44mm head tube regrets. (A stiffness vs. harshness thread)

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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853guy
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Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:48 pm

by 853guy

Hello everyone,

Just wondering if anyone specced a 44mm head tube and regretted it afterward.

I’m aware of the theoretical benefits apropos stiffness and responsiveness, but A) I’m small at 176cm and light at low 60’s, and B) spend most of my time climbing and descending. Given my size and weight, I’m not sure any of the benefits of the larger head tube will be realised in my case, and that a traditional 1 ⅛” steerer won’t in fact be more than adequate (for a planned XCr frame with an ENVE fork).

So while the ability to fit a tapered fork has some appeal, and I get that a 44mm head tube will potentially improve descending confidence, I do find I’m easily beaten up by overly-stiff/harsh frames, which is why I’ve historically ridden steel and almost always in traditional tube diameters.

Keen to hear from anyone who has any thoughts on this.

Cheers!

853guy

by Weenie


morganb
Posts: 484
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by morganb

I think you'll be fine at that weight with a straight headtube. I have a Gunnar that is True Temper Platinum OX with a straight headtube and ENVE fork and while its not as stiff as a modern race bike its still more than adequate and a great descender. I'm 71kg for reference.

Valbrona
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Location: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

by Valbrona

Stiffness at the front end doesn't make anyone go faster. Big sprinters might like the feel of it in a competitive environment, but for anyone who rides poor rides it can be something to avoid.

nemeseri
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by nemeseri

EDIT 2: Hah I completely misunderstood the question so let me remove this post...
Last edited by nemeseri on Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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853guy
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by 853guy

Hi morganb,Valbrona and nemeseri,

Thanks for the responses.

“Modern race bike” and “sprinting” aren’t really in my vocabulary. So I agree with you all - in my case, given my weight and the type of riding I do - a 44mm head tube is probably overkill, with no real-world benefit.

Also, my work-in-progress short list has a MCFK stem paired with a 3T Superergo LTD Stealth, so while the frame will be XCr, fork, bars, stem and seat post will all be WW-ish carbon, for a reduction in harshness and weight. At least, that’s the plan.

Again, thanks for the replies. Additional perspectives welcome.

Best,

853guy

shimmeD
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by shimmeD

Got a builder yet? Trust his judgement?
Overly stiff head does not make a fine handling bike, a good builder will tell you.
I'm a lot shorter than you with a 44mm head-tube which I like for the smooth transition to the fork with a Chris King Inset headset (haha all about the look). It's not tapered, just straight 1 1/8. I think I would be happy with an old school 1" steel fork BTW.
XCr, isn't that the stiffest/harshest steel tubeset you can get? I heard that 953 is the lightest and this is WW. :beerchug:
Now I wish I had splashed out on a Enve 1.0 fork (yep, build your frame around the fork), but I already had a 3T Funda fork.
Less is more.

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853guy
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by 853guy

shimmeD wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:55 pm
Got a builder yet? Trust his judgement?
Overly stiff head does not make a fine handling bike, a good builder will tell you.
I'm a lot shorter than you with a 44mm head-tube which I like for the smooth transition to the fork with a Chris King Inset headset (haha all about the look). It's not tapered, just straight 1 1/8. I think I would be happy with an old school 1" steel fork BTW.
XCr, isn't that the stiffest/harshest steel tubeset you can get? I heard that 953 is the lightest and this is WW. :beerchug:
Now I wish I had splashed out on a Enve 1.0 fork (yep, build your frame around the fork), but I already had a 3T Funda fork.
A builder?

Well, I have a short-list of four (1), with Indy Fab in the lead based on the fact my first ever “real” bike was a Fat Chance Yo Eddy, IF has been working with steel for a very long time, they’ve had their boom and bust moment and regrouped, there’s a bunch of old-skool vets who’ve returned and taken young guys under their wings, and I’ve never seen a badly welded, finished or painted frame from IF ever (in fact, when it comes to those things, I’d argue they’re one of the best when it comes to steel) .

So, yes, if indeed it ends up being IF who build my bike, I trust them enough to part with three and a half thousand Euro (including fork). Plus, it’s hard not to love a manufacturer whose logo was inspired by Black Flag. (Actually, that they’re never tried to “fit in” or pretend to be someone they’re not trading on their “long history of racing pedigree” is one of the main attractions. Aesthetics matter, I’m not gonna lie.)

Gary Smith’s opinion is that 953 is more compliant, yet XCr can be built lighter (by about 50g). But aside from ride qualities - which Smith believes are more attributable to the geometries of the tubes themselves, rather the material itself - what perhaps matters more is that because of 953’s higher MPa it can’t be drawn as thin as XCr, meaning its stays are heavier, and its strength can’t be used to an advantage, since it simply ends up heavier in the rear triangle, and the bike becomes unbalanced. Not really what I want when descending Mont Ventoux at 80km/h.

And because XCr is mechanically softer, it’s easier to ream and finish, making for more accurate and tighter miters, leading to better welding and therefore, a better, more robustly built bike. Which, at the end of the day, trumps any claims for the theoretical attributes of a given material, right?

As to ride quality, though - which, yes, is definitely important - XCr is still steel (2). For me, the ability of the builder to work with the material and understand my ride preferences will be way more important than the raw numbers in-and-of-themselves, and the added bonus of its corrosive-resistive properties is hard to pass up. No, it’s never going to offer the qualities of, say, a Formigli Classic, or any Columbus SL frame for that matter, but this bike isn’t that. It’s modern take on what makes steel great, in a way that allows me to climb and descend while pushing the limits of myself and the bike.

As to forks, the IF SSR comes stock with the ENVE, and though I can spec something else, the ENVE will be a great baseline to assess whether further experimentation is warranted.

Thanks again for your input, shimmeD.

Best,

853guy

(1) Actually, I understand one of the potential builders is prioritising carbon over their steel frames, so perhaps it's down to three.

(2) As far as I’m aware, IF only build the SSR in XCr, so 953 isn’t an option, and for the above reasons.

shimmeD
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by shimmeD

IF:thumbup: nice choice. IMO it's a more 'traditional' look. Preferring brazing and someone who pushes things here and there, I'm really happy with English. No stainless for me as I can't justify the cost; plain old CroMo is plenty durable enough for most people.
Did you note that it's the 1.0 fork that I was referring to? It's now discontinued but look and you can still find.
Less is more.

boots2000
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by boots2000

I had a ti bike with a 44mm headtube that I thought was too stiff.
But it had a 1.5 top tube, a 1.75 downtube, and a tapered 1.5 fork.

Can you get a fork that is 11/8-11/4 tapered? I think that and not going crazy OS in terms of tubes will ride nicely.

bm0p700f
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by bm0p700f

stiff frames dont beat up riders, there are other reasons for that. The frame does not not absorb much road buzz the tyre does most of it. So if you are having a new frame made get it made with as big as possible clearance in mind. Brakes have a 49mm drop normally so select your frame and fork so you at the limits of that drop and can have the biggest possible tyre with your brakes.

That will make a much bigger improvement to ride comfort and going from a tapered headtube to a straight one. In reality the headtube make very little contribution to ride comfort.

pdlpsher1
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by pdlpsher1

I’m in the same camp that believes the frame stiffness has little to do with ride quality. Road vibrations create a vertical force. A bicycle frame is a triangular structure. The triangular structure is extremely stiff in the vertical axis, even with small diameter tubes. Big tubes in a frame will give you torsional stiffness, which is what you want for handling and efficient power transfer. Using smaller tubes will compromise torsional stiffness and it won’t help with the ride quality.

I’m a lightish rider at 60kg. I just took delivery of a Ti bike with a 44mm headtube and a T47 BB. It never entered my mind to use smaller tubes to improve the ride quality. To improve ride quality I got an Ergon suspension seatpost. Now I have the best of both worlds- a torsionally stiff bike with great handling and efficient power transfer, and a ride that is supremely comfortable.

Trying to soften the ride by using small tubes is not the appropriate approach.


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GonaSovereign
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by GonaSovereign

boots2000 wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:47 am
I had a ti bike with a 44mm headtube that I thought was too stiff.
But it had a 1.5 top tube, a 1.75 downtube, and a tapered 1.5 fork.
I'd love to see that bike,

pdlpsher1
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Location: CO

by pdlpsher1

Don’t get an Enve fork. For my custom Ti build I went with a Trek Domane full-carbon tapered fork. It uses Shimano’s direct mount brakes. It has loads of tire clearance. I put in a tire that measured 31mm wide. There’s still a 3mm clearance between the tire and the fork on each side. For $300 delivered to my local Trek dealer it’s hard to beat! The uncut fork weighed 350g. After cutting it weighed 300g. It comes in three different rakes, and several colors to choose from. The fork also has an integrated carbon crown race. So you save the weight of the metal crown race which in Chris King’s case it was a lot of weight saved.


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morrisond
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Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 8:34 pm

by morrisond

I'm a big guy at at about 115kg.

I have an 853 Bike with ENVE 2.0 1-1/8 Fork. I had an Mosaic Ti 44mm HT with ENVE 1.25" Tapered.

Both are more than adequately stiff. Descending at 60+ km/h the 853 Front end is more than stiff enough, no performance issues.

You can save probably 100+ grams by going with the 1-1/8 HT vs a 44mm HT - they are really heavy.

If you want the best 1-1/8" Fork you should try and get a THM Scapula - 50-60 grams lighter than ENVE and rides a lot better than ENVE (as measured by TOUR - it deflects more fore to aft) but it's stiffer in the corners as well.

They don't make them anymore but I know a shop where you can find a brand new one. PM me if you are interested.

Valbrona
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by Valbrona

morrisond wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:19 am
I'm a big guy at at about 115kg.

I have an 853 Bike with ENVE 2.0 1-1/8 Fork. I had an Mosaic Ti 44mm HT with ENVE 1.25" Tapered.

Both are more than adequately stiff. Descending at 60+ km/h the 853 Front end is more than stiff enough, no performance issues.
??? You think that people are bothered about front-end stiffness when descending?

by Weenie


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