Flexible vs stiff gravel frame

Purchased a new gravel bike frame recently. It is a very light carbon frame and has been designed so it is reasonably stiff for pedalling while being quite flexible when it comes to steering. Basically a normally stiff rear triangle mated to a noodlely soft front triangle. At first i was a bit concerned as i come from a mtb background and when it comes to my mountain bikes, i like them relatively stiff. On the gravel and dirt, i am liking the flexible front end on this bike. When cornering, i feel like the flex in the frame works a bit like suspension and smooths out the bumps helping to keep cornering traction. Anyone here have any experience between ultra stiff and altra flexible gravel bikes? Am i crazy? Or does a noodlely bike frame actually handle better cornering on dirt sometimes?

In more and more mobility related development departments, engineers are realising that overly stiff frames are detrimental to performance (and experience).

Compliance in the right areas can create comfort and/or less energy loss.

Ducati a.o. had to learn that the hard way. I think it was between 2008 and 2011 that their MotoGP bike was not getting the desired race results because of an overly stiff frame that made it lose front-end grip, surprising riders. (The stiffness issue arised when they switched from a compliant steel tubing frame (‘trellis’) to a carbon fiber monocoque frame. And they finally ‘fixed’ things by creating an alumin(i)um carbon fiber hybrid frame that was more flexible.)

Some links on that example:


What bike is this with the “noodley” front triangle?

to say a little ‘springiness’ throughout a bike’s system can’t be beneficial would be a lie. there’s a hairpin where I ride that can be ridden hard at 30mph, I thought my aluminum race bike railed it better than my carbon race bike and was a lot more communicative in what the tires were doing.

I can’t say the carbon frame is generally too stiff, but a less stiff frame felt noticeably better on that particular hairpin to me.

fascinating. ‘black art’, indeed.

No name carbon frame. Direct from factory. I have no doubt it is too flexy for my weight. Im pretty sure i will break it at some point, but thats no different than most name brand bikes I’ve owned so i wont hold that against it when it happens. I think in a smaller size the flex wouldnt be so noticable but in xl, it is quite prominant. With suspension forks rolling over square edges onto uneven surfaces i like the front triangle as stiff as possible. On a rigid fork amd on gravel and light trails, the flex has utility it turns out.

I just paid for a new rigid mtb and am now worried i built it too stiff. Ill find out in a month when that project arrives.

Holy Laid Back STA, Batman!! Wow!

Nice bike but mandatory 10 point deduction for not putting the chain in the big ring.

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Nice article about frame stiffness: The Cyclist guide to frame stiffness | Cyclist

And an entire video on the subject from CyclingAbout: Why Frame Stiffness Is MUCH More Important Than You Think - YouTube

Anyway, you may consider a custom frame if you keep breaking frames. And there are also a couple of small bike companies that specialize in extra large and/or heavy duty frames/bikes.

I agree. This frame will likely break at some point. Best luck.