Perf v Comfort: Frame v wheels v tires v psi ?
In trying to achieve the nirvana of very good performance and yet very good comfort (especially for those of us in the second half of a century (miles or years)), how would you rate frame stiffness vs wheels, tires, and tire pressure? Better to get a stiff frame (eg Scott Addict) and wheels and use lower tire pressure? Or get a slightly more compliant frame (Scott CR1?) and maybe use softer wheels or lower tire pressure?
too many variables
That's a lot of variables, and you're talking about something very subjective to begin with.
Originally Posted by InfiniteLoop
But, I'd say the the variable that matters far more than all else combined is tire pressure; after that tire size and construction. Bike frame and wheels matter almost zilch, unless there is a suspension.
There is a sliding scale from performance to comfort, and you have to decide where you want to be. Also, more comfortable tires, like a Vittoria Open Corsa, ride fantastic, but are more prone to flats than something like a Continental Gatorskin. So, depending on how you look at it, the Vittoria could be a higher performance and higher comfort tire, or it could be lower performance, if it takes you 10 minutes to change a flat that might not have gotten with the Gatorskin.
Also depends on your size and the road conditions. For a smooth road, a 23 mm tire at 120 psi might feel perfectly comfortable. For a really torn up road, you'd probably want a 25-28 mm tire. I think a 25 mm supple tire is a good all round choice, maybe pumped to 110 psi (unless you are really heavy, as you might pinch flat at that pressure). But, I'm not very sensitive, as I do double centuries on 23 mm Gatorskins pumped to 120 psi with track geometry fixed gear bikes.
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I can't answer your main question as there are too many variables for the average person. But I can say this - and as someone well into their 2nd half century (and I don't mean bike miles even though I did one three days ago) - consider getting Vittoria Open Corsa Evo CX tires in the 25mm width (mine weigh just 210g). I'm 170lbs and I air mine to about 80psi. Life's too short to ride around on cheap &/or hard tires.
The comfort an speed are excellent.
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Contrary to what you may read, a stiff frame is not always uncomfortable, nor are low pressure wide tires necessarily smoother riding than thinner, higher pressure tires. A lot goes in to coming up with what is a smooth ride for you. For me, a Scott Addict on 23mm Vittorias is a comfortable ride. Others will have combinations that feel right for them. Some current steel frames seem harsh to me, and I've ridden aluminum frames that were comfortable all day long (and some that were not). Experiment.
In my experience, tire pressure makes more of a difference than all other variables (besides proper bike fit). Don't run your tires at max pressure. I used to always pump my road tires up to 110-125 psi. 23 or 25mm. This caused tons of comfort issues and didn't help me go any faster. Probably slower in some cases. I now run my 25mm gatorskins at 85F 95R and I'm very comfortable. Dropping tire pressure made a world of a difference. Best advice I can give to any one. I have both steel and alum. bikes and as long as I run proper tire pressure, I really don't feel much of a difference in frame material. tire size will make a difference too, but between 23 or 25's it isn't that much. You can run them both at about the same pressure. Maybe go with 23's to save some weight to help the performance side of things.
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I weigh 170 and have found that things are nice with 95 front/105 rear in Conti GP4000S tires (23's) on my bike. Also like the ride quality of the frameset with the new DA wheelset. Compared to my old aluminum frame and AC CR-350 wheelset it's night and day. I agree that tire pressure is likely the single most important factor in ride feel though.
+1 on using wider tyres and also a lower pressure. Go with 25mm tyres and set pressure based on your weight. I am 72kg (155#?) and ride 90psi front and 95psi on rear on 23mm. With 25mm tyre I will drop at least 5psi compared to 23mm tyre. perhaps even 10psi.
the difference between the softest frame and the stiffest frame, in vertical compliance...which is "comfort" is tiny. you can make much more difference w/ saddle, bars, tape(!) and tires/pressure than you can ever feel between frames. that comes straight from the engineers at cervelo. look at an RS or R3 and then check an S2...very different looking rear ends (and front triangles too). oddly enough, the R frames are the stiffest they make. you can really make a difference in lateral flex (which makes a frame feel efficient, or like it really 'jumps' when you stomp on the pedals) w/ lay up schedule and design...but you can't really change vertical compliance much when you have 2 triangles connected by a tube. they just don't flex up and down much.
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Thanks! Great info. CX makes a great point that vertical compliance, which is where I assume any frame comfort would come from, can only do so much. The CR1 though does make a claim (somewhat substantiated by reviews?) that the twists and turns in it's triangles do make a noticeable diff.
I think I'm leaning towards stiffer frame and then adjusting tires for comfort.
By adjusting the tire pressure a few PSI either direction I can make my aluminum frame ride like a brick or very smooth. The frame it's self is very stiff however.
With my previous carbon frame I could do the same. 125 PSI in the tires and it rode like a brick, 110 psi and it rode smooth.
As long as the frame fits well it doesn't matter how stiff it is it will have an acceptable ride. Then you can adjust the tire pressure to suite the ride you desire.
As long as you're not getting pinch flats you're fine.
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True, but the difference between a set of long chainstays and a long wheelbase can make large. Given that this is not really an option in most of today's bike choices, tires/tire pressure are the major determinants.
Originally Posted by cxwrench