Road Bike Geometry...Wrong, Wrong, Wrong
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  1. #1
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    Road Bike Geometry...Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

    I hate you, I hate you all (road bike designers and manufacturers). Well, maybe not all, but most.

    Ok here are the issues that lead me to this childish rant. Road bike geometries are not made for anyone. Truly! They fit no one! They are derived from combining two totally different market segments that benefit neither professionals or the rest of us.

    Here is my deal. I would like an aero road bike that is not twitchy. Only the BMC time machine comes fairly close to getting the geometry spot on. But even their geometry suffers a tad from the industry not knowing which end is up. The wheelbase is long compared to others but still fairly short. Not a big deal since trail and all other factors are fairly good. Eddy Merckx 525, and lower end Storcks and Pinarellos are sensible in most areas, but the their slack seat tube angles and lack of aero don't really do it for me.

    I like to ride low and fast, but very stable. Stability does indeed equate to speed. Anybody should be able to jump on a road bike and keep it on a straight line while day dreaming and also ride no hands with minimal effort. Head angles of 73.5+ don't allow anyone to maneuver more quickly than anyone else. This is reaching the upper bounds where it just translates to a front end that jumps all over the road. Oh how fun, I get to ride further and be much less stable in tight pack riding. Do not for a second claim my skills are lacking. Of course they are...I'm not a pro. However, even pros can't control their twitchy front ends. Take a look at all the peloton crashes. A fair amount appear to occur when a rider just seems to veer suddenly into a rider beside him. No traffic furniture involved, no turn, absolutely nothing except a steep head angle and short wheelbase which combined with a split second of inattention causes a veer and then ultimately a crash.

    So why are the bikes so twitchy. Well, the problem is exacerabted by the fact pros ride frames usually 2 sizes too small. They are pros after all and will do all sorts of odd things to save a few grams or achieve more of a drop. After all, smaller sizes have shorter head tubes. So if you lose a centimeter on effective top tube length, but get more than a centimeter in drop. Go for it Mr. Pro. It does make sense. Just slap on that huge 150+ stem and you are good to go. I guarantee you the average stem length in the pro peloton is 140+, while the avergae recreational cyclist is 120 or less.

    And this is where it gets very weird indeed. If anyone can handle twitchy (quick maneuvering) bikes, only pro level cyclists can truly do it, but even they struggle. So maybe the light bulbs are starting to go off if you stuck with my "boo hoo rant" so far. The pros typically ride small frames with freakishly long stems. And a long stem does indeed make a twitchy front end more stable. When you are extended well past the steerer tube, a turn input will turn the front end much less than if your stem is short (near the steerer tube).

    So great, bike industry, you make bikes for absolutely no one. They don't fit the pros and they don't fit us!!! Many pros can never find a bike with a head tube low enough for the most part, so they opt for the small frame with a gigantic stem. And your average cyclist now has to contend with a trail (head angle + fork offset) intended to be used with a 140+ stem.

    So where does this leave me. Pretty much lusting after the curves of aero bikes and the geometries of cyclocross bikes. Make no mistake, I'm not a slouch. I like a nearly flat back, but my preference is nowhere near the extremes of professional sprinters or breakaway specialists. I don't get paid for that level of discomfort.

    My ideal bike is as follows: seat angle 74 degrees (so tip of saddle is right at 5cm from bottom bracket so all UCI legal...granted, the one criteria no one ever checks), head angle: 72.5, effective top tube around 57.5cm, and wheelbase 101+cm, and around a 17cm head tube (usually then, no spacers required). Yes, I realize wheelbase is a combination of other more important factors, ie trail, but if the other dimensions are to my liking and the wheelbase is around 101 or more I then know the trail, chainstay length, and front center length are pretty spot on. And toe overlap is truly not needed. Cutting a few centimeters off the wheelbase won't allow you or anyone to better find a spot in a tight peloton, especially if you can't maneuvar your twitchy front end. More fork rake would be fine to achieve this, but then head angle needs to be even more slack.

    Comfort bikes are ok, more like pathtic, because their head tubes are way too tall, that and they are not aero. Specialized Roubaix and Giant Defy amongst others can't get me low enough despite good front end stability.

    Cyclocross bikes are usually perfect except for sometimes a slack seat angle. Other than that their geometry is perfect. Too bad they aren't aero and they usually come with cantilever brakes.

    What to do, who to complain to???

    Thanks for reading all those who also like to whine when the world doesn't perfectly allign with your whims.

    One more thing. I love bikes, that are hopefully stiff, that soak up road vibration. The more a bike seems dead and disappears beneath me...the better. I don't need to feel the road to be confident. If the geometry is correct and stable, I am happy. I don't need to feel "the speed of the pavement" coming up through the frame. My computer will tell me.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    No reason to complain. Order a custom frame, and get it exactly how you want it.
    Last edited by tvad; 07-10-2015 at 06:29 AM.

  4. #4
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    I'd suggest having this discussion with a custom builder. As long as you pay for it, he/she/they will build exactly what you want, good or bad. If you don't ask for weird or exotic materials, the cost shouldn't even be that high.
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  5. #5
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    Don't really get the aero thing. If your not racing, what is the difference between round tubes and aero? About .5 mph, if that?
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    Don't really get the aero thing. If your not racing, what is the difference between round tubes and aero? About .5 mph, if that?
    Agreed.

  7. #7
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    What a waste of a huge number of electrons. I'll never be able to retrieve the time I spent reading that post.
    Trying to cram the rest of my life into the rest of my life!

  8. #8
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    Easy solution - custom built.
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  9. #9
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    Plenty of people are racing, or want to go fast. Aero bikes have a small performance advantage except on climbs. I'm glad that the new bikes aren't all disc braked gravel bikes.

    The crashes in the Tour are not due to "twitchy" handling bikes. It's because there's 195 racers all trying to be in the front 1/3 of the peloton. The roads used in the Tour have much more "road furniture" (roundabouts and medians) than they had even 10 years ago. But mostly the problem is the stages are much shorter. That makes the racing much more intense. The total mileage of this years Tour is almost half what it was in the 80s. Back then there were long sections where the racing would be mellow, especially before the TV broadcast went on.

    Back in the 80s the Vitus 979 frame was used by much of the pro peloton. It had steeper steering tube angles than current frames. Yet crashing did not decrease when they stopped using them.

    Quick steering is actually useful in a pack. It lets you turn a little quicker to avoid problems. It sounds like you don't race, so you would not know this.

  10. #10
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    I only skimmed this so I probably missed a lot (not as much as I wish I missed) but do I have it right that you hate how bikes designed for fast racing have quick handling?
    Is that kind of like wanting a F1 car that handles like a Caddy?

  11. #11
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    Hmmm. My proportions aren't really standard at 5'7" with a 33.5 inch inseam. I considered custom, but...I won't sacrifice handling. I put up with a zero-offset seatpost, short wheel base, big feet, and annoying toe-overlap; in return, my Pinarello corners like it's on rails. I guess I could have ordered something with a steeper seat tube, slacker head tube, and...? But how would it have handled? The mass produced bikes geometries are based on feedback from many riders and pro-cyclists and maybe you could say that it fudges the fit and handling for everyone that way, but I won't risk getting a 4000.0 dollar frameset that plods along like a tank on 2 wheels. Even if it is light-weight.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by aureliajulia View Post
    Hmmm. My proportions aren't really standard at 5'7" with a 33.5 inch inseam. I considered custom, but...I won't sacrifice handling. I put up with a zero-offset seatpost, short wheel base, big feet, and annoying toe-overlap; in return, my Pinarello corners like it's on rails. I guess I could have ordered something with a steeper seat tube, slacker head tube, and...? But how would it have handled? The mass produced bikes geometries are based on feedback from many riders and pro-cyclists and maybe you could say that it fudges the fit and handling for everyone that way, but I won't risk getting a 4000.0 dollar frameset that plods along like a tank on 2 wheels. Even if it is light-weight.
    An experienced custom frame designer/builder will design a frame that fits properly and handles according to your wishes. No sacrifices or uncertainty.

  13. #13
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    I liked your post, probably because I have trouble finding frames that fit. If you like long and low frames, the options in production bikes are limited. I've gone the long stem route with my last two frames (a Time and a Calfee). I'm running 130 mm stems on both, and the handling is fine. The Calfee must have a longer wheelbase because it's built to accommodate wide tires, and the handling is super stable. The Time is more nimble, and I like that too.

    Crashes in the Tour? I think that has more to do with the pressure the directors put on entire teams to ride together at the front.

  14. #14
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    One mans twitchy is another mans fast neutral steering.

    my 60CM Six13 is the most 'twitchy' when down low, my Scott Addict not so much as it is a 61 compact sloping and maybe the bigger size is a touch moapier. [a good thing]. I also have a custom 753 reynolds frame that is short and aggressive that I have no trouble with this position. Do I do this when I am not on the front or around other unless they are behinds me, no. Just like I would not ride aero bars situationally when I have them on there.

    Having said that, on both I put my forearms on the bar tops and get low and out of the wind. So if not too twitchy to do that with 3" of saddle bar drop... I think you may consider where you sit. I use long saddles and when I forearm the front I slide back, you get very long when you are so low. Maybe you are riding with less set back and thus getting low puts you out over the front wheel more than you like. Only way around that is a bike with a long front center if you can't slide back or be efficient with both a lot of set back and low in the front etc. Goolge the slammed TT position for info on this.

    This low position is way more aero than any wheels or aero frame in the scheme of all things aero/drag. I am a big sail and removing that from the equation makes for a lot more speed with same watts.


    EDIT: I tend to like/use short reach bars and longer stems as opposed to the reverse. Longer stems clam down steering input, and also my long femurs need the extra space. ;) Bar reach can vary considerably. Not to mention STI have got a lot longer I find, 9 speed to 10 speed upgrade years ago i had to put on a shorter stem.
    Until I got even shorter reach bars and got my 13CM stem back on. ;)
    Last edited by robt57; 07-10-2015 at 07:56 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robt57/Me!
    Everything you read that I post is just '1' guy's opinion, try to sort it all out best you can. ;) I will try to add value in my posts, if I miss the mark please let me know using a little decorum.

  15. #15
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    is there an award for the dumbest first post ever? Or is it just trolling?

    Seriously, that is totally misinformed about aero road geometry. Most of these bikes aren't twitchy. I ride/race a Foil - it's among the most stable bike I've ridden. Easy to take hands off the bars at 50 mph. I've tested a Giant, Ridley, Argon 18, and Fuji aero frame and none were twitchy. The STA comment was also silly - if you are putting your seat so far forward on a large frame like you described, you've already screwed up the weight distribution...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike View Post
    is there an award for the dumbest first post ever? Or is it just trolling?

    Seriously, that is totally misinformed about aero road geometry. Most of these bikes aren't twitchy. I ride/race a Foil - it's among the most stable bike I've ridden. Easy to take hands off the bars at 50 mph. I've tested a Giant, Ridley, Argon 18, and Fuji aero frame and none were twitchy. The STA comment was also silly - if you are putting your seat so far forward on a large frame like you described, you've already screwed up the weight distribution...
    Listen, I have a TT bike as well, whihc I don't rode much since a ski accident.

    Throw out my post as being misinformed before debating a difference in experience and opinion. Lame!

    And I am solidly in the fast and neutral category. Aero road bike has little to do with position.

    There IS NO AERO ROAD geometry, talk about mis-informed!

    There is road geometry with a more aero frame profile. As that is marketing BS for the end user. YOU CAN GET A LOT MORE AERO in the slammed position or just getting low low low on the bike as to get you sail ass upper body horizontal than ANY AERO Road bike is going to make any fooking difference.

    You can more aero just tucking you fooking arm if front of you body than any benefit AERO Road bike is going to net you, are 'you' kidding [trolling??]

    You can get A LOT more aero benefit with a slammed position on a road bike than a sail boat upper body position on anything else.

    If you don't see what
    Quote Originally Posted by Robt57/Me!
    Everything you read that I post is just '1' guy's opinion, try to sort it all out best you can. ;) I will try to add value in my posts, if I miss the mark please let me know using a little decorum.

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    Wow. So my observations are too nuanced, confusing, annoying, ill-concieved, etc etc.

    The concept is easy. A 73.5+ degree head angle is pushing the limits of what humans can benefit from and in combination with short wheelbases neither professionals nor weekend warriors are getting bikes that make any sense. The bikes are pure marketing hype because the head tube length is made for us, but the head tube angle is made for them. So what I've gathered from most of the responses is "quicker handling is always better", "you must not race" and "my bike handling skills and reaction time is better than the even the professionals...the evidence is I use a shorter stem than them." Or perhaps discussing the flaws in geometry just makes the average brain ache with pain.

    I did some research after writing my post. Guess what, I'm not the only one that sees their is a ridiculous flaw in the modern geometry thought process. Older bikes did have steep head angles, but the wheelbases were longer.

    They also believed that even the pros were crashing due to geometry flaws. Maybe only 10% of crashes now, but more than what existed before.

    Of course going custom is sensible, but I'd like an aero frame. BMC gets an A minus....sadly all others get a C minus at best. I'm not shocked that only the Swiss seem to have a clue.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThunderPooch View Post
    Comfort bikes are ok, more like pathtic, because their head tubes are way too tall, that and they are not aero. Specialized Roubaix and Giant Defy amongst others can't get me low enough despite good front end stability.
    In looking at SCOTT's offerings recently I've discovered that the geometry difference between the Addict and the Solace is 1cm. That's right, same angles, just 1cm difference in HT height. That's it, 1cm. I am not certain, but I want to say the total change in stack is just that one cm. I would say the difference in the sportive bikes is really in the compliance of the rear triangle and up front. I used to poo-poo sportive bikes too, but they're not as pathetic as we like to paint them as. I see a sh1tload of guys out on the weekend riding tarmacs with +17 90 stems... they'd be better off and have much better weight distribution on something less me-too-ish.

    The swiss always have a clue! Went through three shitty expresso machines before my Jura. Head and shoulders above the rest, prosumer level type stuff. I too noticed BMC's tend to have higher HT's and shorter reach than the others. That is what you were looking for I believe... and with a 72.5HTA?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by robt57 View Post
    Listen, I have a TT bike as well, whihc I don't rode much since a ski accident.

    Throw out my post as being misinformed before debating a difference in experience and opinion. Lame!

    And I am solidly in the fast and neutral category. Aero road bike has little to do with position.

    There IS NO AERO ROAD geometry, talk about mis-informed!

    There is road geometry with a more aero frame profile. As that is marketing BS for the end user. YOU CAN GET A LOT MORE AERO in the slammed position or just getting low low low on the bike as to get you sail ass upper body horizontal than ANY AERO Road bike is going to make any fooking difference.

    You can more aero just tucking you fooking arm if front of you body than any benefit AERO Road bike is going to net you, are 'you' kidding [trolling??]

    You can get A LOT more aero benefit with a slammed position on a road bike than a sail boat upper body position on anything else.

    If you don't see what
    um, I was replying to the OP, not you (the OP was his first post). Honestly, I have never been able to parse your posts - they read a bit like they are the result of google translate. But from what I can tell, you don't seem to realize that you can get an aero position on an aero frame, so it's win-win.

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    I rarely have ever wanted to post a message on this site because of moronic comments such as yours. I read hear often, and enjoy many posts, but always grow tired of sifting through comments full of sound and fury which signify absolutely nothing. You are all hubris and zero logic. How do I put this as tactfully as you did! How about, "You are wicked stupid but your ego is far more offensive". For your information, I use a saddle with a long nose, so my sit bones are still positioned on the seat in a reasonable positiion in regards to the rear hub. Many people never get enough weight on the front... again not my problem as my stem is one cm longer than stock. This also helps to take away the overly quick steering my main setup has. And we all know there is no such qualification as "aero geometry." I only made that distinction based on what the top 10 manufacturers offer as their aero line. For the sake of us all I hope you are in the autumn, make that, winter of your life.

  21. #21
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  22. #22
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    Parlee Altum is an aero bike offering a wide range of frame sizes and head tube lengths (modified with Flex Fit top cap sizing). Worth a look.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvad View Post
    An experienced custom frame designer/builder will design a frame that fits properly and handles according to your wishes. No sacrifices or uncertainty.
    Know one?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by aureliajulia View Post
    Know one?
    Kelly Bedford (Kelly Bedford Customs), Steven Fairchild (Grey Ghost Bicycles), Mark Stemmy (Optimized Cycling Solutions), Marco Bertoletti (Legend Bicycles)
    Last edited by tvad; 07-10-2015 at 11:20 AM.

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