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Old 06-22-19, 01:38 PM
  #1  
seedsbelize 
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with qualifications

I've ridden my new '88 Centurion Ironman Expert fewer than a dozen times. It is nowhere close to the comfort and fit I have on my '79 Trek 930. Granted, it's hot season, and my riding is severely limited. It has my second favorite saddle on it, rather than the first, which is on the Trek. But the Trek was put into service in June also, last year, and became my favorite ride of all time quite quickly. Perhaps if I didn't have that experience in the background, I would appreciate the Ironman more. The frame sizes are the same; the tubing is different. Tange1 vs Columbus SL. Is this enough?
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Old 06-22-19, 03:09 PM
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Looking at the brochures, those frames have different geometry dimensions. Still, if you duplicated your critical fit measurements from the Trek to the IM, you should be okay. Take a couple of measurements from the Trek and make sure the are the same on the other frames. Start with the saddle in the middle, then micro adjust. For myself, I use 3 measurements.

Center of BB along ST to top of saddle.
Center of BB in a straight line to center of handlebars.
Front of saddle to center of handlebars.

I get those measurements the same from bike to bike and they all fit. I can ride 52-58 frames that way. However, the 52 has too much seatpost showing and the 58 has too little. Some of my bikes have longer/shorter stems than others. Some have more/less saddle to bar drop. They all fit though. The brand, year or even tubing set doesn't really matter. I've never really had a ill fitting bike. The oldest 2 are a pair of 1972s. One is a 56 racing frame. The other is a 54 sport tourer. The youngest is a 1990/91 52cm racing/crit bike. In this particular case, I have an 82 22.5" Trek 412, an 85 56cm IM and an 87 56cm Japanese market IM. I notice a little differences in the tubing, but that is about it.

Same for saddles. Give me some type of upper level sport touring saddle/not racing saddle design from the 80s and I can ride it all day long. I don't even need a test ride. Those reissued Selle Turbos that are out, Sweet! I don't even break out cycling shorts for rides shorter than 20 miles. I have ridden SOTR every year except the first and this year. Every year except for 2, I have ridden on a different bike. Every one of those years except for 2, I have only had a shakedown ride on the bike before the event. They all fit and felt good.

In summary, if the fit on the Trek really works, duplicate it on your other bikes. You might have to change out some stems. If you've already done that, I don't know what to tell you.

Last edited by seypat; 06-22-19 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 06-22-19, 03:32 PM
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I'll try it. My history with bikes has been completely organic. It feels good or it doesn't, within limits of course. If the saddle is wrong, well..... If the seat height is wrong. If the top tube is too long.
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Old 06-24-19, 12:39 PM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
Looking at the brochures, those frames have different geometry dimensions. Still, if you duplicated your critical fit measurements from the Trek to the IM, you should be okay. Take a couple of measurements from the Trek and make sure the are the same on the other frames. Start with the saddle in the middle, then micro adjust. For myself, I use 3 measurements.

Center of BB along ST to top of saddle.
Center of BB in a straight line to center of handlebars.
Front of saddle to center of handlebars.

I get those measurements the same from bike to bike and they all fit. I can ride 52-58 frames that way. However, the 52 has too much seatpost showing and the 58 has too little. Some of my bikes have longer/shorter stems than others. Some have more/less saddle to bar drop. They all fit though. The brand, year or even tubing set doesn't really matter. I've never really had a ill fitting bike. The oldest 2 are a pair of 1972s. One is a 56 racing frame. The other is a 54 sport tourer. The youngest is a 1990/91 52cm racing/crit bike. In this particular case, I have an 82 22.5" Trek 412, an 85 56cm IM and an 87 56cm Japanese market IM. I notice a little differences in the tubing, but that is about it.

Same for saddles. Give me some type of upper level sport touring saddle/not racing saddle design from the 80s and I can ride it all day long. I don't even need a test ride. Those reissued Selle Turbos that are out, Sweet! I don't even break out cycling shorts for rides shorter than 20 miles. I have ridden SOTR every year except the first and this year. Every year except for 2, I have ridden on a different bike. Every one of those years except for 2, I have only had a shakedown ride on the bike before the event. They all fit and felt good.

In summary, if the fit on the Trek really works, duplicate it on your other bikes. You might have to change out some stems. If you've already done that, I don't know what to tell you.
Marked improvements. I moved the saddle back 2 cm; then had to tilt it up a hair, and now need to raise the stem a bit, but my mini 6 was not up to the task of loosening the bolt out on the road. Thanks for that tip. It never would have occurred to me.
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Old 06-24-19, 02:13 PM
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Understandable. My '78 trek 930 is my all time fave bike.
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Old 06-24-19, 07:22 PM
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I never came to like the '86 Ironman I had. Got rid of it quickly. If it doesn't inspire you to ride, ditch it. Besides, the 930 is such a great bike.
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Old 06-24-19, 07:55 PM
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I had an SL tubing pinarello for years, it rode nice. Close your eyes and you can't tell the difference in ride with my '86 Ironman.
As seypat has said, all things equal, Fit Is Everything....or duplicate fit is everything.

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Old 06-24-19, 08:56 PM
  #8  
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I agree with all the comments about fit, but the subtle differences in frame geometry, type of steel, tubing joint methods, and wall thicknesses, can all combine to change the stiffness of the bike and how it rides as well.
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Old 06-24-19, 09:27 PM
  #9  
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Another vote for duplicating the fit to at least get as good a baseline for comparison between the two bikes. Geometry differences can make a huge difference, as do wheels and tires. Some frames will speak above any component you put on them, telling you what they're all about. Other frames need certain pieces to make the best of them for you. It's part science, part magic.

The Trek is a hand-made beauty that shows its upper Midwest disposition and values. The Ironman is a mass-produced bike geared for fast rides and racing. Greatly differing origins, even if the 930 is a short wheelbase road bike (like the IM) that can run with the best of them. I've spent a lot of time building and thinking and searching for the 'God Particle' when it comes to how and why frames/bikes are the way they are, and have found general guidelines and boundaries, but as soon as I get granular, I find more possible variables. Your Trek is gold, which is the most wonderful feeling. Keep it and ride it forever, and don't worry about having other bikes feel as good. IMO, it's not their fault if they can't, and if an IM doesn't jibe with you, then that's not your fault. You've already won!
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Old 06-24-19, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bikeaddiction1 View Post
I agree with all the comments about fit, but the subtle differences in frame geometry, type of steel, tubing joint methods, and wall thicknesses, can all combine to change the stiffness of the bike and how it rides as well.
I wouldn't disagree with you there. However, strip away the decals and distinguishing markers. Give them identical paint jobs. Put on identical components. Take them all for test rides. After that you can't tell which brand is which or what brands of tubing were used. They became really generic. The tests were done in the past. You can find them on the web.
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Old 06-24-19, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
I wouldn't disagree with you there. However, strip away the decals and distinguishing markers. Give them identical paint jobs. Put on identical components. Take them all for test rides. After that you can't tell which brand is which or what brands of tubing were used. They became really generic. The tests were done in the past. You can find them on the web.
Nothing more accurate than blind taste testing.
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Old 06-25-19, 12:21 AM
  #12  
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this could be 'diehard' interesting.


….duplicate the touch points and all bikes ride the same....
yeah right!!!
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Old 06-25-19, 06:00 AM
  #13  
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Challenge to my robotics engineering friends -- build an android that can ride a bicycle, then compare its performance across different bicycles adjusted for equal rider fit.
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Old 06-25-19, 06:32 AM
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I can guarantee you that my Tange OS Paramount will never ride as sublimely as the Trek. With supple tires, it can ride nicely. And my personal feeling is that some tubesets are nicer than others. But nonetheless, I think I can make the Ironman feel better, with a couple more adjustments. I do not believe it will ever be the equal of the Trek. I have a 1980 Trek 414 on the stand, awaiting a front wheel. Ishiwata 022, and different geometry. Vamos a ver.
I agree with RiddleOfSteel about the baseline comparisons, and I will set about doing that on my six bikes.
I believe I will come out looking like a diehard, but I'm willing to give it a go.
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Old 06-25-19, 06:36 AM
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The disappointment, if there is any, comes as you move up through the levels. Here's the first blind test you can conduct. Take those beloved 930s that are being talked about here. Find a 530 and 730 frame from the same year in the same size. Paint/decal them up the same where they look exactly alike. Put identical components on them. Your choice. Don't weigh them, although there will not be too much variance in the weight. Now go out and take them on blind test rides. Who amongst us thinks they can pick out the 930 frame? Who thinks the 930 frame will be their favorite? Now lets expand that some. Let's get other manufacturer's competing frames from that year with the same size and similar geometries. Let's paint/decal them up where they look the same as the 3 Treks. Let's mount identical components/groups and take them all on blind test rides. Who thinks they can identify the 930? Who thinks it will be their favorite? After the rides, the most likely outcome is that the 930 will not be identified. Might not be the favorite either. Might not even be in the favorite top 5. The sentiment will be they are all great bikes. You can't go wrong with any of them. You might prefer one or two a smidge more than the rest of them. That's the reality, I'm one of the few that will admit it. That's what makes the hobby fun. Searching for the one that will change that. It's not out there.

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Old 06-25-19, 06:42 AM
  #16  
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Seypat is referring to this interesting article: Magnificent 7
Retired and having too many bikes I have spent a lot of time on this issue and found for me the big two factors, in order of importance, are fit and tires (size and design). I have a '87 Master Ironman and '84 SL Tommasini and I can't say they ride any differently.
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Old 06-25-19, 06:57 AM
  #17  
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There's this article as well.

Tubing Article ? Nothing is better than a bike that fits
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Old 06-25-19, 07:07 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
Challenge to my robotics engineering friends -- build an android that can ride a bicycle, then compare its performance across different bicycles adjusted for equal rider fit.
On an unrelated note, my son's High School STEM First Robotics team ended up ranked 4th at this year's World Championships. Had they won one of 2 qualifying matches they tied in, they would have been in 1st and onto the final match.

https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc

https://www.robohawks346.com/

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Old 06-25-19, 08:10 AM
  #19  
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Jerry, you mentioned tires in one of your posts, so you might already be on board with this, but that is one way a bike can get sold short in comparison to another if lower quality tires are used. The minor tweaks in fit will also make a difference as you’ve found. Some bikes, though, don’t ride as nicely as others, even though still good. Still, though, variety is the spice of life and it’s nice IMO to ride a merely good bike as a diversion from the monotony of always riding the same better one.
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Old 06-25-19, 10:11 AM
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So much of this hobby comes down to so many factors. The placebo effect. That top of the line racing bike decked out in perfect top of the line components that everyone says is the best bike to ride, will probably ride the best because your mind says so. The one you are most proud to own. It could be the prettiest bike or color of the bike. Fit, good wheels and tires matter the most. For me it comes down to what bike makes me feel good to ride. All of my bikes have great tires and wheels. All fit and ride great. One just feels so special to me that its like floating on clouds. Strava tells me they are all the same.
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Old 06-25-19, 10:35 AM
  #21  
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I have recently come around to the realization that good tires can change everything. The Paramount is a case it point. It is a very harsh ride except on cushy tires. That wheelset is currently on the Ironman. Perhaps I'll move the B17N over too, to make it the best equipped it can be, with what I have here. I'm not complaining about the ride quality. It came to me with such hype though, I guess i was expecting more.
RideWithGps tells me the 930 is my fastest bike. I'm running UltraSport II on that bike. My current favorite tire.
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Old 06-25-19, 11:35 AM
  #22  
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My advice is to measure the bike that fits you best/is fastest/most comfortable- 1) Center of BB to top of saddle, along the seat tube; 2) Center of seatpost under the saddle to center of handlebar at stem; and 3) Center of handlebar to grouund while bike is vertical. Even allowing for differences in BB height (which are typically pretty minor), if you set up each bike with these measurements close to one another, they will all fit, be fast, and be comfortable in pretty much the same fashion. As you know, I have a couple dozen bikes and this is what I do to get them all in the ballpark.

Then, individually, I make minor adjustments to saddle fore-aft and tilt; to handlebar angle; and to number of spacers between crank and pedal spindle. I also liek to make sure that when I'm riding each bike in a comfortable position. when I look down the handlebar should exactly obscure the front axle, and when I'm standing to pedal when I look down the front axle is directly below my eyes. Sometimes this means I have to change a stem by 5 or 10 mm, but it makes a difference.

Finally, I'm a big believer in quality wheels and quality tires. Big fan of quality hubs laced to mostly modern Open Pro level rims with double butted spokes. Everything I ride is clincher, and I limit tire selection to Vittoria Open Pro III (no longer made but still out there as NOS), Continental Grand Prix 4000 SII (ditto, and even slightly less expensive), Vittoria Corsa G (especially when looking for the skinwall effect), or Panaracer Gravel King file tread (brownwalls that don't go with all paint schemes). None of those tires are cheap, with prices ranging from $32 to $59 per tire, but th data I've collected over the years tells me that they last a long time, give a good ride, and don't hold me back on speed.

Anyway, just a few data points that may help you enjoy your Ironman. I certainly like my '86 IM, and consider it to be as sublime a ride as just about anything else in the stable.
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Old 06-25-19, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by seedsbelize View Post
I'm not complaining about the ride quality. It came to me with such hype though, I guess i was expecting more.
RideWithGps tells me the 930 is my fastest bike. I'm running UltraSport II on that bike. My current favorite tire.
I had the same thing happen to me. I was rocking on my Schwinn Circuit when an Ironman, Miami Vice, popped up on CL in my price range. I was expecting magic from all the hype. The bike was fine, rode well but I prefered the Crit geometry of the Circuit at the time. Been trough a lot of bikes. For long distance comfort I like early 1970's 531. Like riding in the clouds. That old race geometry gets me every time.
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Old 06-25-19, 12:11 PM
  #24  
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It's like the Trek that I acquired. You hear about how great the early Treks are. The one I have is a nice bike. It has some pretty paint. But even with top level components/hubs/wheels/tires it does absolutely nothing to distinguish itself from the rest of the bikes in the stable. Just another nice bike.
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Old 06-25-19, 01:43 PM
  #25  
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Takes awhile for some bikes/riders to mesh. I fiddled and piddled with my Ironman for two years to get it jussst right for me.

Then I realized I need to tune the engine.

After six weeks in physical therapy, the Ironman feels like a comfy sofa.

Well, for about 40 miles. Then it begins to feel like an unpadded dining room chair -- I'm simultaneously hungry and a bit uncomfortable.
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