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Maximum comfort on a road bike???(25 posts)

Maximum comfort on a road bike???The Old Man
May 2, 2001 2:45 PM
My wife and I are about to buy road bikes to augment our mountain bike training. We've been putting in a lot of dirt miles on mountain and cross bikes and are ready to take the real road plunge. She's a sport master racer (43) and I race grandmaster (55). Because of my age and a couple of blown lumbar discs, I'm interested in the most comfortable road bike I can find. High-end is OK since I'm a shop owner and may be able to get what I want through the business. I do not anticipate road racing and am not hyper about acceleration, sprinting, flex, etc. -- just want comfort. We both ride full suspension mountain bikes. I'm conflicted over a steel bike or a ti bike?? Also wondering that if I went with a carbon fork, seatpost and bars would steel or ti still make a significant difference?? Currently, I'm looking at the straight guage ti Seven or their steel model. From their literature they claim that they can build toward comfort or stiffness, etc. Anyhow, I'd appreciate any opinions.

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re: Maximum comfort on a road bike???must_pedal_harder
May 2, 2001 2:53 PM
I haven't ridden a lot of road bikes (mostly steel) but my new 5200 (carbon)is mighty comfy. Soaks up the small stuff and is fast to boot. For me, carbon is the only way to go now (comfort or otherwise).
Better dig a foxhole now, before the artillery comes in....that'smrfredtoyou
May 2, 2001 2:54 PM
Sounds like you really need a full suspension MTB with slicks pumped to the max. And dig faster, the natives are restless this week....

Max Comfort = Recumbentgrz mnky
May 2, 2001 3:12 PM
The bigger question is where are you going and what do you want to accomplish? There are a whole slew of ways to ride on the road and be comfortable.

You can get all the Gucci ti and carbon stuff you can imagine, but sooner or later you're going to have to bend over and get to work. Your disc problem is worthy of serious consideration and being on a recumbent is a whole different ball game. Getting some time with a trained fit specialist comes long before you settle on brand names and hardware. I'd advise finding a Serotta certified fit specialist. There are other alternatives, but these guys have done a good job of standardizing the fit process while addressing the various needs of individuals.

I dumped my carbon OCLV for a ti bike b/c it was a better fit and more responsive and it's been comfortable enough for me to do a demanding double century. But that's me. You will have your own profile.
Better dig a foxhole now, before the artillery comes in....phs
May 2, 2001 3:53 PM
And rightfully so man. I've been reading this for a couple days, and you sound the weirdest of the lot. Will you go away? phs
Check This Outthat'smrfredtoyou
May 2, 2001 4:08 PM
The Nazis used your technique at first.:)
I've been insulted in the past, but you seem to have put your balls in a wheelbarrow this time.
Either way, which of your reduced faculites have offended?
you ARE weirdrrs
May 2, 2001 4:20 PM
god, what a wanker
Actually, really wierd. And I could be your neighbor.that'smrfredtoyou
May 2, 2001 4:25 PM
Now that I have the won the majority of the votes, it is settled.

I bet my keyboard is bigger than yours.
Actually, really wierd. And I could be your neighbor.rrs
May 2, 2001 5:35 PM
Nope, I know em all. Seem pretty good folks.
re: Maximum comfort on a road bike???Mel Erickson
May 2, 2001 3:31 PM
I bought a Softride Solo because of the same problem, a bulging disc in my back. I ride a full suspension mountain bike for that reason, too (Cannondale). The Softride was the best investment in bikes I have ever made. You don't give up anything in performance, although my Solo might be a tad heavier than ti or carbon (21# with cages and cycle computer). Cornering is super, they are seen at crits routinely. Tri-atheletes use them alot (not the Solo but other Softride models). The beam is common on tandems for the stoker because of their supreme comfort. The frame is super stiff yet the beam makes the ride oh so comfy. Carbon fork takes the buzz out. You could even use the softride stem if you wanted to go even further towards the comfort side. I think Softrides make alot of sense for those of us suffering from disc problems. Check 'em out.
Poor man's SoftrideDog
May 2, 2001 5:11 PM
There are some sections of road in the Furnace Creek 508 that are very rough. I rode over one 10 mile section a few weeks ago that nearly knocked my fillings out. For this race, you can switch bikes whenever you want, as you are followed by a personal support vehicle.

I have a 1980 steel Bianchi (oops, name dropped), which I'm turning into a 'comfort' bike. Putting on 28mm tires, pumped to only 95 psi, got a U.S.E. Alien 32mm travel Shockpost, putting on a big, heavy gel saddle, and may consider a shock stem. Any other ideas?

I've heard Softrides work very well, particularly for those who are more sensitive to road conditions. The only drawback I've heard mentioned is climbing.

Poor man's SoftrideMel Erickson
May 2, 2001 5:53 PM
Boy, I think you've covered all the bases on the comfort bike front. Maybe a noodly fork? Carbon bars to cut the buzz. I know, a Ruby fork, that's the ticket, along with a shock stem!

As for climbing on the Softride, I don't know what you've heard but I haven't found a drawback. Climbing in the saddle is no problem and the super stiff frame makes out of the saddle stints great. What have you heard? The only "drawback" I've heard is the tendency to pogo if you don't peddle circles. This bike does let you know when your form is getting sloppy but that's a good thing in my book.
Doug: Toss those skinny 28mm tires for 35sCory
May 2, 2001 6:09 PM
Pasela TGs in 35mm made SO much difference on my commuter, even over the 32s I used to have, and they almost never flat. If you can't make yourself do that, take a look at Rivendell's Rolly-Poly tires (
Forget about the bikes,mike mcmahon
May 2, 2001 4:34 PM
this guy's the Bluegrass Master. Being from a Louisiana family, my father in law is a big Bluegrass fan. Maybe I can get you to sign a CD for him one of these days. Also, Wade Kelly seems to be a fan of Old Time music; he's going to want to check out your web site. Good luck with a comfy bike!
re:Forget about the bikes,Ostimu
May 2, 2001 6:33 PM
Man, no joke. I downloaded a few of the tracks from, and this stuff is really good. That fiddler is something else...
It's fun to see what other members of this group do, especially when it's this cool...
re: Maximum comfort on a road bike???Steve Bailey
May 2, 2001 7:34 PM
After you've read all the posts about steel, or Ti, or carbon forks and 32 tires, go to the Rivendell site - Check out some of their on-line articles concerning fit and positioning. I particularly like their theorys about stem height, namely that the typical modern short quill racing stem doesn't allow for a comfortable position. I converted my 2 road bikes over to Nitto Technomic stems after being diagnosed with a bulged L4. I'm much, much happier now. Or is that the pain killers ?.

re: Maximum comfort on a road bike???muncher
May 3, 2001 2:27 AM
One simple answer - get a recumbent.
Recumbents may be a problem...Mel Erickson
May 3, 2001 7:17 AM
depending on the location and type of back problem. People with bulging lumbar discs and pressure on the sciatic nerve causing pain in the lower back and down the leg often have more pain while sitting. You put more pounds per square inch on your lower back while sitting in a chair than while standing. A recumbent is similar to sitting in a chair and may put more pressure on the lower back than a traditional bicycle would, your back being, more or less, suspended. It's difficult to generalize, however, because back problems are so individual, everyone's different. I've ridden recumbents and, while initially comfortable, they aggravate my back after more than 10 miles. I think it's the sitting position along with the normal road bumps and jars.
Recumbents may be a problem...muncher
May 3, 2001 7:51 AM
Not sure I follow the pounds per square inch point, but you make a good point. However, there are many different designes of bents, but what they all have in common is that they take a lot of getting used to - they use different muscles to regular bikes - that may well be why you, and many others, have problems until they get used to the change. However, I would have thought that a really reclined one must place less stress on the lower back, as the weight is "cradled" more over a larger area, so the bumps and stress are spread over a wider area, rather than being concentrated straight down the spine onto a narrow, generally pretty solid, saddle.

In short, prob well worth talking to some long-term users/builders - I know that they are generally popular with back sufferers from some reasearch I did with a view to buying one.

Hope that helps.
Recumbents are a problem...whm
May 3, 2001 8:35 AM
With all the Fred talk going around....I don't care one way or the other...But I'd give up cycling before I got a recumbant. Reasons: You can't been seen (except by amazed looks), they don't climb for squat, it's virtually impossible to move around on one (ie: unweighting yourself for road imperfections), hard to transport, no common parts/accessories, you have to have a beard to ride one.
Recumbents are a problem...muncher
May 3, 2001 9:47 AM
That's right - there was a universal law passed in 1904 making it illegal to fit Shim/Campy/Mavic/Sram or indeed any other parts whatsoever to recumbents. Sightly later, an inter-galactic commission ruled that, at the very least, a naval full-set had to be grown before one was allowed to appraoch the vendor of such vehicles with a view to even asking for a test ride. That is why they all have belt drive, 11" square wheels, and cannot, repeat, cannot be riden by anyone under the age of 16.
And I agreexxx
May 3, 2001 8:59 PM MUST have a beard to ride a recumbent. I defy you to find a recumbent rider without one. Also a gut. They are the epitome of 'fred' and fred notwithstanding: they don't climb, they can't be seen, they ARE terrible to tranpsort, they can be fun...I rode one around the lot once...and I had a grin ear to ear. but they are silly. Everyone who owns one says 'they're comfortable'!! Thats fine.

So is my bike(s). And it's (they) a real one. Recumbents are a band-aid for a bad ...something. If you CAN'T ride a 'normal' bike...well, bummer, I'd hate a killer back pain as much as anyone. But, I think they are plain silly at best and dangerous at worst. It's like bringing a boomerang to a frisbee party.

."..go away..."
re: Maximum comfort on a road bike???Markb
May 3, 2001 5:33 AM
I have one herniated and two ruptured disks, all in the lower back. I had been riding a hybrid bike for 3 years, working up to 50-60 mile weekend rides on a regular basis. After wearing out the components on the hybrid, I decided to purchase a new bike. After considering all types of road bikes to accomodate my growing interest in biking, I purchased a Softride Solo with the traditional beam and carbon fiber forks. I couldn't be more pleased. I'm fairly large for a bicyclist (6'1", 225-230) so the bike has an XL frame equipped with the heaviest rated beam. The shop worked extensively with me during the fitting process, with the understanding that my comfort took precedence over aero qualities. The bike absolutely eats up the bumps on the bike trails I ride, which saves my back.

I don't know about drawbacks of the bike while climbing, because in my area there are very few hills. I don't know why it would be any different than any other road bike, outside of weight, perhaps. You have to test ride a Softride to believe the difference it can make for your comfort. As to the "pogo" effect, that only happens when my pedaling style goes to h*ll, and when I correct it, the ride immediately smooths out. Softride definitely works for me and my back.
Have no fear...gromit
May 3, 2001 6:09 AM
I ride a FS mtb and a Cannondale CAAD4 road bike. The FS on a gnarly trail takes more out of me than the oh so stiff road bike on a bad road any day. So the key thing would be 1) fit - essential 2) wheels and tyres - all the suspension you need and finally 4) contact points, nice saddle and good cork grip.
Merlin CenturyMeDotOrg
May 3, 2001 9:09 AM
If you're not quite ready for a recumbent, you might consider a Merlin Century...uses the 'Dale Silk Road front suspension fork along with a pivotless rear suspension - I haven't ridden one but in look quite cushy: