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  • Hardtails/Bike-packing/Compliance…
  • vlad_the_invader
    Full Member

    Do hardtails become more compliant when heavily loaded?

    Could it be that heavier rides enjoy a better ride quality?

    Do any manufacturers actually bother to use different tube types (eg different materials or butting) for different frame sizes for consistent feel across the frame size spectrum? (If so, who?)

    I’ve been watching reviews of various bikes and Santa Cruz Chameleon seems to be ticking a number of boxes but one reviewer (You Tuber Hardtail Party) seems to think its very compliant whereas seem to think its very stiff when unloaded but it does get more compliant when loaded for Bike-packing trips.

    Full Member

    The springiness of the material (steel, aluminium, etc), does not change with load until you reach the yield point, after which you are going to be walking home.

    Probably just means that none of those revewers have any idea what they are talking about.

    Free Member

    Most “reviewing” is wordy bollocks. Start from there.

    Full Member

    The springiness of the material


    I am not a materials engineer, and dont know what springiniess is in technical terms, but intuitively, it does feel as though load would make a difference to ride-feel. I suppose, I feel, that if bike tubes ‘give’ or bend under load, the rate at which they return, or bend back again (rebound, if you like), will slow down when more weight is applied. So, does extra weight induce more damping?

    Free Member

    Could it be that heavier rides enjoy a better ride quality?

    I’m going with nope

    Full Member

    I’ve seen stuff like that said about Dawes touring bikes.

    In my experience I’m tired from riding all day and probably somewhere hillier than I’m used to. That’s my over arching experience of bike packing and touring.

    Any change in how the frame feels is cancelled out by sore legs.

    That and wishing I’d left some heavy bits of tat at home. They always seem essential when packing but I’m always carrying something that’s no use

    Full Member

    In my experience, they just become less responsive and a bit vague in the handling department; sometimesdangerouslyso.  My Salsa is a noodley mess when loaded. My Masons are in a different league… they are very well designed with load carrying in mind; great whether loaded or not. Handling is a touch slower when loaded, but I’ve noticed zero difference in comfort.

    Full Member

    Most “reviewing” is wordy bollocks. Start from there.

    A bit like STW 😀

    I’m not a materials engineer either but there are some (sort of) parallels with different weight springs and/or different riders requiring different PSI in forks/shocks to get the correct sag/support or even different PSI in tyres.

    Anyway, I’m trying to avoid anything overly stiff but don’t want anything too noodly as I’m 90kg. And as there’s next-to-no chance of being able to test ride any of the bikes I’m interested in, I have to rely on other users feedback or the manufacturers marketing BS…

    Full Member

    “Do hardtails become more compliant when heavily loaded?”

    No. But also yes.

    The more load you put into any frame, the more it flexes in that direction. A bike that has the ideal compliance for one rider will be too stiff for a lighter rider with the same speed and style and too bendy for a heavier rider with the same speed and style.

    I’d trust the hardtail party guy’s opinion on how a bike feels for how he rides it (bearing in mind he’s quite small but also powerful – amazing tech climbing skills!) That’s quite different riding to typical bikepacking.

    Full Member

    So, does extra weight induce more damping

    No. Damping is absorbing energy

    My hunch is that much of a designers ability to tune the feel of a bike is limited by the need to pass CE testing. I don’t think the test varies with frame size.

    A Santa Cruz chameleon will be stiff and strong. Whether that equals uncomfortable is a whole heap of options. But I’ll go with not

    Full Member

    If comfort is high on your requirements list then you’ll benefit more from wider rims and tyres. My Pact  hardtail wears either 29×2.2 or 27.5×3.0 tyres depending on how rough my planned route is.

    Free Member

    I am currently riding an XL new Chameleon, and it is slightly stiffer than the last version(Green), but it is still amazingly comfortable to ride.

    The Banshee Paradox V3 had slightly more compliance, which I guess works well for medium frames, but my XL felt draggy and dull, sometimes, almost like the tyres had gone flat.

    I have also owned various steel frames like Cotics and Pace. All weren’t much softer than the Chameleon, just more noodly under power and a bit less zippy. Again, it is probably not the same experience for a medium-height, skinny rider.

    Interestingly, Banshee was the only company to get the stack height correct for tall riders. Every other frame designer thinks it’s ok to add 10mm on the head tube for the XL frame, which makes it impossible to get the same max bar height vs the saddle height of the smaller frames. Fork manufacturers only allow a maximum of 30mm of stem spacers, so you need to resort to higher rise bars like 60 mm-80 mm rise. The problem is that you can only rotate the bar to a comfy position by moving it forward and massively extending the reach. Then there are no modern short 35mm stems that offer a medium rise. They jump from the Industry 9 A35 with about 6mm of rise to the Ergotec  Bass with 40mm of rise.

    Free Member

    I’d think that the change in weight distribution will have more effect than the actual, and comparatively small amount of actual added weight.  Also, if you’ve loaded your bike up with bags you’re not going to be giving it full lash (else your bags fall off) and that will change your perception.

    As a comparative gnome I can assure you a Chameleon is going to feel pretty harsh, like most Al hardtails, and adding a bit of weight won’t change that.

    Full Member

    I have an xl chameleon 7 alu

    for the bits that I think may make a difference to how a bike feels, it’s built up with DT331 rims and 2.1 fast trak s works tyre (normally at aound 30psi) and a bontrager Alu seatpost and my favourite saddle, that I use on all my bikes. In fact, that setup has been used on the last few bikes I had.

    the chameleon is a very vertically soft feeling bike. I was very surprised how comfy it was, much more so than the mk1 cotic solaris before it.

    It reminds me a bit of high end Ti from the 90’s, but without the cracking.

    It’s laterlally as stif as any other bike i’ve had, though at 90kgs, the wheels flex way more than the frame when out of the saddle.

    They’re supposed to be tough, but I can’t imagine it’d feel any different loaded.

    Full Member said that chainstay length on the Sirius made the biggest difference. Longer was less of a kick up the arse than in the short setting and better for bikepacking use.

    Tyres surely make the biggest difference on a HT.

    Free Member

    The springiness of the material (steel, aluminium, etc), does not change with load until you reach the yield point, after which you are going to be walking home.

    Probably just means that none of those reviewers have any idea what they are talking about.

    Well, no.

    A spring a spring, a FS will feel “soft” if you put on a heavy backpack and don’t change the spring. The seatube on a hardtail is no different. The difference is if you put that load in a bag on the bike then the bike will flex more even though the force you put on it is the same.

    Back in the day that’s why you had 531 for normal people, 531ST for touring bikes and 531C for racing whippets.

    Full Member

    I find the weight effects the handling, but not the ride. The increased tyre pressure to cope with the heavier load has more impact on comfort

    Free Member

    I’ve seen stuff like that said about Dawes touring bikes.

    Yes, the galaxy and super galaxy were somewhat rigid and unforgiving until you got 20 kilos of bags hanging off the frame.

    Full Member

    If you’re mixing or confusing ‘vertical compliance’ with lateral twist when describing the flex that gives a sense of comfort then yes, a loaded bike feels more compliant/flexy. It’s not easy to have a bike that feels great to ride loaded and unloaded in that respect, ime.

    Full Member

    I bought a Trek Procaliber a couple of months ago.  It has a decoupled seat tube that is squished flatter near the BB and has a flexible bushing at the top tube.  Thought it might be marketing bollocks but the rest of the bike also made sense (lighter bikepacking/all day rig) so bought one.

    When riding if you hold the joint you can feel it moving, they claim 12mm of fore aft movement I think (presumably at the saddle where its exaggerated.)

    I was working on the bike last week and realised that when you lean hard on the saddle you can see the whole seat tube flex!  It certainly feels planted off road and doesn’t skip about like some hardtails I’ve ridden 🙂

    Free Member

    I ride an alloy HT for bikepacking, an On One Scandal.

    Run it with 2.2 tyres and a dropper, low pressures in the tyres and doesn’t seem any less/more comfy loaded than unloaded.

    But I was under the impression that Chameleon’s were quite a stiff chassis, maybe that was an older version.

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