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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was reading a Bicycling Magazine review of bikes today (online, I wouldn't subscribe to the magazine). They use all kinds of descriptive phrases to describe the ride qualities of a bike. This is a shame, I think, because it's a science and art in making a bike that determines how it rides. For example, I read a blurb recently on what bottom bracket drop does to the perception of a rider ona bike. I never thought about it before but now I'm seeing it in my mind's eye, how a lower bottom bracket would make a bike that would be less influenced by uneven pedaling forces. The closer the bottom bracket is to the line drawn between the wheel axles, the more pedaling forces would throw the bike side to side.

In other blurbs I've learned what differences in trail do to the perception on how, "squirrely," or "fast," the handling of the bike is.

I haven't read much about what the differences in wheel weight do to handling perception for a rider.

For another matter, a heavier bike, once you get it moving, tends to keep moving. That has a feeling to it. A super lightweight bike, on the other hand would have a lot less inertia to it and would feel different.

I am aware the the size of the tire makes a big difference in the feel of comfort on a bike. A fatter tire makes a smoother ride.

What my musing is all about is that, rather than using descriptive words in a review, I would like to hear an analytical review. For example, I would like to hear, "between these two bikes the one with the greater bottom bracket drop feels like it tracks better."

Does anyone know of a comprehensive book that talks about what the different parameters of a bike design do to the perceptions a rider has? For that matter, those who know would be welcomed by me, at least, in adding their knowledge to a discussion of what bike would be better, for example. Rather than talk about how one maker has a better design, one could explain that one maker's philosophy is to build stable bikes so they have 65mm of trail and 55mm of bottom bracket drop, versus the other maker who uses 45mm of trail and had 45mm of bottom bracket drop.

I haven't even gotten into chainstay length and what that does to the rider perception of a bike.
 

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Good questions. I know of nowhere you/we can get answers, though. I've always been mildly amused about "stiffness." Remarks, e.g. "I want a bike that's stiff because I want every ounce of effort to go towards forward motion," always make me want to ask how much difference it really makes. How much does a given frame flex in terms of vertical and lateral distance? How much does that actually effect forward motion? Assuming identical efforts and conditions, how far ahead, (if at all), would you be after 25 mi. with a stiff bike vs. a smoother riding one?

Stems & seatposts make me laugh, too. I'm 6'3" and 200#. To my knowledge, I have never felt a stem or seatpost flex in well over 40 years of riding.

But.......I digress. Good questions. Maybe somebody will have answers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I was reading a Bicycling Magazine review of bikes today (online, I wouldn't subscribe to the magazine)

Fred, read the above line. You could just as easily read it was a review on Road Bike Review, even.

If you want to add anything to the thread, do so.
 

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Yes, I read Bicycling mag. It's kind of fun, helps me remember that I can't take this as seriously as I once used to ...

Reviews - whatcha know! The mag gets to tool around on all this good stuff and write about it. Funnily enough, every hobby, interest and sport mag around does something awful similar - being as I do pretty much that for several model aircraft magazine, I have a little worthwhile background here.

Writing the review - you either get the staff to do it, in which case reviews are always pretty well on the lines of "WOW! This bike (car, aircraft, boat, whatever) is BRILLIANT!

Or you get a local to do the writing, which can send the reader to sleep - which is not good for mag sales.

Best route - get a real writer to do it, one who also practices the hobby/sport. I can tell you 'it's a dog' IF you bother to read the words closely, and the manufacturer will probably never know. Unfortunately, reading is a skill that's fast following intelligent, meaningful writing down the pan :mad2:

I wouldn't want to mess with reviewing a bike like I see in the LBS. For starters, the bars, stems and saddles are all wrong for me. It would be hard to be objective before I'd gotten out the door... As to frame geo and the effects of all that can change, well, that would be fun. Whatever is written is completely subjective - I can't figure out a way to quantify how a bike takes a corner, anyone else got any ideas - short of some industrial espionage hits on Trek or Giant maybe?

Final idle thought - any mag has one real aim. To sell mag copies! They make lots out of folk browsing the bookstore shelves, and their aim is to make a browser firstly pick up the mag, secondly buy a copy and thirdly, take out a long sub. The cover price barely covers the printing and production costs, the ads are what makes the publisher the big loot - is that a surprise?

If you want any input on a maker's philosophy, a website is a great thing. What sort of cycling does the guy support? You'd have to be half-blind not to figure that a Rivendell bike isn't going to make a great crit race mount, for an example that springs to mind.

Too late, not enough to do :D

Have fun figuring it out though

D
 

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I wouldn't want to mess with reviewing a bike like I see in the LBS. For starters, the bars, stems and saddles are all wrong for me.

After nearly two decades of riding and ten wrenching either for a living or "extra" money I think I could ride nearly anything and be happy. Granted I have an ideal fit and own my ideal bike but I now feel like a bike is a bike, is a bike. In the last month I worked on and test rode an older Bontrager/Nontrager Paul Sadhoff buit steel roadie, a Giant TCR Once, A Serotta CSI about 4 years old, an On-One Pompino, a Litespeed Tuscany, a Lemond Carbon Spine something or other, an Aegis Victory, all in my size, with slightly different setups but I know I would be comfortable on any with very little adjusting or component switching. I owned a shop and wrenched and sold at a few others and tested and built plenty of $1200 105 specd. rides. Most were downright nice bikes, a few had bad wheels IMO but for the most part they felt about the same to me. I guess I don't have a fine tuned sensor for bike stuff anymore. Or maybe it is just fine tuned enough to know what small adjustments need to be made to nearly anything to make it fit right and feel right to me so that small stuff out of wack is just that.
 

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Great paper.

"The Stability of the Bicycle" by David E.H. Jones has become one of the classic papers on bicycle design and rideability. Go to the "Physics Today" website, click on "The Stability of the Bicycle" and download the .pdf file. How can you resist reading a paper which starts with the statement "Almost everyone can ride a bicycle, yet apparently no one knows how they do it." ? :)

http://www.aip.org/anniversary/pubs_pt.html
 

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Insight Driver said:
II never thought about it before but now I'm seeing it in my mind's eye, how a lower bottom bracket would make a bike that would be less influenced by uneven pedaling forces. The closer the bottom bracket is to the line drawn between the wheel axles, the more pedaling forces would throw the bike side to side.

In other blurbs I've learned what differences in trail do to the perception on how, "squirrely," or "fast," the handling of the bike is.
The problem with the above factors are that they never function in isolation. There are always forces interacting or counteracting them. For instance, one of my road frames with a rather standard 70mm BB drop has a quite short 53mm trail. Pedalling forces are clearly noticeable due to the inherent quick/unstable tendency of the steering geometry. In comparison and on the other side of the extreme, my MTB has only an 11mm BB drop, but a 71mm trail. It's incredibly stable and feels like you're driving a steamroller.
 

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yeah so? online or not, bicycling mag still sucks. but, here's something to consider- feel is subjective. there's plenty of stuff on how geometry variables can affect a frame's handling online
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
wim said:
"The Stability of the Bicycle" by David E.H. Jones has become one of the classic papers on bicycle design and rideability. Go to the "Physics Today" website, click on "The Stability of the Bicycle" and download the .pdf file. How can you resist reading a paper which starts with the statement "Almost everyone can ride a bicycle, yet apparently no one knows how they do it." ? :)

http://www.aip.org/anniversary/pubs_pt.html
I read that paper. It's very limited in it explores how trail influences stability, but he called it projection instead of the normal bicycle term, trail. I do think, also, that basic bicycle stabilty based on trail is only one part of the, "feel, " of the handling of a bike.
 

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It's very limited in it explores how trail influences stability
You're right. I was just contributing an interesting sidebar to the discussion.

One of the things that's always amazed my about bicycle feel is the huge range in people's sensitivity to this. I've ridden with people who can happily go 50 miles on half-flat tires, rear wheel totally off-center in the frame, saddle 20 degrees to the left and 2 inches too high - but also with people who stop every few miles to adjust their saddle 0.5 mm up or down, then proclaim "ahh, that's so much better!" :)
 
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