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How can a $14,000 bicycle possibly be worth the money?

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How can a $14,000 bicycle possibly be worth the money?

Old 01-18-23, 07:58 AM
  #401  
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Originally Posted by Jughed
My old road bike was a CADD 3 Cannondale R800. It was everything you said. You could feel the power going to wheel, felt like no power was lost. But the thing would rattle the fillings out of your head.

My new road bike is a modern aluminum version of that bike, Trek ALR 5. The frames are worlds apart - in comparison, the Trek is smoother/more "compliant", but is also stiff & has decent power transfer.
The difference you feel in compliance is most likely because of wider or even just more supple tires on the Trek, not differences between the frames.
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Old 01-18-23, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
Another unappreciated factor in the equation, at least for the U.S. bike market, is that for many decades, bikes were ridden almost exclusively by children and were therefore part of the toy market. Margins were thin for manufacturers and retailers alike, but costs were low at the point of sale, since the three or four models of single-speed balloon-tire bikes that dominated the market took only a few minutes for low-paid staffers in department stores and hardware stores to assemble.

Sales of more-sophisticated bikes to adults in the U.S. began to increase slowly in the 1960s but really took off during the early-'70s bike boom. Unfortunately for the specialty bike shops that began springing up, the costs of assembly and warranty work went way up (to say nothing of the cost of maintaining sufficient inventory in all the brands and models and sizes and colors of bikes and all their components or of all the other costs of doing business), but the profit margins remained the same. (Ironically, profit margins elsewhere in the toy industry increased dramatically over the same time period.)

Margins in the bike industry stayed essentially the same until carbon bikes started to be a real presence. Love carbon bikes or hate them, people regard them as representing a paradigm shift in technology in the industry. They enabled manufacturers and retailers to begin to pull prices up from the toy industry profit margins that bike buyers had enjoyed and industry professionals had suffered from for decades. (Compare what happened during the couple of years when CDs were supplanting vinyl records. Once the machinery was in place, CDs were far cheaper to manufacture and distribute than LPs, but the CD prices were much higher.)

So, as a former bike store manager, I'm happy to see the prices that higher-end bikes have reached, especially since they've enabled a more general (if more modest) increase in margins that applies to other bikes and equipment. It's about time prices got to where bike store owners could afford to make a decent living.

Too bad the even more recent changes, including ever-expanding consolidation of formerly independent bike shops into networks of company-owned stores, have ensured that most of those store owners won't be able to survive in the bike industry for much longer.
That plus the Lance Armstrong/Tiger Woods (I know, not biking) effect coupled with the internet forums...

People began to believe that they needed the bike Lance rode, the clubs Tiger used, the hunting gear used by the professional guides, the bass boats used by the bass pro's... prices of most hobby things went thru the roof. And companies realized that if you made the product, marketed it well - people will pay the crazy prices. Yeti coolers are the perfect example. $500+ for a cooler, $250 for a 12 pack beer cooler - will keep your beer cold for 4 days, when any real beer drinker only needs it cold for an afternoon!!

And internet forums will tell you that you need a yeti, or ultegra, or a CF frame to ride along at 200w. And people with money will buy it.
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Old 01-18-23, 08:10 AM
  #403  
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Originally Posted by Jughed
That plus the Lance Armstrong/Tiger Woods (I know, not biking) effect coupled with the internet forums...

People began to believe that they needed the bike Lance rode, the clubs Tiger used......................
But then found out they would never ride like Lance or play like Tiger until they had the drugs Lance had or the women Tiger had.
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Old 01-18-23, 08:21 AM
  #404  
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Originally Posted by Lombard
The difference you feel in compliance is most likely because of wider or even just more supple tires on the Trek, not differences between the frames.
I ran 23C Conti's @100psi on the Cdale. The Trek came with cheapo 25's that I ran @100psi. I had over 30k miles on that Cdale - the bike was rigid, almost cold... it would rattle you to death. Modern tube shapes, different aluminum alloy. The Cdale tubes were fat, round and straight, the Trek tubes are compound shapes with varying wall thickness.

In terms of ride quality, the Trek is worlds better. As it should be, it's 25 years newer.

And the only point I was making - you don't need a CF frame to get better ride quality than the old Cdale aluminum frames. They were brutal.
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Old 01-18-23, 08:28 AM
  #405  
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer
On a rim brake bike with road calipers, much of the braking forces are transmitted from the road, passed through the wheel and then to the frame/rider through the fork crown area. The fork crown is already very bulked-up and strong.

On disc brakes, the forces are passed from the road 100% to the end of the fork through the disc, and from there to the frame.

It is for this reason that disc forks have to be stronger and unfortunately heavier. Every disc brake fork I've had through my hands at the shop has been substantially heavier than equivalent non-disc versions. It is for this reason that disc-brake road bikes ride 'dead' and non-compliant. I suppose this is the reason that bikes have gone to larger tires: to compensate for the stiffer frame and fork requirement. But then bigger tires are also heavier.
I have a Fuji Sportiv with a CF fork and discs and it does Not feel "dead and non-compliant."

Actually, it felt slow and unresponsive, but I put some nice CF rims on it (I wouldn't use CF wheels unless disc) and now it is very responsive and as complaint as any of the rim-brake bikes I own, some which have CF and some steel forks.

It is great that some folks keep telling themselves stories, but not so good (for them) when they confuse those stories with reality.

Oh, and I was all about the supposed "efficiency" of rock-hard 23s, but now prefer 28s and if I find some, might go to some light and supple 32s .... but I only own one disc road bike. Wider tires are not a response to disc brakes, they are simply more efficient (according to lab testing) and more comfortable. Again, try to remember which are your personal stories and what is actually real.
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Old 01-18-23, 08:33 AM
  #406  
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Originally Posted by Lombard
The difference you feel in compliance is most likely because of wider or even just more supple tires on the Trek, not differences between the frames.
A thousand times yes. The history of the "aluminum frame equals harsh ride" fallacy is as follows.

Guy buys medium-wheelbase sport touring bike with 70-psi 27" x 1 1/4" tires in the '70s. Guy eventually decides to step up to new Cannondale, in the middle or late '80s. Enthusiastic bike racer salesman (that would have been me, in our shop) talks guy into buying a Cannondale Crit series bike, with ultra-short wheelbase (and 700c x 23-mm tires pumped to 120 psi). Wheelbase makes bike handle like a Formula 1 Ferrari; tires make bike ride like Ben Hur chariot. Rider incorrectly interprets the hardness of the tires and the shocking immediacy of the handling as evidence of the harshness of the bike's aluminum frame. Misinterpretation eventually hardens into dogma on the internet.

Comparatively few of us here have owned both a Cannondale and a high-end Italian steel bike (in my case, a Bianchi Specialissima Supercorsa) with similarly short wheelbases. But those who have owned both know that the Italian bike is no more "comfortable" than the Cannondale---just heavier.
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Old 01-18-23, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
My old road bike was a CADD 3 Cannondale R800. It was everything you said. You could feel the power going to wheel, felt like no power was lost. But the thing would rattle the fillings out of your head.

My new road bike is a modern aluminum version of that bike, Trek ALR 5. The frames are worlds apart - in comparison, the Trek is smoother/more "compliant", but is also stiff & has decent power transfer.
A bike racer/materials engineer has a YouTube channel ("Peak Torque"---I recommend his videos highly) where he evaluates many claims concerning bike technology. One video concerned what people believe about what makes one bike more comfortable than another. He measured compliance of frame and components and found that the saddle, seatpost, and tires were by far the principal factors. The bike's frame was down in the statistical noise range of factors.

Your Trek likely has a greater free seatpost length and wider, lower-pressure tires (and, I would guess, a longer wheelbase) than the Cannondale. I understand that manufacturers sell more aluminum bikes if they claim that they're more compliant than the older versions, but I don't buy it. Making an aluminum tube more compliant is how you make it more breakable.
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Old 01-18-23, 09:03 AM
  #408  
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
I understand that manufacturers sell more aluminum bikes if they claim that they're more compliant than the older versions, but I don't buy it. Making an aluminum tube more compliant is how you make it more breakable.
Here I have to disagree, if only a little.

Hydroforming has given designers the ability to achieve tube shapes which are more efficient (do the same job, transmit or damp the same forces, with less weight) or more compliant (better flex in the appropriate directions) than straight tubing.

Not arguing with the research whichever person did or claims to have done, nor interested in the methodology or whatever. I am specifically targeting the idea that all aluminum tubes are equal.

I doubt any aluminum tube flexes much, in the diameters and distances involved with bike frames, but I also don't see manufacturers spending the money on hydroforming if it is 100 percent hype. I mean, they could just make up different hype---claim that new welding techniques or improved paint, or something, made the frames some minuscule amount more complaint laterally and more rigid vertically .....

But as for tires .... i run hard 23s on a couple bikes (on CF, one steel) and yes, wider tires at lower pressure make a big difference in ride, but (according to my bike computer) not in performance.
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Old 01-18-23, 09:04 AM
  #409  
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
A thousand times yes. The history of the "aluminum frame equals harsh ride" fallacy is as follows.

Guy buys medium-wheelbase sport touring bike with 70-psi 27" x 1 1/4" tires in the '70s. Guy eventually decides to step up to new Cannondale, in the middle or late '80s. Enthusiastic bike racer salesman (that would have been me, in our shop) talks guy into buying a Cannondale Crit series bike, with ultra-short wheelbase (and 700c x 23-mm tires pumped to 120 psi). Wheelbase makes bike handle like a Formula 1 Ferrari; tires make bike ride like Ben Hur chariot. Rider incorrectly interprets the hardness of the tires and the shocking immediacy of the handling as evidence of the harshness of the bike's aluminum frame. Misinterpretation eventually hardens into dogma on the internet.

Comparatively few of us here have owned both a Cannondale and a high-end Italian steel bike (in my case, a Bianchi Specialissima Supercorsa) with similarly short wheelbases. But those who have owned both know that the Italian bike is no more "comfortable" than the Cannondale---just heavier.
So... circa 1993. I went directly from a 90'+/- Trek Steelie race bike(not fine Italian, I understand) to a Cdale R800. Similar tires, similar geometry, same pressures - and that is where the similarities ended.

The steelie was soft and smooth, plenty of frame flex/give and near zero road buzz. Every steel bike I rode was like that, even a Bianchi...

The Cdale rode like a concrete block. Zero flex, zero give - all sorts of road buzz - there was no misinterpretation. The frames were night and day different.

I just donated that old Trek to goodwill last year. It was nicknamed the "old Buick", because that's what it rode like. Soft and floaty.
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Old 01-18-23, 09:10 AM
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Shoot, I have an '84 Raleigh--all steel--on 23s at 120 psi and an '83 Cannondale on 1 1/4x27 at 90 or 95 .... the C'dale has a steel fork and the Raleigh still seems to absorb bumps better .....

This is all anecdotal. I am Not making general claims or specific assertions, I am relating personal impressions. Others' mileage Will vary.
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Old 01-18-23, 09:20 AM
  #411  
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Originally Posted by Jughed
So... circa 1993. I went directly from a 90'+/- Trek Steelie race bike(not fine Italian, I understand) to a Cdale R800. Similar tires, similar geometry, same pressures - and that is where the similarities ended.

The steelie was soft and smooth, plenty of frame flex/give and near zero road buzz. Every steel bike I rode was like that, even a Bianchi...

The Cdale rode like a concrete block. Zero flex, zero give - all sorts of road buzz - there was no misinterpretation. The frames were night and day different.

I just donated that old Trek to goodwill last year. It was nicknamed the "old Buick", because that's what it rode like. Soft and floaty.
I've had similar experiences. I had a Landshark made from standard diameter Prestige tubing. Whippy, wet noodle but super forgiving on rough roads. Replaced it with a Tesch s22. Oversized, super stiff tubing. These two frames felt so dramatically different with the SAME wheels, tires, and pressure. The Tesch remains the stiffest, most bone-jarring bike I ever rode.

Around 2001 I bought a CAAD5. Nice bike but also pretty harsh. In 2006 I bought a Gunnar but kept the Cannondale. Whenever I would take the Cannondale out I would wonder why after getting jolted a few times. These 2 frames felt very different on bumps, but not as dramatically as the other 2 did. This is with the same wheels, tires, etc.

I still have the Gunnar and also a Seven. The Seven feels similar to the CAAD5, but not quite as jarring. Sometimes I ride the Gunnar and it is definitely not as stiff. I even took the front wheel off the Seven to put on the Gunnar and it's still smoother.
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Old 01-18-23, 09:26 AM
  #412  
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
A bike racer/materials engineer has a YouTube channel ("Peak Torque"---I recommend his videos highly) where he evaluates many claims concerning bike technology. One video concerned what people believe about what makes one bike more comfortable than another. He measured compliance of frame and components and found that the saddle, seatpost, and tires were by far the principal factors. The bike's frame was down in the statistical noise range of factors.

Your Trek likely has a greater free seatpost length and wider, lower-pressure tires (and, I would guess, a longer wheelbase) than the Cannondale. I understand that manufacturers sell more aluminum bikes if they claim that they're more compliant than the older versions, but I don't buy it. Making an aluminum tube more compliant is how you make it more breakable.
Cdale 54, Emonda 58 - 3mm seat tube difference, 11mm wheelbase difference. 3mm tire difference, same pressure.

I don't read the compliance BS listed by bike companies - I am telling you from real world riding experience, 30k+ on the old bike, now 4k+ on the new bike - the frames are worlds apart.

I have similar spec CF bikes, and the difference between the Emonda and the CF bikes are minimal, they are all worlds apart from the old Cdale.
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Old 01-18-23, 09:58 AM
  #413  
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Originally Posted by Keefusb
Back in the racing days, I rode a Cannondale R900 2.8 with a Profile carbon fork. It was light, and you could feel the power from your legs going right down to the rear tire, but those cantilevered seat stays and the overall stiffness of the frame made for a chattery, non-compliant ride, even at a 60cm frame size.

My son now has the Cannondale as a city bike (Baltimore). My tired old bones prefer the snappy comfort of lugged steel nowadays. I hear modern carbon bikes are compliant yet stiff and have much better ride characteristics than they used to, I'm just not ready to plunk down the big coin for an expensive new carbon ride.
I've got a Cannondale R500 from the same era. 3.0 frame, and aluminum fork, but yeah, stiff. It gives you that feeling of power going undiluted to the wheels, but it was a little scary on descents if you hit rough pavement on a turn - I could feel it hopping sideways as it bounced over the bumps.
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Old 01-18-23, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
So... circa 1993. I went directly from a 90'+/- Trek Steelie race bike(not fine Italian, I understand) to a Cdale R800. Similar tires, similar geometry, same pressures - and that is where the similarities ended.

The steelie was soft and smooth, plenty of frame flex/give and near zero road buzz. Every steel bike I rode was like that, even a Bianchi...

The Cdale rode like a concrete block. Zero flex, zero give - all sorts of road buzz - there was no misinterpretation. The frames were night and day different.

I just donated that old Trek to goodwill last year. It was nicknamed the "old Buick", because that's what it rode like. Soft and floaty.
Yes, as I said, few have ridden both a crit-geometry steel bike and a crit-geometry Cannondale. I was surprised by the (to use your evocative term) "concrete block"-like ride (not that I minded, given how fast it was) of my Bianchi when I bought it in 1983, since the previous road bikes I'd owned in the '60s, '70s, and early '80s (1st-generation Raleigh Pro and International, Atala Pro, Schwinn Paramount) had conventional road racing wheelbases. That's why I wasn't surprised when I got the Cannondale. The two bikes rode the same, except for the lighter weight and greater torsional rigidity (i.e., better handling because of better tracking of the tires) of the Cannondale.
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Old 01-18-23, 11:34 AM
  #415  
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I still have my R1000. It hangs in the basement where I work. Frame is fast but a little harsh. Iím not sure but I canít help but wonder if it was actually made in Bedford PA. I only live 30 minutes from their old location. I gotta say that the newer cf frames seem to be trending to the harsher side. Iím still old school and run 25mm tires. I tried the wider ones and they felt like truck tires. As stated before-to each his own.
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Old 01-18-23, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
So... circa 1993. I went directly from a 90'+/- Trek Steelie race bike(not fine Italian, I understand) to a Cdale R800. Similar tires, similar geometry, same pressures - and that is where the similarities ended.

The steelie was soft and smooth, plenty of frame flex/give and near zero road buzz. Every steel bike I rode was like that, even a Bianchi...

The Cdale rode like a concrete block. Zero flex, zero give - all sorts of road buzz - there was no misinterpretation. The frames were night and day different.

I just donated that old Trek to goodwill last year. It was nicknamed the "old Buick", because that's what it rode like. Soft and floaty.
I'm not any kind of engineer, but I would suspect that the difference in feel could be largely attributed to tube sizes/shapes more than the materials the tubes are made of.
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Old 01-18-23, 01:29 PM
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When it comes to ride characteristics, things like wheelbase and tire choice probably make a more palpable difference than frame material to most riders. As an analogy, in acoustic guitar forums people argue incessantly about the tonality that different woods impart, but I'm of the belief that string choice plays a greater role. In both, it's about "where the rubber meets the road."
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Old 01-18-23, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla
When it comes to ride characteristics, things like wheelbase and tire choice probably make a more palpable difference than frame material to most riders. As an analogy, in acoustic guitar forums people argue incessantly about the tonality that different woods impart, but I'm of the belief that string choice plays a greater role. In both, it's about "where the rubber meets the road."
Hell, electric guitar/bass folks argue the same stuff. I totally believe that everyone in the crowd in the noisy bar my band is playing in can totally hear the improved clarity and sustain from the birdseye maple neck on my bass.
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Old 01-18-23, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
I'm not any kind of engineer, but I would suspect that the difference in feel could be largely attributed to tube sizes/shapes more than the materials the tubes are made of.
Yes and no. BITD, a number of bikes were made with aluminum tubing the same gauges as steel - thicker walls, of course - and they were noodles. Of course, larger diameter tubes are stiffer, but for example the MAX tubing on my Battaglin yields a bike almost as unyielding as the Cannondale - but more comfortable to ride. Also pretty darn heavy.
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Old 01-18-23, 02:06 PM
  #420  
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I'm not an engineer either, but what I can say with a fair degree of confidence is that my old Cannondale R900 is a 60 cm frame size bike, and my old Paramount (with Tange Prestige tubes) is also 60 cm. I have frequently ridden both bikes with the same wheelset (Mavic Open Pro rims with Shimano 600 hubs and the same Vittoria tires), and there is nevertheless a tangible difference in ride quality. Especially on a long ride on less than ideal pavement. Yes, tires and wheels do make a difference, but holding those two variables constant still results in a different (much less compliant in the case of the Cannondale) ride quality. I have not had the privilege of riding any of the newer CAAD frames, but the 2.8 series frame with the cantilevered seat stays and the "soda can" downtube near the bottom bracket was noteworthy for its stiffness even when compared to the newer Cannondale frames (i.e 3.0 series, and the many CAAD variants that came after).
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Old 01-18-23, 02:39 PM
  #421  
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BTW, I was in a bar listening to electric blues music recently, and I got into an argument with my wife about whether the rhythm guitarist's guitar sounded like it had a maple neck or a walnut neck.
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Old 01-18-23, 02:42 PM
  #422  
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Originally Posted by Eric F
Hell, electric guitar/bass folks argue the same stuff. I totally believe that everyone in the crowd in the noisy bar my band is playing in can totally hear the improved clarity and sustain from the birdseye maple neck on my bass.

Lol. Gotta love the guys who spring for a Custom Shop PRS with hand-wound Lollars only to run it through a dozen stomp boxes and a hi-gain Randall.

/hijack
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Old 01-18-23, 02:50 PM
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This thread is fun to read. So much anecdotal information. So, I will add this: When I first started racing I was riding my Raleigh Professional MK4 which I bought in 1973. By the 1990's when I started racing it was obsolete. Friction shifting, 6 speed freewheel, and it didn't even fit me all that well, much too big. However by that time I knew it well, I knew just how far I could push it into a difficult section of road. When I rode crits, I always looked at corners as an opportunity to gain ground. I could almost always cut inside anyone else. I knew that I could trust it at 80+kph on a bumpy downhill. There was a local crit in Montreal's Little Italy with 2 very bumpy corners. I could push through them at high speed while others were skittering sideways as they lost traction on the uneven surface. I was riding the same 700 x 23 tires that they were, in fact, I had a limited budget and was riding the most inexpensive tires that I could get away with. Was it me? Or, was it the bike? I contend that it was both. I can remember riding with people many times when I would be riding beside a friend and we would both hit a bump. They would grunt and I would hardly feel anything. In those days I was riding 700 x 20 tires because I thought they gave me an advantage. Thus ends my anecdotal talk about My Raleigh Pro. It was a great bike for criteriums on bad roads
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Old 01-18-23, 02:58 PM
  #424  
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Originally Posted by Jughed
I ran 23C Conti's @100psi on the Cdale. The Trek came with cheapo 25's that I ran @100psi.
Bingo! You have 25's on the Trek which will give you a less harsh ride than 23's.

Originally Posted by Jughed
And the only point I was making - you don't need a CF frame to get better ride quality.......
Correct. But it isn't because of the frame. It's because of the TIRES.

Don't believe me? Switch the tires on your two bikes and feel for yourself.
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Old 01-18-23, 03:00 PM
  #425  
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Originally Posted by Keefusb
BTW, I was in a bar listening to electric blues music recently, and I got into an argument with my wife about whether the rhythm guitarist's guitar sounded like it had a maple neck or a walnut neck.

SMH - it was mahogany.
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