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What makes a crit bike a crit bike?

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What makes a crit bike a crit bike?

Old 02-25-19, 09:22 PM
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smashndash
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What makes a crit bike a crit bike?

TL;DR: Money no object, is the Allez Sprint a better crit bike than a Venge or Madone or any other aero bike due to geometry or handling or some other characteristics?

Long version:

I have an Allez Sprint, which is probably the most archetypal crit bike to exist. Slightly aero, alumninum for crashes and cost, super stiff and responsive handling.

However, this is currently my only bike and personally, Iím not heavy or powerful enough to detect flex in any decent bike - but Iím light and sensitive enough to get blown around and jarred by rough pavement. I do race crits, and do get very aggressive with the risks I take and the moves I make so I do have use for a good crit bike.

Iím thinking about getting a new bike and I have to decide whether to keep the Allez and get a ďtrainingĒ bike that focuses on durability and comfort or to replace the Allez with a single higher end bike thatís more comfortable and more aero (like a Venge or Madone).

If a Venge or Madone would be worse in any way than the Allez in a crit, Iíd like to know. For example, can I pedal the same through corners? Can I change lines quickly if other people swerve? Is the geometry well suited to frequent sprints? Basically, is an expensive aero bike better than an Allez Sprint in every way, or are there some compromises?

Sorry if Iím overthinking this, but itís a big financial decision.
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Old 02-25-19, 09:30 PM
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If you are not afraid to crash it, it is a crit bike.
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Old 02-25-19, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
If you are not afraid to crash it, it is a crit bike.
fair enough. But Iíd also feel a lot better about getting a ďslowĒ bike if I knew there was some performance advantage to keeping the Allez.
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Old 02-25-19, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
What makes a crit bike a crit bike?
Riding it in a crit.

Any road bike can fit the bill - just race what you can replace. Frames rarely break in crashes, so really you should worry about hoods & wheels as far as damage goes.
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Old 02-26-19, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
Riding it in a crit.

Any road bike can fit the bill - just race what you can replace. Frames rarely break in crashes, so really you should worry about hoods & wheels as far as damage goes.
Interestingly enough, someone snapped their frame in a pileup at the cat 4 CBR yesterday haha.

The thing is, I understand that crashes are a part of racing. Personally, Iím obsessed enough with marginal gains that Iíd probably want to build up my allez (or even a new disc frame) with parts that would come on a Venge or whatever anyway. My question isnít ďis it worth racing an expensive bike?Ē, itís ďis there any advantage to racing the Allez Sprint in a criterium over other bikes that are theoretically faster?Ē. Justin Williams, Peter Sagan and a local elite racer from the CA bay all had no problem demolishing criteriums on Allez Sprints, which is why I ask.
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Old 02-26-19, 01:34 AM
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Just race whatever you got man.

After a relatively low cost point, the bike doesn't matter and it's all about the pilot.
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Old 02-26-19, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
For example, can I pedal the same through corners? Can I change lines quickly if other people swerve? Is the geometry well suited to frequent sprints? Basically, is an expensive aero bike better than an Allez Sprint in every way, or are there some compromises?


You begin to dance around a wildly subtle point about handling which points to an answer that requires loads of ride and what you're used to. I once pulled an utterly impossible move on a giant in turn 3 at a twilight crit. I hit a painted crosswalk, and the front wheel broke loose. But somehow, as I was going down, I righted it. Could I have done this on some other bike? Maybe. Maybe not. And that isn't saying it was the bike that made the move possible. I don't think it was. But had I been on something else for the first or fortieth time, I'm sure to have gone done. But having put years and years and years on that particular geometry and handling I pulled something off that saved my butt.

In the end though those situations are mercifully rare. Position and comfort trumps everything else. And the bike really doesn't matter much beyond that it functions.
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Old 02-26-19, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
Riding it in a crit.

Any road bike can fit the bill - just race what you can replace. Frames rarely break in crashes, so really you should worry about hoods & wheels as far as damage goes.

The only frame ive seen break in a crash wasnt so much because he crashed...but because the guy snapped both chainstays with a monster sprint.
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Old 02-26-19, 08:03 AM
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Pics? I find that tough to believe, unless it was a early bonded frame of some type, and he was quite heavy. Or the bike was a Firenze that he got free with his car stereo.
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Old 02-26-19, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
Iím thinking about getting a new bike and I have to decide whether to keep the Allez and get a ďtrainingĒ bike that focuses on durability and comfort
This is pretty much what I do. I bought a used Venge elite that I race on, and I own a Giant TCR Advanced ISP for training. The Venge, with all of the aero bits, tires, wheels and tubes is a faster bike unless the road tilts straight up, but the TCR rides much, much better.
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Old 02-26-19, 08:50 AM
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Yup.
I have a 14.5lb Cannondale SuperSix Evo built up for comfort. It gets the vast majority of my miles.
I also have an Allez Sprint, set up way more aggressive, super stiff, around 16lbs. I haven't raced it, but I only use it for <2.5hour "fast" rides.

To me, there are a few characteristics that make a bike a 'crit bike' in the sense of "this is a bike built for crits".
1) Cheap-ish. Not low quality, just less expensive to reduce crash replacement costs. Think 105 over DA, Force/Rival over Red. (Or if you're like me, eTap and never look back.)
2) Stiff. Crits usually have accelerations that you need to respond to. 1-size smaller frame. Probably not very fun on anything longer than a crit.
3) Aggressive. Normally run a -6 with 5mm of spacers? Slam that stem and throw on a -17. Get Low. After all, you only need to hold this position for <60m (as long as you can still make power here.)
4) No extras. No frame bag, No lights, no frame pump, no extra anything. Maybe even 1x if you only do flat crits.

This is by no means exhaustive or even necessarily correct. It's just what _I_ think of when someone says crit bike.
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Old 02-26-19, 09:10 AM
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I've raced literally hundreds of crits and can say that I want the fastest bike I can afford. Saving 5-10 watts on aero stuff is completely mentally worth it if you find yourself in the breakaway or solo'ing. That being said, all of the aero shiite on this planet can't help you if your tactics suck

As far as having different bikes, there's something to be said about truly knowing the limits of your race bike. Seems like a dodgy idea to hop on a somewhat unfamiliar bike and place yourself into a pack doing 35+ through 90-degree corners. Having different geometry is another issue that I could go on about. Unless you set up both bikes with identical geometries, you will spend half of your race adjusting your biomechanics to the race bike that you rarely ride. It's like when people hop on a TT bike thinking they'll crush it with their 400W FTP, then only manage 300W because their body isn't used to making power in that position.

.
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Old 02-26-19, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
You begin to dance around a wildly subtle point about handling which points to an answer that requires loads of ride and what you're used to. I once pulled an utterly impossible move on a giant in turn 3 at a twilight crit. I hit a painted crosswalk, and the front wheel broke loose. But somehow, as I was going down, I righted it. Could I have done this on some other bike? Maybe. Maybe not. And that isn't saying it was the bike that made the move possible. I don't think it was. But had I been on something else for the first or fortieth time, I'm sure to have gone done. But having put years and years and years on that particular geometry and handling I pulled something off that saved my butt.

In the end though those situations are mercifully rare. Position and comfort trumps everything else. And the bike really doesn't matter much beyond that it functions.
Believe it or not, something very similar happened to me on Sunday at the CBR crit that got me thinking the same thing. Someone hooked their bar with my right arm and pulled on it in a corner. I managed to save it, along with probably 3 or 4 really close calls that day (fields were 70+ and 90+ for the two races).

I was pretty convinced before that the Allez was just a cheap race bike - but I canít be sure I would have been able to do what I did during that race with some other bike with less crit-specific handling. Maybe youíre right - itís more about what youíre used to. In which case itíd be a pretty bad idea to train on one bike and reserve another purely for races.
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Old 02-26-19, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
I've raced literally hundreds of crits and can say that I want the fastest bike I can afford. Saving 5-10 watts on aero stuff is completely mentally worth it if you find yourself in the breakaway or solo'ing. That being said, all of the aero shiite on this planet can't help you if your tactics suck

As far as having different bikes, there's something to be said about truly knowing the limits of your race bike. Seems like a dodgy idea to hop on a somewhat unfamiliar bike and place yourself into a pack doing 35+ through 90-degree corners. Having different geometry is another issue that I could go on about. Unless you set up both bikes with identical geometries, you will spend half of your race adjusting your biomechanics to the race bike that you rarely ride. It's like when people hop on a TT bike thinking they'll crush it with their 400W FTP, then only manage 300W because their body isn't used to making power in that position.

.
Yeah I think this is something similar to what gsteinb was saying. I hadnít even considered the potential ramifications of racing on a relatively unfamiliar bike. Maybe the gains in handling, comfort, power etc from training on oneís race bike are far more significant than any nuances from layup schedules, geometry, aerodynamics etc.

I think Iíve made my decision- as long as Iím racing, itís probably worth the hassle to train on a race bike, whichever bike that is.
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Old 02-26-19, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Pics? I find that tough to believe, unless it was a early bonded frame of some type, and he was quite heavy. Or the bike was a Firenze that he got free with his car stereo.
No pics that I know of..but I watched it happen. Brand new S Works frame
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Old 02-26-19, 09:48 AM
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Steep & stiff ...Higher BB, to pedal, accelerate out of corners sooner, was a feature... current bikes ? IDK.
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Old 02-26-19, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post


Interestingly enough, someone snapped their frame in a pileup at the cat 4 CBR yesterday haha.

The thing is, I understand that crashes are a part of racing. Personally, I’m obsessed enough with marginal gains that I’d probably want to build up my allez (or even a new disc frame) with parts that would come on a Venge or whatever anyway. My question isn’t “is it worth racing an expensive bike?”, it’s “is there any advantage to racing the Allez Sprint in a criterium over other bikes that are theoretically faster?”. Justin Williams, Peter Sagan and a local elite racer from the CA bay all had no problem demolishing criteriums on Allez Sprints, which is why I ask.
You can get pretty aero and fast on 'cheap' stuff. Body position and your kit (tight one piece) are the biggest component. After that the tire / tube setup saves a ton, its not 'aero' per se but good rolling resistance can save up to 25 watts. Then go with deep wheels, a cleaner cockpit (cable management and aero bar). The frame itself only accounts for about 17% of total drag so its a very small component. Additionally weight is typically not a major factor so you don't have to pay thousands extra for a gram here or there.
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Old 02-26-19, 06:14 PM
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At one point I had a cheap aluminum specifically crit bike. I did it because I didn't want to wreck my "nice" bike. Pretty sure it was someone on here that pointed out that I needed to be racing what I was spending my time riding on. Regardless of how it handles, etc...if you have piles f hours on it then you will know how to make it do what you need it to do. You will also start to realize that certain bikes will just work with you better naturally for your riding style. For me I found I didn't like the geometry or handling feel of Trek and Specialized rigs. I much preferred Giant. (cue someone pointing out they are all the same geometry - womp womp). Doesn't really matter.... where was I?,,

Oh yeah, I found I was riding the alloy crit bike all the time. Pretty soon a couple of seasons had gone by and I hadn't ridden the "nice" bike at all. Sold it at the next swap meet for way less than I wanted to (like $250). Looking back on it - not racing that "nice bike" was a huge mistake. I felt more comfortable on it, it had better racing geometry, etc. It was a race bike that I also happened to enjoy riding for training as well.

Then someone pointed out to me that carbon bikes were more easy to repair than aluminum ones anyway. Couple that with being able to find used frames of both types around the same price as each other anyway. Just ride what you want to ride/race. Life happens. If you destroy it in a race it will suck but if you can't deal with it then you probably shouldn't race it. If you aren't racing it then why do you have it?

Just the way I look at it.
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Old 02-27-19, 07:42 PM
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If you race it in a crit, it's a crit bike.
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Old 03-02-19, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
If you race it in a crit, it's a crit bike.
+1

I've reduced my number of road bikes down to two - one commuter, and one "race, train, all else" bike. Hurts my knee to switch between bikes, so I keep it to a minimum.

Also agree on carbon being easy to repair. My Tarmac Pro that I race on has been repaired twice. It has almost no resale value now, making it the "ultimate" crit bike.
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