Compliant and Efficient

Compliantly efficient, or efficiently compliant…THAT IS THE QUESTION. In the words of Dave the bike guy, “In bikes as in life, everything’s a trade-off.”

Words to live by?

A cushy frame absorbs road shock, but it also eats up energy you put into the pedals.  A stiff frame puts all your effort into making the wheels go round, [e.g. Faster], but you feel every bit of the road beneath you. After 100 miles the sensation is not unlike going 10 rounds with a boxing kangaroo. Both extremes have their limitations.

Efficiently compliant is probably not possible this side of the afterlife. But, we can make some reasonable strides in this direction. Yes, you can have your bike and eat it, too!

My vote for the three most effective interventions:

1. Carbon bars: Carbon has the wonderful qualities of stiffness, light weight and vibration damping. Hands, wrists and elbows support the body and receive direct input from the bars: for better or worse.  The difference between carbon and aluminum is dramatic.

2. Gel tape and pads: Gel bar tape and gel pads wrapped underneath will help even aluminum bars feel less harsh. They provide a softer grip for less hand-wrist-elbow fatigue.

3. Gel saddles: What I’m not talking about are blimp-like comfort saddles. Some racing saddles use gel padding that absorbs an enormous amount of road buzz. My personal saddle has elastomer gel between the mounting rails and the saddle shell. The result is a bit of isolation from road shock without losing feel for the road.

So there’s my thoughts on balancing comfort and forward motion. To be sure, moving forward isn’t always within our comfort zones…but a little bit more comfort can take you a long way.

Grace & Courage, friends.

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