Looking for a bike that "feels" fast

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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by mike001100


I need help - I'm looking for a bike that "feels" fast... it's very difficult to describe, and it is something I have stumbled upon at the LBS, with one of the salesmen there...

I bought a Giant Propel, 2014 model, used, from this LBS salesman (was his, he was taking a break from cycling, so it was up for sale). I rode it last year, it was my first road bike... I decided to take it apart and build a gravel bike using the groupset, etc. (Specialized Crux). I re-built the Propel using Dura Ace, etc., and the first time I rode it, I was amazed - it feels so much faster than the Crux!

During the winter, I rode the Crux all the time (briefly owned a Giant TCX, but sold that, I didn't like the fitment), and now, as the temperatures have started rising, I had a few rides on the Propel again - and it just feels so much faster than the Crux, or than anything I have ridden really... I'm not saying it IS faster, it just FEELS so much faster...

I figured, I could get rid of the Crux and build a "wet"/winter/climbers' bike, something that feels just as fast as the Propel... (winter usually just means rain, so I wouldn't be too concerned about putting good parts on it).

But, as far as my memory goes, there is nothing that comes close to the feel of the Propel, except for a Madone (which felt even faster and more stable), but that's not a climbers bike. So far, I have ridden/tested, by chance:
- Specialized Tarmac S Works 2016
- Specialized Venge 2016, 2017
- Trek Emonda SL (rode that today back-to-back with the Crux, and it felt just the same)
- Giant TCX
- Cervelo S5 2013

The thing is, I cannot exactly put my hand on what makes the Propel feel so fast. One thing I am suspecting plays a factor is the wheelbase, as the Propel is shorter than the Crux, and I can feel that... I spoke with the LBS guy, and he said the Giant Defy feels much slower, the TCR perhaps a little slower... but neither one of us can say why?

So, anybody got any tips?


by Weenie

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by Steve_W

I have a look 695....rode with numerous wheelsets, although nothing transforms the ride more than my 20/20 lightweight meliensteins.
Guess Im saying, don't overlook the wheelset.


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by Lelandjt

Light, stiff, and aero makes a bike feel fast to me, and race tires. The Propel with light aero wheels ticks all these boxes. As for wheelbase, long chainstays make a bike feel slower but not a long top tube, again just for me.

I know many people here downplay aero but having grown accustomed to my current 14.6lb everything-aero bike my 16lb nothing-aero bike (but still all good parts and tires) accelerates slower and doesn't hold speed as well.

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by Pokerface07

Generally, good wheels and tyres will do more to make a bike feel and ride faster than the frame.

But my Foil probably feels faster than all my other road bikes.
Twitter: @FormerTTchamp https://twitter.com/FormerTTchamp

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by wingguy

mike001100 wrote:The thing is, I cannot exactly put my hand on what makes the Propel feel so fast.

A stiff BB and a harsh ride.

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by mike001100

Thanks for all the replies so far, as my winter set, I have Mavic Aksiums on the Crux... and I have ZIPP 303 tubulars (ran S-Works Turbo tubs on them last year) and even with the 303s, I don't think it feels anywhere as fast as the Propel.

Regarding: "A stiff BB and a harsh ride." - stiff BB could be it, but harsh ride? I mean, compared to a Venge (any Venge I have ridden), it floats over the tarmac like a flying carpet... Compared any Trek, yes, it is harsh...

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by wingguy

Maybe harsh, maybe firm, whatever your comparison is really. But seriously a pretty consistent factor in what people report as 'feeling' fast is ride comfort. On average, smooth bikes feel slower and firm bikes feel faster, even when they're not.

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by Marin

Get fast wheels that go whoosh woosh for the Crux and feel the speed!

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by fromtrektocolnago

twitchy bikes feel fast to me.
Colnago C-59 (Dura Ace)
Trek 5200(ultegra)

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by pdlpsher1

To me a bike with responsive handling feels fast. You mileage may vary.

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by AJS914

For me, there is something about the springiness or liveliness of frame that makes it feel fast. Carbon frames that feel wooden don't feel fast. I don't think it has anything to do with actual stiffness of the frame just how it resonates and transmits vibrations.

My fastest feeling bike was a Calfee Dragonfly. It was too stiff for me though and was annoying to ride on rough roads. I think it may have been built with an extra stiff tubeset. At the other end of the Spectrum, my Time VXS uses vectran in the weave and feels a little dead - the opposite of lively. It was intentionally built that was as a Paris-Roubaix bike. It truly soaks up road imperfections like no other bike I've ever ridden. My Colnago C59 has the perfect blend of stiff, lively, but the it soaks up the road in a nice say that doesn't beat you up.

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by fromtrektocolnago

less stable and twitchy bikes feel fast, but usually that's not a good thing. i like a bike that allows me to go fast while feeling firmly in control.
Colnago C-59 (Dura Ace)
Trek 5200(ultegra)

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by kode54

Pokerface07 wrote:Generally, good wheels and tyres will do more to make a bike feel and ride faster than the frame.

But my Foil probably feels faster than all my other road bikes.

Yes a combo of wheels and frame can be fine tuned to feel fast.
- AX Lightness Vial EVO D + DA9150 + Enve SES 3.4 carbon hubs
- Parlee Altum + DA9150 + Enve SES 4.5 carbon hubs
- Parlee ESX + DA9150 + THM SRM PM + Enve SES 6.7 CK hubs
- Independent Fabrication Ti FLW + DA9100 + Enve 3.4 CK hubs

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by MJB

I once built myself up a Bottecchia SP9, a semi-aero mid weight frame with an SR mechanical gruppo and used several wheelsets on it.

Technically my ride data clearly says when I rode it over the same course with a pair of Xentis Mark1 TT wheels with FMB CX Comp 24mm tubulars fitted - I was riding the fastest by a considerable margin (lets say in the vicinity of a full 2km/hr faster than any other wheels) However, because the wheels were heavy, they took a long time and more effort to get them spinning and the bike was somewhat slower to handle with the Xentis wheels fitted, the bike felt slow and I was constantly surprised by my average speeds and times. But these were TT specific wheels.

The same bike with Corima Aero+ 47mm fitted with 23mm Vittoria SC tubulars felt faster, handled much better and held speed well once you got it over 30km/hr but over the same road course (we are talking dozens and dozens of rides here) it never produced the same average speeds as the Xentis TT wheels but made the bike more fun to ride.

Again, the same Bottecchia SP9 with Madfiber 60/66mm rims fitted with FMB CX Comp 24mm tubulars made the bike into a sub 6.5kg ride -felt like a rocket ship with twitchy uber fast handling and acceleration like nothing else, were the greatest hill climbing wheels I've ever used but were unstable on fast decents and caught wind from every angle like no other wheelset I've ridden. Keeping up speed with the Madfibers took more effort than any other wheels (ie did not hold momentum) and my average times and speeds suffered partly because of this.

I have had similar experiences with multiple wheelsets on other bike frames but I never rode those bikes with the intent of going as fast as possible like I did with the SP9 so I say wheelsets and tyres can play a major role in making a bike feel 'fast'.

by Weenie

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by wheelbuilder

I believe that on certain frames, the carbon lay up itself can play a role in attaining that "lively, racy, sharp handling" feel that everyone knows or has hopefully experienced. Assuming that wheelset is equal, some frames definitely perform better than others. I test ride a large number of road bikes every week at work, and definitely have my opinions and favorites. The thing about the frames with the "feel" you are talking about, is that it is immediately evident if you are on one of those frames. No long ride needed. Then there are also plenty of frames that feel slow, dead, and wooden.

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