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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

New gravel bike too smooth.

Old 07-09-24, 04:26 PM
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New gravel bike too smooth.

Is there such a thing as "too smooth" when it comes to the ride of a bike?

I built up a bike recently using every trick I could think of to achieve the smoothest ride possible. I succeeded.
Nice long wheelbase so the middle where I am sitting doesn't rise/fall as much
Fork tuned for high frequency/low amplitude isolation.
29'er wheels for an approach angle that provides a long ramp up time over an obstacle.
55mm tire width for rolling over rough surface texture with out transferring energy to the rim, up the spokes, to the hub and onward.
Mixte frame design to provide for increased vertical compliance in a way not possible with conventional diamond frames.
Leaf spring seat post to decouple sit bones from bike forces.
Berd Spokes, strong yet compliant carbon handle bars, weight-weenie stem

In theory, everything should be perfect for a magic carpet ride on a road to hell made of baby heads. The problem is the bike disappears. It simply goes away. It feels vague. Mushy. There is no feedback. It feels like it wanders. Kind of reactive & whippy. Ever try to push a rope? Sort of like that.

I had a Ritchey Ascent with 700x44's that sort of had a similar feeling but was also top heavy and similarly slow. Am I just feeling an artifact of large wheels.

It is also tempting to blame the Lauf fork. I suspect it was designed noodle-y to compensate for ultra stiff carbon frames. I just don't know.

Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing in the compliance department?
It sure is tempting to call this whole experiment a loss and repurpose the bits.
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Old 07-09-24, 04:57 PM
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It sounds exactly like you created a too-much-of-a-good-thing issue.

Speaking of tires, specifically...On my current gravel bike, I've run 40, 44, and 48mm versions of the same tires. Compared with the 40s, on pavement, the 48's felt like a '70s Cadillac - heavy, slow, and vague. In the dirt, however, they felt more MTB-y, with confident grip and I could afford to be less picky with my line choice. For a ride with a long, rough descent, the 48s were nice. Overall, for my gravel bike, I didn't care for their muted feel on a bike with a racy tilt.
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Old 07-09-24, 05:50 PM
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Hmmm. February 1978 I rode a 1930s Raleigh DL-1 on a major Boston street 3 days after the Blizzard that closed the city. 10" of hard packed ice with potholes down to the pavement. That bike just cruised along. All I had to do was pedal. What I rode over didn't matter. (Big, fat tires on 28" rims. There are probably not enough digits to describe either wheelbase or weight.)

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Old 07-09-24, 06:17 PM
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Make a statement:

Put 23 mm tires on and pump them up to like 140psi.
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Old 07-09-24, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
Make a statement:

Put 23 mm tires on and pump them up to like 140psi.
Instant feedback!
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Old 07-09-24, 06:52 PM
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Sounds like you have a great platform for experimentation.
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Old 07-09-24, 07:37 PM
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Once again, I am checking Bike Forums while on a bike ride.
I adjusted the fit a bit. When I originally set the bar height, saddle position, etc...I was under the impression that based on the design sheet it had 73 degree hta/STA. Upon busting out my trusty iPhone® it actually has 71/71 angles. So I adjusted the saddle fore/aft position and raised the bar height accordingly. I also added 5 additional mm of spacers to account for the sag in the Lauf fork. Far back backside and too low/stretched out is a well known recipe for sluggishness.

While I was at it, I grabbed a torque wrench and torqued the thru-axle to the full value of the 106in/lb embossed on the thru-axle itself. It would seem that by "tight enough by way of Allen wrench" I was selling myself short. It stands to reason that because it is 2 independent sets of leaf springs, the thru-axle serves in an active structural role too that I failed to appreciate.

My particular gripe has been addressed. It is a very muted bike though. Any trail derived bumps, if they get through at all are more of a "thud."

I that it's time to get out to the single track/double track and give it what-for.




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Old 07-09-24, 11:44 PM
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You bought a custom bike with geometry that ended up being an entire 2 degrees off on the HTA and STA?
That's bonkers.


Glad the incorrect geometry works for you. I guess the correct geometry woulda been bad.
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Old 07-09-24, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by base2
Is there such a thing as "too smooth" when it comes to the ride of a bike?

I built up a bike recently using every trick I could think of to achieve the smoothest ride possible. I succeeded.
Nice long wheelbase so the middle where I am sitting doesn't rise/fall as much
Fork tuned for high frequency/low amplitude isolation.
29'er wheels for an approach angle that provides a long ramp up time over an obstacle.
55mm tire width for rolling over rough surface texture with out transferring energy to the rim, up the spokes, to the hub and onward.
Mixte frame design to provide for increased vertical compliance in a way not possible with conventional diamond frames.
Leaf spring seat post to decouple sit bones from bike forces.
Berd Spokes, strong yet compliant carbon handle bars, weight-weenie stem

In theory, everything should be perfect for a magic carpet ride on a road to hell made of baby heads. The problem is the bike disappears. It simply goes away. It feels vague. Mushy. There is no feedback. It feels like it wanders. Kind of reactive & whippy. Ever try to push a rope? Sort of like that.

I had a Ritchey Ascent with 700x44's that sort of had a similar feeling but was also top heavy and similarly slow. Am I just feeling an artifact of large wheels.

It is also tempting to blame the Lauf fork. I suspect it was designed noodle-y to compensate for ultra stiff carbon frames. I just don't know.

Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing in the compliance department?
It sure is tempting to call this whole experiment a loss and repurpose the bits.
Sporty passenger cars use rubber bushings at the suspension linkages, and (used to be) higher profile tires for decent ride, but less steering and handling precision. Take that same chassis and replace the rubber bushings with greased bronze or heim joints, and use ultra-low-profile tires, and steering precision and handling firms right up, including steering feedback to better enable operating at the limit of adhesion, but at the expense of ride quality.

Sound familiar?
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Old 07-10-24, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
You bought a custom bike with geometry that ended up being an entire 2 degrees off on the HTA and STA?
That's bonkers.


Glad the incorrect geometry works for you. I guess the correct geometry woulda been bad.
Yeah. I'm undecided about that particular aspect of the build.

What I am decided on is the build quality. The headset cups needed to be reworked because of a angularity and alignment problem. I brought it back and after a week or 2, They fixed it by milling the cup down so that they were at least parallel. But the axial alignment is something they can't change with out burning the paint. When they milled the cup, they milled one side more so the bearing sits square. While that works, the top cap has to be quite a bit tighter than otherwise necessary to prevent the bearing from wandering in the bore.

The other thing is the rear drop outs only aligned when in the forward most position. As the chain is tensioned each slider travels at an incline in relation to the other. Now, I know there necessarily has to be a bit of slop so that the sliders slide. The problem is that even when utilizing 100% of the slop available the wheel would develope a tilt where the top was out of square be several millimeters. The further back you went, the worse the tilt became. This was not a problem that could be corrected with a rat-tail file as the amount of material to remove was variable depending on what position was necessary for proper chain tension.

So, I brought the bike back a second time to demonstrate the issue. The welder saw, understood, and confirmed the issue and asked me what the fix was. Perfect. I couldn't have asked for better.

The mechanic however, spent an additional 60+ minutes explaining why sloppy workmanship was justified and the problem was my desire for exacting tolerances. Yeah. Wanting a wheel that sits in the frame squarely is surely me being unreasonable. Fatigued and in disgust from the encounter I just left the frame, ready to walk away from the project altogether.

Given the 2 issues of build quality and the third issue of customer service, the next day I fired off an email saying I was being bullshotted by the mechanic, I knew it and the fix was a new frame.

About 2 weeks later, I get a phone call saying the frame was ready. I go to the shop and indeed it was. I double checked their work and after a bit of futzing using 100% of the available slop the wheel can be made to sit squarely for about 95% of the slider length. Good enough. Then the mechanic, who had apparently read my email to the welder tried to level with me about how he is an adult & if I think I'm being bullshotted, I can just say so to his face. I thought I had. Multiple times during the previous encounter. A marathon endurance event of saying so to his face for over an hour. I didn't want to restart an old argument whereby I was objectively, measurably correct that the bike was made wrong. I didn't want to readdress why being given reasons that selling wrong frames and giving the customer a million reasons why it is acceptable is acceptable customer service. I didn't want to address pushing problems with sloppy workmanship problems back on to the customer for because it's somehow the customers fault for expecting high build quality isn't great customer service. So, I just told him: "We're good. Let's drop it."

In the end, the frame is passable. It goes. It rides. It looks nice. But I'm not excited about it any more. I think this is my 4th & last Rodriguez.

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Old 07-12-24, 01:42 AM
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Wow, Rodriguez is a premium and known name. Glad you got things corrected. Does the correctly build frame feel any better, versus your previous concerns? (And even if not, you still had the right to have the bike built to correct quality specs.)

What are those LARGE levers(?) at hub level behind the front fork?

Looks like UW campus. Took me a while to find where, I think I passed through that green once.

EDIT: I saw a post on a phone pole in '23 or '22, about a stolen orange Rodriguez with a Rohloff, reward for return, "It's not worth much to anyone else..." and I thought, yeah, they knew what they were stealing. I now never EVER leave my bike chained up, no matter how big the chain or U-lock, they can grind through anything. Seattle stores are now generally friendly to having people wheel through, especially if you are a regular. Can't bring the bike inside? I come back on foot or car or go elsewhere. Never leave that 'Rod unattended, even if locked, is my advice.

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Old 07-12-24, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
What are those LARGE levers(?) at hub level behind the front fork?
.
Its a Lauf Grit fork.

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Old 07-12-24, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
Wow, Rodriguez is a premium and known name. Glad you got things corrected. Does the correctly build frame feel any better, versus your previous concerns? (And even if not, you still had the right to have the bike built to correct quality specs.)

What are those LARGE levers(?) at hub level behind the front fork?

Looks like UW campus. Took me a while to find where, I think I passed through that green once.
You are correct. It was the UW campus. For the test ride I wanted a known known to compare against. The tree roots and various other age related distress of the trail is very familiar to me. The proper thru-axle torque to tie the axle suspension elements together was the magic sauce.

It is a Lauf Grit 3 fork. Oh, boy! Does it work!? I took the bike for a 3rd test ride last night. I went to a rails-to-trails trail that isn't bike trail yet. They've only started to pull the tracks so there is about 2 miles of railroad ballast and little else. No other improvement work has been done. The bike performed flawlessly. Well enough I continued for another 500 feet on the ties themselves between the tracks. I only stopped when I started getting sprayed with sealant...not the first time, the second. The trick it seems is maintaining the correct speed. So I turned around and rode back.



Perhaps I wasn't clear, they only reworked the original frame. They didn't make me a new one, which is on point 3, what I asked for. To correct the wheel tilt, they filed the sliding drop out so there was additional slop the slider could work in. The frame we are looking at is the original and I've accepted it because it has been made to work. My problem is with the first pass quality. I expected better execution.

Back to the premise of the thread: Can a bike be too compliant? I dunno. I do think that any bike that can comfortably ride untreated railroad ballast and on the ties of railroad tracks is a winner in the compliance department.
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Old 07-12-24, 07:23 PM
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(above) I had to look up the fork maker to see an iso view to grasp those are not wires but leaf springs. Oh yeah, I could see that offering a bunch of suspension. And also, the value of proper axle preload to help maintain alignment, this is reminding me of something else but I can't quite remember.

Those RR tracks, is that on the north side of the locks in Ballard?

I know there are still active tracks on the south side of the locks between Interbay and the rail bridge west of the locks, then up the coast. But I am guessing those tracks may be sorta east-west tracks that used to connect to what became the Burke-Gilman trail.
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Old 07-12-24, 07:43 PM
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Duragrouch Woodinville connects to Snohomish. If you are familiar with Wilmot Gateway, there is a rail overpass over the Sammamish River Trail at the northern entrance/exit to the park. That rail line is inactive and connects to Snohomish at the South end of town between the airport and first Street.

The plan is to (eventually) convert that inactive line to a rails to trails style MUP. Thus far only the first 2 miles at the Woodinville end have the tracks pulled. But literally nothing else has been done. I was under the impression it was in work but passable. I was wrong. It didn't stop me from a quick evening test ride though.
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Old 07-12-24, 08:07 PM
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(above) Ah thanks. I haven't explored that area at all.
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Old 07-12-24, 08:38 PM
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Dang, I'm sorry you had problems with your build. We are also a four-Rod family and have had nothing but positive experiences with them. My suspicion is that you designed your bike to be comfortable while riding over extremes, so of course it will shine going over railroad ties but feel a bit listless on pavement. Horses for courses and all that.
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Old 07-12-24, 09:01 PM
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Somehow I knew it was going to be a Mixte... Ha

That Fork is beyond reproach! Please tell us more as you break it in...
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