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Hi Reed. When I first saw your link I thought, finally, something that shows otherwise. As I mentioned in the article, I attempted to find studies showing benefits of shallower/more traditional STA but all I was able to come up with was something about casual/commuter bikes and running a lower seat height.
Your study find was great until I discovered that it was conducted with a single virtual model. I may be wrong, but the software used (ADAMS LifeMOD) to do this doesn’t exactly validate their findings against the many I’ve been reading for the last 12 months that tested with human subjects pedalling physical, though often stationary bikes. I also mention that both _road and_ triathlon bikes have been studied to show improved efficiency from steeper seat angles.
I went into the research open minded and remain open. The fact is that at the moment, the science says steeper is more efficient but as Coach Harwood said, take that with a grain of salt. For that reason I rely on his expertise and experience and while he has personally found it more efficient, he notes that the human involvement—technique, position, flexibility etc—on the bike _may_ have more to do with efficiency than geometry numbers alone.
Itried to leave the article somewhat open in my closing, despite having not found sufficient studies supporting shallower STAs and efficiency. I did that because there’s much to learn and as mentioned, maybe we’ve already gone too far, perhaps not enough? We all need to keep an open mind to our habits, adjusting to change and possible rethinking of things, and that matters for either direction. But from my research and discussions with Coach Harwood, it seems there is some merit to the steeper STA we’re seeing. That doesn’t make it conclusive or right for everyone!
I chose to include my wife’s (too small for me, which I noted) bike because I was baffled that the centre to centre seat mast (extended) to bar was within ~5mm but they’re clearly very different. If you look at the photo on the equally XL Turbo Levo, the difference is more profound. And despite it having a motor, I find it problematic and causes back pains just like the old days. Unfortunately I didn’t get the images good enough to make the gif with that (sorry), but it is included for reference.
Thanks for reading and your interest. I look forward to seeing how things evolve with our bikes in the future. As commenters have stated already, MTB geometry is young and there’s possibly going to be heaps of change over the coming years. I do hope we see more studies specifically on MTBs during that time. Maybe the manufacturers are doing some of this and that’s my next stop in the puzzle.
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