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· BS the DC
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steel515 said:
adding to previous post, which carbon and ti frames have smoothest rides?
The one with the biggest tires under it. Nothing makes a bike smooth like a good volume of air in the tires. Double wrap your handlebars and take the time to find a heavenly saddle and you'll be riding in comfort.
 

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Giant OCR and the like would be my choice for smooth.

steel515 said:
which carbon frames have smoothest or least smoothest rides? (giant?)
All of the fast boomer touring bikes are smooth. Longer wheel base, little bigger tires, little softer frame.

Hardest carbon frame I ever tried was a 1992 or 3 Trek (what were they called OVCL?). That puppy was harsh.

It is all in the design and spec of the parts.
 

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Specialized Roubaix Carbon

This is to add to previous replies.

I was very impressed by Specialized Roubaix Carbon (2005) ride qualities. It has longer wheelbase, taller headtube and very comfortable ride. If it was not stolen from my house I would still be riding it today. 8^(

I also found that my replacement (2005 Trek Madone) is quite comfortable but more "in your face" than Roubaix is. But there are many others that would fit this requirement, try Look 555 or 461 or 481sl or some Orbea Carbon (Orca?), for example. If you want to spend top dollar than Colnago C50 is meant to be very comfortable as is Time VXR (the one with a regular seat post).

Also, as said before, if you do not over-pump your clincher 700*23C tyres you will find the ride will improve. Unless you are ~180# or heavier you need not use any more than 100psi with 23C clincher tyres. Sheldon Brown web site has some recommendations on that topic. For example: I am 145# and ride 100psi 700*23C clinchers. I used to weigh in at 160# a couple of year back and rode on 90psi (harsh Trek 1000 alloy frame) and I never had a pinch flat. Unless you are racing there is no point in going over 110psi for those <= 200# on 23C clinchers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have a aluminum and steel bike right now, just wondering which carbon to get if I get one. My tires are 95-100psi 23mm clinchers, though considering sewups for bumpy roads (tried them before) This setup is OK, just looking for more comfort.
 

· eminence grease
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steel515 said:
I have a aluminum and steel bike right now, just wondering which carbon to get if I get one. My tires are 95-100psi 23mm clinchers, though considering sewups for bumpy roads (tried them before) This setup is OK, just looking for more comfort.
I have a Calfee Tetra Pro, a Parlee Z2 and a Colnago C50. Each of them is far stiffer than any steel bike I own and not nearly as long-haul comfortable. I know the common knowledge is that CF bikes are more comfortable, but it's not been my experience, at least with those three. Of them, the Calfee is the easiest to ride, the other two are stiff-ass road rockets. They ride like my aluminum bikes.

In short, I don't think there is an answer to your question. If you're of the mind that test rides offer any value, then go ride a bunch and convince yourself they're better than what you have now.
 

· BS the DC
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terry b said:
I have a Calfee Tetra Pro, a Parlee Z2 and a Colnago C50. Each of them is far stiffer than any steel bike I own and not nearly as long-haul comfortable. I know the common knowledge is that CF bikes are more comfortable, but it's not been my experience, at least with those three. Of them, the Calfee is the easiest to ride, the other two are stiff-ass road rockets. They ride like my aluminum bikes.

In short, I don't think there is an answer to your question. If you're of the mind that test rides offer any value, then go ride a bunch and convince yourself they're better than what you have now.
You bring up a point. A lot of people describe their new bikes as "stiff, yet comfortable", or "smooth, yet rigid." I'm sure frame design can help maximize these quailities in a bike, but I believe lateral stiffness and horizontal compliance are, for the most part, inversely proportionate. Because of the ability to arrange the carbon fibers, CF bikes seem to hold the greatest opportunity to maximize frame qualities, but my experience is most CF frames lean towards being stiff.
 

· eminence grease
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bsdc said:
You bring up a point. A lot of people describe their new bikes as "stiff, yet comfortable", or "smooth, yet rigid." I'm sure frame design can help maximize these quailities in a bike, but I believe lateral stiffness and horizontal compliance are, for the most part, inversely proportionate. Because of the ability to arrange the carbon fibers, CF bikes seem to hold the greatest opportunity to maximize frame qualities, but my experience is most CF frames lean towards being stiff.
Yep, and I think the purported less transmission of "road buzz" gets swamped by a frame that jars your teeth with every big hit.

After spending some time riding the big three materials, my conclusion is that on decent roads, they're all wonderful. On "chattery" roads, they're all good too. It's the big hits that draw out the differences. My aluminum and CF frames take big hits harder than my steel frames. Aluminum is a bit worse that CF, but neither is golden. Steel seems to be more friendly if you're riding a very bumpy road. Which is why I like it for long-hauls because the greater the mileage, the more diverse pavement conditions you're likely to encounter (at least in theory.) But even with big hits, there comes a point where even steel isn't going to do it. I ran over a rock on my heavy lugged steel MxL yesterday morning that made me want to vomit.

When it comes to being snappy though, the CF bikes and the aluminum bikes have it all over steel. Which is why I'd never recommend a CF bike unless that's the feeling one wants. Not everyone does. And as you say, snappy and plush are generally mutually exclusive from a design perspective.

Lastly, I think all the complaining about aluminum (and other materials) that beats one up on long rides more than likely has to do with some nuance of fit, and not the material. My guess is that someone solving a "beating" problem by trading their AL bike for a CF bike is now sitting differently. And so myths are born.
 

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"My guess is that someone solving a "beating" problem by trading their AL bike for a CF bike is now sitting differently. And so myths are born."

Sage statement-I totally agree. But just wait til that NEW XXX material comes out!
 

· BS the DC
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terry b said:
Yep, and I think the purported less transmission of "road buzz" gets swamped by a frame that jars your teeth with every big hit.

After spending some time riding the big three materials, my conclusion is that on decent roads, they're all wonderful. On "chattery" roads, they're all good too. It's the big hits that draw out the differences. My aluminum and CF frames take big hits harder than my steel frames. Aluminum is a bit worse that CF, but neither is golden. Steel seems to be more friendly if you're riding a very bumpy road. Which is why I like it for long-hauls because the greater the mileage, the more diverse pavement conditions you're likely to encounter (at least in theory.) But even with big hits, there comes a point where even steel isn't going to do it. I ran over a rock on my heavy lugged steel MxL yesterday morning that made me want to vomit.

When it comes to being snappy though, the CF bikes and the aluminum bikes have it all over steel. Which is why I'd never recommend a CF bike unless that's the feeling one wants. Not everyone does. And as you say, snappy and plush are generally mutually exclusive from a design perspective.

Lastly, I think all the complaining about aluminum (and other materials) that beats one up on long rides more than likely has to do with some nuance of fit, and not the material. My guess is that someone solving a "beating" problem by trading their AL bike for a CF bike is now sitting differently. And so myths are born.
I like carbon forks for muting road buzz, but haven't found a lot of comfort benefits to other carbon parts. I've had the same experience with steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber.

I thought I recall you ride titanium frames a lot. I'm a big fan of Ti. My experience is that it tends to ride a little smoother than steel. I don't doubt it lacks a little lateral rigidity but, even with my rather large size and strong legs, I don't find this to be a problem. I don't think Ti is the best material for criterium racing, but I think it's one of the best materials for the just about everything else.
 

· eminence grease
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bsdc said:
I like carbon forks for muting road buzz, but haven't found a lot of comfort benefits to other carbon parts. I've had the same experience with steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber.

I thought I recall you ride titanium frames a lot. I'm a big fan of Ti. My experience is that it tends to ride a little smoother than steel. I don't doubt it lacks a little lateral rigidity but, even with my rather large size and strong legs, I don't find this to be a problem. I don't think Ti is the best material for criterium racing, but I think it's one of the best materials for the just about everything else.
Yes, I have a Vamoots and a Davidson. I find it pretty similar to steel, although in the case of that frame, a bit stiffer. But that may be due to my weight (154). I think it's another good long haul material if executed properly.
 

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While I generally agree with Terry, I think carbon has potentional to ride better than his experiences indicate. Carbon makes a great spring which is why graphite fishing poles and golf shafts are so popular - they come in a wide varity of stiffnesses. With time carbon frame designers will evolve the application and add more flex for specific applications - not race bikes though. Aluminum on the other hand is not likely to ever evolve into a nice riding frame material since flexy aluminum frames are more prone to cracking. As for me, I'm a steel guy. :) Hard to beat the ballance of stiffness to ride quality in my opinion.

Ed
 

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Fondriest Carbon Lex/Topolino

The Carbon Lex with Topolinos' rides like a hovercraft over chipseal; Also very stable and reliable on high speed descents involving poor road conditions...my choice for long distance alpine tours on those "closed for winter" road surfaces.
There was a poster some time ago who compared a Carbon Lex, Look 585, and EM MXM...claimed the Lex was the smoothest, the 585 felt a little lighter/stiffer, and the MXM
had some flex issues in the front end.
Fondriest is known for very smooth ride quality, quick handling, and very stable on fast descents....they are getting very hard to find since they closed up shop in Italy and may never resume production.
The Giant may be one of the best deals around...esp. a NOS from a few years ago at a bargain price.
Wheels are very important for ride quality....Topolino on one end and Mavic K's on the other.
The harshest bike I have ever tested was a Cannondale all alu race frame from a few years ago with Mavic K's.....rough!
As mentioned above, tires can smooth out any ride....but if you lust for that light, stiff, precise feel WITH smooth ride,
you will have to pay for it....
 

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my experience with carbonated

All of these bikes bring a smile to my face when I ride any of them:

*20 year old lugged steel Specialized Sequoia
*Coupled Kogswell all steel (sometimes I trade in a Kestrel fork.)
*Custom steel fillet Rex with all carbon fork
*Riv Rambouillet orange (the orange color adds immeasurably to the ride quality)
*The new joy in the herd is the Giant OCR C. Haven't been on a steel bike since this was built.

The OCR C is just plain fun to ride. Light, repsonsive, light, road buzz quotient down, light. Nice medium geometry with slightly relaxed angles, taller headtube, medium chain stays. Some might say not the most beautiful, but I bought the frameset, put on my own parts and like it a lot. Built with DA hubs and Open Pros, 48/34 double and big cassette. Even with all aluminum parts, it still snaps to more snapily than my steels.

I still like the steels, but the carbon is a pleasant surprise to me who was resisting the dark side for quite some time.

I don't give a goodgoshdarn (ggd) what anyone says. I see your "steel is real" and raise you a "light is right."

I do try to figure out if I could only have one, which I'd choose. Glad I don't have to make this choice. Since I do almost exclusively smooth road riding with lots of hills, at the moment, I'd choose pure carbon custom; which I don't yet own.
 

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twelvepercent said:
The Carbon Lex with Topolinos' rides like a hovercraft over chipseal; Also very stable and reliable on high speed descents involving poor road conditions...my choice for long distance alpine tours on those "closed for winter" road surfaces.
There was a poster some time ago who compared a Carbon Lex, Look 585, and EM MXM...claimed the Lex was the smoothest, the 585 felt a little lighter/stiffer, and the MXM
had some flex issues in the front end.
Fondriest is known for very smooth ride quality, quick handling, and very stable on fast descents....they are getting very hard to find since they closed up shop in Italy and may never resume production.
The Giant may be one of the best deals around...esp. a NOS from a few years ago at a bargain price.
Wheels are very important for ride quality....Topolino on one end and Mavic K's on the other.
The harshest bike I have ever tested was a Cannondale all alu race frame from a few years ago with Mavic K's.....rough!
As mentioned above, tires can smooth out any ride....but if you lust for that light, stiff, precise feel WITH smooth ride,
you will have to pay for it....
I used to own a Lex and now own a 585: I would say the 585 is a bit smoother, yet lighter and more snappy (about 1lb, which can definitely be felt). The front end on the Lex is a bit stiffer, IMO. BB stiffness is comparable. With that said, the differences are pretty subtle: I would say it is like dropping 10psi in your tires with regards to ride quality. But I am only 150lbs. I have acutally found the 585 to be the smoothest bike I have ever owned, but even that is only because I switch back and forth: it would be hard to discern a difference otherwise. Handling produces a bigger difference in the acutal performance of the bike than the "smoothness" of the frame does. Even the Pina Dogma, which has a reputation as a stiff bike, is totally comfortable with Neutrons, even when riding my normal SLR saddle.

Throw on a set of Reynolds Stratus DV's with nice tubs at 110psi and the ride gets slightly better yet (and much faster!). My first race on them was last weekend, and they are so much faster than my Neutrons in certain situations: I wonder why I didn't mount them up sooner.
 

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Back to the original question, the Specialized Roubaix was specifically designed to be a smoother, more comfortable frame for distance riding -- hence the name Roubaix, a tribute to the race famous for its bone-jarring cobblestones. Whenever these frame material discussions come up, the consensus seems to be that design is the biggest factor affecting ride quality. So, if the Roubaix was designed with that in mind, I would expect it to be a very smooth riding frame -- assuming that Specialized succeeded in what they set out to do. From all of the reports I have read, they were successful.

Regarding materials, I am of the camp who believes that frame material does make a difference in ride quality, all things else being equal (and they never are). Having ridden steel, aluminum and ti frames for long periods of time, I prefer the ride of steel frames. My experiences with carbon are limited, but in my brief ride on a Trek OCLV frame, I found it to be much harsher riding than my steel or ti frames but more comfortable than aluminum. In my view, aluminum is the worst in terms of ride quality, although many cyclists claim that a properly designed AL frame can be as comfortable as any other material -- but I haven't found that to be the case.
 

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The "ride quality" of a frame and fork is determined by two things: wheelbase (longer is smoother) and the fork. Since the fork is cantilevered off of the frame, it is free to flex to absorb some road impact. The rest of it is in our heads. Bicycle frames are ineherently stiff in the vertical plane. Any deflection will be so small that it will be masked by the far greater deflections in tires, stem, seatpost, saddle, and handlebars.

It's like arguing which car has a smoother ride, the one with leather seats or the one with vinyl seats.
 

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HeronTodd said:
The "ride quality" of a frame and fork is determined by two things: wheelbase (longer is smoother) and the fork. Since the fork is cantilevered off of the frame, it is free to flex to absorb some road impact. The rest of it is in our heads. Bicycle frames are ineherently stiff in the vertical plane. Any deflection will be so small that it will be masked by the far greater deflections in tires, stem, seatpost, saddle, and handlebars.

It's like arguing which car has a smoother ride, the one with leather seats or the one with vinyl seats.
The one with leather, bucket seats has the smoother ride.
 
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