If you've done your share of centuries, you know you get all types of bikes at these events – carbon race bikes, recumbents, hybrids, fixed gears, even cruisers – which goes to show that as long as you are comfortable on the bike, it does not matter what type of bike you use. In long distance riding, everyone seems to be a little different, both physically and mentally. You need something that fits, and something that does what you want it to do, too. Some want to sprint, some want to use a steady cadence, and some change their minds all the time and just ride according to how they feel. If you are fit enough and motivated enough to ride one of Soma Rush track bikes with deep drop bars on a double century, more power to you!
But if you are interested in finishing those 100 miles reasonably fast and also feeling fresh enough at the end to enjoy the after-event festivities, the best bike for centuries from our line is the ES model, because it offers the best balance of benefits for long distance road events. The ES is our "road sport" or "audax"(as the Brits call it) model. It also falls into the recently coined "Endurance Road" category.
COMFORT with EFFICIENCY: It is double butted chromoly steel instead of carbon or aluminum. Carbon at our pricepoint is likely to be overly stiff. Comparably priced aluminum transmits a lot of road vibrations which fatigue the muscles. A quality steel bike smooths out road vibrations. A good endurance road carbon bike can do a decent job at that, too, but the price tag for one of those will be much higher.
The ES also fits medium width tires. Most road bikes (even entry level) barely fit 26c wide tires, which is lame, since wider tires offer more cushion and shock absorption and handle rougher roads better. Centuries and fondos are not usually on the smoothest tarmac. The ES fits up to 700x32c tires, which is a size most folks in the know says offer noticeable comfort without compromising rolling efficiency. Cyclocross bikes like our Double Cross can also fit wider tires, but have a taller bottom bracket height, so the ES edges it out in the stability and road handling department.
STABILITY with SPEED: The ES geometry is optimized for non-competitive long distance rides. A bike with race geometry may excel at maneuvering around the competition, but its quick steering makes it more difficult to go in a straight line without more course correction from the rider. (i.e. more difficult to ride in a relaxed manner). The ES has a medium length chainstay and wheelbase for sporty, but not twitchy handling. Still quite fun on a windey descent or drag racing for the county line.
COMFORT + EFFICIENCY + STABILITY + SPEED = A rider who can ride longer, with less fuss and fatigue and with more enjoyment.
The ES comes in sizes 46 to 66cm. Steel fork is optional. A complete bike with SRAM Apex and hill-friendly 11-32t cassette is also available to shops in limited sizes.
• 12 Scenic Century Rides
• Centuries and Endurance Rides in California
• Training for a Century
|Steve Wagner's 2010 ES with fenders.|