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Questions re soft tail road bikes(24 posts)

Questions re soft tail road bikesDog
Oct 26, 2001 5:36 AM
Anyone own and ride a soft tail bike, like a Moots YBBeat, or even a Soft Ride, or TitanFlex?

I'd be interested in hearing comments re: shock absorption, dampening, bounce, weight, stiffness climbing, etc. Thanks.

Doug
re: Questions re soft tail road bikesLone Gunman
Oct 26, 2001 5:58 AM
Don't know if you have ever ridden at length behind a soft ride beam bike, but the flexing of the beam made me tired just watching it, every pedal stroke was movement and could see it sucking the energy right out of the rider. He may get used to it but seemed like alot of motion and effort.
yupDog
Oct 26, 2001 6:08 AM
I hear that's a problem with beam bikes, but they say you learn to defeat it. Me, I'd rather not have to.

I'm really more interested in the true soft tails, like the Moots (any others?), but a comparison with beam bikes would be useful.

Thanks.

Doug
one more thing to go wrongdzrider
Oct 26, 2001 10:32 AM
I got a used Proflex hybrid with a little elastomer shock on the back and a flex-stem up front. I commuted on it and did a short tour. It was more comfortable on rough roads although habit got me off the seat for most bumps anyway.

Keeping the bike quiet was a full time job. Clicks, squeaks and creaks came from more different places than you could imagine. They troubled me on smooth surfaces where I expected to ride quietly. I gave it to my son who either doesn't notice or doesn't care.
yuptr
Oct 27, 2001 7:27 AM
Just make sure you don't get one that is too soft for your desired energy input/output. I remember Musseuw (sp)in Paris-Roubaix tossing his into the ditch and waiting for another bike off of the team car. People talk about smoothing out their spin, but i wonder if this requires lightening up on the pedals a little because there is obviously more vertical motion in the frame . It would seem to be hard to have a constant pressure on the pedals(in the areas of the circle you are used to) The vertical motion at seat versus pedal doesn't necessarily have to be the same so you would have to adjust your pedal stroke if on the seat. It depends on what type of damping and how much you want. Idealistically i would prefer material damping that does not yield excessive motion (like your c40), this is why i say be careful what stiffness you have dialed into the design of your bike. You want to weigh the speed (energy input versus output)versus ride quality (low frequency (relative)).
re: Questions re soft tail road bikesSoftrider
Oct 26, 2001 6:34 AM
Doug,

I ride a softride. There is a definate improvement in the overall smoothness of the ride compared to a hardtail especially on the rougher roads. I think that the bouncing argument is really pretty overblown, I really don't even notice it. The bike is heavier than most of the high end carbon or Ti bikes on the market today, but to me that is really not that big of a concern except when climbing up the bigger hills. I'm 6'4" and 200 lbs. so I wasn't built to be a climber anyway!

I think that the real benefit really comes after spending more than 2 or 3 hours on the bike.

I like mine, but they are not for everyone!
hey, dog...check this out!Js Haiku Shop
Oct 26, 2001 6:43 AM
http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1023655260
interesting. thanks nmDog
Oct 26, 2001 6:57 AM
hey, dog...check this out!Birddog
Oct 26, 2001 8:13 PM
Well Dog,
By now you've checked out the Tianflex website and gotten the history and the RAAM info, so let me tell you about my Softride.
Like most of the Softride posts here, I loved it, until it was stolen 2 years ago. I had a Softride Qualifier (650c) that I purchased from Bicycles Sports , (Shreveport La) for Triathlon competition. Check out his website and call John, he'll gladly talk to you (www.bicyclesports.com).

After setting up the bike, I got my gear on and headed down the street bouncing like I was on a Pogo stick. Within 50 yards of my house, I was asking myself what in the world I had done. This was the stupidest purchase I'd made etc. Suddenly about 2 blocks away, I remembered a review I had read years earlier that mentioned the pogoing and how it went away if you just smoothed out your stroke. By the end of my 20 mile loop, I was grinning from ear to ear, no more bouncing, and very very fast. Within 2 weeks of purchase, I had set a new PR on my training loop, by over a minute. That summer, I finished 9th overall in a Duathlon and set a PR. I also ran two 5k's in the same event both within 5 secs of my PR. The story about being able to run after dismounting a Softride was definitely true. I finished a high altitude century (6900 to 10,000 w/ 5200 in climbs) in under 5 hours, and I was 52 at the time. This century is an annual event for me and I haven't been within a half hour before or since. By the way, I live at 1200 ft.

Everybody I know gave me sh!t about the bike at first, but I kicked all my buddies asses, so who cares. They are not lite, but one equipped with 650 wheels is quick, and mine was a good climber. Very stiff BB and superb handling on descents. Mine was set up tri/tt style with cowhorns and aerobars. My only dislike was the stock aluminum fork which really transferred a lot of road "buzz" to your hands, and with limited hand positions because of my set up, that was a problem. A quality carbon fiber fork would have been a big plus, and was in the works when it was stolen. I finished the above mentioned century and hopped off the bike like I had just gone over to the 7 11. I felt like Ernie Banks, "hey lets ride two". You can walk like homo erectus immediately after dismounting, they really do save your back.

They will make you become a much more efficient pedaler in no time. All my friends said I had very little noticeable bounce. In fact, if we ever encountered another Softride that had a bouncing rider, they would all comment about the "Fred" or "Trihead" on the Softride, who couldn't pedal. On hills, they silently inform you if you are in the wrong gear, because you'll start to bounce if you are mashing. Recently, a friend bought one identical to mine. He loves it. He can't believe how much more comfortable it is compared to his Basso Titanium that now is his beater bike. I have experienced all the positives that you read in these posts, and the only neg is the weight and the fork. Good wheels take care of most of the weight, and many fork choices are available. Bottom line, I'd buy another one in a second, in fact I was looking for one, when I found the Serotta that I now ride. The deal on the Serotta was just too good to pass up.

Actually, I really was holding out for a Titanflex. If weight is your thing, then buy one of these, they can be brought in at around 16.5 lbs. The Titanflex is a one size only frame though, so they are really best suited for someone that is about 5'8'' to 5'11" even though they are touted to fit everybody. It is my understanding that the Titanflex boom is a little stiffer than the Softride beam, but still very forgiving. If you have any ???s email me, I'd be happy to answer.

Birddog
Have you considered the Serotta Hors Categorie?MikeC
Oct 26, 2001 7:08 AM
http://serotta.com/models/hors.htm
I've never ridden one, but it's a different approach...
hmmDog
Oct 26, 2001 7:17 AM
That looks interesting, too. Didn't I hear once that those frames alone are around $6,000?

Doug
hmmCliff Oates
Oct 26, 2001 7:47 AM
I remember reading a review in Bicycling once on the Hors Categorie. The suspension was there to improve tracking while cornering and not to improve the ride. The reviewer concluded that Serotta was successful. I don't remember what the price was, but then you don't strike me as being terribly price sensitive (although I would guess Mrs. Sloan might have an opinion or two on that topic).
$3,100 here...MikeC
Oct 26, 2001 8:45 AM
http://www.kingsbicyclestore.com/serotta.html
(I don't know the store...I just found the site when I was deciding between Serotta and Seven).
I did find quite a few references indicating that while the primary goal of the Hors Cat "suspension" is handling precision, there is definitely a comfort side effect.
re: Questions re soft tail road bikesDA
Oct 26, 2001 7:09 AM
Go to Serotta board and ask about the Hors Categorie... that is the only one worth looking at.
re: Questions re soft tail road bikesdug
Oct 26, 2001 7:28 AM
Dog
I own a Moots ybb roady. Moots quality and attention to detail are unsurpassed. 1" of travel at the axel. Don't really notice it all until you get back on a standard rigid bike. No 'bounce'. I ride a 57cm. Its very stiff (1 1/8 head tube, 1 1/2 down, 7/8 seat & chain stays). Breezer style rear dropouts. Coil steel spring surrounding an elastomer thru shaft. Its easy to service and can be locked out. Adds 4 or 5 ounces of weight. I can fill you in with much more detail if you wish.
re: Questions re soft tail road bikesbrider
Oct 26, 2001 7:40 AM
I've ridden Softrides for years (road and track). I had a short learning curve when I made the switch, but the bouncing evened out. I really notice the lack of fatigue on long rides, especially on the rougher roads. The weight really wasn't an issue to me, as I was a good climber anyway. It didn't affect my climbing negatively at all, as the main frame is very stiff. That's one thing that the Moots and Serotta will have a problem with -- sprinting forces will be robbed a little due to suspension flex.
re: Questions re soft tail road bikesCanada
Oct 26, 2001 7:43 AM
I'm a hardtail fan myself, but if it was me(maybe because I'm
cheap) I would look at a suspension seat post. Just enough
travel to smooth things out a little.
re: Questions re soft tail road bikesJBergland
Oct 26, 2001 8:26 AM
Dog,
I have a Softride Power... all carbon. I have not gotten a change to ride it very much this year, but here are a couple observations.
1. There is ALWAYS be a 'bounce'. It might become less, maybe not even noticeable at all... but it will be there!!

2. Standing to sprint or climb, there is no 'power robbing' suspension movement. The only movement is when you sit. This is one aspect that Softride markets to some degree.

3. They are heavier than most bikes. I have not weighed my Power V yet, but I would guess 22-23ish. I think some of the newer Softrides can get down around... nothing much under that.

4. There are so many RAAM and Ironman Tri geeks that us them!! I can't believe it's because of a great 'sponsorship program' or anything like that.

If you lived a little closer, I'd be happy to let you try it out for the winter. There won't be much bike riding with the foot of snow some places close by got a couple days ago.

Take Care!!
re: Questions re soft tail road bikesMarkb
Oct 26, 2001 10:08 AM
I have a Softride Solo, new this year. I'm not into the kind of riding you do, but did manage to put in about 1800 miles on the bike this year. The shock absorption of the beam is great. You don't notice how rough the road is until you ride the same road on a non suspended bike. A suspension seatpost isn't close to a substitute. Did a solo century on the bike, with no problem other than tired legs.

The beam does force you to spin circles, because if you try to mash at a low cadence, you tend to "unload" the beam, which gives rise to the bouncing some people talk about. I have not had a problem with this.

The frame is stiff as can be, due to the small "triangle" of the frame. I have a lot of length strength, and I can't flex the frame out of the saddle. In my part of the country, we don't have a lot of hills, but I don't know why climbing would be a problem.

As to weight, I would gues my 105/Ultegra setup bike is 20-21 lbs. If you are interested, definitely see a dealer and try to get an extended test ride. While I know a suspension bike isn't for everybody, it really saves my back and rear.
looks like it would make a great tourerStarliner
Oct 26, 2001 11:11 AM
Looking at your picture and the long beam bag, I suddenly realized how perfect it could be for a long distance, multi-day ride. Lots of trunk space, cushy ride, and reasonably fast. A real Grand Touring (GT) bike.
looks like it would make a great tourerMarkb
Oct 26, 2001 12:13 PM
Under beam bag really doesn't hold much, as it is only about 1 - 1&1/2 inches wide. Small pump, tube, toolkit, etc. pretty much fill it. I don't know how to beat the ride for comfort. If only not for so many life obligations, (work, family,) I'd love to try it as a touring bike. (Touring is on my list of things I'd like to do.)
Beam BikesJohn S.
Oct 26, 2001 2:09 PM
I have ridden a Softride Solo For the last 4 years(11,000 + miles) . I am always amazed at all of the misconceptions that fly when they are mentioned. Let me share my experience with you. I started riding a Trek caron frame some years ago before being injured in a non cycling accident. I tried to start riding after healing but found the pounding on my lower back to much to take. A tri friend suggested that I try Softride before giving up cycling.

I sold my Trek frame and bought a Softride frame on a closeout from Colorado Cyclist and built it up with my old Dura Ace components. It did weight 3 lbs more than my old bike and looked a little wierd to me at first. My first ride felt absolutely bizzare and I was sure I had really made a mistake untill My Tri friend helped me adjust the fit and dial the bike in a bit. He urged me to just keep riding for a while before freaking out. We rode together and he helped me to up my cadence and taught me to spin instead of mash the pedals.

After 4 rides(80 miles) I felt absolutely at home on the bike and found riding very comfortable again. My cycling form and speed improved dramatically.

The claim that you loose power because you bounce is absolutely false. The bottom bracket stiffness on this bike is unsurpassed and if you are riding with good form ALL of your power is transfered to the rear wheel. I also feel that I this bike corners better than my old Trek.
If you are sitting in behind me while riding, I assure you that the slight bobbing you see goes unnoticed by me. If I hit a big bump I will not bounce out of control because my pedaling motion automatically compensates for the shock and I just keep spinning instead of having to stand up to withstand the shock.

The pedaling motion you learn on a properly set up and fitted Softride is just good cycling form on any bike. You are not compensating for anything. If I had to learn to compensate for the "bounce" people mention then I would be unable to ride a traditonal road frame with any form as I would be totally conditioned to the Beam bike. I did a 35 mile ride on a LeMond Zurich a few weeks ago and had no trouble keeping a high cadence and good form through the ride.

This type of bike is not for every rider. But I think more people would love them if the did a few rides on a properly fitted and set up beam bike. Check out www.softride and read their performance claims. I find them to be very true. I also think interested people would be better served if people did not dismiss this type of bike without any real knowledge or saddle time on one.

I should also mention that I have no conection to Softride company other than being a very satisfied customer!
Another satisfied Softride customerMel Erickson
Oct 26, 2001 3:32 PM
I've been riding a Softride Solo for about 4 years. It is undoubtedly the smoothest, most comfortable ride I've ever had. The beam was absolutely no problem for me to get used to. In fact I don't even remember having to "get used" to it. I've always been very conscious of pedaling circles, well before the Softride. It's true, you have to pedal circles or you will bob. When I'm really tired I may occasionally bob, but it's just a good reminder that my form is going south and to shape up!

There've been past threads talking about the bounce. In fact I think Lone Gunman stated just about the same thing in a previous post. If it wasn't him it was someone saying the same thing. After that post I had a friend observe me from the back. He said there was an ever so slight movement but very small. I can't feel a thing. Between the beam and carbon fork this bike soaks up the road. Railroad tracks are no problem. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a mountain bike. I still avoid the same things as on a regular bike but when the road is rough I don't find myself gritting my teeth or standing or changing anything at all. I just ride.

Out of saddle climbing and sprinting is fantastic. There is NO frame flex (I'm 6'2" and 180). It's a stiff aluminum frame with a very small triangle. One shouldn't expect any flex. Cornering is also very solid, but you do it different. Normally you have your inside pedal up and point your knee. With a softride you put the beam to work for you with your pedal in the down position. Sounds weird but it really works. Feels like you're on rails. Softrides claim is true.

My bike is not the lightest out there. Weighed it a few months ago and it was almost exactly 21# with a mix of Ultegra and 105(brakes). Mavic Reflex clinchers with Conti Grand Prix tires. It doesn't hold me back.

The decrease in fatigue over long miles is noticeable. You simply feel fresher, no buzz. You're tired but not whupped. Road feel is muted, probably more than a Ti or soft riding carbon bike, so you don't have the same "feel" you get with alu, steel, etc. Some don't like this. Doesn't bother me.

I've ridden Ti (about 100 miles) and have a steel and alu ride. Nothing compares to the smooth comfort of a Softride.
Huh....??CT1
Oct 26, 2001 6:48 PM
Tell me it aint so.... are you looking for a more comfy bike than the C40??? ;)

To be perfectly honest I just can't see going this route for a rider obviously interested in "performance".

Also, I've got a soft-tail mtb and when I'm on the road I always lock the shock to keep the power to the wheels. I just can't imagine trying to hammer on a road softie for very long with a soft-tail in an unlocked mode. Also, forgive me for posting my softie mtb.... the dang thing is just the coolest mountain bike I've got. :-)

JohnG