Factor in the angular momentum impact and one can certainly see how it is harder to spin up the big wheels.

    - Descending - I definitely feel more stable on the 700C wheels than the 406's. Maybe it's just my poor riding skills, though ..

    - Sprinting - The Fuji wins again, I'm afraid. The hinges at the handlebar and mid-frame take a significant toll on rigidity when stomping on the pedals and pulling on the 'bars. There's no way around it. On a one-piece full size frame, it's a very confident feeling when I stand and pull on the bars. On the Dahon, particularly the Helios design, I just cannot pull as hard.

    I have been on a two year search for a "portable roadie" - a folder than can keep me in the hunt on my weekend rides with the group. However, I have abandoned that idea because I simply have not been able to find one. That's why I put the Dahon up for sale and it is on its way to a new home. Maybe the Moulton TSR will come close, but it will weigh 24lbs.

    Don't mean to start any wars here, just noting my honest observations about the bikes.
    In my limited experience, I would say that these are a spot on observations. I feel less confident on descents on my Birdy. On climbs, if I'm with a group of riders that are better than me (usually the case), I get dropped, even with my light wheels equipped with Stelvios. My bike weighs in at about 22 pounds. (Could still shed 400gm from the wheels, and another 400gms elsewhere, but it would still be heavier than a road bike.)

    Of course, if you have a stiff frame and a light bike (e.g. the 2009 Pacific Reach), you are good to go. Next bike, SC?
    Last edited by pm124; 08-07-08 at 04:51 PM.

  24. #24
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pm124 View Post
    Of course, if you have a stiff frame and a light bike (e.g. the 2009 Pacific Reach), you are good to go. Next bike, SC?


    It would have been. Then EvilV's Moulton showed up...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by alhedges View Post
    Why?
    It takes more than one revolution of a small wheel to travel the same distance as one revolution on a big wheel.

    You can keep the pace of a big wheeler but you will need to pedal like hell!!.


    Regards

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