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  1. #1
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Long-Distance Racing Bike

    I'm considering participating in more 24-hour type races. The bikes I have are not particuarly well-suited for this, and so I'm looking at the alternatives for buying a little speed.

    Right now, I'm running maybe 230 lbs at 6'-2" or so, so I've got some extra weight. Based on past experience, I may be faster or slower, but if I place well in a race, it'll likely be due to weak competition rather than exceptional performance on my part. So it's not like I'm the top ultraracer or anything, I'm just plugging away and want to plug away faster. My budget is the low end of the market, so $2,000-$3,000 maybe, but not $8,000. Subtle improvements that save a half-ounce of weight or drag are pretty much going to be wasted, so I don't need the top-end equipment. And new or used would be under consideration. The routes in question usually include hills but not mountains. The races in question are generally non-drafting, without a follow car.

    Regardless, as best I can tell, nobody actually sells a bike suited for this activity. But it looks like the options are:
    -A conventional time-trial or tri-bike, which are mostly carbon-fiber with a few aluminum frames available. Drawbacks are that they're not normally set up to carry lights, extra clothing, camelbaks, or other items required for a 500 mile race that aren't required to ride 40k or 112 miles or whatever; and typically anticipate light use by a light rider, not thousands and thousands of miles with a heftier rider on chipseal roads.
    -Titanium time-trial bike, used by some of the local riders, but as far as I can tell, not in current production unless you just custom-order a frame. But, they pop up on Ebay on occasion.
    -A lighter faster road-bike than what I now have, possibly with aerobars. But I understand using aerobars on a regular road bike makes for some squirrely overly-sensitive handling, too, and I have no desire to go kill myself. Another concern is that it may not really be much faster than what I'm riding now (Raleigh Sojourn).

    I'd be interested in your thoughts on the best approach to this.

    Some other questions-
    On the time-trial bikes, do you go get fitted for one before you buy it? Then get fitted again when you get it? Or is that all one fitting?
    How do you know if a style of bike will be comfortable for long distances if you've never tried it, period?
    How do you work out a good compromise on wheels, between light/aerodynamic/indestructible/cheap?
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  2. #2
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    I've been running such thoughts through my mind for a while. I too am ~230lb and ride a Raleigh Sojourn but bought a Raleigh Clubman for a Brevet bike since concluding that there is not one best bike for Rando's and Racing. However a LD racing bike will work nicely for me up to the 400k level.

    I would say Volagi Liscio but they do not recommend it for a rider over 220lbs. The Viaje I like would cost $3k. Therefore, I am now looking at something like either a Cielo Sportif Racer or a custom steel/titanium frame from either Waterford, Strong Frames, or Seven Cycles. Calculating about $2.5k for the frame and fork. I'll buy parts for my 2010 alloy Schwinn LeTour until I can afford the new frame. BTW, I actually love my current bike's geometry since LBS installed a Reynold's Ouza fork and I flipped and slammed the stem.
    RUSA #8269

  3. #3
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    What are your thoughts on the "endurance performance" bikes, basically more relaxed geometry carbon road bikes? I have used aero bars on bikes like this with no issues. The main thing seems to be getting them set up right so you are not reaching too far forward when in them.

    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/...2/14806/66183/

    http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2014...Series/z4.aspx

    Both of these are really solid bikes on the lower end of your budget to leave room to make changes for preference items like bar/stem/saddle/wheels/etc

    I personally have put some miles on the Z series Felt line and really liked it but I have never done much more than 60 miles at a time on one as it was just a demo bike.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    For distance a Tri or TT bike wouldn't be the best race bike (IMHO). The position is just too radical. Your best bet is to get a good carbon road bike, add some aerobars and deep dish wheels (in the 400mm+ range). You should be able to do that easily in your price range. If you are going to go fast over long distances aerobars are a must. Aerodynamics are huge! Getting in aerobars can reduce your frontal area by around 12 per cent compared to sitting upright. That’s enough to make five to seven minutes difference in a 40k time trial, extrapolate that out to 24+hrs and it's quite significant. It you're sitting upright, you're just giving time away. Yes, they will take a little time to get used to but they become second nature before too long.
    Spend money on aerodynamics and reliability before you worry about weight. For reliability, the frame is no problem, I'd go with Ultegra level component. I think they are the best compromise between price, reliability and weight.

    Lights are really not a big deal. You can put lights on just about anything. That'd be really low on my priority list.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Number400's Avatar
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    Some good advice above! I would look closely at the Carbon Scattante CFR series. Very solid frame and inexpensive and you can add aerobars and dial it in for comfort. I really enjoyed mine and used it in crits, road races, and a few TT's. It was my do anything bike and was light enough and very, very strong.
    Barbossa: I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means "no".

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Speaking of aerodynamics, get yourself an aero helmet. That will make a huge difference and is one of the best investments you can make. Loose any baggy clothing. Anything that is flapping in the breeze is costing you time. Remember, it's not any one thing but the combination of a lot of small things that add up.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  7. #7
    Senior Member RollCNY's Avatar
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    Just a comment, as a guy your height and size:

    The Nashbar carbon stay aluminum frame is actually a dirt cheap, light, comfortable frame. I have owned the all aluminum and the carbon stay version, and the carbon stays make a noticeable difference. The 58 cm weighs 3.25 lbs, and can be a good platform for a build. They only have it in 60 cm now, so you would have to see what you think.

    Just to blather a titch:

    It has a 74 deg. STA, so it is easy to push forward to a more TT position, ahead of KOPS. The TT is short for its size, so drops with aero extensions are within easy reach. If you couple it with a 43 mm rake fork, you pick up enough trail so that the "twitchiness" of aero bars will not be as noticeable as a more neutral steering bike.

    The frame is stiff as heck for power transfer. My FTP was 285 when I was riding mine, and I could not get appreciable flex out of the BB. It took everything I could give it.

    If you spend $170 on a frame, you have a lot of budget left for wheels, which is where I would sink it. The 23 mm clincher rims are noticeably more comfy, and you can get very nice sets like Boyd's for under $600. I have no experience with the deep profile rims mentioned above, they may be far better, but you would have the budget to play.

    And last, just an opinion, don't buy a fully built bike. As a big guy, I have always found wheels in the $2k and less bikes to be lacking in stiffness and durability, and stock gearing tends to be stupid. You want to walk into it knowing exactly what you want to get, and pick the pieces once that get you there.

    Full disclosure: I have never done a 24 hour, so my advice may be worth less than the can of Wegman's Memphis baked beans I snacked on earlier. I have ridden that frame on multiple 130 to 150 mile days with never a care, but no 500 mile days. Good luck, and it is an exciting problem to have.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I don't think I'd buy an overly stiff frame aluminum frame for long distance. There are some really good aluminum frames out there but they are pretty expensive. You do want good power transfer with minimum flex but you also need to get to the finish line with your teeth still in your head. Bang for buck I think you're best off with a decent carbon frame.

    One note about aerobars and long distance. If you go to the start of a long distance event you are going to see the vast majority of racers have aerobars on their bikes. If you look a little closer at the way they have them set up they are not slammed down in a full aero position. They tend to be set up a bit higher to allow better breathing, comfort and still retain a more aero position. See the diference between these two racers: The one in blue is in a typical TT position. You can see how flat his back is and how low his bars are. The rider in red is a RAAM racer. His bars are higher and he isn't quite as leaned over. It's actually quite a comfortable position for long distances.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  9. #9
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    How badly do the aerobars affect the bike's handling? Asked another way, does the trail of LD race bike need to tweaked or is the difference small enough to be handled by the rider?

    Second question, any recommendations on which aero bars are best suited for an aspiring LD rider?
    RUSA #8269

  10. #10
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    I'm not hearing enough about comfort. Talk about giving away time, I've seen 24 hour racers off the bike getting a neck/shoulder massage during the event. Obviously fit is a big part of that, but frame material, design, and geometry need to consider long term comfort as well as power transfer.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  11. #11
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaHaMac View Post
    How badly do the aerobars affect the bike's handling? Asked another way, does the trail of LD race bike need to tweaked or is the difference small enough to be handled by the rider?

    Second question, any recommendations on which aero bars are best suited for an aspiring LD rider?
    I guess it depends on who you ask. They do make the bike a little bit twitchier but it's something you get used to pretty quick. You don't need to tweak the geometry at all. Just take the obvious precautions like not riding in groups and get out of the aerobars and into the drops on technical descents or when the speeds get over45-50mph. Don't forget that you don't generally have brakes on them so you have to move your hands to the hoods to slow or stop.

    You see a lot of Syntace bars because they are comfy light and you can easily add spacers to raise them, like these:
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
    I'm not hearing enough about comfort. Talk about giving away time, I've seen 24 hour racers off the bike getting a neck/shoulder massage during the event. Obviously fit is a big part of that, but frame material, design, and geometry need to consider long term comfort as well as power transfer.
    Actually, that's what I've mostly been talking about. If someone is getting off the bike for anything during a 24hr race they are wasting time. As far as frame material goes, I've seen good long distance race bikes made out of just about every material. I raced on aluminum, titanium, steel and carbon and if they are made well they are all good with one little caveat. Over really long distances carbon bikes are "generally" better at dampening vibration. Not the big bump in the road kind but the low frequency kind that just wears on you after many hundreds of miles.

    I don't see geometry, in and of itself, as much of a factor. It's more of a preference thing. Do you want the sports car handling or the VW Beetle handling. Your contact points and their location are what matters.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  13. #13
    Senior Member RollCNY's Avatar
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    Just for what it is worth, the only reason that I mentioned the Nashbar carbon rear frame is comfort. It is as comfortable as my steel Felt. I owned the all aluminum Nashbar frame, own a brutally stiff aluminum Cinelli, so i have very clear reference frames, and only mentioned the carbon mix version because it is cheap and absolutely atypically comfy.

    OP, good luck and enjoy!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
    Just for what it is worth, ...
    Sorry if I came across as demeaning your opinion. You could very well be right. I haven't ridden one. Just because a frame is expensive doesn't mean it's comfortable and visa-verse. I think you'd agree though, that 130mile century paced days are not the same as 300-400 mile race paced days. What would be really cool is if you took that Nashbar bike and did a 24hr race, RAAM qualifier or 500mile race and reported back. What you're offering is possibly a great option and it is only $170 so even if in didn't work out maybe it's worth giving it a try.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  15. #15
    Senior Member RollCNY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    What would be really cool is if you took that Nashbar bike and did a 24hr race, RAAM qualifier or 500mile race and reported back. What you're offering is possibly a great option and it is only $170 so even if in didn't work out maybe it's worth giving it a try.
    What is humorous (at least to me ) is I am considering that, which is why I read threads in this sub-forum. I did not mean to sound petulant, because you are more than likely right, and I respect every poster here's experience over mine. I am planning to circle NY state (excluding "Downstate") in the spring, 1200 miles, as a self-supported 6-7 day ride. It won't be 24 hours straight, but the plan is at least 200 miles per day, rinse, repeat. Should give a good comfort idea.

    I will report back if I take it. Right now I am 70% Felt single speed/30% Nashbar geared.

    OP I meant no thread diversion, and again, good luck. There are far worse problems to have then finding a frame for a new bike.

  16. #16
    Senior Member La Tortue's Avatar
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    How about thinking outside the box? Get that big body out of the wind and keep all the power-- go recumbent! Comfort , speed, and a support group as good as they come. Check out any ultra race. recumbents will be there.
    More riding less Blogging

  17. #17
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input guys, haven't responded in a day or two, but have been taking it all in. And more thoughts on the subject are appreciated!

    La Tortue, I ride with several recumbent riders, so I'm well acquainted with that concept, but for a number of reasons, haven't really been looking in that direction, either. On yesterday's ride, we had two recumbent riders; one is headed out to Sebring again in a bit, the other was saying he just picked up a new Rans *****.

    On the frame-vs-complete bike, the biggest problem I face is very limited knowledge of which components are better than which, and by how much, which are compatible with which, etc. I've got friends that'll pick what they like off Ebay ahead of time and get the bargains, and build a bike up from it, but they know what they like, and what year model is good, what is bad, etc. If I built a bike up from a frame, I'd just basically go to my bike shop and say "What do I need here?" and take it from there. For what it's worth, my Raleigh Sojourn has Shimano 9-speed stuff, the tandem has Shimano 10-speed, both are okay, neither is perfect. So I'm not too picky there.

    Homeyba, by "aero helmet", do you mean the time trial helmets, or just a helmet that is more aero rather than less (I wasn't aware there was a big difference once you got away from the TT helmets.)
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  18. #18
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Stephen, I was talking about a full on TT helmet like the ones in the picture above. They make a huge difference. Whether you get a frame and build it up or buy something used off ebay (or whatever) I would suggest you stick with Ultegra level components. It's the best compromise between cost and performance (IMHO) I would also suggest 10sp as 9sp stuff is becoming harder to find. If you find a complete bike with 9sp, that's ok.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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