Expert Discussion on Frame Stiffness

“According to Heine, planing isn’t just a theory; he’s actually measured its positive effects with dramatic results in a specifically crafted, double-blind test. Almost without fail, riders in his trial were faster on a more flexible bike, and slower on a stiffer one.”

Off The Beaten Path

“I no longer believe that the ultimate rigidity defines the ultimate bike!” That revolutionary statement came from Damon Rinard, Road Engineering Manager at Cannondale, in a recent Cyclingtips.com podcast on frame stiffness and “planing”.

For many decades, stiffer frames were thought to perform better. Frame flex was equated with wasted energy. And yet there were some who had doubts about this. I recall Peter Weigle telling me many years ago, when I complained about a test bike that just didn’t seem to perform: “Perhaps it’s too stiff for you?”

Back then, the idea that frame stiffness could negatively affect performance seemed far-fetched, but the more we researched it, the more we found that some frames performed better than others. And for us, more flexible frames – as long as the flex was in the right places – performed better. We coined a term for this: “Planing” took the image of…

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