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Adorable Furry Hombre
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Softride seems most common of these. The UCI-illegal thing won't affect nearly all of us, especially triathletes. I've talked with a couple of guys on them, they say they're great for tris but hate climbing on them; apparently the lack of seat tube makes it too flexy while getting on the power up a hill.

Of course, that's also the reason for the "soft" ride...
 

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Diamond frames

fmw said:
The double diamond frame simply outperforms every other design and does it with less weight.
Except that it is simply called the diamond frame (not double diamond). Sometimes it is called a double triangle frame, but usually the front half is not a triangle, but closer to a trapezoid.
 

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A triangle is a strong, stiff structure. It's simply easier to make a diamond-framed bike lighter, yet strong enough to resist all normal bicycle forces than a non-geometric shape such as the Y-Foil example mentioned.

As was mentioned, when non-traditional shapes started appearing that were superior in aerodynamic charcteristics (such as in time-trials), the UCI then made a ruling that defined the diamond frame so that no other shape would be allowed.

As far as the consumer market is concerned, a few shapes were tried, but due to the fact that the inexhorable physics involved require any bike to have sufficient strength to resist the forces involved, the non-traditional shapes tended to lose out in the weight wars. The industry (as insane as it is) is in a weight war, every year vying to make lighter bikes. Most bikes are of the race-geometry when the majority of the market would be better-served by a more-upright stance which is just being recognized by the industry, hence models like the Cannondale Synapse are becoming popular.

It all boils down to the fact that we humans are the engine of the machine. You can ride a 50 pound bike just fine on the flats, in fact, they feel good because of the inertia of the weight making them seem fast at speed. Start going up a hill, however, and you begin to realize that the weight of the bike is a burden that the limited engine that we are, must lift. Granted, gears are on bikes so that we can continue pedaling within the power range we are capable while going up a hill, albeit, at a much slower speed.

Is there an alternate shape superior to a diamond frame that serves the purpose better? Not really. There are manufacturing concerns, however, and it is conceivable and possible that some manufacturers will come out with non-diamond carbon fiber frames that are light, yet easier to manufacture. There are the basic consideriations of how a person sits on a seat to pedal cranks and steer a bike that will determine the shapes that work. The diamond frame is a minimalist optimized engineering form which has been refined for well over one hundred years. Enough people have tried different ideas that did not have sufficient merit to challenge this fact.
 
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