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Compact Geometery vs. Traditional(24 posts)

Compact Geometery vs. TraditionalClydesdale2004
Jan 11, 2004 3:33 PM
I'm new to road riding. Have ridden MTB for 10+ years, sometimes with slicks to enjoy the occasional country road. I am buying a road bike and want some opinions about Compact Geometery vs Traditional frames. I'm 6' and have a longer and bigger torso than legs. I've ridden many different bikes in my quest and have narrowed it down to the Trek 2300 and the Klein XV. The only difference I can tell between the bikes is the geometery. Both ride comfortably(except for the Trek saddle), and I don't have any problems with the height or layout.
My real question is do folks have experience in starting road riding and which type of geometery will be more comfortable after 2 hours? Is there really a difference between the frames and the way you ride them?
An old an totally incorrect premiseKerry Irons
Jan 11, 2004 4:30 PM
The geometry of a bike involves seat tube and head tube angles, fork offset, top tube and seat tube length, BB drop, and chain stay length. It has NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING to do with whether the top tube slopes. There is NO SUCH THING as "compact geometry." You can easily get the exact same geometry with a sloped or horizontal top tube. The only thing the sloped top tube gets you is more standover height and a slightly stiffer and lighter frame. The stiffer and lighter frame is compensated for by the longer, flexier, and heavier seat post. Net result? More standover height in a compact design. That's it. Quit thinking about marketing gimmicks and focus on whether the geometry is actually different. You make the statement that these bikes have different geometries, but it doesn't sound like you're actually looking at geometry (which is the study of angles, shapes, lengths, etc.) but rather at whether the top tube slopes. Crtically ride the bikes and choose the one that fits you best.
neither of those is more comfortablecollectorvelo
Jan 11, 2004 4:39 PM
Aluminum bikes are fine - but not more comfortable
for comfort try Reynolds 853 or a relaxed TI frame

in addition, both the bikes you just named are normally very over priced by dealers

you should be able to buy a good quality aluminum framed bike with carbon stays and carbon fork and Full Ultegra for $1100 to $1200 - brand new
new roadrider (mountianbiker) seconds that comment..nonutin
Jan 11, 2004 11:53 PM
I'm riding road to improve my mountain biking "prowess". For me having a fast machine under me makes road biking fun. I tested the bikes I liked for at least an hour at a time. Most aluminum bikes including the Klein Aura I rejected immediately for road vibration transfer, except the Cannondale Optimo or Caad 7 frames. I tested carbon, steel, titanium and combinations. Different manufactures because of tube size, thickness, geometry and happenstance using the same materials make bikes feel more or less comfortable. You might want to test longer so that you are sure to get a bike that will be oomfortable for you. When riding road you can be in the seat for long periods of time and those skinny tires at 120psi can really transfer that vibration.

Good Luck
Funny, I experienced the opposite...Wayne77
Jan 12, 2004 12:23 PM
In shopping for a road bike I extensively tested both the Klein Aura XV and the C-dale R1000, among others. My lbs let me take both bikes up one of the local canyon roads here in SLC, Utah. I did some steep climbs and flats along rutted and pitted roads. Although I loved the C-dale for its lightness and stiffness, in my opinion the Klien was less harsh while retaining lateral stiffness in the climbs & transferring less vibration. Even though I was drawn to the Klein because of Trek's outstanding lifetime warranty service (compared to C-dales 2-yr frame disclaimer), it was still a toss up. I ended up with the Klein because it simply fit me better. My point? One persons conclusions about the way a particular bike rides need to be taken with a grain of salt. Unless you have a consistent majority saying one thing, its a crapshoot. There are plenty of contradicting opinions posted about CAAD7, ZR9000, OCLV, etc etc etc.

to the original poster: Just ride the bikes as much as you can, choose the one that fits the best & has the best ride quality (in your opinion). If its still a toss-up, choose the color that speaks to you and then knock yourself out.
One man's folly is another man's wife nmnonutin
Jan 12, 2004 6:52 PM
My point exactly ;-) nmWayne77
Jan 12, 2004 7:48 PM
neither of those is more comfortableWayne77
Jan 12, 2004 12:30 PM
I'm aware of deals like that online, but not locally. What types / brands of bikes are you talking about? I have a friend that is looking for an Ultegra setup for that price range. He does want to avoid an online deal since he is new and needs professional fitting, after bike service & a solid warranty.

re: Compact Geometery vs. Traditionalone_speed
Jan 11, 2004 5:07 PM
wow, you got nailed on this one. there is a difference, as i've ridden both. yes, there is such a thing as compact geometry. and yes, it can effect comfort. if that's really what you're after, go with the compact geometry and use a longer carbon or ti post. there isn't a huge difference in the ride "quality" of these frames. generally, the compact frame will be a little stiffer laterally.

as it was stated, if you're looking for comfort, you should look away from aluminum. sure, it's stiff and can be quick. but, you're really not gaining much when you factor in potential fatigue of the body. a good steel or ti frame can provide a great ride with plenty of stiffness.

good luck.
who cares about stand over hieght...rdbike
Jan 11, 2004 5:10 PM
I could care less. I clip in and clip out at the end of the ride.
Out on a limb and sawingKerry Irons
Jan 11, 2004 5:17 PM
So you rode two otherwise identical bikes, same EVERYTHING except one had a sloping top tube and the ride was somehow different? Tell us more! Or was it a different tube set, different tube diameters, different tube lengths, different frame angles, different wheels, stem & bar, etc?
what's the difference...one_speed
Jan 11, 2004 5:48 PM
what i've ridden makes no difference. your statement that there is no such thing as compact geometry is simply incorrect. in a nutshell, take a frame, say with traditional geometry, (horizontal top tube). then, drop the rear of the top tube, seat tube height and shorten the seat stays. you're telling me that's not different? it's not more compact?

i'm not claiming that one or the other is better. and i agree, what makes the frame are the angles/tubing, etc. but it seems obvious that making a frame more compact and calling in compact geometry is more than marketing hype. seems quite appropriate in fact.

i've known a couple traditionalists who have switched to the compact geometry, though still in a steel frame. are their new frames better? well, they like them. and that's what matters.
If you read what he said...Fez
Jan 11, 2004 6:59 PM
He said the sloping top tube shortens the seat tube and shortens the seat stays. The slope by itself does not affect the "geometry" of the bike, like the chainstay length, seat tube angles or head tube angles. Nor would it affect the front center, rear center, or wheelbase dimensions.

So Kerry is correct that a slope by itself changes the geometry. Of course it does affect the seat tube length and the seat stay lengths. Both of those are going to be shorter (and presumably lighter and stiffer). And he also pointed out that some of that lightness and stiffness would be offset by the need for a longer (and presumably heavier and flexier) seatpost.

Read what he said... its pretty dead-on correct.
Typo in above post. It should read he "is correct that a slopeFez
Jan 11, 2004 7:02 PM
by itself DOES NOT change the geometry."

That is on the first sentence of the 2nd paragraph above.
If you read what he said...one_speed
Jan 12, 2004 6:56 AM
not sure who you're directing this to, as i do agree with you. however, using a longer seatpost can add to the comfort of the frame and yet the rider can benefit from the added stiffness while out of the saddle. and if one uses a carbon post, you'll get the benefits of comfort and weight savings.

i have a feeling we're all pretty much on the same page here. for the most part anyway.
disagree stronglylaffeaux
Jan 12, 2004 12:06 AM
"As it was stated, if you're looking for comfort, you should look away from aluminum."

This is absolute rubbish advice. A well designed bike well ride smoothly. The new Kleing ride incredibly well. Many riders at a shop that I used to work at test rode the 5200 and the compact Klein stated that the Klein was more comfortable, and the best news is that it sells for less.

AL riding harshly is an old wives tale.
re: disagree stronglyone_speed
Jan 12, 2004 7:05 AM
this isn't rubbish. ask anyone who's made the switch from a FULL aluminum bike to ti, carbon or steel. don't get me wrong, aluminum frame designs have come a long way, but the ride quality of aluminum alone doesn't compare with ti, carbon or steel. what makes the frames ride so well are the carbon forks and carbon rear end.

i had one with a full carbon rear and fork. ride was much nicer than i expected, though not very lively. similar to what you get from a full carbon frame. i enjoyed it for a season, but eventually went back to steel.

however, aluminum is very stiff laterally and may be unrivaled in that category. it definitely has it's benefits, but can offer a rough ride if not combined with carbon.
it's all in the tubesetlaffeaux
Jan 12, 2004 10:22 AM
The absolute harshest riding bike that I have ever owned was steel (I have owned many bike by the way). Every bump that I hit was transfered to me. It was not a fun ride. Am I to assume that all steel bikes ride that way?

Aluminum has properties that can lead to a harsh ride. However not all do. To tell someone that the an AL bike that they are thinking about is harsh (because all are, right?) is ridiculous. I know from listening to many people that test rode bikes in a shop that I used to work in, that the bike in question is not harsh.

Broadbrush statements like "all AL bike are harsher that all steel and carbon fiber bikes" (as was implied) are completely bogus wives tales.
increased headtube lengtheflayer2
Jan 11, 2004 5:43 PM
Some people want to get their bars up high. Let's say even with saddle height. Most middle of the market stock frames, especially since almost all are threadless, make it somewhat difficult to get the bars up that high. You can have a fist full of headset spacers or you can have a stem that sticks straight up. Both of those look ugly. But if you hava a frame custom built with sloping top tube and increased headtube length, then getting the bars up high can get done without too much ugliness(one man's opinon). If I'm not mistaken, both Litespeed and Merlin are now showing frames that might be called compact, but in the end they have sloping top tubes and tall headtubes for an allegedly more comfortable riding position.
And there's no figuring what's ugly.dzrider
Jan 12, 2004 6:00 AM
I once took out two Sevens, one compact and one traditional, from the LBS adn felt little difference between them, but I sure like the looks of the traditional frames. I see compact, think "mixte", and picture the seat flexing side to side like a flag pole on a windy day. I know that doesn't really happen, but it's one of those less than rational responses that help us stay imperfect. Compact frames just don't look right to me.
As far as comfort goes, in my humble opiniondasho
Jan 11, 2004 6:27 PM
the compact geometry seems to yield a more comfortable (less jarring) ride at least between the 2 bikes I own; a LOOK KG 281 (non-compact) and a Giant TCR1 composite (compact). The bikes both have Open Pro wheels and Axial Pro tires so they are outfitted pretty much the same. I really enjoy both of the bikes and would have a hard time getting rid of either so I am neutral as far as that goes.

The LOOK is a very comfortable (steely feeling) ride no doubt but after I bought the Giant I noticed it seemed a bit smoother feeling and less jarring. Perhaps it is because the longer, carbon seat post on the compact frame isolates the body more from the frame's transmitted energy, I don't know. I also had a Trek 5200 at one time and it seemed more harsh than the LOOK but I had different higher profile rims/wheels (Rolf Vector Comps)and a Aluminum seat post on the Trek so it wasn't apples to apples. I would like to hear what other cyclists who have both geometries think.
The only way to tell what you ask is....russw19
Jan 11, 2004 8:27 PM
To have a custom builder use the exact same tube set and build you two bikes. One with a horizontal top tube, the other with a sloping top tube. Build them up with the same spec'd parts, put them both on something like a trainer where you can't fall over, put on a blindfold, and then ride them both. See if you can tell which was which without sticking your hand down to feel where the top tube was in relation to your seat post.

Go thru all that, and if you can tell a difference, then it would be something to discuss. But you are comparing two entirely different frames made to different specs and geometries by different builders. Their only common denominator is that they are both carbon frames. And by the way, saying a frame is carbon is just like saying a frame is steel. There are many different types of carbon frames, just like there are many types of steel tubesets.

I am not trying to make light of your statement, nor your experience, but unless you narrow the two bikes down to having only one variable different, then the test of the two will be tainted.

re: Compact Geometery vs. Traditionalirregardless
Jan 12, 2004 12:20 AM
compact geometry is more comfortable if you use a carbon post (in my case, an Easton). I have a custom, compact, VERY stiff ti frame. The long seatpost flexes noticably forward and backward. That adds some comfort that otherwise wouldn't be there on a non-compact frame. Wouldn't have believed it if it I hadn't felt it for myself.
re: Compact Geometery vs. TraditionalBaadDawg
Jan 12, 2004 3:40 PM
I went a different route when I bought my new ride last spring. I have been road biking a long time, in fact the bike I was riding for the last 30 years has been the same one. Upgraded componets along the way etc., but the same bike.

I looked around at a lot of stuff but because it was early spring in Canada I could not road test.

I even got fitted for a steel custom.

One thing, my initial budget went out the window. It didn't take too long to realize that my initial price ceiling was too low for what I considered the minimum I would settle for in terms of components etc.

Then I saw the Giant composite. I loved the look of it, was worried about fit, tried an aluminium one on a trainer was was confident that with a shorter stem and a bit more rise I would get a fairly relaxed bar to seat height position and pulled the trigger. No test ride.

I absolutely love the bike and rode it a ton last year and can't wait for spring and dry roads to get back out.

There are many ways to approach getting a new ride, but also go with your gut and hopefully good advice from the store you settle on.

Let us know what you get.