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  1. #1
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    "Distance" or "Comfortable" geometry from Race Bike: or Dedicated LD bike?

    I ride a lot of centuries and occasional doubles with some pretty fast riders (cruising speeds on flats are usually well above 20 mph and are often around 25 at times). My long rides are often still hammer fests, so I still have to have a fast bike even if it also has to be comfortable.

    I don't have a dedicated distance bike so I usually just use my aluminum TCR0 (full on race bike) with a few extra headset spacers, double wrapped bars, 25c tires and a Selle Italia Pro-link Gel Flow saddle. This set up seems to serve me very well giving me comfort and speed at the same time and the TCR frame has been a hard one to give up for me. . I actually have a great chance to buy a Specialized Tarmac SL frame for little $ but am thinking that might be a little too fragile for a good double-century-in-the-middle-of-nowhere bike.

    I dream of dedicated "comfort" or "distance" bikes like the Independent Fab. Club Racer, Gunnar Sport, or Salsa Pistola. But I am not really sure I will see any difference in comfort and am afraid that I might actually see a decrease in stiffness, speed, reaction time, etc.

    When I look at "comfort" bikes, the biggest differences seem to usually be a shorter top tube and taller head tube. I can get the same result of both of those from a stem swap out.

    So what am I missing? What are the guys who ride fast LD rides buying? I am more than receptive to an excuse to buy a new fast LD bike but I am just not sure that I can get anything with a more optimal mix than what I already have.

    Who has fast LD bikes and what do you love about them relative to the option of "comfortizing" a racer.

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    From a post further down: This looks really sweet:
    http://www.pearsoncycles.co.uk/produ...AUDAX_PRO_2009

  3. #3
    cycles per second Gonzo Bob's Avatar
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    Well, my fast LD bike is a Softride . But I have it set up for tri/TT so i don't use it for group rides or brevets. For those I use my old Vitus 979 aluminum - a racer that I've done nothing special to "comfortize".

    I've never looked into the "distance" bike market although I do see quite a few from local builders (Dave Anderson, Chris Kvale, and I thought I saw a Bob Brown once) at the brevets.

  4. #4
    Roadie brian416's Avatar
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    I use my SL2 Tarmac as a long distance bike, my bike is comfortable to me, I never have any pain or issues from riding a racing bike. They're certainly tough bikes, not fragile. Stepping up to a carbon frame would probably be more comfortable than your current aluminum frame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth View Post
    ...When I look at "comfort" bikes, the biggest differences seem to usually be a shorter top tube and taller head tube. I can get the same result of both of those from a stem swap out.

    So what am I missing?...
    I use a Gunnar Sport which comes in at about 21.5 lb with fenders and Selle An-Atomica saddle. I think the main differences from bikes like the Tarmac and the Roubaix are in the chain stays which are 430mm versus say 415mm for the Roubaix or 405mm for the Tarmac and also in the seat and head tube angles which are more relaxed for the Sport. (You can also use wider tires and fenders.) This gives the Sport a smoother ride with more stable--some would say less responive (but nevertheless precise)--steering.

    However, in my club, many of the fastest long distance riders are using something like the Spec. Tarmak or Orbea Orca.
    Last edited by The Smokester; 08-24-09 at 03:19 PM.

  6. #6
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    What is a fast century?

  7. #7
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plodderslusk View Post
    From a post further down: This looks really sweet:
    http://www.pearsoncycles.co.uk/produ...AUDAX_PRO_2009
    Agreed, what a great bike...wonder if I can get it in a frame/only option.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian416 View Post
    I use my SL2 Tarmac as a long distance bike, my bike is comfortable to me, I never have any pain or issues from riding a racing bike. They're certainly tough bikes, not fragile. Stepping up to a carbon frame would probably be more comfortable than your current aluminum frame.
    Good to know...my main fear here is that I have seen two of my buddie's carbon bikes destroyed in wrecks that left other bikes just fine. I sure love the tarmac; just don't know if I want to be bumping into another bike 100 miles out on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
    I use a Gunnar Sport which comes in at about 21.5 lb with fenders and Selle An-Atomica saddle. I think the main differences from bikes like the Tarmac and the Roubaix are in the chain stays which are 430mm versus say 415mm for the Roubaix or 405mm for the Tarmac and also in the seat and head tube angles which are more relaxed for the Sport. (You can also use wider tires and fenders.) This gives the Sport a smoother ride with more stable--some would say less responive (but nevertheless precise)--steering.

    However, in my club, many of the fastest long distance riders are using something like the Spec. Tarmak or Orbea Orca.
    Dang, those are full on race bikes, for sure. Does the more relaxed geometry translate to slower speeds at all, or is it more precision handling? Would you consider your sport to be a "fast" bike? Do you love it? What fork do you have on it? I love the light weight of all carbon forks, but that straight legged gunnar fork looks so sweet!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    What is a fast century?
    Everyone has their own goals, but I am GOING to break 5 hours or die trying . My fastest is 5:14. (I Count break time: imo, the breaks are part of the sport; if I can't manage them, I suck at part of the sport ) I always end up dancing at the rest stops trying to get everyone back on the road. I could manage breaks much better alone but I would also ride much slower....a difficult trade-off.
    Last edited by Sawtooth; 08-24-09 at 03:42 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plodderslusk View Post
    From a post further down: This looks really sweet:
    http://www.pearsoncycles.co.uk/produ...AUDAX_PRO_2009
    Dunno 'bout the smaller sizes, but the geometry on the 60cm looks anything but sweet: the top tube is about 5cm (yes, CENTImeters) too short, and the seat angle about 2 deg too steep for me, and I'm a pretty average-proportioned tall guy.

    SP
    Bend, OR

  9. #9
    Randomhead
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    I'm wrestling with this issue for my next bike. I want to be able to use a handlebar bag and fenders. I don't think I'll worry too much about raising the head tube or shortening the top tube. You can always do that with a stem.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth View Post
    ...Does the more relaxed geometry translate to slower speeds at all, or is it more precision handling? Would you consider your sport to be a "fast" bike? Do you love it? What fork do you have on it? I love the light weight of all carbon forks, but that straight legged gunnar fork looks so sweet!...
    I don't know if relaxed geometry is inherently slower or not. The Gunnar Sport is pretty fast...It largely depends on the engine and I confess I am not a fast rider. I have the Steel Gunnar fork but I think you save a pound and a few dollars if you get the carbon fork.

    My first impression of the bike was that it steered with precision and complete control like no other bike I had ever been on. I don't know if this is unique to the steel fork or is a larger property of the frame.

    I love the bike. It comes as a (customized) frame so you set up the paint and decals, attachment points, fit and componentry just the way you want it. Mine also has the S&S couplers so it can be disassembled, put in a suitcase and checked on an airline.

    It never beats me up. After 150 miles I may be tired but never sore. I originally had DT Swiss R1.1 32-spoke wheels on it but decided to get 36-spoke Velocity Aeroheat rims with Ultegra hubs for training. Surprisingly, these are softer riding and mostly what I use. The DT Swiss are now on the Roubaix.

    I got a steel bike for the same reasons you stated in your original post: I was paranoid about damaging my CF Roubaix out in the middle of nowhere. I already had a US$500 repair job done by Calfee on the top when it was pushed a little too hard against a post...The Gunnar wouldn't have been damaged. The Roubaix also had less possibilities for attachments. Still, most (really almost all) of the fastest LD riders I know ride fast CF road bikes with some Ti riders.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I think you are looking at this wrong. You can be comfortable for long distances on any bike that fits you. Look at what you want to do on the bike and choose the bike that fit's that mold. If you are going to be carrying a lot of stuff then relaxed geometry is for you. If you want fenders make sure there is room for them. If you want light, fast with crisper handling then a bike with racier geometry is what you want. It's as simple and difficult as that.

    The bike can assist you in being fast but ultimately it's the engine that makes the difference.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    If you want light with crisper handling then a bike with racier geometry is what you want.
    I would think that "crisper" handling, in itself, provides no advantage for long distance riding. It might be that a bike that tracks a bit straighter might make things a bit easier if one is tired.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 08-25-09 at 02:25 PM.

  13. #13
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Race bikes already have stable handling. Stage racers don't want something that tires them out. You want something that you can drop into a turn when tired, and it will neither understeer nor oversteer. I see Cervelos under the fast crowd around here. I think the RS model by the look of the tubes. Want!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobbycorno View Post
    Dunno 'bout the smaller sizes, but the geometry on the 60cm looks anything but sweet: the top tube is about 5cm (yes, CENTImeters) too short, and the seat angle about 2 deg too steep for me, and I'm a pretty average-proportioned tall guy.

    SP
    Bend, OR
    The 58 has a virtual toptube of 575 which should be quite OK for most people around 6 feet. Angles are parallell 73 which also should be fine.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    I would think that "crisper" handling, in itself, provides no advantage for long distance riding. It might be that a bike that tracks a bit straighter might make things a bit easier if one is tired.
    If you are so tired that you can't handle your bike it's time to get off and get some rest...since when did race geometry bikes stop tracking straight? Mines not that old and I can ride it with no hands. Even at the end of a 1200k!
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  16. #16
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    My thought is that if you are doing 5:15 centuries in a group, then why change the bike? Find a faster group, a 5:00 century group.

    I myself don't draft on centuries and have done several at 5:45 solo. If I wanted a 5:00 century, I'd suck wheel like crazy but it's not my style. I like my claims to be my own efforts!

    I use descent stuff, nothing highend with Heavy Deep V rims. I'm pretty sure that if I used a $10,000 bike, my centuries wouldn't automatically become 5 hour centuries!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    If you are so tired that you can't handle your bike it's time to get off and get some rest
    I said nothing about "can't handle".

    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    ...since when did race geometry bikes stop tracking straight?
    I didn't say this either. Why do people put words in other people's mouths? It doesn't appear you understand what "tracking" is. Certainly, all bicycles can go straight (but I wasn't talking about that).

    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    Mines not that old and I can ride it with no hands. Even at the end of a 1200k!
    Old? Who was talking about old? Why is it better to have use a bicycle that is harder to ride no-handed?

    If manueverability or showing off your mad no-handed skillz is important, maybe you should use a unicycle!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    You throw a vague comment like this out there and what do you expect????? Let's try again.

    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    I would think that "crisper" handling, in itself, provides no advantage for long distance riding.
    You are implying that a lax geometry bike does? Depending on how you plan to use the bike it sure does have an advantage. If you are out there carrying a load around then No it doesn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    It might be that a bike that tracks a bit straighter...
    Lax geometry bikes don't "track" any straighter than a race geometry bike. The only thing the geometry difference does is change the ease(or difficulty) required to initiate a turn. It has nothing to do with the bikes tracking.

    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    ...might make things a bit easier if one is tired.
    Like I said before, if you are so tired that you can't handle your bike (or that handling your bike is an issue) you need to get off the bike!

    You say you didn't say this and you didn't say that, maybe you should explain what you did say...
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    The only thing the geometry difference does is change the ease (or difficulty) required to initiate a turn.
    This is "tracking".

    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    Like I said before, if you are so tired that you can't handle your bike (or that handling your bike is an issue) you need to get off the bike!
    Again, I said nothing like this.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 08-27-09 at 08:23 AM.

  20. #20
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    didn't we just cover this? or do we cover it every other week?

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    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth View Post

    Who has fast LD bikes and what do you love about them relative to the option of "comfortizing" a racer.
    a bike isn't fast.
    a bike and rider combination can be fast, pending a whole host of variables.


    folks always call my custom IF my 'go fast' bike...
    but compared to most folks on this forum, its my 'go moderately paced to finish the ride' bike.

  22. #22
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    I am looking at the Masi Special Commuter frame as it has longer chainstays which, whether you want to argue about it or not, do make the bike track straighter. This frame also has provisions for racks and the longer reach brakes so a larger tire can be used, say up to 32mm with fender.
    The Salsa Casseroll has similar characteristics but I am trying to get one or the other on a budget, I beleive the Masi frame can be had for less.
    I understand the Surly Pacer has less tire clearance and I would prefer horizontal dropouts. First things first though I have to do some rehab on my knee.
    Santana Fusion Enduro
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  23. #23
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike View Post
    didn't we just cover this? or do we cover it every other week?
    Great! Do you have any links or suggested search terms from those threads you remember? I am assuming your comment was meant to be helpful?

    Remember that this forum is still building its readership (myself included). I don't think it is realistic to expect that everyone here knows what was discussed last week or every week. Moreover, I personally think there is a lot of value in re-hashing topics for more up to date information or different insights. If a given topic bores me, I simply don't participate.

    I know that when I do a search for a given topic, I love to see lots of relevant threads pertaining to it. So, for me the discussions we have here have probably even more archive value than day-to-day value. To that end, the more the better, imo.
    Last edited by Sawtooth; 08-27-09 at 12:22 PM.

  24. #24
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plodderslusk View Post
    The 58 has a virtual toptube of 575 which should be quite OK for most people around 6 feet. Angles are parallell 73 which also should be fine.
    That geometry sounds very similar to the Lynskey Cooper (M). Bobby, can you explain why you think this is a bad set up for you?

  25. #25
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth View Post
    Great! Do you have any links or suggested search terms from those threads you remember? I am assuming your comment was meant to be helpful?

    Remember that this forum is still building its readership (myself included). I don't think it is realistic to expect that everyone here knows what was discussed last week or every week. Moreover, I personally think there is a lot of value in re-hashing topics for more up to date information or different insights. If a given topic bores me, I simply don't participate.

    I know that when I do a search for a given topic, I love to see lots of relevant threads pertaining to it. So, for me the discussions we have here have probably even more archive value than day-to-day value. To that end, the more the better, imo.
    Sure, but the LD forum isn't all that old - several recent threads should still be within the first 20 - 30 posts. And the same 4 topics will get reposted about 3 times a month - go fast bikes and 'comfort', carbon or steel (or ti, or bamboo), how to climb faster, and whether or not a 45 mile ride is 'long distance'.

    Handling of low trail bikes?

    Carbon bikes on brevets

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