A survey: The best and worst handling bikes you've owned?
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  1. #1
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    A survey: The best and worst handling bikes you've owned?

    Inspired by a thread over on the Serotta forum, I am curious what experiences this larger population may have.

    Please list in reply the bikes which you feel are the best and worst handling and why. Unlike the Serotta forum thread, I should hope that responses will be concise and logical. Do not use this as a place to brag about your bike collection, do not use it as a place to wax nostalgic about that bmx you had when you were eight years old (unless, of course that really *was* the best handling bike you've ever owned).

    Let's keep this one on topic (the Serotta boys are terrible at this). List the best and worst *handling* (read: not riding, looking, feeling, smelling, whatever. just handling) bicycles you have owned and attempt to explain as well as is possible why you feel so.

    I'll start.

    Though I have not owned enough bicycles to pin down a worst, or even a particularly bad, frame, my current Fondriest Top Level is certainly the best I've been on to date. It has a certain smoothness and stability at high speeds, offered by long chainstays and a reasonably laid back STA at 73 degrees, but the HTA is a pinch steeper and paired with the second stiffest fork I've ever encountered (first place going to the Wound Up on my pal's Hampsten), it makes for a package that absolutely devours the corners.

    Your turn.

  2. #2

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    my 2 cents...

    Worst: I'd have to go with my Giant TCR Aluminum. It never really fit me right to begin with, but it was simply too quick a handling bike for my tastes.

    Best: Tough one, for me, as I like my bikes, but I'd go with a Look Kg 386. Slack seat post works well for my long legs, and it just feels sweet. Point and go steering makes riding much less stressful. Funny, I saw Bicycling Mag say a Look KG 486 was a tough frame to ride, so I guess preference it everything...and they're morons.
    (though a Fondriest is always a fine choice)

  3. #3
    Juanmoretime
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    Here is my 2.

    The worst: My Specialized Allez Epic carbonfiber, all was fine with the bike except cornering, it didn't track well through the corners. Later I put one of the first Kestrel Carbonfiber forks on it, it came new with an aluminum fork, and then it would corner very well.

    The best: My current Litespeed Vortex. With the short stays, this bike feels great cornering at a very high rate of speed plus it tracks perfectly descending fast. A combination of the two is something I always look forward to, a fast long downhill with plenty of sharp turns.
    For my next trick I will now set myself on fire!

  4. #4
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    Worst: Cannondale 2.8. To say this bike was stiff is a huge understatement.. After 30 miles I was beat up and exhusted....

    Best: My LOOK KG381. Smooth riding, tracks well, it does everything I expect a bike to do...
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

    My 3Rensho Blog: http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/

  5. #5

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    Best Look 381i

    Nothing really bad to slam.

  6. #6
    Still On Steel
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    My sample is pretty small, but FWIW ...

    Worst: the Gitane I had when I was in my early 20s. I didn't know squat about geometry back then so I don't know if the problem was short chainstays or what, but that sucker required constant attention to keep it anywhere close to the intended line.

    Best: Dominique, my faithful steel Specialized Allez. Stage-racer geometry, no road buzz, tracks like a cat through the turns. I keep thinking I need to move up to something more modern and sexy but as soon as I start thinking that again, I always stop and ask myself, "Why?"

    Honorable Mention for Worst: the same C'dale 2.8 Dave H mentioned. I've never owned one but a relative does, and a couple brief rides on that thing gave me a wariness about super-stiff AL that endures to this day.
    Allez Rouge

  7. #7
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    worst: Bontrager Race (mtb) Geometry put my weight too far forward, which was great for technical climbs but it turned into a total endo machine going down. I suppose I could have played with the setup more but instead I sold it and got an Ibis which I still have. All my road bikes have handled fine, differences have been fairly subtle. I do like the Merckx geometry quite a bit, though.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hickey
    Worst: Cannondale 2.8. To say this bike was stiff is a huge understatement.. After 30 miles I was beat up and exhusted....

    Best: My LOOK KG381. Smooth riding, tracks well, it does everything I expect a bike to do...
    Hey dave, where do you have the rear dropouts set on your 381. I am still looking at my half finished 481, and am trying to decide where to put the rears. I was going to put them in the middle, but thought I might ask you what you have found to be the best spot. I am riding mostly solo long rides, no racing or crits. I had planned on putting them all the way back to make the longer wheel base, but a local rider here on a 381 told me it makes the bike overly stable and lethargic. Any inputs?
    Cyclists really need to learn a little Rule #5.

  9. #9
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    Worst: The worst bike I have ridden so far for handling was a Kestrel CSX mountain frame. It was an old design from before the time of suspension forks, so when I added an 80mm fork to the front, it made the thing handle like a Harley chopper through the trails. It was aweful. I was able to put a rigid fork back on the front and use it as a single speed, and it handled just fine with the rigid.

    Best: My 1986 serotta Nova Special. It was a Columbus SL tubing frame that I picked up from a local pro in 1986 who raced for the womens weight watchers team. It was so laid back and comfy I could ride it as an all day bike. Too bad I sold it in 1994 for money for my first MTB. Big mistake!
    Cyclists really need to learn a little Rule #5.

  10. #10
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    Okay, I'll play

    Best: Merckx Team SC. The most fun to be had on two wheels...as long as you're not inattentive.

    Worst: Kestrel 200SCi. Twitchy rear end coupled with harsh-riding Cane Creek Cronos wheelset.

  11. #11
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    Best and least best

    My current bike a Merckx Team SC is the best. Stable yet turns great at high speed. Close second, Vortex or Ciocc Challenger.All three great bikes. Least best, my old steel Fuji. Probably due to flex, but still not too bad.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by spookyload
    Hey dave, where do you have the rear dropouts set on your 381. I am still looking at my half finished 481, and am trying to decide where to put the rears. I was going to put them in the middle, but thought I might ask you what you have found to be the best spot. I am riding mostly solo long rides, no racing or crits. I had planned on putting them all the way back to make the longer wheel base, but a local rider here on a 381 told me it makes the bike overly stable and lethargic. Any inputs?
    Mine are set as far forward as possible. I don't think it makes a big difference.
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

    My 3Rensho Blog: http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/

  13. #13
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    Best: My '03 Giant TCR1 with DA 10. Ultra aggressive and super responsive thanks to the compact geometry, tight wheelbase and short chainstays. This bike sticks to the road and pulls me through any line I choose. The carbon fiber soaks up vibration like a sponge leaving me feeling fresh and ready for some end-of-the-ride attacks, that is after riding for 80 miles!

    Worst: The '01 Trek 2200. Talk about riding a piece of wood. This alluminum thing was not only sluggish and sloppy in regards to handling and response, it was also quite painful after 30 miles. I know that sports car drivers like to really feel the road; in a Porsche on can feel cracks in the pavement, and for that matter on that Trek I could feel cracks in the road!

  14. #14
    merckxman
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    My votes

    Best Handling: Merckx MX Leader (steel, lugged, MAX tubes). Not only does it handle incredibly well but I think it can survive a nuclear attack.

    Worst Handling: Merlin Extralight. I really tried to like this bike but it was always too twitchy for me; I never became one with it. I know people that really like theirs.

  15. #15
    Bored beyond belief.
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    Oh mama...the 2.8 was the chiropractor's best friend

    I had an R700 variant (one of the early well-spec'ed tri bikes), and that sucker could jiggle my one and only filling loose on a relatively short ride, much less 56 or 112 miles.
    Scott Needle

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  16. #16
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    Best: my new Basso! It just rocks Stable, no to quick to turn, but no effort to do so. Good response under power and secure feel when braking.

    Worst: '93 cannondale 3.0. I went overboard in my quest for BB stiffness and wound up with a twichy ride that demanded constant attention to keep straight. Also had a tedndency to fishtail when braking. However, it telepathic power delivery when sprinting or climbing. Just scaryon rough pavement.

  17. #17
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    Aside from a bent frame

    The worst handling bike I ever had was the Schwinn Stingray I briefly owned when I was a kid. Too much weight on the rear tire, none on the front, any curve you hit at even moderate speeds invoked initial understeer, followed by fish-tailing. What a piece of [email protected]
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  18. #18
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    Best and worst riding

    Best
    Tommasini Super Prestige (Columbus SLX)
    Steelman SR525 (Reynolds 525)
    RML (Reynolds 531ST)

    Worst
    Litespeed Classic (titanium)
    Look KG243 (Columbus Neuron)
    Cannondale 3.0 (aluminum)

  19. #19
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    Worst: Fuji S12S - frame like a wet noodle in 63cm size. Like driving a Buick!

    Best: Aegis Aro Svelte - 60cm - fast and sure footed
    Jim Purdy - Mansfield, TX

  20. #20
    Game on, b*tches!
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    2.8 bad? I had a 3.0! Ouch!! Wasn't the worst handling bike I ever had, though. Worst riding, by far. I had an old Raliegh Technium w/a Ti main triangle and steel rear and fork. That bike was so noodley, especialy in descents, that it made my arse-hole pucker up in fear! Saw my life pass before me many times on that thing. Fortunately, the drive-side chainstay snapped like a chicken bone and they replaced it under warranty. Best handling? My current Look KG 461. Stable, comfortable, and climbs great.
    Originally Posted by tetter
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  21. #21
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    Ditto the Allez Epic

    Quote Originally Posted by Juanmoretime
    The worst: My Specialized Allez Epic carbonfiber, all was fine with the bike except cornering, it didn't track well through the corners. Later I put one of the first Kestrel Carbonfiber forks on it, it came new with an aluminum fork, and then it would corner very well.

    The best: My current Litespeed Vortex. With the short stays, this bike feels great cornering at a very high rate of speed plus it tracks perfectly descending fast. A combination of the two is something I always look forward to, a fast long downhill with plenty of sharp turns.

    Riding down one of the passes in Yellowstone years ago, sketchy & scary! It amazingly didn't climb well either. At least it sprinted poorly.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by c-record
    Riding down one of the passes in Yellowstone years ago, sketchy & scary! It amazingly didn't climb well either. At least it sprinted poorly.

    I also rode an old Faggin(pronounce it right now) that was a flex noodle.

  23. #23

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    Best: my Serotta Csi with F1 fork, Ksyriums, and Dura Ace.

    Worst: don't have one. I love to ride anything on two wheels.

  24. #24
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    Cannondale Wins for Worst!

    My LBS is a good shop. For the first 10 years of racing, I was loyal to the shop, their main bike, C'dale.

    I have had several, starting with the 2.8 and up to the CAAD4. Each with a promise to be light and more comfortable than the previous. I hear C'dale has it worked out now, but I am sticking with my 5500's from now on.

  25. #25
    pmf
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    Worst: Cannondale R600 --- the 3.0 series frame. Talk about a stiffy.

    Best: Colnago C-40 --- I've owned a lot of bikes and none comes close to it.

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