My Thoughts on Frame Choice

tommysegoro
tommysegoro Posts: 20
edited August 2013 in Road general
Hi everyone,

I just want to share my experience on frame choice. I used to think that frames will make a huge difference on performance. I started riding in 2010.

My very first bike was Giant OCR (flat bar), then Giant TCR Advanced 1 Ultegra, then Merida Reacto 909 Dura-Ace, then Specialized Roubaix S-Works Dura-Ace.

I've sold all them except my Roubaix S-Works (it's passed down to my wife now) and I now ride a Chinese frame instead. This is my second Chinese frame and have never been happier.

My experience was, the different frame definitely makes the feel different, some are more comfortable than others but does it make a difference in speed? I don't know.

When I started riding prior to using Chinese frame my speed was ~24kmh on flats. When I started using my Chinese frames however I increase my speed to 32-35kmh. Nowadays I can ride at 38-40kmh on my 86% heart rate.

I'm sure it's my fitness that has improved but one thing that's interesting though, I've ridden my Roubaix S-Works again for few times in the last few weeks and guess what....with the same amount of effort I felt slower and I think I was slower! It can be due to many factors such as wind direction, body condition, etc but I like riding my Chinese frame better.

So from that experience I conclude that there is only so much the frame can contribute. Yes I agree, re: feel, comfort, the frame makes a lot of difference. But speed and performance? I don't think so.

Thoughts?

Below is my current bike:

Custom painted Chinese frame running Dura-Ace DI2 and Chinese carbon wheels: 60mm rear and 35mm front.

tfs.jpg
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Comments

  • And oh further to that:

    When I commute to work I carry around 7KG worth of load in my backpack (laptop, etc). While having my bag on, on climb I'm 2kmh slower but downhill I'm 2-4kmh faster. On flats the load does nothing much.


    My current bike uses Chinese carbon handlebar and stem, Chinese carbon saddle, SRM Power Crank, Time Atac Carbon XS pedals.

    With lights and bottle cages and handlebar bag total weight is 8.7kg.
  • ai_1
    ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    You're on your 6th bike/frame since starting in 2010? That's a hell of a turnover.
    Your position on the bike is going to make a much bigger difference to speed than the frame, or any other part of the bike for that matter. There are too many variables here for an anecdotal review of the speeds you used to be able to achieve on one bike versus what you can do now on another to be in any way useful. If you change from using nobbly off road tyres to slicks you'll notice a difference. If you change from an upright position on a 13kg mountain bike to a typical position on a 8kg roadbike you're going to notice a difference. Changing from that to a slightly lighter or heavier roadbike of similar geometry is going to make virtually no measurable difference on the flat and a relatively small one on the hills.
    Also, I don't believe you've had 2 chinese frames and 4 other bikes. I think it's more likely you've had 6 chinese frames or at least 2 chinese and 4 chinese/taiwanese.

    I've read my share of bike reviews and the amount of nonsense they contain is astonishing. You'd swear that stiff chainstays and bottom bracket can actually make a bike propel itself and that light wheels make a 15% gradient feel like 5%. These things should provide marginal improvements in performance but nothing like most of these reviews would have you believe. I'm not convinced these reviewers can even feel the difference despite what they may say. I wonder what result you'd end up with if you got a bunch of bike reviewers to do blind testing on a selection of bikes without having any brand names or data available to them. I'm not saying that reviewers are lying when they claim a bike is amazingly stiff and efficient or compliant, etc. I'm saying their observations are coloured by their expectations whether they realize it or not. I think most reviewers are highly susceptible to the very marketing that people are trying to circumvent by reading reviews.

    I would suggest the following impact as a general rule for (some of) the different contributing variables to performance on a flat course:
    Physical condition: Major impact
    Road surface: Medium impact
    Weather (esp. wind): Major Impact
    Psychological condition: Major impact
    Tyres: Small impact
    Wheels: Very small impact
    Frame (assuming similar geometry and weight): Very small impact
    Overall rolling weight: Small impact
  • Camcycle1974
    Camcycle1974 Posts: 1,356
    Heretic! How dare you suggest that bike reviewers are nothing but objective. Reviews sell bikes which keep them in a job. A realistic summation of overall contribution to speed, most probably very accurate. Doesn't stop us wanting the lightest, stiffest bike out there though! I do smile when I read conflicting reviews of the same bike, sometimes in the same publication. Just have to take it all with a pinch of salt and make ones own mind up.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    As above, unless you have been very careful to make sure that your three contact points on all of the the bikes are in exactly the same positions (pedals, saddle height & fore/aft relative to BB, and bar reach and height) and you are using the same tyres etc, your subjective comparisons are more likely to reflect these differences than any differences in the frames.

    Setup aside, you do notice differences between frames in lateral stiffness when climbing hard out of the saddle and in front end stiffness when cornering, but you tend to adapt your riding style to these, and IME they don't make any difference at all to overall speed on solo rides. They are more important in racing where you have to make quick accelerations to avoid getting dropped and when a really flexy frame and/or heavy bike can take an extra second or so to "wind up". On a solo ride this just means that your speed profile is minutely smoother, but it all averages out so ends up not making any difference. You still may prefer the feel of a bike that responds snappily however.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    Sounds like you're trying to justify to the world the reason you bought an open-mould Chinese frame. Where I'm from that's called compensating.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • antfly
    antfly Posts: 3,276
    I agree with neeb, differences are most noticeable on climbs and accelerating. I just started using my supersix on routes I have been riding regularly for the last couple of years on very slightly heavier and "less stiff" bikes, and on the first ride, with no massive effort at all, I was doing prs on Strava on every little climb. I can feel the difference too.
    Smarter than the average bear.
  • diamonddog
    diamonddog Posts: 3,426
    Your kitchen looks nice!
    So does the bike.
  • Ai_1 wrote:
    .. to the very marketing that people are trying to circumvent by reading reviews.

    Reviews are the best marketing material there is out there.
    Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail

    strava profile
  • diamonddog wrote:
    Your kitchen looks nice!

    Yes it does look nice. I'm not sure about the mat in front of the oven though. Spoils it a bit :D
    "You really think you can burn off sugar with exercise?" downhill paul
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    diamonddog wrote:
    Your kitchen looks nice!
    Yup, but can you cook a pizza any faster in it?
  • diamonddog
    diamonddog Posts: 3,426
    Lose the mats :D
  • farrina
    farrina Posts: 360
    diamonddog wrote:
    Your kitchen looks nice!

    Yes it does look nice. I'm not sure about the mat in front of the oven though. Spoils it a bit :D

    Down to the practicalities it stops him slipping on a greasy floor when carrying the bike past!

    :D

    Incidentally I agree with all the above although may not be considered experienced enough as I am only on my 5 frame since 1978.

    Regards

    Alan
    Regards
    Alan
  • kamil1891
    kamil1891 Posts: 658
    diamonddog wrote:
    Your kitchen looks nice!
    So does the bike.

    The bartape and saddle doesn't.
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    Specialized Roubaix S-Works frame has a higher handlebar setup.
    Tarmac is lower
    Venge is lower still ...

    So - the OP's gone from a Flat bar, through a couple of others including a top of the range Endurance model to what looks like a road race frame designed for out and out speed ...

    He's "fastest" on the latest frame (designed for out and out speed) yet claims the frame makes no difference?! wtf?

    Of course the frame makes a difference - the GEOMETRY of the frame makes the difference.

    The make of the frame is not as significant - the open-mould chinese frame may well be absolutely fine - but it's not a well known frame model and it's not backed by a known brand - so it's a bit of a gamble as to whether or not it is fine.

    For those of you who like english (as I do) - he started off at ~15mph, then ~20-22mph and is now ~24-25mph - on the flats ... although he hasn't specified a distance ... !
    So what does that mean ... it means he's got fitter and has better aerodynamics ... and TBH, that's not a dramatic change - I'm no youngster and I started off 2 years ago at around 15mph on just about any ride - it's now up, although there aren't that many flats around here so I couldn't give you a figure for that - not that it'd mean much.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    Good point. I want to see the OP's Strava.

    Also, what's the weight without lights and bag as 8.7kg is an absolute pig.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    Grill wrote:
    Good point. I want to see the OP's Strava.

    Also, what's the weight without lights and bag as 8.7kg is an absolute pig.

    what sort of handlebar bag ... come on OP - admit it, you've got a wicker basket ;)
  • Thanks for all your replies. For those who make comment on my rug: LOL you make me laugh...these posts made my day! :)

    Anyway, of course I gradually improved. It's not like I suddenly gain 11kph from changing the frame alone. I've said I'm sure it's my fitness that has improved since.

    Well I guess in terms of performance it comes back to the engine although I find the following (which, over a long distance will contribute to the performance):
    - Roubaix S-works feels unstable on descending...the bike feels "thin"...maybe it's too stiff I don't know but upon descending I feel uneasy...it feels soooo very fast. On flats, due to my body position (ie. very "up"), I lose speed because I catch more wind. On climbing, it feels a lot easier to climb on my Roubaix. Again, doesn't mean I'm faster but I could have pushed more because it feels easier.

    - On my previous Chinese frame (this one is Chinarello), standing up upon climbing feels so heavy and forced me to sit down. Body position is good on flats so I gain more speed than my Roubaix.

    - On my last Chinese frame, it's the best of both worlds. Standing up feels easier than Chinarello but body position is even lower so I gain even more speed.

    I just completed a 154km hilly ride yesterday on the Chinese frame and I felt as fresh as I was on my Roubaix. Now that I can ride with my hands off the bar during the ride meaning that I can stretch quiet often and I'm sure this contributed to the "freshness" of my body at the end.

    So yep...for me what matters the most is obviously legs, body position, bike fit although the frame plays a major role on the "feel" during the ride. The "feel" over a long distance will obviously contribute on performance.

    PS: Although I may sound that I love my Chinese frame so much, trust me, I still drool looking at the $6k frame-only such as Pinarello Dogma ...ahhhhhh (drrroooool)
  • Also,

    Below is my Strava profile:

    http://app.strava.com/athletes/381651
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    Where are your 38-40kph rides? Your Garmin hung during a 4+ hour spell on your Tour de York ride which heavily inflated your speed. The fastest I see is a 17mph flat ride...
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • Was one of the commuting last week I think. This week prior to Tour de York I did a recovery ride daily.

    Oh and also check out Cyclo Sportif event as well (few weeks ago). We did 40-42kmh on that day. Mind you though Strava wouldn't record everything unless you have a segment on it.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    Holding that speed in a group on flats is hardly a proper benchmark for performance. That would be like me saying I average over 28mph just because I did it in a 4up TT.

    I still don't see how any of this is relevant to you having an open-mould frame with a dodgy layup.
    English Cycles V3 | Cervelo P5 | Cervelo T4 | Trek Domane Koppenberg
  • Yap exactly. I guess only I know how I perform exactly from day to day. Wind, road condition, traffic, etc will also take part in affecting performance.

    All I am saying is, for me personally, there is no big proof that better or more expensive frame will give me more performance boost. The only benefit I will get - if it's purely based on my experience - is geometry and the "feel". When it comes to performance I guess it all comes back to the legs.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,490
    And oh further to that:

    When I commute to work I carry around 7KG worth of load in my backpack (laptop, etc). While having my bag on, on climb I'm 2kmh slower but downhill I'm 2-4kmh faster. On flats the load does nothing much.


    My current bike uses Chinese carbon handlebar and stem, Chinese carbon saddle, SRM Power Crank, Time Atac Carbon XS pedals.

    With lights and bottle cages and handlebar bag total weight is 8.7kg.

    Really? I would have thought the drag from the bag on your back would more than overcome the slight gain in acceleration due to gravity offered by your greater mass.
  • All of your bikes have been Chinese. This new one isn't a chinarello, looks more like a ridley rip-off.

    Top tip - wear a face guard when riding as these are prone to failure.

    Learn how to measure speed properly.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,490
    Was one of the commuting last week I think. This week prior to Tour de York I did a recovery ride daily.

    Oh and also check out Cyclo Sportif event as well (few weeks ago). We did 40-42kmh on that day. Mind you though Strava wouldn't record everything unless you have a segment on it.

    :? Strava records your whole route, you can check the speed at any point.
  • Mikey41
    Mikey41 Posts: 690
    I'm getting the popcorn in. I can't decide whether the OP is a troll, an idiot or is trying to flog these frames...

    Or all 3.
    Giant Defy 2 (2012)
    Giant Defy Advanced 2 (2013)
    Giant Revel 1 Ltd (2013)
    Strava
  • ct8282
    ct8282 Posts: 414
    Nom nom.
  • Mikey41 wrote:
    I'm getting the popcorn in. I can't decide whether the OP is a troll, an idiot or is trying to flog these frames...

    Or all 3.

    Mate, I honestly hate you calling me an idiot or a troll. Why would I try to sell these frames anyway, it's all pure my personal opinion on it. You don't have to agree with me but please don't call me that.

    Also, how do I check my full speed on Strava? Please let me know the links on Strava to click. All I know it only records the segments. My Garmin also doesn't record 100% properly. Thanks for the help.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,490
    Open your ride, click on the performance tab above the ride profile and it will show a graph. Tick the speed box (and turn off the other 2 for clarity). You can then drag the cursor along the line and it will tell you what speed you were doing at any given point.
  • Pross wrote:
    Open your ride, click on the performance tab above the ride profile and it will show a graph. Tick the speed box (and turn off the other 2 for clarity). You can then drag the cursor along the line and it will tell you what speed you were doing at any given point.

    Aha....I just know that. OK thanks for the info. I'll do a bit more thorough testing on the Chinese frame against the S-Works Roubaix and report back the results. I'll try to put on exactly the same wheels too to get as close performance comparison as possible.

    Thanks again for the info.