Sportive vs Race geometry, ireal world differences

danowat
danowat Posts: 2,877
edited February 2011 in Road buying advice
I am (still) looking for my next bike, let me say that I am aware that no bike will turn me into the next wiggins, so I am under no illusion.

I currently ride an Allez, which apparently is more "racy" in geometry (although I find it extremely comfortable), in the last year I have done pretty much everything you can on this bike (TT's, Crits, 100milers, commuting etc) and have been impressed at how comfortable, competant and competitive (for me) it has been, it has handled everything I have throw at it.

Now I am in the market for a new steed, up to around £3k, and while looking, I have noticed that some bikes are clearly marketed at the sportive market, what, in real terms, are the differences between a sportive geometry and a race geometry?, is it mainly head tube dimension? (which is the biggest difference I can see) and what differences will this make?.

Could I (and do others) race crits on a sportive frame?, can race geometry frames be comfortable enough for 6hrs in the saddle?, or are the differences so minute that, for an all-rounder, it won't make a difference?.

Take Cannodale, their Synapse is the sportive frane, and the supersix is the race, has anyone ridden both?, is the synapse much "slower" than the supersix?, but more comfortable?

Comments

  • vorsprung
    vorsprung Posts: 1,953
    I have had a couple of bikes with long head tubes and a more relaxed geometry and one with a lower, more racey position

    Up to an hour, there is no difference except that the racing bike feels a bit faster. Not sure if it is actually faster but it feels fast. After an hour my shoulders have a fairly subtle ache in them and I can feel the road through the bars more on the racing bike. Whereas on the relaxed bikes after an hour I am nicely warmed up and actually more comfortable

    To be fair to the racing bike I have ridden a couple of long events (400km+) on it and it was fine. I ached in my shoulders a bit more than usual afterwards but it wasn't a significant problem. It wasn't quite as pleasant to ride but it worked. It is difficult to assess if I went slower or faster or whatever due to the slightly less comfortable bike.

    If I was getting another bike I would get another Sportive bike, like an Eddy Merckx EMX1 or a Look 566 rather than a race bike.

    I enjoy the racing bike for fast summer commuting however
  • jgsi
    jgsi Posts: 5,062
    danowat wrote:
    I am (still) lo

    Take Cannodale, their Synapse is the sportive frane, and the supersix is the race, has anyone ridden both?, is the synapse much "slower" than the supersix?, but more comfortable?

    I ride and race on the Synapse. It fits and suits me . It is set up so that I can get low enough on it and still be able to ride at high levels of PE... give me a six and would I be any quicker?
    I'll give you 1 guess... (nice though it would be in Liquigas colours and that team rides the Synapse in the PR )
    it aint about the bike..
  • Armstrong rode a "H2" or sportive geometry frame in his last 2 tours. Didn't seem to do him much harm. Most of it is marketing hype. Fit is Fit is fit. Your dealer can tailor any frame design to your riding style
    Racing is life - everything else is just waiting
  • If you want a bike to race, buy a race bike. Make sure you get properly fitted. Funnily enough, 'uncomfortable' isn't usually a word on the engineers design brief.
    "That's it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I'm going to clown college! " - Homer
  • twotyred
    twotyred Posts: 822
    Most of it is marketing hype.

    +1
  • Although like others I believe the main reason bikes are promoted as race or sportive is marketing hype there are physical differences in the geometry of the frames.

    It appears that the sportive type bikes have shorter top tubes and slightly different head tube/seat tube angles. This would mean that you sit more upright on the sportive type bikes and "flatter" or more aerodynamic on the racier bikes.

    Simply flipping the stem or putting a longer/shorter one on will have a similar effect. Or even easier ride on the hoods to be more upright and in the drops to be flatter???

    As has been said before if the bike fits you it really doesn't matter what it is called.

    Marketing hype to sell road bikes to people who get back or neck ache from being too low and don't know how to rectify it. :lol:
  • nferrar
    nferrar Posts: 2,511
    It can depend on the brands but agreed there's not usually a whole lot in it, personally I have a sportive geometry bike. I did briefly try out my old carbon race bike (from 15 years ago) but although just about OK on the hoods I couldn't use the drops for than a minute or two as they were just so low, I probably could have got a high-rise stem but they look fugly to me (same as having 2" of spacers above the head tube). Planning to get a bike fit shortly though and hoping my measurements will mean I can get on with quite a few 'race' geometry frames (without silly stems/spacers) as it means you've got a lot more choice.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Short answer is less top tube and more headtube - I see plenty of people in RRs riding 'sportive' bikes - the truth be told it comes down to the legs and brain of the rider rather than what he's sat up.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Simply flipping the stem or putting a longer/shorter one on will have a similar effect.

    Marketing hype to sell road bikes to people who get back or neck ache from being too low and don't know how to rectify it. :lol:

    Not really - a shorter stem will still result in duff handling and, in any case, why buy a bike that you need to flip the stem on if you don't have to? As for marketing hype - true to some extent but you can't ignore the fact that sportive geometry effectively allows people who don't fit normal geometry to be able to buy non made to measure frames irrespective of whether they use their bike for racing or sportives. Interestingly, my own Look 585 Optimum was marketed as a Sportive bike but, with a different colour scheme, was also marketed as a female geometry bike.

    See also this thread - also by Danowat........
    http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12755269
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Wamas
    Wamas Posts: 256
    As has been said already, get a bike fit first.
    Then buy a bike that suits the riding style you want, dependant upon your size requirements.
    Then chose the frame geometry that matches you best.

    Manufacturers define their frames as race and performance. This simply allows buyers to determine the difference between the two frames, but not all manufactuers frame sizes are the same.
    Race = shorter headtube
    Performance = longer headtube (and sometimes a shorter effective top tube).

    As already mentioned, these things can be changed by yourself by fitting a different stem, or simply removing spacers above the headtube. If you are spending £3k, the bike shop should swap these things for you free of charge at the time of purchase. Mine did.

    Alternatively if you realy like the Allez and find it comfortable, simly buy a Tarmac as it has similar geometry to the Allez, is suitable for short fast races, and longer century rides.

    Just a word of warning though, make sure you have good insurance if you plan on taking your new £3k bike out on a crit.
  • Armstrong rode a "H2" or sportive geometry frame in his last 2 tours...... Fit is Fit is fit. Your dealer can tailor any frame design to your riding style

    I take it that OP is not Armstrong (although what you said suggests that even he's moving towards a more relaxed position)... as for the last bit, I strongly disagree.

    Go and get a bike fit OP... I guarantee it will be the best money you never spent on a bike (although some of the dealers will credit the cost against a bike... ie. Epic Cycles.)
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.