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Comfort = speed?

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Comfort = speed?

Old 02-25-17, 01:25 AM
  #1  
gurk700
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Comfort = speed?

TL : DR = Rode Felt F series bikes for 2 years. Switched to R5 which is borderline endurance frame. Although Felt is racier geometry, I'm much, much more comfortable on the R5 and consistently riding faster in the same routes. With same exact parts but different frames. Is comfort more important than racier geometry?

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. Here's what got me thinking.

I have a 2016 Felt FRD frame in 54cm. I have previously owned a 2015 F75, and a 2015 F1 in same size. All of them are amazing bikes.

However, I have ALWAYS wondered about Cervélo bikes. Found a brand new Ultegra groupset 2015 R5 in size 54 that cost less than what R5 frame costs new. Couldn't resist. Parted it out, sold all the bits and kept the frame. I didn't build the frame right away. Being happy so happy with the FRD, I decided I'd sell the R5 and make a couple hundred bucks at least and move on. Couldn't do it. I had to build it and ride it at least once.

Took all bits from FRD and put it on the R5 frame. Went for a ride. WHAT a difference geometry makes. Same size frames but... absolutely different feel. I'm leaving aside all the compliance, stiffness, lightness differences aside. These frames are within few grams of each other and they both feel compliant, responsive and stiff as hell. What really impressed me with the Cervélo was how comfortable it feels, at least for my body type. I have shorter arms / torso and longer legs for my height. The big difference in reach (R5 is much smaller reach and much taller head tube for same size frame) allowed my upper body to relax. My elbows didn't really lock on the FRD but they were much more relaxed on the R5. I could still tuck in an aero position with my fore arms and back parallel to the ground but my legs didn't hit my chest anymore. I could even put my forearms on the bars and get in a TT position (without tt bars obviously) and watch my speed increase with same amount of Watts. Most importantly, I pushed harder throughout the ride and not just short bursts.

Was I just having a good day or just excited about being on a new bike? Nope. 3 more rides on it and more PR's, more average Watts and more speed.

So it brings us to the question. Is geometry / comfort more important than an aggressive race bike geometry for riding faster? It's been feeling like the case lately. What are your experiences?
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Old 02-25-17, 06:31 AM
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being comfy & aero = speed.....Need to be comfy or will not be able to hold the aero position.
Tis Key.
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Old 02-25-17, 06:51 AM
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It's complicated.
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Old 02-25-17, 07:16 AM
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It is complicated, but geometry is not about speed, geometry is about handling, so we cannot be confused about that.

Speed is about power; can you make enough to go fast?

And this is where fit comes in, because humans are not machines, and we can't just put a stronger motor in. How we make power depends on the physical orientation of our body parts, relative to each other and to the bike. Getting positioning right is a key factor to power production, especially sustainable power.

Yes, being aero and being comfortable are part and parcel, but I look at those as optimizations, not root sources, by which I mean you can make good power while uncomfortable, and you can go fast 'non-aero' if you can make enough power.
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Old 02-25-17, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post

And this is where fit comes in...
Agreed, but...

Whose idea of fit? A fitter operating on a set of assumptions and/or power readings regarding what position theoretically maximizes efficiency and power generation without regard as to whether or not you can maintain/be comfortable in that position for long?

Vaguely analogous to a golf swing; there is some (only some) consensus about what constitutes an efficient swing, and yet even among the pro ranks there are countless swing types. And only a fool would tell, say, Jim Furyk that his swing is "wrong".

I was thinking about this recently when reading a listing for a really nice, really expensive bike a fellow was selling that had been custom built according to the geometry recommended by a "professional" fitter. Guy had always ridden roughly 56 cm square, but fitter had him build a bike with a 56 ST and a 52 TT. Poor bastard not only hates it, but it's so weird that he can't sell it.

The moral? Yeah, your bike must fit, but deciding what fits is, IMHO, more about trial and error, experience, lots of miles logged and personal preference than spending an hour or so getting "professionally" fit. Might be different if you were a pro racer looking to eke out an extra watt or two and willing to spend many many hours rebuilding your position, musculature, and technique to that end, but for us non-pros? Fit yourself.

Last edited by cloozoe; 02-25-17 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 02-25-17, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by cloozoe View Post
Agreed, but...

Whose idea of fit? A fitter operating on a set of assumptions and/or power readings regarding what position theoretically maximizes efficiency and power generation without regard as to whether or not you can maintain/be comfortable in that position for long?

Vaguely analogous to a golf swing; there is some (only some) consensus about what constitutes an efficient swing, and yet even among the pro ranks there are countless swing types. And only a fool would tell, say, Jim Furyk that his swing is "wrong".

I was thinking about this recently when reading a listing for a really nice, really expensive bike a fellow was selling that had been custom built according to the geometry recommended by a "professional" fitter. Guy had always ridden roughly 56 cm square, but fitter had him build a bike with a 56 ST and a 52 TT. Poor bastard not only hates it, but it's so weird that he can't sell it.

The moral? Yeah, your bike must fit, but deciding what fits is, IMHO, more about trial and error, experience, lots of miles logged and personal preference than spending an hour or so getting "professionally" fit. Might be different if you were a pro racer looking to eke out an extra watt or two and willing to spend many many hours rebuilding your position, musculature, and technique to that end, but for us non-pros? Fit yourself.
I agree that a proper fit doesn't have to be a professionally-done thing, and did not mean to imply otherwise.
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Old 02-25-17, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
I agree that a proper fit doesn't have to be a professionally-done thing, and did not mean to imply otherwise.
Nor did I mean to imply you so implied. Apologies.
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Old 02-25-17, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by gurk700 View Post
...Is comfort more important than racier geometry?...
Depends on your goals and time of the event.

For short - comfort is the least important thing, while long maybe the most.
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Old 02-25-17, 10:33 AM
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Great responses so far!

Let me put it this way. Here's what I THINK is happening and some people mentioned it already.

I think I'm in a position where I can push similar power for longer and hold a fairly aero position longer.

I think with the responses so far and what I feel when I ride, I can conclude that comfort doesn't mean speed directly. But indirectly, comfort = you can push same power for LONGER = more speed (assuming you hold a fairly aero position on the bike and not sit upright). Also I totally agree with your response

Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Depends on your goals and time of the event.

For short - comfort is the least important thing, while long maybe the most.
Usually "problems" started happening 2-3 hours or more with the Felt.
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Old 02-25-17, 10:40 AM
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Then fueling is the most important thing. Comfort food would do doubly well.
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Old 02-25-17, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
It's complicated.
x2 I always wondered why they don't ride beach cruisers in the TDF.
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Old 02-25-17, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Depends on your goals and time of the event.

For short - comfort is the least important thing, while long maybe the most.
This. Fitness plays into this too, because the really fit guys can ride 100+ miles on anything too. Core strength and endurance, etc.

Undoubtedly a lot of the found performance is also some placebo effect from new bike doping.

I also found the sentence in the OP about the frame being compliant and "stiff as hell" in the same sentence entertaining.
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Old 02-25-17, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
I also found the sentence in the OP about the frame being compliant and "stiff as hell" in the same sentence entertaining.
Hey now - anyone that's read any marketing copy knows that the best bikes are laterally stiff and vertically compliant.
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Old 02-25-17, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
This. Fitness plays into this too, because the really fit guys can ride 100+ miles on anything too. Core strength and endurance, etc.

Undoubtedly a lot of the found performance is also some placebo effect from new bike doping.

I also found the sentence in the OP about the frame being compliant and "stiff as hell" in the same sentence entertaining.
Don't assume I don't know stuff because I ask a question I might have done a bad job explaining though.

Both bikes feel stiff. I can't tell you if they are stiffer from one another but I can tell power transfer is day and night between F75 vs F1/FRD/R5. As far as compliance= I meant to say they feel the same to me.

When I say a bike feels comfortable a lot of people assume I'm talking about compliance. Comfort that I'm referring here is just about the Cervelo's headtube being much taller and reach being much smaller than the Felt. They are otherwise stiff race bikes. My ass doesn't have a gauge on which is "better"

As far as "new bike doping". Believe me I would loooove to sell the R5 and pocket the money. I love the FRD. I like the brand more. It's a much rarer frame. It looks better. But R5 geometry just fits me better.

Last edited by gurk700; 02-25-17 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 02-25-17, 03:06 PM
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With all due respect, your OP screams of inexperience, but that's OK. Knowledge comes with time and experience. The "power transfer" comment is another example...there is no way you have equipment to verify this statement. It is pure placebo, and that's OK. That sensation may also have nothing to do with the frame.It can depend on wheels, tires, tire pressures, how tight things are tightened on the bike, and on and on and on.Im glad you're enjoying your new bike. I just want you to think about and realize that a lot of this magic may just be in your head...
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Old 02-25-17, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
It can depend on wheels (same wheels), tires (same tires), tire pressures (same pressures), how tight things are tightened on the bike (torque wrench. I have built my own motorcycle and raced them for 10 years. I can handle a bike )
With all due respect, your replies scream snobbery, elitism and pissing contest and don't really contribute. Personal attack rather than anything with substance in it. But anyway. Thanks for enlightening me
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Old 02-25-17, 05:00 PM
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There is plenty of substance in my posts...you are just too offended by someone offering a different viewpoint to see it. Good luck and try not to be so close minded. You may get good advice from someone someday.
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Old 02-25-17, 05:10 PM
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All things being equal, a more comfortable bike will take less work to get from point A to point B than will a less comfortable bike.

A less comfortable bike requires expending more energy.

It's exhausting to have to hold your head up because there is too much saddle to bar drop, not pedaling efficiently because the saddle is too far back/forward/high/low, etc.


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Old 02-25-17, 10:16 PM
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Arms in the wind are bad. So a higher bar that lets you bend your elbows more and thus get your arms out of the wind (if I understand you correctly), could make you a little faster. Knees not hitting your chest will definitely make you faster. Some riders TT faster in a higher position than a lower because they can breathe better. I believe Indurain was famous for that. IME some bike are just faster for me, for no apparent reason. I've always assumed it was power transfer because that's what it feels like. I have a favorite bike - it just flies for me. I drop into a longer, lower position naturally on it.
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Old 02-25-17, 10:34 PM
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Surely it is just a matter of having a set up that best suits the individual. Then that "fit" is transposed onto whatever bike you are riding.
I can get the same fit on a comfort or race frame, just a matter of having more or less spacers and changing stem lengths.
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Old 02-26-17, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
With all due respect, your OP screams of inexperience, but that's OK. Knowledge comes with time and experience. The "power transfer" comment is another example...there is no way you have equipment to verify this statement. It is pure placebo, and that's OK. That sensation may also have nothing to do with the frame.It can depend on wheels, tires, tire pressures, how tight things are tightened on the bike, and on and on and on.Im glad you're enjoying your new bike. I just want you to think about and realize that a lot of this magic may just be in your head...
Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
There is plenty of substance in my posts...you are just too offended by someone offering a different viewpoint to see it. Good luck and try not to be so close minded. You may get good advice from someone someday.
Oh my, where to start?

Yeah, pretty sure you missed the point of the OP. While you may not *approve* of his application of terms, what he said is actually quite clear and reasonable.

He took all the components (which I'll presume included the "wheels, tires, and tire pressures" ) off his old frame and put them on his new frame. He then experienced a subjective improvement in comfort, and a quantifiable improvement in performance. He then made a reasonable leap in logic to connect one result to the other.

I'll just add that while the OP created this thread to posit a question and spur conversation, that does not mean he asked to be belittled or treated with condescension, which, "with all due respect", your response "screams of".

No doubt you are entitled to your "substantive" opinion, but I would suggest trying to keep it constructive (sans the pretentiousness), for everyone's benefit.

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Old 02-26-17, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by gurk700 View Post
So it brings us to the question. Is geometry / comfort more important than an aggressive race bike geometry for riding faster? It's been feeling like the case lately. What are your experiences?
I think you're asking the wrong question. The real question is: is a proper bike fit essential to optimizing speed on the bike and the answer is yes.

It sounds like you inadvertently made a substantial change to your position by changing frames. That's one way to adjust fit but difficult to fine tune. If you really want to compare frames you need to adjust the three contact points so they are identical. In your case it sounds like you just moved all the components over which resulted in a different, and more comfortable, position. It's very likely you could go back and achieve the identical comfort/position on the original Felt by changing components, stem, seat position etc. If you can't then you perhaps had the wrong size frame originally.

Edit: I missed Dean's earlier response which said something similar more concisely
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Old 02-26-17, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by gurk700 View Post
With all due respect, your replies scream snobbery, elitism and pissing contest and don't really contribute. Personal attack rather than anything with substance in it. But anyway. Thanks for enlightening me
After, "With all due respect".... maybe an....IMO.... before reply would have made for a smoother delivery. Just sayin.....IMO.....

2 weeks ago at 2017 Bike Sebring 12/24 Hour I completed 307.8 miles in < 22 hours. Not fast and not a whole lot of miles but more than half of them on my 1982 Touring Paramount fitted with 6" rise steel bars and bar pegs to allow me an aero position for extended time. Bike is way heavier than my aero Giant but because of the comfort factor I put in more miles than had I been on the Giant the whole time. I am currently outfitting my 1983 Paramount road frame the same as the touring bike and expect to be much faster; HOWEVER, still not as fast as on my Giant.

Intensions are to enter next year's Sebring as a RAAM Qualifier meaning 400 miles no drafting. p.s.--at age 67 I'll need all the help I can get.
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Old 02-26-17, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Dean V View Post
Surely it is just a matter of having a set up that best suits the individual. Then that "fit" is transposed onto whatever bike you are riding.
I can get the same fit on a comfort or race frame, just a matter of having more or less spacers and changing stem lengths.
I know this is a popular viewpoint, and may even be the conventional wisdom, but I don't know if it's such a sure thing, if only because people are very adapatable, meaning there is no one setup which "best suits" someone.

My perspective is that there are a range of comfortable set-ups or positions depending on geometry, riding purpose and conditions.

For example, in my case, while I do know what 'numbers' (e.g. TT, stem length, etc.) I like, and about where I like the saddle in relation to the BB, I ultimately fine tune my fit based on how the bike handles; like, where I need my weight to be in order to make the bike move the way I want it to. I may raise the bars a bit in order to shift my weight back to control fore-aft pitching and improve climbing traction on the gravel bike, or drop the bars and pull the saddle forward on the crit bike to optimize front end grip and to stay 'on top' of the pedals.

So yes, while one could choose to position themselves the same on every road bike-- and we need to be clear we're talking just about road bikes here, because it makes even less sense to speak about all bikes because of the range of geometries-- I would not suggest doing so would either be the most comfortable or the most effective in terms of performance.
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Old 02-26-17, 08:59 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
It's very likely you could go back and achieve the identical comfort/position on the original Felt by changing components, stem, seat position etc. If you can't then you perhaps had the wrong size frame originally.
True, for the most part. The big thing about "endurance" bikes is that they have a taller head tube. In some ways, all this does is make it so you can have a more upright position without having a ton of spacers or a Fredly looking stem with a huge upward angle.

However, I'm sure the manufacturers will argue about little differences like changing the fork rake, designing the frame to be more "compliant", etc. How much do those little things really matter? Hard to say. Probably not much.
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