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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In searching for a reason for my back to give me grief on the CX course, I have come to realize that the least "compliant" of my bikes is my cross bike.

I know Katie Compten describes her Stevens as "Super-compliant." I would describe my Redline as "super-non-compliant"

Does anyone have any experience with other frames that would fall into these two categories?
 

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strathconaman said:
In searching for a reason for my back to give me grief on the CX course, I have come to realize that the least "compliant" of my bikes is my cross bike.

I know Katie Compten describes her Stevens as "Super-compliant." I would describe my Redline as "super-non-compliant"

Does anyone have any experience with other frames that would fall into these two categories?
No frame on the planet will make as big a difference as letting a few psi out of your tires. That vertically compliant marketing spiel is a bunch of crap. Run the widest tubulars you can get away with and let the air out. On really bumpy courses I have seen guys run USE suspension seatposts.
 

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Is it your lower back? If some of the hardest riding you are doing is hammering around a CX course, it could be a matter of getting your core muscles into shape.
 

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OnTheRivet said:
No frame on the planet will make as big a difference as letting a few psi out of your tires. That vertically compliant marketing spiel is a bunch of crap. Run the widest tubulars you can get away with and let the air out. On really bumpy courses I have seen guys run USE suspension seatposts.
^the truth^ the difference between the "stiffest" and most "compliant" frames (in terms of vertical elasticity) is miniscule. wheels, tire pressure, saddle, bars, & tape all make more of difference in how comfortable a bike is.
 

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TiCruiser said:
Is it your lower back? If some of the hardest riding you are doing is hammering around a CX course, it could be a matter of getting your core muscles into shape.
Agreed, with the addendum of including yoga once or twice a week.
A lot of cycling-related lower back pain is due to tight, shortened back and hamstring muscles coupled with weak abdominal (core) muscles. Those two conditions lead to an anterior pelvic tilt, commonly seen in the ubiquitous "swayback" look in veteran cyclists.

I also agree that tire volume/pressure and contact points make a bigger difference than frame compliance. Just before the Shenandoah Mountain 100, I jacked up my custom steel frame, and in a pinch, bought a Gary Fisher Rig. I was concerned that the shift from custom built, True Temper Platinum OX goodness to mass-produced aluminum would hurt over 100 miles off road, but I gotta say, I felt great! Well, at least as far as impact goes. Legs were another story for another time...

Los
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for these responses.

I can tell the difference between my carbon, ti and steel road frames. I can stay in the drops on my carbon and ti frames for an hour without feeling any back issues (and my saddle-bar drop is 8cm on these). During the summer I would get out weekly for a 1 hour 90% of FTP ride with no ill effects.

I can't seem to get 50 minutes out of my back on my cross bike. Not even while totally dogging it, wheel sucking last place in zone 3.
 

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yeah, not frame, and yeah, core and stretches, esp hams/gluts. assume you stretch before races? the diff could be the running (assume you don't dismount and run while riding the road bikes)
 

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Ti frame. Running your tires marshmallow soft helps but too soft and the bike rides poorly everywhere else. Many are using soft tires to do the job their frames are supposed to be doing (because marketing works) and now all the manufacturers are producing "stiff" frames, which don't do much good for cx racing. There is a noticable difference in comfort from an OS aluminum frame to a Ti frame.

I suffer from back soreness on the cx bike and MTB as well and I think it's largely due to powering against heavier loads that aren't common on the road bike, not so much bumps. You might also play with fit. You should be more upright with shorter bar reach on the cx bike than the road bike so you can shift your weight around more.
 

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I agree with above posters about weak core muscles and hamstring muslces. I ignored the pain last year and lost 2 months off the bike because of severe pain later. I did 2 months of rehab with nothing but working on core muscles and streching my hamstrings out.
 

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owens said:
I agree with above posters about weak core muscles and hamstring muslces. I ignored the pain last year and lost 2 months off the bike because of severe pain later. I did 2 months of rehab with nothing but working on core muscles and streching my hamstrings out.
:thumbsup: This is exactly what I am trying to prevent in myself. I have significant low back issues, caused by hamstrings and quads pulling my pelvis out of alignment. Stretching/yoga and a rigorous core routine seems to be helping a lot.
 

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davidka said:
Ti frame. Running your tires marshmallow soft helps but too soft and the bike rides poorly everywhere else. Many are using soft tires to do the job their frames are supposed to be doing (because marketing works) and now all the manufacturers are producing "stiff" frames, which don't do much good for cx racing. There is a noticable difference in comfort from an OS aluminum frame to a Ti frame.
cx racers run their tires soft for traction, no other reason. no "compliant" frame made on this planet will do what 5-10 less psi will do. cx races are at most an hour long, you pretty much accelerate out of every corner, not to mention after dismounts, why on earth wouldn't you want a stiff & efficient frame? you're fooling yourself if you think there is a major difference in comfort between any ti and aluminum frames, not possible.
 

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For just this once, I'm going to disagree with cxwrench... I have a crosscheck (steel) and a BH Carbon Cross, and (even with the same tires/tire pressure/wheels) the crosscheck is much more comfortable and controllable over rough ground. I have a good time riding it on singletrack whereas the BH will rattle my eyeballs out.
I do agree with the statement about "why wouldn't you want a stiff, efficient frame?" I LOVE racing the BH. It does everything (other than singletrack, which doesn't matter for racing) better than the crosscheck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
cxwrench said:
cx races are at most an hour long, you pretty much accelerate out of every corner, not to mention after dismounts, why on earth wouldn't you want a stiff & efficient frame? you're fooling yourself if you think there is a major difference in comfort between any ti and aluminum frames, not possible.
So are you fooling yourself that there is a major difference in stiffness and efficiency between frame materials?
 

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I had a Kona Jake the Snake (all alu) and replaced it with a Desalvo (steel & carbon). The Desalvo is a more comfortable ride, I mostly just swapped parts from one to the other so I think the frame accounts for the difference in feel. It's a totally subjective thing, but it is a more comfortable frame to ride.

That said, let out some tire pressure too! It's a bit cheaper. Work on the core strength too.
 

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Andrea138 said:
For just this once, I'm going to disagree with cxwrench... I have a crosscheck (steel) and a BH Carbon Cross, and (even with the same tires/tire pressure/wheels) the crosscheck is much more comfortable and controllable over rough ground..
But that could have everything to do with geometry and nothing to do with frame material.
 

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cxwrench said:
cx racers run their tires soft for traction, no other reason. no "compliant" frame made on this planet will do what 5-10 less psi will do. cx races are at most an hour long, you pretty much accelerate out of every corner, not to mention after dismounts, why on earth wouldn't you want a stiff & efficient frame? you're fooling yourself if you think there is a major difference in comfort between any ti and aluminum frames, not possible.
Not true. I hear just as many racers talking about using the soft tires for comfort and rolling resistance (reducing bounce on rough surfaces) as I do about traction. That may be your reason, but it is not universal.

CX races are 30 minutes to 1 hour long and they are grueling. Pedaling the bike is not the only thing that makes you tired when racing offroad. If that were the case then MTB racers would still all race on hard-tails, and they are racing on 2-2.5" tubeless tires.
 

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strathconaman said:
So are you fooling yourself that there is a major difference in stiffness and efficiency between frame materials?
everyone knows that a carbon frame can be made laterally stiffer than either an aluminum frame or a steel frame. that is where the efficiency comes from. differences in layup schedules make the difference between a 'stiff' & "efficient" frame, and one that is less so.
but...
when you connect 2 triangles that are constructed w/ straight tubes, there is precious little "vertical" compliance happening. frames just don't really have any give in the vertical plane, at least not under rider weight. about the only flex that takes place in a bike frame is torsional, and the more it flexes, obviously the less efficient it is.
vertical flex and torsional flex are 2 completely different things, one provides comfort, the other efficient power transfer.
sorry andrea, i'm still not buying it, what you're feeling probably has more to do w/ geometry and fork construction than anything:D done any races yet? how's things going?
 

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As others have said the amount of air in your tires will effect things more than frame material. However, if you're looking for a compliant frame, look at soft tails - the Moots YYB and similar frame actually have rear ends with measurable travel.
 

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I have 2 frames with 100% identical geometry at 51cm.
The first is the stock Solo CXR made from slightly butted 7005 aluminum with an aggressively ovalized downtube at the BB and headtube, beefy seatstays and tapered chainstays at the BB. Weight is 1550grams, not compliant but gets up to speed lightening fast and powers through sand and deep mud.

The second is the a semi-custom frame we built last year for our sponsored racers (luckily I got one originally set aside for Alison Sydor) made from a super butted Scandium with straight round tubes. Weight is 1200 grams, super compliant. It flexes under power quite a bit which hurts the sprinting, but it also "flexes" through rough terrain instead of bouncing over rough terrain.

There is no doubt in my mind which bike is easier on my body, but it is still up for debate which frame is faster over a CX race especially since I do not suffer from back pain so I may not need the added comfort.

Strathconaman you cannot buy one of these frames but you can look for a frame that has straight round tubes, a 27.2 seatpost, straight 1 1/8 headtube, thinner/curved seatstays and an aggressively butted tubeset which all will add comfort but will also take away from the power transfer.
 

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Just a different take on what might be giving the OP trouble with his back. The tendency of many riders to dramatically shorten their reach on their cross bikes compared to their road bikes can cause some lower back issues when really putting down the grinding power needed for a cross race. And how we tend to pull ourselves even further forward on the saddle when digging deep can exacerbate the problem even more. A lot of cross racers lose the break in their waste because the reach is so short on their bikes. Obviously can't say that this is the problem without seeing him. Just something to think about.
 
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