Can a bike be overly stiff ?

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

OK, so funny one this. I am going to confess to finding my current frame a Dogma F8 overtly stiff.

I have never had a bike drive road buzz into the hands like this and I am trying to work out how to lessen it. I have tried 25mm tyres, lower pressure 90psi on the front, carbon bars and carbon stem but the bike is other wordly stiff at the head tube. The paradox is that it is an incredible bike on the flat and descending, but leaves my hands and arms overly fatigued after a long ride. I did 96 miles on Sunday and was still feeling the hands tingling this morning. Fit wise, I am dialled in by a local bike fitter which I am happy with.

But, anything else anyone can think of ? I am wrapping the bars in supercaz tape tomorrow which is very similar to Lizard skin and looks good from what I saw wrapped on a bar on the shelf of the shop.

Over the years, I have read and heard about bikes being too stiff. The propel, the Venge and the foil is spring to mind, but I have never experienced what I would call road bike white finger like this.

Any opinions...? Is the F8 known for being - well, a bit brutal as good as it is. I was running Zipp SL70 which were absurdly stiff and now running Giant contact SLR bars which are a tad longer in reach but no less stiff, which I was not expecting. Could a cheaper set of alloy bars help ?

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by itsacarr

Entirely possible but a lot of factors that roll into the equation.

Things to consider, wheels, tires, stem, handlebar, how much seat post, carbon or aluminum railed seatpost and of course pressure.

Give us the run down of parts and bike size so we can throw darts at a wall with you.

edit ---

As an example per my own experiences, things that can help and or have an impact. Slammed stem, will add stiffness. A fair number of carbon stems also add stiffness as well as bars. In my experience a carbon stem can add vibration more often than not when it's slammed. An aluminum stem and aluminum round bar (oversized is also nice) are great places to start.

On the backside if you don't have my seatpost showing, on an aero frame that can sometimes send extra vibrations up, especially on smaller frame sizes. Round rails can definitely help with that on a saddle.

As far as wheels, well, wider certainly makes a difference in regards to comfort. Not that you want to throw 28's on but in the right combination it can add some great comfort without killing performance.

my .02

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by Delorre

Depending on your weight, the type of 25mm tyres and rim width, 90 psi at front is still on the high side. At 69 kg, I run 75 psi at front (michelin power comp 25 that bolloons up to 28mm in real, roval 21 mm internal width), and that is a world of difference compared to my 23mm gp 4000s (25mm real) on 15c shamals!! But I can confirm that certain frames are a lot less compliant than others. Scott Addict vs Canyon Ultimate is also a real diff in compliancy.

I would start from the tyres, because a noddle handlebar + stem is not what you want to ride, even if it smooths the ride enough to remain comfy after 100 miles.

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by diegogarcia


54cm frame, 120mm zipp sl stem, 5mm spacer underneath, 5mm on top, stock conical spacer, giant carbon slr bars 42cm 73mm reach, 125mm drop, zipp cx tape, specialized power saddle, 74cm saddle top to centre of BB, ultegra pedals, Zipp 303 with Vittoria corsa G+ at 90 psi. I am 14 stone.

One thing I have wondered is due to liking Giant TCR bikes but finding their geo slightly out of whack I started using short reach bars which of course have less material at the hood section.

Could a shorter stem, but longer reach bars add a bit of flex ? Maybe drop 20mm off the stem and add 20mm at the bars ?

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by itsacarr

I would shy away from shortening the stem as a longer stem will add more flex than longer reach handlebars. I assume you mean the SL stem and not the sprint :)

I would agree with the PSI change if for any reason that it's a free adjustment :)

But I would honestly suggest trying a set of aluminum round bars. That tape you're using is a nice tape for absorption although you can always find thicker.

Alu bars and there are plenty of nice ones, are certainly a cheap area to mess with.

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by Mr.Gib

If your hands are taking a beating try some more flexible carbon bars (but TBH I wasn't aware that the Giant bars were super stiff). Despite what some say, it will not harm handling or performance unless you are frequently engaging in 100% effort sprints. I use Fizik Cyrano 00 on my stiffer bikes to deal with this very issue. A good cork tape or even some gel if you must and you should be OK.

As for your ass, 14 stone is pretty heavy. I would not lower tire pressure much from where you have it. Maybe to 85 psi. Other saddles with more padding could make a big difference but I get that you have to ride your favorite.

You didn't mention groupset - a minor detail but my hands take more of a beating when I ride Campy. My hands do better with Sram or Shimano.
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

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by RyanH

I found the Corsa G+ to be mediocre for ride smoothness/comfort. Before replacing tires though, try swapping to latex, it should make a big difference in ride quality. After that, you can try Veloflex Masters for a very smooth ride.
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by jfranci3

It can, of course, be overly stiff.

When I changed my seat post on my Trek Crockett from the "Carbon" seat post, which was really just an AL bar with a carbon facade, to the soft Specialized COBL unit, the #1 difference was the change in ride quality of the bars. You didn't feel it in your backside, but your front side. This is because the rear ride rate and front ride rate were so different. I put on some 3T carbon ergo bars, and the world is a better place.

Did you recently change the seat post or expose more post? change your saddle?

Tire pressure will help - going from 100 to 90psi make a huge difference, but if your f/r ride rate is off you'll still feel the difference.

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by diegogarcia

Thanks, all noted. The rear end is absolutely fine. Just the front end.

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by Lewn777

You quote your weight in stone with makes me think you're probably British. If you are riding on British roads then this maybe be some of the problem, terrible large stone chip surface dressing by local councils and pot holes... Honestly the roads in other countries, even developing countries such as China and Thailand are often far smoother.

Try some Paris-Roubaix bike setup tricks like double wrapping the bar or try Specialized Roubaix bar tape with some gel inserts.

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by alcatraz

I'd try in order:
Make sure your fit allows bent elbows most of the time.
Nice comfy gloves with padding
Thick handlebar tape
Maximize tire width and maybe go tubeless in the front. Bring the pressure down.
Get carbon handlebara+stem combo (integrated - no risk of delamination at the clamp, fewer week spots, uniformally flexy).
New fork (i know, won't happen)
Reduce spoke tension in the front wheel a tad.


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by morganb

Definitely don't reduce spoke tension

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by jfranci3

diegogarcia wrote:Thanks, all noted. The rear end is absolutely fine. Just the front end.

My point was it doesn't matter if they are both good, if they don't have the right relative spring rates, you'll get beat up.

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by WinterRider

morganb wrote:Definitely don't reduce spoke tension

Why is that? What is ideal spoke tension front wheel?

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by flying

Everyone posting in your thread is telling you
various ways to pad out road shock or in your case decrease stiffness.

I think you may be looking at the wrong reasons.
You could have too much weight on your hands due to a fit problem.

While pedaling a good cadence on a flat road with your hands on drops or even bar tops/brake hoods
Can you lift your hands or put them both back near your jersey rear pockets? Without falling forward?
I know you said you were dialed in but can you do this?

If your falling forward (unable to remain in ride position while removing hands from bars)
my guess is your hands are taking too much weight due to your position
Even long time riders find sorting this troublesome at times on new bikes
Last edited by flying on Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

by Weenie

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