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ljsmith

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Reply with quote  #1 
On long, all day rides I find that my legs still feel strong at the end of a ride, but my body (neck, butt, lower back, hands) are exhausted.  I've always leaned more towards the idea that speed means you will complete the ride faster so you won't get as tired.  But now I am starting to wonder if more comfort means you will feel fresher, so while you may start off slower it will be easier to maintain that speed over a long day.  Especially now with all the newer gravel frames having much more tire room.  So what do you all think?  Would you rather have 40c tires, or 2.1 tires?  Bars lower than saddle, or even with saddle.  Any other bike parts/tweaks that you use that favor comfort over speed that you think works better overall?
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Nubster

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Reply with quote  #2 
I've ridden fast bikes. I've ridden comfortable bikes. The time it took me to finish was the same. So for me comfort > speed. I'm not a racer so I don't need a bike that will do 2mph faster with the same effort. I'd rather enjoy the ride and not be miserable even if it does take me 30 minutes longer.
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #3 
My $.02: Comfort trumps everything else. It's not a simple equation though -- "more comfort=less speed" is simply not true in many situations. A lot depends on your personal physiology - especially your flexibility - and the type of riding your are doing. One thing I have found, over many years of riding and racing, if you ignore comfort, and simply focus on   speed, your body will eventually break down. Now that I've retired from racing, I've also found that one of the best things you can do to improve the comfort and enjoyment of a ride is to stop every once in awhile, and get off the bike and stretch out for a few minutes. You may even find, that especially for long endurance rides, your overall ride time may be faster, if you take regular rest breaks of a minute off the bike. Jeff Galloway - American Olympic runner and coach: http://www.jeffgalloway.com/about/ has developed a system that suggests combining walking and running for long distance events like the Marathon. It's basically the same idea. By walking for 60 seconds every mile or so during a long running event, your average pace slows down by about 15 sec. per mile; but in the critical last 6 miles of the marathon, when many runners hit the wall and either quit, or have to drastically slow down, you can continue at your target pace because you are comfortable. While not exactly the same; I would suggest that during a long cycling ride or event, getting off the bike for a minute every hour or so, could have the same effect and benefit.
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Slim

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Reply with quote  #4 
Great points Bob!

Indeed, you stand to lose both speed AND comfort if you simply equate more comfort with less speed. The prime example is tire size and pressure. The idea that narrower, firmer tires are faster has been proven false many times now, especially on softer or rougher surfaces (sounds like gravel riding).
The same goes with suspension and micro suspension (comfort frames and seatposts etc.).
Comfortable gloves, bar tape, saddle and bibs don't slow you down either.

Aero clothing is typically no less comfortable than slower, looser fit apparel.

A more mixed bag is position on the bike. A lower position is more aero, but is typically less comfortable. Note that lower bars don't necessarily mean a lower body position, this depends on all aspects of the fit, including saddle choice as the most important!
So here it does come down to the goal you have for your rides, fastest time or maximum comfort. 
If your hamstrings are tight, you won't be able to pedal well with a very low torso, so that option goes out of the window. This means that neck discomfort won't be an issue either!

One fit concept that relates to this for gravel riding is that I set my (clients') bike up with comfortable access to the drops. On gravel it is imperative that you can ride in the drops for long times, since the drops are more comfortable over rough sections and offer more control while descending. Because of this I tend to favor as shallow a drop as I can find.

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moe53

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Reply with quote  #5 
The faster I ride means the faster I'm done riding. Who wants that? 
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Smithhammer

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moe53
The faster I ride means the faster I'm done riding. Who wants that? 


Ha - winning comment. [thumb]

It's not too surprising that people "feel" like they are going faster when they are radically hunched over and getting their teeth rattled out of their head, but the numbers tend to tell a different story. The trend in tire width is one telling example of this. And besides, unless you're racing, who cares? 

I would also completely agree with Slim's comments, esp. in regards to positioning and usability of the drops. Too many dirt riders I see have their drops mounted way too low, and then not too surprisingly, don't use them effectively. 

As for specifics, it's hard to say what's going to equate to comfort for someone else. A lot of focus is on body position, which is certainly important, but I also think that this is a topic where there are some good basic guidelines, but few hard and fast rules. I can be equally comfortable for the same amount of time on my fat bike and my gravel bike, even though my body positions are pretty different on these two bikes, as long as I pay attention to fit basics. The key things I focus on are points of contact: 

- A quality saddle that really works for me is of key importance. Which means a saddle I can sit on for hours if needed. Any saddle that doesn't pass this test gets swapped out.

- I double wrap the key positions on my bars. Makes a big difference with vibration reduction and spending more time comfortably with my hands in those various positions without hand fatigue setting in.

- It's important to find a reasonably stiff shoe that imparts effective power transfer. I'm not saying ridiculously stiff and totally uncomfortable off the bike, but if you go with a shoe that is too soft, it will fatigue your feet over time, and this fatigue has a way of crawling up your leg. 

With these POCs dialed in for comfort, I can ride for a long time, regardless of which bike I'm on.

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