Fast Downhill Descents

Lifeboy123
Lifeboy123 Posts: 213
edited September 2009 in Road beginners
Does anybody else feel light weight carbon bikes are not as stable as steel when flying flat out downhill?

On a steep descent the maximum speed I have hit is 32mph but then I bottle it because I feel every bump through my lightweight carbon bike and finding myself having to lightly squeezing the brakes for the rest of the descents once i have hit these speeds.

You must remember I have to go back 25 years to my school days when I was last bike an old Raleigh Medallion steel frame with lever gears complete with speedo ! However i'm sure it seemed I was quicker and it felt more stable on the drops.

Maybe my bottle has gone with old age or is there any other improvements that I can make to my bike (Boardman Team Carbon) to give me more confidence ?

Ps you can tell i'm hooked on this cycling, i'm up all night reading the messages in these forums

Comments

  • careful
    careful Posts: 720
    Maybe my bottle has gone with old age
    You were in school just 25 years ago - that makes you a youngster!

    I don't quite understand the first line but I get your point. Some bikes handle better than others but I thought the Boardman was pretty good. Not a good idea to descend faster than you feel confident but many riders of carbon bikes do a lot more than 32 mph. I am a pensioner and regularly exceed 40 mph (downhill of course) - had a front tyre blow out at 40 last week but it wasnt as scary as I expected. Confidence will build in time.
  • you will have found that you've changed, I used to fly downhills on my raleigh banana at 60mph on a big hill near me when I was 15 - without wearing a helmet or anything. When you are 15 you just dont care pretty much about anything and now when it gets dangerous theres a bit in your mind which links small bumps with coming off and hurting yourself - putting things like work and commitments at risk. Its just life ! Now on my carbon ribble I can do about 50ish but then start to bottle out. Its the same when I go rock climbing, my 'nerve' just isnt the same as it used to be as there is more to risk.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,470
    or is there any other improvements that I can make to my bike (Boardman Team Carbon) to give me more confidence ?
    Have you tried looking at your setup, especially reach and drop to the bars? Weight distribution is important for descending, and being able to comfortably shift your weight back and forward. Just an idea. Other than that, how long have you been riding the boardman? Could it just be a case of gradually gaining confidence again and getting used to the rather different feel of the bike?
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    Lifeboy123 wrote:
    Does anybody else feel light weight carboin bikes are not as stable as carbon when flying flat out downhill?

    On a steep descent the maximum speed I have hit is 32mph but then I bottle it because I feel every bump through my lightweight carbon bike and finding myself having to lightly squeezing the brakes for the rest of the descents once i have hit these speeds.

    You must remember I have to go back 25 years to my school days when I was last bike an old Raleigh Medallion steel frame with lever gears complete with speedo ! However i'm sure it seemed I was quicker and it felt more stable on the drops.

    Maybe my bottle has gone with old age or is there any other improvements that I can make to my bike (Boardman Team Carbon) to give me more confidence ?

    Ps you can tell i'm hooked on this cycling, i'm up all night reading the messages in these forums

    Have a look at Jersey based "flamme Rouge", run by Tony Williams. It has excellent factsheets on all aspects of cycling and good drills for confident, safe and fast descending.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    Lifeboy123 wrote:
    Does anybody else feel light weight carboin bikes are not as stable as carbon when flying flat out downhill?

    On a steep descent the maximum speed I have hit is 32mph but then I bottle it because I feel every bump through my lightweight carbon bike and finding myself having to lightly squeezing the brakes for the rest of the descents once i have hit these speeds.

    You must remember I have to go back 25 years to my school days when I was last bike an old Raleigh Medallion steel frame with lever gears complete with speedo ! However i'm sure it seemed I was quicker and it felt more stable on the drops.

    Maybe my bottle has gone with old age or is there any other improvements that I can make to my bike (Boardman Team Carbon) to give me more confidence ?

    Ps you can tell i'm hooked on this cycling, i'm up all night reading the messages in these forums

    Have a look at Jersey based "flamme Rouge", run by Tony Williams. It has excellent factsheets on all aspects of cycling and good drills for confident, safe and fast descending.
  • Thanks guys, I don't think it is the bike, probably more so with me just requainting myself with cycling again and the fact i'm now getting on a bit! However with it being so lightweight I will check my set up and have a look at ''flamme rouge" and let you know how I get on
  • CiB
    CiB Posts: 6,098
    Not being funny chief but 32mph is hardly flying or an incredible speed, more of a normal daily occurrence. It sounds like a confidence / re-acquaintance thing more than anything. Stick at it, you'll get used to it and wonder what the fuss was.
  • bompington
    bompington Posts: 7,674
    I'm not sure I've ever seen it recommended anywhere else, but I find it helps to put my weight down & a bit forward when descending.
    I've just got a Team Carbon & the only problem I find when descending is that the lighter weight & compact gears mean that I can't go as fast downhill - typically 65-70kmh down my regular commuting hill, my old Raleigh would generally go at 70-80 (with a best recorded of 92).
  • bompington
    bompington Posts: 7,674
    Anyway, I've always found downhill descents to be better than the other sort
  • 32 is bugger all...you should be hitting much higher speeds.
    try a tankslapper at 45 on the slippy pop holed road when you realise the corner is a little sharper then you give it credit for. change pants time I tells ya!
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    They did a back to back test of an 80s bike and a new one in Procycling a month or so back. The general feeling was that the old bike was much worse down hill. I had 46mph from my Madone 5.2 today and it was as steady as a rock even though the surface was cr*p. Some carbon frames are very stiff and may throw you about a bit on rough roads but generaly they go just where you point them. If mine goes off line it is usually my fault.
  • desweller
    desweller Posts: 5,175
    neeb wrote:
    or is there any other improvements that I can make to my bike (Boardman Team Carbon) to give me more confidence ?
    Have you tried looking at your setup, especially reach and drop to the bars? Weight distribution is important for descending, and being able to comfortably shift your weight back and forward. Just an idea. Other than that, how long have you been riding the boardman? Could it just be a case of gradually gaining confidence again and getting used to the rather different feel of the bike?

    +1

    I was terrified of my bike on descents, always felt as though I were about to come off over the bars if I even touched the brakes. Then I fitted a 100 shorter stem and lowered my saddle a bit and it transformed the feel of the bike. Now I'm happy leaning through long bends at 50mph (although I won't deny there's still a good rush to be had!).

    I also find that it's better if I slightly lift my arse off the saddle if the road's not super smooth, so that the bike isn't destabilised by running over bumps.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    On Strava.{/url}
  • Garz
    Garz Posts: 1,155
    careful wrote:
    Some bikes handle better than others but I thought the Boardman was pretty good. Not a good idea to descend faster than you feel confident but many riders of carbon bikes do a lot more than 32 mph. I am a pensioner and regularly exceed 40 mph (downhill of course).

    I was on my boardman comp for a charity 100 miler and reached 42mph according to my logger! The only weakness on the descents for my boardman is the supplied tektro brakes dont seem to do well in any damp/wet conditions.
  • guilliano
    guilliano Posts: 5,495
    I always found I got a twitchy bum at 25mph plus on my MTB when I was on the road...... it just didn't feel stable. But on the same road on my road bike I was shocked to see i hit 48mph and would have felt comfortable going faster if I didn't need to brake for the junction. I do find I still get a little twitchy freewheeling at speed though. For some reason I feel more in control if I am still pedalling and feeling resistance (which is hard on a compact at 40mph+)
  • markos1963
    markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    Blimey! I can do 32mph on the flat on my carbon and it feels rock solid, had 46 mph downhill and wished for a longer descent to go even faster. It must be a lack of confidence on your part, a lot of nervous riders grip everything too hard and that can induce instability, try relaxing a bit and let the bike run. Carbon bikes in theory should be more stable than steel.
  • knedlicky
    knedlicky Posts: 3,097
    If it seems unsafe at 32 mph, then it’s likely your technique or confidence, provided there’s nothing intrinsically amiss with the bike itself.
    If you were talking about 50 mph, however, then it could be the bike. Only about half of the current carbon bikes costing £2000 or more have the stiffness of a steel bike from the 90s costing then £1000 or more.
  • wjws
    wjws Posts: 140
    I too struggle with confidence on long fast descents riding a Sabbath Bikes Mondays Child. I'm wondering whether a different frame would make a difference - the Mondays Child is billed as one of the stiffest titanium frames out there - or whether it's just me and I'll always struggle.
  • Hmm - was told early on to push my weight (backside) out over the back of the saddle and get as falt as possible. I was told (rightly or wrongly) that the extra weight over the back wheel makes it much more stable at speed and there are a couple of sharp descents near me I regularly get 40 plus out of, so do have a look at your technique.

    Knowing you're doing the right thing technically will help you feel more secure and confident about letting it rip!!

    Saying that I do recall many years ago getting a little perturbed by doing over 50 for the first time coming down a very big hill near Sherbourne but decided that it was going to be far more dangerous trying to brake so just got my head down and my a*se up and went for it - great fun.

    I've just swapped my Kysiriums for a set of Dura Ace wheels and they are a huge improvement in stability especially descending in crosswinds - whether that's losing the bladed spokes or the weight I don't know but they feel rock solid. I've also got a titanium frame wjws (litespeed) and I have to say it behaves brilliantly going downhill.

    My only problem is going up the wretched things the other way. I am officially completely crap at climbing!!

    :):)
    Specialized Roubaix Pro SL : Litespeed Titanium Siena : Specialized Allez : Specialized Tri Cross :
    Specialized Rockhopper