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Persistent ideas in cycling that make no sense

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Persistent ideas in cycling that make no sense

Old 04-02-21, 11:16 PM
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woodcraft
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Persistent ideas in cycling that make no sense

The one that's been bugging me lately is the claim that narrower handlebars restrict breathing.

This is easily checked by riding on the hoods with wrists straight, and then rolling them in- the equivalent of going from ~ 46cm to 40cm bar.

When was the last time you heard someone say that they never ride on the tops because it is hard to breathe?


Got any?
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Old 04-03-21, 04:40 AM
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Absolutely agree. Every year, professionals can be seen climbing in the Alps and Pyrenees while clutching their handlebars near the stem without falling off the bike and asphyxiating. Graham Obree set one of his world hour records using a since-outlawed position in which his forearms were pressed together and held tightly against his chest. Current state-of-the-art time trial bikes also have aero bar setups that place the rider's forearms together.

The only explanation I can think of to account for the persistence of the "narrow bars restrict breathing" mistake is that Grant Petersen is a proponent of the idea and has fans who treat his word as gospel. And placebo is strong.

Then there's the myth that, as one Bike Forums member's sig line asserts, "Steel is . . . comfy."

_________

From this page on the sheldonbrown.com website:

Did you know that:

  • Aluminum frames have a harsh ride?
  • Titanium frames are soft and whippy?
  • Steel frames go soft with age, but they have a nicer ride quality?
  • England's Queen Elizabeth is a kingpin of the international drug trade?
All of the above statements are equally false.There is an amazing amount of folkloric "conventional wisdom" about bicycle frames and materials that is widely disseminated, but has no basis in fact.

_________

Sheldon was right, as usual. I got my first pro-level Reynolds 531 bike in 1964 and my first Columbus SL/SP bike in 1984. I've owned about a dozen or so high-end steel bikes. But after I got my first lightweight aluminum bike, in 2005, my mileage on my steel bikes dwindled to near zero.

Why? It's not just that I enjoy riding lighter bikes. It's that, while I can't detect any difference in "comfort" (whatever that means on a short-wheelbase, skinny-tired racing bike built of any material), I appreciate the way my aluminum bikes carve corners at speed better than my steel bikes, whose handling on the same corners is perceptibly vague in comparison.

I appreciate that not everyone is as tuned into differences in bike handling as I am. But anyone who has ever ridden a heavily laden aluminum touring bike after riding a similarly laden steel touring bike can appreciate that the aluminum bike doesn't wallow down the road the way the steel bike does.

And then there's the myth that steel and titanium frames are more durable than aluminum frames. High-performance bike frames of any material are engineered to be as durable as possible and as light as possible, two ultimately irreconcilable goals, which means that some failures are bound to occur, regardless of material.

But, given that high-performance frames are too expensive to be used in frequent independent comparisons that involve testing to destruction, you don't see much in the way of empirical evidence regarding frame durability. There is, at least, this report of fatigue testing of frames, performed in the 1990s:

12 High-End Frames in the EFBe Fatigue Test

Cliff notes: steel, titanium, carbon fiber, and aluminum frames were subjected to stresses simulating the forces exerted by a strong and moderately heavy cyclist climbing out of the saddle for thousands of miles. Results: two aluminum and one carbon fiber frame survived the tests. None of the steel or titanium frames survived.

As the testers said, this doesn't mean that any given well-designed steel frame or titanium frame won't give good service. But they did conclude that careful design is more important than the choice of material used to construct the frame.

Last edited by Trakhak; 04-03-21 at 04:48 AM.
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Old 04-03-21, 05:30 AM
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Elliptical chainrings.

The newest and best show up every few years.
Durham, Biopace, Cycloid, etc........

There are examples from around the turn of the century- the 20th century that is.

I once told a friend that I have been around the bicycle industry for 5 iterations of non-round chainrings.

That's a long time!

rusty
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Old 04-03-21, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
As the testers said, this doesn't mean that any given well-designed steel frame or titanium frame won't give good service. But they did conclude that careful design is more important than the choice of material used to construct the frame.
... Although carbon is so damn strong, it can be way overbuilt and still pretty light. I've got a fifteen year old Tarmac, 1.2kg, crack in the seat tube from a bad prang, it makes no difference.
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Old 04-03-21, 07:18 AM
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Aluminum frames *used to be* harsh, but that was when all tubes were fat and circular. Modern aluminum frames bear little resemblance to those tubes of the past.

That was when pedals with cages were called "clipped" and before pedals that had clips on the base are called "clipless." So we still have some work to do.

;-)
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Old 04-03-21, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Absolutely agree. Every year, professionals can be seen climbing in the Alps and Pyrenees while clutching their handlebars near the stem without falling off the bike and asphyxiating. Graham Obree set one of his world hour records using a since-outlawed position in which his forearms were pressed together and held tightly against his chest. Current state-of-the-art time trial bikes also have aero bar setups that place the rider's forearms together.

The only explanation I can think of to account for the persistence of the "narrow bars restrict breathing" mistake is that Grant Petersen is a proponent of the idea and has fans who treat his word as gospel. And placebo is strong.

Then there's the myth that, as one Bike Forums member's sig line asserts, "Steel is . . . comfy."

_________

From this page on the sheldonbrown.com website:

Did you know that:

  • Aluminum frames have a harsh ride?
  • Titanium frames are soft and whippy?
  • Steel frames go soft with age, but they have a nicer ride quality?
  • England's Queen Elizabeth is a kingpin of the international drug trade?
All of the above statements are equally false.There is an amazing amount of folkloric "conventional wisdom" about bicycle frames and materials that is widely disseminated, but has no basis in fact.

_________

Sheldon was right, as usual. I got my first pro-level Reynolds 531 bike in 1964 and my first Columbus SL/SP bike in 1984. I've owned about a dozen or so high-end steel bikes. But after I got my first lightweight aluminum bike, in 2005, my mileage on my steel bikes dwindled to near zero.

Why? It's not just that I enjoy riding lighter bikes. It's that, while I can't detect any difference in "comfort" (whatever that means on a short-wheelbase, skinny-tired racing bike built of any material), I appreciate the way my aluminum bikes carve corners at speed better than my steel bikes, whose handling on the same corners is perceptibly vague in comparison.

I appreciate that not everyone is as tuned into differences in bike handling as I am. But anyone who has ever ridden a heavily laden aluminum touring bike after riding a similarly laden steel touring bike can appreciate that the aluminum bike doesn't wallow down the road the way the steel bike does.

And then there's the myth that steel and titanium frames are more durable than aluminum frames. High-performance bike frames of any material are engineered to be as durable as possible and as light as possible, two ultimately irreconcilable goals, which means that some failures are bound to occur, regardless of material.

But, given that high-performance frames are too expensive to be used in frequent independent comparisons that involve testing to destruction, you don't see much in the way of empirical evidence regarding frame durability. There is, at least, this report of fatigue testing of frames, performed in the 1990s:

12 High-End Frames in the EFBe Fatigue Test

Cliff notes: steel, titanium, carbon fiber, and aluminum frames were subjected to stresses simulating the forces exerted by a strong and moderately heavy cyclist climbing out of the saddle for thousands of miles. Results: two aluminum and one carbon fiber frame survived the tests. None of the steel or titanium frames survived.

As the testers said, this doesn't mean that any given well-designed steel frame or titanium frame won't give good service. But they did conclude that careful design is more important than the choice of material used to construct the frame.
I mostly agree with your post but I'd like to further emphasize the importance of frame design. All materials can achieve a sun 6.8kg racing frame and a stiff touring frame.

I specifically noticed the comment about wallowy steel touring bikes. That may have been the case with older thin tubed frames but I don't feel my modern steel oversized tubing touring frame to be wallowy at all. It's been ridden 50mph down mountain passes loaded with 330lbs of system weight and the handling was the same as ever, precise. However the aluminum frame I tried to build into a touring bike before the steel bike felt like a rope on even modest downhills. But in hindsight that frame clearly wasn't designed for loaded touring.

The test was interesting. It would be fun to see one conducted with modern frames and modern oversized tubing steel frames. Carbon would still win but I'm guessing steel would perhaps fare better than the super thin tubed noodle frames of 1997
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Old 04-03-21, 07:33 AM
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Speaking of clipless etc, apparently there's bugger-all advantage to them over platform pedals.

Sounds incredible... Anyone know anything about the claim?
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Old 04-03-21, 12:14 PM
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On the other hand wider bars might brace your body too much and not let your body sway to absorb all the forces you encounter while riding. Making for sore shoulders or wrists.

My 42 cm bars are going to be 38 cm bars whenever I can find some back in stock that I like.
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Old 04-03-21, 02:03 PM
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When I am in the drops i much prefer wider handlebars. It seems to me easier to breath air in as lungs pulled apart. I use 44 but actually 46 would be nice. Climb for me is just leg strength to get to the top but I live in the flatlands so don't do much climbing.
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Old 04-03-21, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Speaking of clipless etc, apparently there's bugger-all advantage to them over platform pedals.

Sounds incredible... Anyone know anything about the claim?
multiple studies have shown that in steady-state riding, there is no benefit in efficiency to riding, say, 40km in clipless over platform pedals.

and that’s fine if all you’re doing is riding 40km at a steady speed all the way, but as anyone who has ridden with foot restraint for a long time (be it toe clips, foot straps, clipless pedals) knows that you do get into situations where the option of lifting on the backstroke is, if not actually a lifesaver, is at least very nice to have.
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Old 04-03-21, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
multiple studies have shown that in steady-state riding, there is no benefit in efficiency to riding, say, 40km in clipless over platform pedals.

and that’s fine if all you’re doing is riding 40km at a steady speed all the way, but as anyone who has ridden with foot restraint for a long time (be it toe clips, foot straps, clipless pedals) knows that you do get into situations where the option of lifting on the backstroke is, if not actually a lifesaver, is at least very nice to have.
You took the bait.
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Old 04-03-21, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
You took the bait.
Shame on me.

One of the first lessons I was given as a young cyclist was ”never use your tire levers to put the tire back on.”

I can probably count on the fingers on one foot the amount of times I’ve put a 700c tire back on without using my levers to at least get that last little chunk over the rim, especially a tight-fitting 23 or even 20c. Never had a punch flat as a result. Some tires I’ve had, if I tried to put them on using my hands, I’d still be there in the same ditch to this day.
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Old 04-03-21, 03:33 PM
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That there are hundreds of bikes on the market that are supposedly so poorly made that they feel like noodles when you drope the hammer with your huge guads.
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Old 04-03-21, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
multiple studies have shown that in steady-state riding, there is no benefit in efficiency to riding, say, 40km in clipless over platform pedals.

and that’s fine if all you’re doing is riding 40km at a steady speed all the way, but as anyone who has ridden with foot restraint for a long time (be it toe clips, foot straps, clipless pedals) knows that you do get into situations where the option of lifting on the backstroke is, if not actually a lifesaver, is at least very nice to have.
I've been on toeclips since the early 90s, and I just can't seem to get into clipless; aside from having to wear stupid shoes I can't walk in (which sucks SO hard), my knees really aren't keen on how solidly my feet are attached, despite mucking around plenty with cleat position. I have no problem clipping in or unclipping, or just trackstanding instead; it's just that it seems like long-term comfort depends on being able to shift my feet around slightly.

So I'm thinking screw it. It might look a bit weird, to be rocking deep wheels and lycra with runners and toeclips, but I'm starting to think I'd be a lot happier to just give up on clipless.

Been a long time since anyone did a sexy toeclip pedal... Shimano's efforts haven't been bettered in thirty years. Making a pair from carbon might be a cool project...
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Old 04-03-21, 06:33 PM
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Cramps are caused by dehydration and/or electrolyte losses.
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Old 04-03-21, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
I've been on toeclips since the early 90s, and I just can't seem to get into clipless; aside from having to wear stupid shoes I can't walk in (which sucks SO hard), my knees really aren't keen on how solidly my feet are attached, despite mucking around plenty with cleat position. I have no problem clipping in or unclipping, or just trackstanding instead; it's just that it seems like long-term comfort depends on being able to shift my feet around slightly.

So I'm thinking screw it. It might look a bit weird, to be rocking deep wheels and lycra with runners and toeclips, but I'm starting to think I'd be a lot happier to just give up on clipless.

Been a long time since anyone did a sexy toeclip pedal... Shimano's efforts haven't been bettered in thirty years. Making a pair from carbon might be a cool project...
Agreed. I have weird feet.. I've tried countless configurations of pedals, styles, shoes, brands and there's always a problem
So far flats and trail runners has only ever caused me one issue : Achilles inflammation (on multiple, 5-days in a row 150km loaded MTB touring). Maybe it was the lack of stiff sole, or maybe it was just a massive effort 🤷‍♂️
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Old 04-03-21, 06:43 PM
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Many many people will be upset about this but:

N+1

You don't need another bike. You might want one, but really don't need another one.
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Old 04-03-21, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Been a long time since anyone did a sexy toeclip pedal...
Not a toeclip pedal but I know Five Ten recently restyled their flat bike shoes shoes.

https://www.backcountry.com/five-ten...BoCvDoQAvD_BwE


https://www.adidas.com/us/five-ten-f...es/FW2822.html
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Old 04-03-21, 07:37 PM
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a new one will be you cant get exercise on a e bike. well of course that depends on how much your willing to work but it is very possible to do so.
like here is the last couple of rides for me. nothing fantastic bot for me it was a workout. The first one was a a speed test on a empty bike path I was in turbo for the last 4 miles doing 25mph. then the one this morning I was in the second level to the lowest level Lower but a bit more of a workout


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Old 04-03-21, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
Not a toeclip pedal but I know Five Ten recently restyled their flat bike shoes shoes.
What would be really neat to go with my carbon toeclip pedals is some road shoes with a rubber sole instead of cleat holes...
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Old 04-03-21, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
Many many people will be upset about this but:

N+1

You don't need another bike. You might want one, but really don't need another one.
Get out.

Before my wife sees this.
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Old 04-03-21, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
Many many people will be upset about this but:

N+1

You don't need another bike. You might want one, but really don't need another one.
well unless its a tandem so your blind wife can ride with you.
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Old 04-03-21, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
What would be really neat to go with my carbon toeclip pedals is some road shoes with a rubber sole instead of cleat holes...
You said you couldn't get into clipless...but they're not making new (stylish) shoes for the toe clips you prefer.

It just seems like two options today are clipless (attached to the pedal) or five tens (sticky but not attached to the pedal).

There's really no way to say "here's something you might be interested in related but not the same as you asked" on a forum without some people thinking you're pushing it, rather than just giving an fyi on other options they might be interested in hearing about.

Don't know of anything to suggest with toe clip shoes, sorry.

Last edited by PaulRivers; 04-03-21 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 04-03-21, 08:45 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
Cramps are caused by dehydration and/or electrolyte losses.
One of my favs! Cramping is overexertion, going too hard/far for your fitness/endurance. Being a former runner, used to love hearing people talk about hitting the wall during a marathon. There is no wall, there is only a person running too fast for their current fitness, pace it properly and you'll have no problems holding that pace all the way to the finish.
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Old 04-03-21, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
Many many people will be upset about this but:

N+1

You don't need another bike. You might want one, but really don't need another one.
You shut your dirty mouth around my or anyone else around here’s significant other.
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