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Old 06-17-14, 09:26 AM   #1
RideMyWheel
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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.
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Old 06-17-14, 10:28 AM   #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.
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Old 06-17-14, 10:43 AM   #3
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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.
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Old 06-17-14, 10:50 AM   #4
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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
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Old 06-17-14, 11:05 AM   #5
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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.
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Old 06-17-14, 11:45 AM   #6
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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.
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Old 06-17-14, 11:46 AM   #7
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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.
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Old 06-17-14, 12:22 PM   #8
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Basics:

http://calfeedesign.com/tech-papers/...bike-handling/

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Old 06-17-14, 05:36 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 06-17-14, 06:00 PM   #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.
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Old 06-17-14, 06:44 PM   #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.
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Old 06-17-14, 07:20 PM   #12
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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?
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Old 06-17-14, 08:49 PM   #13
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New form of poetry?
Yeah, i noticed that, too. I kinda like it.
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Old 06-18-14, 08:32 AM   #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.
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Old 06-18-14, 10:55 AM   #15
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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
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Old 06-18-14, 12:09 PM   #16
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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!
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Old 06-18-14, 12:29 PM   #17
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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.
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Old 06-18-14, 12:48 PM   #18
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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!
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Old 06-18-14, 02:48 PM   #19
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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 soupįon 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

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Old 06-18-14, 03:28 PM   #20
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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.
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Old 06-19-14, 06:45 AM   #21
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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.
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Old 06-19-14, 09:22 AM   #22
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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.
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Old 06-19-14, 10:13 AM   #23
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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
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Old 06-19-14, 03:26 PM   #24
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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.
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Old 06-19-14, 05:43 PM   #25
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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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