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  1. #1
    Senior Member RideMyWheel's Avatar
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    Can I ask about geometry without starting a fight in here?

    Before I start, I ALWAYS try to use a forum's search feature. There's nothing more annoying than a n00bie asking a question that already has a half-dozen "stickies" addressing it. I don't want to be that guy, but the threads I found were difficult to follow and a few had even deteriorated into arguments among engineers. Maybe I just haven't found the right thread yet. If someone can direct me there, it would be appreciated.

    I'm new here, shopping road/hybrid bikes & not sure what I like yet. Virtually anything I buy will be an improvement over what I have. When comparing road vs. hybrid, people always talk about the upright riding position. I get that, but it's not as important to me. The differences I'm paying attention to have to do with handling and balance. I noticed some characteristics that I liked in one specific bike I tested, and I want to figure out WHY it behaves the way it does. Understanding this should save me some time driving around town.

    Let's not get into specific brands or models, I'd like to eliminate any bias (including my own). I will tell you that it was a road bike that felt almost like a "trick" bike--or I should say that I felt like a better cyclist than on any of the others, even though it didn't fit me properly. I was in total control but wasn't quite comfortable. Maybe they just gave me the wrong size. Medium probably isn't the same among bike manufacturers, just like ordering the same steak in different restaurants. Hell, I go by feel when I'm cooking one myself anyway. I digress...

    What I noticed about the road bike is that the rear wheel was tucked in tighter against the seat post than the hybrids. The overall wheelbase was 5 cm. shorter than the comparably-sized hybrid. Is that all there is to it? Or do I need to be looking at angles and rake and trail? Am I right that some of those measurements have more to do with fit than with handling? And aren't some of a hybrid frame's features intended to make it better suited for commuting or touring, and strong enough to carry some extra cargo? If so, I don't care about that, either, so I could rule them out.

    I may already know these answers, but I'm hoping that someone with experience can tell me what to look for beyond just a shorter wheelbase. I'm certain that some of the things I liked about that particular road bike might also make it less-pleasant to live with (for an old fart like me) on a longer ride.

    If I can understand automotive suspensions and handling characteristics, I'm sure that I can grasp the same dynamics on two unsprung wheels. I just need a little push. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I think you could do yourself a big favor by narrowing down what was wasn't quite comfortable about the road bike, because it sounds like you really enjoyed it otherwise.

  3. #3
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    The shorter wheelbase, yes. Without knowing which bike you tested here are some guesses. The head tube angle is steeper (or in auto terms it has less caster), and the fork offset smaller (the wheel axis is closer to the head tube axis) on the road bike which brings the front wheel further back under the bike and makes the steering less stable / more responsive. Your position on the road bike puts more of your weight on the front wheel.

    Most major bike manufacturers publish comprehensive geometry charts and you can compare the ones for the bikes you rode.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    the shorter wheelbase is a part of it

    as is the trail
    which is a function of
    head angle
    fork rake
    and wheel size

    and you hit the nail on the head
    regarding hybrids
    in that they are designed to be safe and stable
    and carry people and their luggage
    from a to b
    while most road bikes
    are more accurately called
    road racing bikes
    and they sacrifice versatility and stability
    for maneuverability
    light weight
    and speed

    the downside to road racing bikes
    is limited tire clearance
    which limits your ability to ride on rough or unpaved surfaces
    and limited ability to mount fenders and racks etc

    hybrid bikes
    as well as
    touring
    cyclocross
    flat bar road
    and road sport bikes
    generally give up a bit of quickness
    for versatility


    in the end
    there is no right bike
    just the bike you like riding the most

    and if you like how the road bike felt
    try a couple more
    and see if one of them is comfortable

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    The bike companies sort out the Angles & what not Just go to a Bike shop, and test ride Bikes

    dont Obsess over things that are already sorted for you.

    Dont even get to wrapped up in brands a handful of Taiwan factories make all familiar brands , under contract..


    Step 1 Pick the Bike Shop You Like doing business with ...
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-17-14 at 11:08 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member RideMyWheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Step 1 Pick the Bike Shop You Like doing business with ...
    I think my other questions have been answered above, and fietsbob probably nailed it right there.

    Thanks, berta, Wilfred, Darth.

    Berta Is probably right, I should go back and try to get that bike I liked fine tuned. For the record, it was a Giant Defy 2. I did not want to ride it at first, but it was just sitting there unattended and I liked the color. Stupid sometimes gets lucky.


    the truth is I haven't found that LBS I trust yet.

  7. #7
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    If you want snappy handling, you probably would be happier with road bikes (whether with flat bars or drop bars). Some of the handling benefits come from stiffness and geometry, and some through narrower tires.

    If the fit of the bike you tried was close, but not quite right, it could possibly be made right with a few adjustments and maybe a different stem.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

    People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
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  8. #8
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    '74 Raleigh International - '77 Trek TX900FG - '92 Vitus 979 - '10 Merckx EMX-3- '11 Soma Stanyan

  9. #9
    Senior Member Kopsis's Avatar
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    People often try to attribute handling to a small number of design parameters but really it's a function of the entire frame geometry and how it fits the rider. Naturally front end geometry is a big factor, but so are things that are often overlooked like weight distribution, bottom bracket drop, tire size, wheel/tire mass, etc. And "good" handling is completely subjective. One rider's "responsive" may be another rider's "twitchy". Just because you can't explain why a bike feels good, doesn't make it any less true Try a bunch of bikes and go with the one the speaks to you. You can then spend the next 10 thousand miles happily working out the reason.

  10. #10
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    Specialized developed one bike recently with special attention to making each size handle appropriately for the intended rider size/weight/strength...ie normally they don't bother, nor does anyone else. Med size is designed right and other sizes are bodged.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RideMyWheel View Post

    What I noticed about the road bike is that the rear wheel was tucked in tighter against the seat post than the hybrids. The overall wheelbase was 5 cm. shorter than the comparably-sized hybrid. Is that all there is to it? Or do I need to be looking at angles and rake and trail? Am I right that some of those measurements have more to do with fit than with handling? And aren't some of a hybrid frame's features intended to make it better suited for commuting or touring, and strong enough to carry some extra cargo? If so, I don't care about that, either, so I could rule them out.
    Short chainstay has more to do with rigidity than handling... for reducing flex in the frame when someone mashes down in a sprint. Benefits of a longer chain stay are clearance for panniers (primarily) and maybe for better traction in a hill climb (not that many bicycles are specifically designed to climb hills). Longer chainstay also leaves room for a fatter/taller tires.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
    the shorter wheelbase is a part of it

    as is the trail
    which is a function of
    head angle
    fork rake

    in the end
    there is no right bike
    just the bike you like riding the most
    New form of poetry?
    "Of course you eat too much" (Looigi) There are things people say that are so true you can never forget the wisdom. I still eat too much. Without denial.
    Awarded 2014 Billy Madison "Ultimate Insult" by jsharr. Must have been something about my rambling, incoherent response...

  13. #13
    Senior Member RideMyWheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadTire View Post
    New form of poetry?
    Yeah, i noticed that, too. I kinda like it.

  14. #14
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    It can be fun to obsess over the geometry of different bikes and how that affects the handling, but let's face it: unless you've got a wide variety of LBS's specializing in a lot of different styles of bike to shop at, or you spend a whole lot of time (and possibly money) traveling to specialty shops and then order a custom frame, you aren't going to have that many choices. Most generic road bikes are pretty close to each other in terms of geometry and handling. There will be differences, and that's what test rides are for. Also, don't forget the importance of fit. A bike that puts you in a position that feels unstable or uncomfortable is going to make you feel like the handling is less stable or predictable.
    There's somewhat more variety in major-manufacturer hybrid frames, because some are basically road bikes with flat bars and some are more like cruisers or MTB's with 700c wheels, and lots are somewhere in between. But even still, unless you can go comparison shopping at ten different stores, you just aren't likely to have enough choices to make obsessing about geometry worth the trouble.

    If you liked the way the road bike felt, go try out different road bikes and see what you think. They'll all be fairly similar in the things that have the most obvious effects on handling, like head tube angle and fork offset, but they'll vary somewhat in fit and in what components they come with. Lots of that stuff can be changed out, but all else being equal, you might as well buy the one that already comes with a saddle and handlebars that you like the shape of, etc.

  15. #15
    905
    905 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
    ...in the end
    there is no right bike
    just the bike you like riding the most
    Quote Originally Posted by RoadTire View Post
    New form of poetry?
    Quote Originally Posted by RideMyWheel View Post
    Yeah, i noticed that, too. I kinda like it.
    With a tip of the hat to WL.

    Nervously clears throat.
    Trying an ABCCBA rhyme scheme here.
    Let's just call the metre free range.
    Forum answers in italic.



    I always search, it's only right
    there's nothing worse than charging in
    and asking what's been asked before
    without a thought to those who snore.
    Geometry won't cause a din
    you've started well; no need to fight.


    OK here goes, the subject's this:
    road or hybrid, which to like?
    handling/balance matters most
    comfort, too, deserves a toast.
    Yes, go on, we'll find a bike
    that puts you on the road to bliss.


    Should I look at wheelbase first?
    angles rake and trail and such?
    Let's not talk about the brand
    rejecting bias out of hand.
    Fit it true, you'll like it much
    find a shop to quench your thirst.




    Stupid gets lucky the same as smart
    the board may move to catch the dart.
    Last edited by 905; 06-18-14 at 11:23 AM. Reason: under deconstruction
    my personal FAQ – bikereader.com/FAQ.html

  16. #16
    Senior Member RideMyWheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 905 View Post
    With a tip of the hat to WL.

    ...

    Stupid gets lucky the same as smart
    the board may move to catch the dart.
    Dear GOD! I am in the presence of GENIUS!


    Wall of fame material, this is!

  17. #17
    Senior Member RideMyWheel's Avatar
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    Just a status report:

    Thanks everyone for your kind replies. No fights have ensued and you've put my mind at ease. Sometimes I tend to overanalyze things. Okay, forget sometimes, how about always. It's what I do for a living and some people think I'm good at it.

    I found a shop I'm going to try first thing Saturday morning. They stock Orbea and Felt which have six different models I've been interested in seeing. They appear to emphasize their fitting procedure more than any other shop in Memphis. If that fails, I've also located the Raleigh & Jamis shops. After seeing all of that, I'll know if I need to go back to Trek, Giant, or Specialized.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RideMyWheel View Post
    I found a shop I'm going to try first thing Saturday morning. They stock Orbea and Felt which have six different models I've been interested in seeing. They appear to emphasize their fitting procedure more than any other shop in Memphis.
    That's a great first step! In my opinion, getting a proper fit is far more important that the brand of bike you choose. Like you, I've been shopping for a new bike over the past few months and I've visited several bike stores. There were a couple of shops that really stood out, made me feel welcome and are the kind of business that I'd be happy to not just buy from, but develop a relationship with.

    One of them really emphasizes getting the fit right and I'm going to buy from them.

    Good luck and have fun!

  19. #19
    905
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    Quote Originally Posted by RideMyWheel View Post
    Dear GOD! I am in the presence of GENIUS!
    Clears throat to make Genius Acceptance speech at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study before a packed audience of resident scholars and visiting genii.

    Thank you. Thank you very much. Any brains I have are entirely… sorry. Could you sit down up front please? As you can see, most of the scientists here today are too short to ride the Big Wheel at Six Flags. [Pauses for polite laughter.] As I was saying… sir, please. If you would only… wait a minute. You look familiar. That shock of unkempt white hair, the lack of socks, the gaze into eternity that characterized portraits in your later years. It could only be Albert Einstein Himself! We all thought you had passed away, though there were rumours you were in seclusion working on the "theory of everything". Ladies and gentlemen, could we please give a big hand to… Mr. Einstein, I notice your hand just fell off. Could somebody please help Mr Einstein with his hand? Mr Dawkins, you're sitting closest. [A mild commotion.] Mr Dawkins, have you been bitten? Mr Einstein, there will be refreshments after my speech. [The evolutionary biologist screams "Oh my God!" as Albert Einstein continues to gnaw at his cheek. Reporters get on their phones. "Dawkins Finds God in Gory End" will headline The Times the next morning.] Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Einstein appears to not be himself today. Perhaps it would be best if we… Mr Dawkins? May I ask why you just bit Stephen Hawking? ["Because he's an easy target!" yells a string theory groupie in the back to titters, though a soupçon of horror is finally starting to creep in.] Is there a doctor in the house? [All hands shoot up except for Einstein's and Hawking's. Even if his muscles weren't already compromised, Dawkins has reached the marrow.] I mean real doctors. [All hands reluctantly go down.] If any of the event organizers are here, perhaps they could sort this out? [Drops notes in haste and exits stage left. Which is unfortunately where the stagehands were bitten earlier.]


    Footnotes
    Six Flags Big Wheel (height restriction: none with adult)
    Theory of Everything
    Theory of Nothing (for balance)
    Richard Dawkins
    Angelina Jolie Butts Heads With Richard Dawkins over Santa Claus (just plain newsworthy)
    Stephen Hawking
    String Theory
    Einstein's brain
    Einstein's refrigerator
    Last edited by 905; 06-18-14 at 05:45 PM. Reason: ex nihilo
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Sometimes it difficult to compare the bikes from different shops because the wheelsets and tires are different. Even the inflation would make a difference. The test ride just can't be going round and round in the parking lot either.

  21. #21
    Twilight Requiem AdrianFly's Avatar
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    I'm wth 905 on this one. Best to test ride hybrids and find the one you like best. If you want more speed then swap out the fatter tires for racing slicks, drop the stem.. maybe different handlebars for riding position and such. Swapping out the crank, chainrings and cassette is an option as well.

    Differences are simply riding position. Upright/casual=comfy as opposed to Aero/Racing=speed and performance.

    Now then, into the moat with you.

    The Bearded Fred: Only known cyclist left in the world to be 100% natural and completely free from performance enhancing drugs. Also known for self reliance, amazing talent for satisfying the women and great guitar riffs. Honestly, a full racing kit is absolutely the most ridiculous looking stuff you can wear short of a clown suit."

  22. #22
    Senior Member RideMyWheel's Avatar
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    I think I get it now. Bike geometry is important, but MY geometry is more important.



    If Bro. Richard had used models like this in 1979, I might have paid more attention in his geometry class.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdrianFly View Post
    I'm wth 905 on this one. Best to test ride hybrids and find the one you like best.
    i reread 905s posts in this thread
    both poetic and prosetic
    and there is no support or rejection
    of any one type of bike over any other

    in fact
    it seems the op
    most enjoyed the road bike he rode

    Quote Originally Posted by AdrianFly View Post
    If you want more speed then swap out the fatter tires for racing slicks, drop the stem.. maybe different handlebars for riding position and such. Swapping out the crank, chainrings and cassette is an option as well.

    Differences are simply riding position. Upright/casual=comfy as opposed to Aero/Racing=speed and performance.
    also
    if buying a new bike
    unless options are very limited
    you can generally select the one that matches your needs best
    rather than buying a less suitable machine
    and trying to modify it into suitability

    Quote Originally Posted by AdrianFly View Post
    Now then, into the moat with you.
    just try and make me
    chump

  24. #24
    Senior Member RideMyWheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
    i reread 905s posts in this thread
    both poetic and prosetic
    and there is no support or rejection
    of any one type of bike over any other

    in fact
    it seems the op
    most enjoyed the road bike he rode
    You, sir, are correct.

    Thanks to the input received in this thread, the approach for this weekend is to make every effort to properly fit a road bike to my comfort and desires, rather than giving up and going hybrid first.

    I now believe that the Trek dealer strategy is to start every serious prospect appearing to be in decent shape on an FX. If that fails, they move to either a road bike or a dual sport. It's not a bad strategy.

    Unless I fall head over heels in love with some other bike, I'll go back and test drive a Domane before making my final decision. I hope to find a dedicated cycling professional somewhere else, and that it won't matter what brand they sell, the fit will outweigh all other factors.

    When this all started, I was convinced that I wanted either a Trek 9th District or a Specialized Globe Roll 8. NOBODY in Memphis stocks those bikes, and they were reluctant to order one.

  25. #25
    Be more like Muir hillyman's Avatar
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    ​matters what kind of riding you want to do. I looked up your 87 Schwinn (which looks like a sweet ride) and my guess is you want something for longer rides. My guess is a steel framed touring bike might suit you best.

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