Coco’s Geometry

Because of the icy weather, I have not been riding Coco, my Velorbis Studine Balloon, as much as I desperately want to, choosing instead my studded-tire bike.  I can count the substantial rides I’ve taken with her on one hand – not enough for a real review, but enough to talk a bit here and there as I get to know her better.

After my first work commute with Coco a couple of weeks ago, I talked about her ride.  In that post, I mentioned how Coco’s geometry is different from Oma’s, even though the two look like similar style bikes.  The photos below demonstrate how Coco’s distinctive geometry affects my riding position.

As you can see, my hips and legs are aligned almost straight down, while my torso is slightly leaned forward.  My posture is straight, but not totally upright.  You can compare to my positioning on Oma here.

I thought this geometry difference would cause my legs to work more, but thus far I have not noticed a difference in the amount of energy required for pedaling. If anything, Coco may be a bit swifter, although I’m still trying to determine if that’s all in my head.

The geometry does make slight differences to the details of my ride. For example, starting from a stoplight is easier. My foot on the raised pedal simply goes straight down to propel the bike forward; I don’t have to simultaneously push down and forward on the pedal while my other foot pushes off the ground. Another detail is that I can stand up on the pedals for a boost of energy, which I cannot do on Oma. Also, good posture is easy to maintain; I don’t have to keep telling myself to sit up straight and roll my shoulders back as I do when riding Oma.

These subtle differences are hard to describe, but they make riding the two bikes not as similar as some may assume.

I do realize I’m firmly in the “splitting hairs” territory that EcoVelo recently wrote about. To me, at least, Coco and Oma are like apples and oranges. :)

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20 thoughts on “Coco’s Geometry

  1. nowhere says:

    Two things that have always amazed me about the effects of bicycle geometry:

    1: The way differences that are difficult to
    see with the eye can FEEL so pronounced.

    2: The extent to which one can accommodate
    oneself to a bicycle with long experience,
    to the point where anything else can feel
    just plain WRONG at first. I spent years
    riding a mountain bike which was a hair
    too small for me. When I finally bought
    a new bike which was properly sized it
    felt really odd at first.

  2. Oh Dotty, 2 bikes of the same genre, that is technically hoarding. Nothing to be ashamed of mind you. Those Velorbi are indeed very covetable. A topic for future inquiry?

  3. Nicola says:

    Silly question time! When you say you can’t stand on the pedals for a boost of energy on Oma, do you mean you really can’t stand on the pedals, or that doing so doesn’t give you the extra boost?

    • Dottie says:

      Not a silly question at all. I think the answer is that I can’t stand up on Oma’s pedals at all. Or at least to do so would be very awkward. That’s because the crank is so far forward compared to my seat and the bars are so high and swept back. You can be sure that I’ll be trying it soon, as I head out the door to ride Oma to work. I’ll report back.

  4. elisa m says:

    Coco is so beautiful!

  5. When I extended the stem and handlebars of my old Pashley as far up as they would go, the ride felt just like the Velorbis I tried. Though I imagine the fat frank tires change that a lot.

  6. Stephen says:

    If the average decent (dependable, safe) car costs at least $12K, not including insurance (no doubt steep in downtown Chicago), gas, taxes, maintenance, etc., that is way more expensive than 2-3 nice bicycles. Go for it, Dottie. Show us the way!

  7. Thom says:

    Dottie – I recall reading something about leaning foreword lets the body use more of the back muscles. This could help explain both why some bicycles feel faster, and why so few ride Omas in the Tour de France!
    Also, I notice your right foot embraces it’s pedal more like a stirrup of a saddle (equestrian) while the left seems more bike-like.
    Which do you prefer?
    Your posture looks perfect!

  8. From the photos, it looks like the Coco has a steeper seat tube angle, which in conjunction with a more leaned over posture, results in more power being translated from your legs to the cranks. Perhaps that’s why Coco feels faster?

  9. Milo says:

    Well Coco is maybe 10 lbs lighter than Oma, has 26-inch wheels (faster acceleration than 28-inch rims) and a seat tube angle of perhaps 72 degrees – placing you more directly over the bottom bracket (so muscle power is delivered more directly). Also I bet Coco’s wheelbase is a tad shorter than Oma’s? Combine these effects with the slicker Fat Franks tire pattern and Voila! Coco is more Latina than Dutch.

    Dottie, got a question. The basket set-up on Coco looks unusual. No straps over the bars, nor mini-carrier underneath to support your basket. Could you post a photo of your basket mount on Coco?


  10. Daniel Evans says:

    Stylin’ outfit Dottie! You look great! I know that is not about bike geometry but hey…

  11. […]                                                    photo by Dottie at Go Ride a Bike […]

  12. This is my bike
    which seems akin to your Oma. I’m still not used to it at stop lights. I need to work on my core strength and my quads because she takes a bit of work to get started! Whereas my old Trek hybrid (which I definitely had to lean forward on, as opposed to the Madelief, where I sit straight up) was/is a whiz. No probs!
    But my Madelief is cuter! Way cuter!

  13. Sibylle says:

    Hi Dottie!

    I have the perfect panniers for CoCo.. and they will match the look of the bike and your basket. Check out the Basil Kavan II Natural Panniers. They aren’t cheap but they are perfect for your bike. I know this as I am waiting for the Mindful Bike to open in Denver so I can buy the Velorbis Studine Balloon myself with the creme tires… Happy 4th! Sibylle

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