What Does Stiffness Feel Like?!


No, I’m not being funny, but I can hear y’all sniggering.:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I started cycling back in '15, and since then, I’ve enjoyed absorbing roadie knowledge, learning, questioning, and discovering for myself, but one thing that still confounds me is this whole damn stiffness thing.

I’ve come to my own conclusions and opinions about many things cycling related through direct experience. Tires and tire pressure, for example. I’ve tried different brands and sizes, different pressures, different treads, and so forth, and I can say, “X tire feels like X, and Y pressure feels like Y.”

But stiffness! What IS it? What does it feel like?

I currently own and consistently ride three bikes: an aluminum grocery getter/shopping bike, an aluminum cross/gravel bike, and a carbon road bike, all with different wheels, tires, bars, stems, saddles, and groupsets. (Remember I said I like to try different components to find out for myself.)

And though each bike has its own feel, I have no idea how much stiffness comes into it. If anything, I’d say the carbon bike is the least stiff (if I had to guess), but I prefer that feel to the other bikes, which would be more stiff.

I have never been on a climb and thought, “Geeze, I wish all my power would go straight to my rear wheel, rather than stopping off at the pub first. Gawd, here I am trying to get up this hill, and a hundred of my watts are holding down a barstool somewhere.”

If I had the resources, I’d do what Jan Heine did and make a noodle bike and a rigid bike just to feel for myself, but alas.

Can y’all peeps help me here? This whole stiffness thing sounds a lot like so much marketing, and I’m irritated to no end that I still have no idea.