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Do you believe in magic?

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Do you believe in magic?

Old 10-13-12, 01:50 PM
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Do you believe in magic?

Serious question, actually. I'm talking about the magical ride of certain bicycles, which certain riders feel and ascribe to the frame. Not the tires, the seat, the weather, the amphetamines, or the company. But the frame.

I, personally, do not. I have never ridden a bike that had any magical qualities at all. I have had some lovely bikes, including a Raleigh Pro, a Pinarello with full pantographed Super Record component set, a PX10, even a modern aluminum-carbon thing with STI shifters etc that weighed in at 17 lbs. None were magical, all have been sold. I've tried frames ranging from 55 cm to 63 cm, and frankly haven't noticed much of a difference in the ride depending on that either, though frames in the 60 - 62 range seem to fit me best. I now have a variety of bikes I like, some with 531 db throughout, others with partial 531 that probably isn't butted, some with unknown good tubing... and well, they are all pretty nice. I'm not complaining. But none of them are magical.

Nonetheless, I know that some people on the forum do believe in this magic I'm talking about, or at least they claim they have. One forum member has raved about a Sachs frame, for example, in such glowing terms that I suspected hyperbole. But to tell the truth, I think he was talking about something real that I have simply not experienced.

And this makes me wonder why.

My theory is that at my weight (165 lbs) I am just not heavy enough to put my frames under the kind of stress that separates the good from the sublime.

What's your experience? What's your opinion? And if you have experienced this frameogenic magic on some bikes and not on others, please be so good as to tell me how much you weigh, so we can test my theory.
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Old 10-13-12, 02:48 PM
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Is a comet a ball of ice in a highly elliptical orbit around a star, or a supernatural portent of great events?

My guess is that "magical" frames are very nice riding bikes for which the rider does not have a good explanation of why the ridefeel is so perfect for them. The complexity of angles, dimensions, frame material, and variety of parts attached to the frame can make it challenging to understand exactly why one bike/frame rides better than the next, so unless you're willing to take a considerable amount of time investigating and experimenting, there might as well be magic involved.

Personally, I do notice a real difference in the way all of my bikes ride (if I didn't, I wouldn't need to own so many ), each one is different and is best suited for a particular kind of riding, and each frame seems to have its own best-possible setup and use. I don't call it magic, but I have found (150 lbs. for the record) that there really is a 'just-right' quality that can be noticed when you get everything dialed in perfectly to take advantage of a frame's qualities in combination with the way you want to use it.
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Old 10-13-12, 03:08 PM
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I hope I'm not being referenced; I don't believe in magic. I do think my Sachs rides quite nicely, and I think the lower bb is part of it. I've found that I consistently prefer lower bbs. I do feel a notable difference in frames and am a lot heavier than you...I didn't care much when I was younger and thinner. I could definitely tell frames apart at high speed; some are a lot more stable. I do think how bikes are built can influence ride...not as much tires though. My Sachs isn't my favorite riding bike, but I do like it.

I also think that bikes we think are faster often are...it might be psychology, but I also think it has some truth to it.
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Old 10-13-12, 03:17 PM
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I don't know about "magical" quality, but I am quite convinced that various frames, geometries, etc. feel different. The bikes that remain as "keepers" are invariably those that not only fit me and my style of riding best, but also "feel" best to me. Poor fit is a deal breaker for me, but after thirty-five years of riding I'm still trying to figure out what my preferred geometry is. My very favorite bikes are dialed in to me and while I experience the ride "magic" (or whatever), someone of similar size might very well mount the same bike and have a very different ride experience. I guess what I'm saying is that while there is definitely a frame quality that affects the ride, there's also something within each of us individually that interprets the comfort or thrill or whatever it is we're searching for in very different ways. And I think that is where the "magic" lies, for the most part.
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Old 10-13-12, 03:22 PM
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I've been wondering this for the longest time. I can't claim I've done apples-to-apples comparisons of different frames. The various bikes I've ridden had different components, tires, wheel weights, measurements, handlebar tape, and color. But I suspect the frame does contribute to the way a bike rides. I suspect the frame material is a fairly small factor, however. I think we over-emphasize the importance of a frame because it's the most expensive part of a bike. It's not only expensive to build and buy a frame, it's labor intensive (expensive) to swap a frame out and in, compared with anything else.

I just read this article, which suggests that frame material plays some role of some sort, but it's quite unclear what we should expect from different materials.
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Old 10-13-12, 03:24 PM
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That's a great question, and one I've thought about also. There's the basics, that is a touring frame is going to be different than a sport touring frame, vs a racer, vs a crit bike. Then there's some amount of material selection that comes into play. Those seem like givens, but still a big part of what really needs to be sorted out, in terms of getting what you want. It's really easy to think you want one thing, when you need something else. I've been guilty of that many times. Getting to know how different size bikes will feel for you will help quite a bit. Problem is that changes (for me anyway) every season at least a little bit.

I find that the wheelset/tire combo is primary in bringing out the best the frame has. I've ridden the same frame under multiple wheelsets, and there's something to getting the right combination for that bike's purpose (not always just the lightest, etc). As long as frames have similar tubing and geometries, I seem to be able to mix and match wheels, tires, cranks, etc. until it gets to its best point (sometimes very different given similar frames). Even after all that, some bikes just click for me more than others. Unfortunate, since a lot of $'s get tossed at it until a keep/sell decision gets made sometimes. After a long while, I sort of know how something is going to turn out, and become much more selective.

Ultimately, I'm getting a custom frame made (sometime when my name floats to the top of the list). I really want a builders input, as I've managed to upgrade my rides over time (in terms of fit, comfort, and performance), but not the magical quality that seems to be out there.

My wife's ride however, is quite magical.
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Old 10-13-12, 03:32 PM
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nope. fsm4life.
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Old 10-13-12, 03:38 PM
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I agree with Chrome Molly...and I think it really boils down to a rider's individual preference rather than any sort of objective reality. Tires truly do make all the difference...the same bike can ride quite differently with different tires. I know I don't like ultra light wheels, especially on descents...I like a heavier wheel (particularly with a lighter frame) because I think it's more balanced. I have no scientific explanation, it's just something I've found, over time, that I like.

To make your informal study more accurate, wouldn't we also want to mention frame size? I think the greater flex in a larger frame would as relevant, or more relevant, than weight.

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Old 10-13-12, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Chrome Molly View Post
My wife's ride however, is quite magical.
My ex had the same ride

Are Lucky Charms really "Magically Delicious"? My bikes all do what I ask them to do - and very, very well, thank you - and that's enough for me. Magical (to me) would be something akin to the BMX bikes in E.T.

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Old 10-13-12, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Chrome Molly View Post

My wife's ride however, is quite magical.
I read this and did not see your attached image. I thought this thread was suddenly going in a very different direction.

I haven't ridden enough different bikes to answer the OP's question, but I will say that riding a nice bike can be such an unadulterated joy that it feels magical. I realize that's different than what you're asking about.
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Old 10-13-12, 04:38 PM
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After rolling through 25+ bicycles in the last six years, let's just say I have a decent point of reference about this matter.

Three factors count for me.

Fit, skill of the builder and Columbus steel.







BTW Chrome Molly, you crack me up.
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Old 10-13-12, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by gomango View Post
After rolling through 25+ bicycles in the last six years, let's just say I have a decent point of reference about this matter.

Three factors count for me.

Fit, skill of the builder and Columbus steel.







BTW Chrome Molly, you crack me up.
I'm very far from having your experience with bikes, but I've tried a few like Colnago, Ciφcc, Vicini, Crescent 92320, Cinelli. And Banani (which you've probably never heard of, but their bikes are holy grails for many Danes, and rightly so).

And yet, yet, the one bike that has made me happiest, is a low end entry level Crescent 3 tube Reynolds with Tange fork, set up with mudguards, hub brake, single speed, 28 mm Paselas. I practically race through Copenhagen on this bike like on no other bike i've tried. It's The Perfect Bike. It's magical. For me.

I can only conclude that it must be the geometry that fits me perfectly.
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Old 10-13-12, 06:50 PM
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Everytime I've had a mystical experience on a bike...it turns out I was riding with the wind at my back

But at 240/250lbs riding 61-65cm frames, IMHO there are noticable differences in frames. I can feel most frames flex while climbing, some in turns, it can be either unnerving or comforting, thought not enough to keep me off any one of the. One delivers a more pleasant expericence over a broader range of situations. Oh..well...I just happened to drop a four leaf clover down the seat tube on St. Patrick's day but I'm sure that has nothing to do with it

Yea, I think a heavier rider on longer tubes does make for some variable ride characteristics to become more noticable.
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Old 10-13-12, 07:11 PM
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I have seen vats of cheese that came together like magic, and knew right away that they were special. Likewise, I have seen football teams dance on the field with the power and speed of 11 choreographed lightning bolts. I've seen fire teams and squads execute perfect patrol tactics, both in training and under fire. It's never magic. It's always a combination that falls together, the coincidence of correct choices and execution. Exactly the same occurs, in the opposite, in horrible, terrible situations that involve a confluence of wrong occurrences, with disastrous results.

I don't know of any magic frames, but I've probably ridden 25-30 bikes in the last 4 years, and I know what isn't, and in many cases, it is the frame, because I've ridden exclusively 56cm frames for about 2 years now. I've used the same components on different frames, and can definitely state some seem better, tremendously better, than others.

To me, the wrong choice of wheels/tires can pretty much ruin the joy of a great frame. Components can get detract from a great ride, a bad saddle can be a PITA, and bad bars cause you to lose your grip on fun.

However, when you choose the perfect mix, fit it as if it was made for you, and know how to ride it, heck yes, it's magic.
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Old 10-13-12, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
Everytime I've had a mystical experience on a bike...it turns out I was riding with the wind at my back
Are you saying I didn't experience a magic Huffy?
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Old 10-13-12, 07:31 PM
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Hmm, I suppose i've never really experienced bicycle frame magic. Although, I do think I have preferences. I seem to like heavy bikes.

There is one thing that I think of as magical. Sometimes when you ride, your cadence can match up with your speed.... and almost feel like you could be running on the ground if it weren't for the bike. That is one thing that I really enjoy.
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Old 10-13-12, 08:19 PM
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Are you saying I didn't experience a magic Huffy?


Oh yes I did!
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Old 10-13-12, 09:40 PM
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I don't know if it's magic, but when I ride my International, I feel like its an extension of me. I hop on and I'm going, no real thinking, no stress, just pedal, steer and glide along. It's great. I'm about 230# so I put stress on the frame but it seems happy w me. My Volpe is great too but it's more truck like. My Gran Course 531C is like using a fillet knife, goes where you want w minimal input and feels quick. The international is the only one I'm comfortable riding no handed for a distance and it's the only one that steers well w out hands. It's a keeper
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Old 10-13-12, 10:18 PM
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A very interesting question presented in the spirit of intellectual inquiry. Thus, there will be a limited, but enthusiastic, audience.

There are too many variables to speak specifically, but we can hypothesize.

Forget about magic. It's about the right fit, wheels, components, etc for the individual rider.

Given that, let's look at frames.

I can tell the difference between the gross stiffness of various frames. The stiffiest bike I have ever ridden is my 1987 Cannondale Criterium (and I love the ride). It is grossly over engineered and, maybe, the stiffest production bike ever built. My second stiffest is my 1998 Litespeed Ultimate. Stiffest steel bike I have ridden was a 1986 Team Miyata. How can I determine stiffest? Actually, a variety of ways. For example, you are riding on a major arterial and coming up to an intersection with another arterial. The light has turned green and the driver in the opposite turning lane sees you and is waiting. In order to save your life and be polite, put the pedal to the metal. Does it take off like a rocket?
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Old 10-13-12, 10:24 PM
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Raul Ibanez does (sorry OT).
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Old 10-13-12, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by gaucho777 View Post
Raul Ibanez does (sorry OT).
So does Carlos Castaneda.
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Old 10-13-12, 10:49 PM
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My Super Course has the magic. I've had at least a half dozen more expensive bikes and I've always chosen the SC. In every case I tried exchanging the wheels, bars etc. I've found that carefully checking the frame and fork alignment can make a big difference. Tom gave me a Falcon last year that was straight guage 531. I was hoping that maybe that was the secret (for a 225lb guy). Nope. That's not it. I'm going to start taking some careful notes on lengths and angles of tubes and joints to figure this out.
Just last year I picked up a Competition and a Record (we're talking Raleighs here) and they both have it. Damm that Comp is addictive. I was surprised to find it in the Record. It was a dumpster bike that I threw together as a single speed. I'm gonna rebuild it with some fancy parts soon and see if it gets better.
I've found a magic wheelset, too. Again, thanks to Tom. I've never really looked at it. I think it's Mavic hubs, Campy rims and Michelin tires. I should pay more attention cause they make any bike feel good and a great bike orgasmic. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but they're good.
I've got a couple of WWII Victory bikes. I just sold the 3rd. The first was my '42 Roadmaster. 35lbs and a coaster brake and it's still got the magic. You can't call it fast but it feels good under your butt. The Manton & Smith didn't and the Columbia didn't and I've got no idea why. They all look like identical triplets. I'm gonna try some skinny 700s on that Roadmaster soon, just to see what it feels like with a real wheelset.
I know it's not really magic. There's a logical explanation for it. I'm thinking frame angles, maybe just cause that's the only area that I haven't really explored yet and all my favorite bikes have similar "laid back" geometry.
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Old 10-14-12, 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by sailorbenjamin View Post
I know it's not really magic. There's a logical explanation for it. I'm thinking frame angles, maybe just cause that's the only area that I haven't really explored yet and all my favorite bikes have similar "laid back" geometry.
The exasperating part of it is that those differences in geometry may be minuscule and yet make a quite big difference. That's what I've experienced with roadster bikes from the 30's, 40's and 50's. They may look practically alike except for perhaps a little longer or shorter chain stays or perhaps 0.5 cm difference in trail!
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Old 10-14-12, 04:51 AM
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First thing I thought about when I saw this thread's title: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBVOYkhNb1o

I've got nice bikes with different characteristics, but I've had some magical rides - the most recent included sunrise highlighting the ground fog in an orchard, bridging almost effortlessly in the upper 20s to a breakaway, finding a bake sale at our rest stop, and maintaining a steady 21-22 mph into a 5-10 mph headwind when it came my turn to pull. I happened to be riding my carbon Look 585, but it would've been the same on my aluminum Allez or my steel Ironman.
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Old 10-14-12, 04:59 AM
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I do not believe in magic, however, some bikes aesthetically are just so pleasing, that it does "improve" the ride. Anything that encourages me to ride more, has a certain "magic" to it.
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