Comfort vs Speed: Finding the magic bike

After a bit of discussion in the thread on the new Tarmac SL7 and growing interest from others, the topic of finding the perfect bike for both comfort and speed became quite popular.

For those who do ride a lot, whether it’s lots of big rides or just logging big volume weeks, have you found a bike that works well for maintaining (relative) comfort while also being able to flip a switch when you desire?

Particular area of interest is bikes that are not deemed as the typical “endurance” bike (Synapse, Defy, etc.)


Every bike I own is comfortable. Comfort (fit) is just part to of the recipe for speed.


Canyon Aeroad is very comfortable to me, I used to have fuji transonic with a deep seat-post and man that was terrible. I feel like seat-post design plays 99% of comfort in a road bike due to compliance it can give.

Totally biased because I have one but the BMC Roadmachine to me is a very nice blend of comfort and speed.


During SSB in spring and beginning of summer did regularly 4-5hr Z2 rides on Venge. Got really used to it, especially with TT bar. When tested Roubaix felt little bit squeezed for a long time :slight_smile:

It’s designing in comfort, for long rides you really need a more relaxed position and volume in your tyres.

I’ve done 450km on a cannondale slate, got the right seat, dialled in the fit and ran 42c tyres. Lovely.

I am not recommending that bike (too proprietary and fragile) but using an example that comfort is personal. I’m not convinced that one bike has it all

I have a Defy and its a fine riding bike. But my TCR SL Disc is just as comfortable to me and much, much faster.

I’m very much interested in something that is not an endurance geometry. (seems to be the go to when you mention comfort at a bike shop) I can get low and be comfortable but some race bikes are very harsh when there are imperfections on the road.

Finding a replacement for my Fuji Gran Fondo which is an endurance geometry, Test road a trek madone sl6 last weekend and with the isospeed adjustent in the middle or father back it was too harsh. All the way at the front? Felt great. But this was only a few minutes in the parking lot nearby.

I keep hearing the Madone is bad as hills. Is there more too it then the higher weight then a bike like a tarmac? I know some people are very picky about weight but doesn’t seem that heavy:
Trek Madone
SLR 9 Disc weighs 7.405 kg (16.32 pounds) 56cm
SL6 8.73kg (carbon fairing rims) 58cm

sworks SL7 6.7kg 56cm
pro sl7 7.3kg (full carbon rims) 56cm

Plus the Madone is still lighter then my Gran Fondo

I would avoid any bikes with full aero tubes. While its possible for some manufacturers to get this right I would rather start with a comfy race bike and add aero bits to make it fast. Adding things like deepish wheels, flat top narrow bars etc and fitted kit/helmet etc.

For me that was a Bianchi Oltre XR3 which is race geometry with their counterveil tech, not at comfy as a infinito but not as aero as the XR4.

I know Domane is an “endurance” bike, but I can get mine going pretty dang fast with 60mm wheels on it. I have the SL version with H2 geometry and non-adjustable Isospeed, but the SLR version is lower in front and has adjustable Isospeed.

Out of curiosity, I used Best Bike Split to calculate time difference between my “race” bike TCR with 30mm wheels and my “endurance” bike Domane with 60mm wheels over a 140-mile route up and down the hills around Mount Rainier (15,000ft of ascent) and the Domane is only ~3 minutes slower over the course, at the same NP. Don’t pay too much attention to the labels.

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Tbh wider tires and lower pressure trump a more compliant frame anytime as long as you can handle getting lower/longer at the front (which can easily be adjusted at a later stage).

I had 30mm tubeless tires on my venge and it was an overall smoother ride compared to my friends giant defy with 25mm clinchers.
The right 28mm when fitted tubeless and run low pressure will in my humble opinion already be comfortable enough for 90% of road riders without giving much performance at all.


I own a Scott Addict RC. It is already a pretty comfortable road bike. My wheels are the aluminum Hed Ardennes 25 mm wide rims, ridden with Vittoria Rubino Pro 700x 28 width. The wide rims, wide tires, with lower inflation really help. I also have a Canyon Leaf Spring seat post, which is used on there Endurace models. The seat post I highly recommend, lightweight, and has flex built into it which you do not feel, just a more comfortable ride. Excellent light race bike, with this set up no sacrifice in comfort.


A fast bike is comfortable, because you go further in less time and have longer to enjoy your coffee


IMHO you are describing the BMC Teammachine. In my opinion it is the Porsche 911 of road bikes, i. e. it is more expensive than some of the competition, but better in non-obvious ways. It loves to carve corners, is surprisingly comfortable, yet has clear race geometry. Plus, they have just released a new version — which evidently I haven’t tried yet. But unless it is worse than the previous version of the frame (which I highly doubt), this should tick all the boxes.

In case you want to have something more relaxed, have a look at the Roadmachine, which has an aggressive geometry for an endurance bike.

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BMC look like premium machine and cost like one. Roradmachine is on my want-list as it looks like a great blend of geometry, can be raced on but seems a easy bike to live with with longer, slower rides - but the price is steep. I am wondering about this bike because every review from the user tells that these are premium quality, lovely handling and comfortable bikes but magazines are not so impressed. Are they really so nice?

In my opinion yes, this bike changed my mind quite a bit on what makes a good bike. Between a Canyon with better specs and unknown (to me) ride quality and a bike based on a great frame I know I like, I’d go for the latter now. My previous LBS was a BMC retailer and I have test ridden them quite a bit. That’s also why quite a few people I ride with own or used to own either Teammachine or a Roadmachine. Their integrated handlebars are quite nice, especially if you get the optional Garmin mount. Everything about these is premium — good and bad.

Hence my comparison to the Porsche 911: looking at its specs, you think this is an overpriced meh-machine. You can buy a sports car with more horse power for less money, yes. But people love it for a reason, it is balanced not just in the literal way, but its specs are balanced. It is comfortable enough to drive long distances, you have “rear seats” for storage so that you can travel with your significant other. And its owners brag about how much many kilometers they put on their Porsches rather than how little they drive it (Ferrari owners).

The only point of criticism for the previous version was that the disc version only supported up to 28 mm tires (officially). The latest model adds I think 2 mm to that, but is a tad behind the competition (I think the Venge supports up to 32 mm if memory serves). I’m saying that because if you want a fast mile muncher, I’d put “wide” 30-32 mm tires on your bike to increase comfort.

Well…and the whole exploding fork ordeal


A topic I can wholeheartedly relate to!

I have a pretty crap problem with my hip’s s.i. joint. Long story short, it flares up after 40 minutes on the road and it’s the constant road buzz and poor surfaces that make things worse.

I set about experimenting with my 2019 TCR to see what I could do to help things and its now sitting on 30c Hutchison tubeless tyres with lower pressures that make a huge difference to the bike and have helped my own issue.

With just those wider tyres my TCR is more comfortable than my previous Defy.

I haven’t ridden many different bikes at all but I’d sure love to try one of the trek models with the fancy iso-coupling tech along with a pair of 32c tyres. They must be like gliding along on air.

Ironically, I actually have a Teammachine (SLR02 Disc One) and recently put 28s on it. Smoother for sure, maybe I just have an awkward fit or something.

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I vote for my 2018 Cervelo R3. On 28mm tubeless it’s super comfortable, very fast and responsive and a great climber.