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What's the significance of the all hallowed "Road Feel"?(9 posts)

What's the significance of the all hallowed "Road Feel"?Swat Dawg
May 5, 2003 6:41 PM
I am just curious and have seen a lot posted here about the road feel of a bike being impeccable, like a steel I.F. Crown Jewel, or dead, like a trek OCLV. I even read on here that one guy came to rely on the road feel of his steel bike, and I guess, couldn't ride well without it. Does being able to tell that you are going over a crack in the road make a difference in how well you can ride, or how fast you go? I would have thought you have to see stuff with your eyes, and then react to that, but do the frame vibrations tell you anything about where or how to ride? It seems that by the time you feel something beneath you, you can't react in time before it is behind you. I know this probably display my massive ignorance, but I'm curious. What does "Road Feel" mean? Answer the question from whatever perspective you want: technically, physically, psychologically, spiritually, etc.

Swat Dawg '04
May 5, 2003 7:04 PM
and general enjoyment. like a good suspension in a car, the road communicates with you, the steering wheel tells you what your wheels are doing.

it has nothing to do with cracks and bumps.
After three hours, you become acutely aware of the fact...Spunout
May 6, 2003 3:24 AM
of whether you like the feel of your bike or not.

The above opinion is directly related to the original poster's comments regarding steel.

Steel is Real.
re: What's the significance of the all hallowed "Road Feel"?OwenMeany
May 6, 2003 5:29 AM
There is a sort of a Zen that goes with the bike you are riding....I have had it twice. The first was with an M2 Stumpjumper, the bike and I worked well so togeather I new exactly how it would react in all situations. Not so much with my current Klein.

Then second Zen experience arrived with my current steel frame road bike. This frame came to me after a couple of years on an alumminum frame. Although, at the time I was riding my Cannondale I though every thing was super-cool. But from my first ride on the steel, I couldn't believe what I had been missing. The "road-feel" was smooth and responsive. It is akin to perfect, well broken in, shoes vs new and/or slightly uncomfortable....or the car with the suspension that matches the way you drive. Road feel, as you put it, is not really about seeing vs senseing cracks, bumps and holes in the road it is more about how the information of the road, as a whole, is transmitted to you the rider, must of which it transmitted subliminal...

That's my story and I am sticking to it.....jb
To me feel is the sum of many characteristics, not one thing.dzrider
May 6, 2003 5:31 AM
Imho feel includes but, as the lawyers say, is not limited to:

Stabilitity at high speed
A front wheel that can hold a bumpy road
Leaning confidently and popping right back up
Accelerating briskly
Conforming to the road so I don't have to
A solid platform to spin on
A comfortable place on long days

In short I want the bike to go down the road easily and pleasantly.
May 6, 2003 9:33 AM
In other words, a great bike will scream down a mountain without flinching, slalom through the switchbacks like a cat. On the most difficult climb it will say, "C'mon, wimp, you can squeeze out another stroke. We'll make it!" It will go ridiculously hard all day, yet still feel smooth as silk the last few miles.

Any bike becomes a familiar and predictable extension of the rider if ridden enough, but a great bike rewards and encourages the rider's efforts. That's a function of stiffness and resiliency. Alot of bikes have one or the other. Fewer have both. A really good steel frame flexes just enough to soak up road vibrations, but not enough to give a "noodly" ride or soak up the pedaling efforts of the rider.

Frame builders have been trying for years to match carbon fiber weaves and aluminum alloys to the magic of steel in providing these two contradictory qualities. The latest OCLV, aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium designs are beginning to match the the characteristics that steel has so effortlessly provided, with the advantage of weighing less.
tires, geometry, fitgtx
May 6, 2003 8:43 AM
I think it's mostly a question of tires (brand, model, width, inflation), the wheelbase and how/where sit relative to it.
sort of bs if you ask meDougSloan
May 6, 2003 9:46 AM
This "dead feel" idea is a little nutty. While some frames can be a little buzzier over rough pavement, and some might have a slight bit of vertical compliance, we are talking about a very small, esoteric difference.

Anyone who thinks they need the most "feel" for the road must be cornering at the limits bombing down 2,000 foot descents or doing crits every weekend.

Go ride a double century anywhere and tell me you don't appreciate a little bit of damped feel, whether it be from the tires, carbon fork, geometry, or frame material. Even then, I don't find much difference between a relaxed steel frame, an aluminum time trial frame, an aluminum racing frame, or a carbon racing frame. To me, tires and their pressures make 1,000x more difference than the frame.

re: What's the significance of the all hallowed "Road Feel"?mapei boy
May 6, 2003 2:57 PM
Ask a Porsche owner what he/she most loves about their vehicle, and chances are they'll say road feel. Driving a Porsche, the steering wheel tells you when you're approaching your cornering limit. Feedback from the steering wheel (and from the seat of your pants) helps you decide how fast you will safely be able to drive. You feel directly connected to the road. You are in control. You aren't, as a reviewer for an auto magazine once wrote, "shouting orders to the helm." There's no middle-man. The vehicle comes to feel like an extension of your body. In time, you aren't so much trusting in the vehicle to take you down the road as you are trusting in yourself to take you down the road. It's a wonderfully secure, exhilarating feeling. Sure, it's a matter of taste. A lot of people prefer the plush and isolation of a Caddy or a Lexus, and a lot of high-end bikes can provide that. But once you get used to the nuance that the concept "road feel" implies, it's hard to stand for anything less.