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Chainstay Length Questions

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Chainstay Length Questions

Old 10-21-08, 12:37 PM
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Mr_Christopher
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Chainstay Length Questions

So what would the difference in a 16" and 18" chainstay length be in terms of riding? What would the rider notice? What are the pros and cons for each (longer vs shorter)?

Thanks

Chris
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Old 10-21-08, 12:50 PM
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I'm not sure it really matters.

My main bike has 17 inch stays - way longer than usual. 18 inch is touring bike country. The 17 bike has a pretty average front end, 73, average rake etc.

Last summer I was on a borrowed Tesch crit bike, really short and steep all around. Didn't measure the stays but they were at least an inch shorter if not more - that rear tire was snugged right up against the 75 degree seat tube.

Perceived (not measured...) differences between the 2 bikes:
- stomping up a steep hill - the longer stays felt "better" in that the front tire felt more planted, the bike tracked straighter, etc.
- sprinting / accelerating - the Tesch felt much faster, and I did do better in group sprints with it. The back end felt stiffer, but the wheels were different too.

I'll let others get into theoretical stuff.

/ edit: one more thing - cornering. It's hard to say fer sure b/c the 2 bikes have different front end geometry, but. The Tesch (short stays) was great in this one really technical crit I did with lots of tight choppy corners. But at max speed in a sweeper, if you hit a bump, it didn't feel secure/stable - had to really pay attention to stay on top of it.

The longer bike, it doesn't have that instant snappy responsive feel, but in a fast sweeper with rough pavement, it feels really secure - like you're _in_ the bike as opposed to "on" the bike.

Last edited by Creakyknees; 10-21-08 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 10-21-08, 01:46 PM
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In theory, longer chainstays will give you a smoother ride, but more sluggish handling. Of course, other factors like tubing diameters/stiffness and frame angles and center of gravity also have an effect.

Touring bikes often have longer chainstays so you have more room to hang rear racks and panniers.
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Old 10-21-08, 01:49 PM
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From Jobst Brandt:
"For road bikes in the range that is available, the longer the
chainstays the better the bike handles in all but 10mph turns. Tandem
riders can vouch for that on fast descents. The trend toward short
bicycles is not handling related but rather a desire to build lighter
bicycles. The concept is bolstered by the allusion to "quick"
steering and that the fastest bicycles are the TTT bikes, that
coincidentally depends on the riders being as close together as they
can get. Hence short bicycles. That doesn't mean the bicycle is
fast, only that a four man team is fast.

Chainstay length is primarily a comfort effect of sitting directly
over the rear wheel or not. Secondarily, a short wheelbase makes
weight transfer on braking less advantageous and least of all steering
motions more disruptive to straight line riding.

The only thing wrong with long chainstays is that they are not in
fashion and your peers will sneer at you for being unconventional,
using all sorts of pseudo technical allusions to support their point
of view."
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Old 10-21-08, 07:24 PM
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Thanks for all the input, gang.

Chris
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Old 10-21-08, 09:08 PM
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531Aussie
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The conspiracy theory goes that chainstays were shortened as much as possible because too many alu stays were breaking when alu took over steel around the year 2000, so shortening made them a little stronger.

Short stays around 40 to 40.5cm (about 16"), but there's nothing wrong with 42cm stays.
Some custom builders claim that slightly longer stays provide a better chain line, and therefore better gear running....I dunno?
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