Rear suspension on road bikes is hardly a new phenomenon, but is currently largely limited to cobble-eating bikes designed to provide some level of comfort over the rough terrain of the Hell of the North. However, if iconic cycling designer Craig Calfee’s latest prediction is on the money, we could soon see it extended to all of the fastest road bikes.
Calfee, whose carbon-fibre frame become the first to be raced in the Tour de France under the steam of Greg LeMond in 1991, has predicted that modern road bike suspension system, such as the one on his own Manta bike, will come to mean that professionals no longer have to choose between a fast bike and a comfortable bike.
“It [the suspention not only gives you a more comfortable ride, and better traction coming down the mountain, it actually gives you more traction and better efficiency when you’re climbing,” Calfee told Gizmag. “It’s such a small amount of travel, and there’s no damping. So when it comes back it gives you all of the energy back. You couldn’t get away with this with more than about 2 cm of travel – this is just 1 cm.”
Watch: Geraint Thomas’ Pinarello Dogma K8-S
The two best-known suspension-equipped road bikes currently in the pro peloton are the Pinarello Dogma K8-S and the Trek Madone, and although Calfee says that he is surprised that more manufacturers have not built suspension into their new bikes, he thinks that things are beginning to move quicker thanks to demands from pro riders.
“We’re one of the first to do road bike suspension in the rear end. “Pinarello is also a major sponsor of pro teams, and they’ve finally got one, and Trek has been doing it for about a year now. It’s a trend that’s just coming up and being recognized by pros.
“With the internet, things are moving faster. I was predicting five years about two years ago, and it’s already in the tour now. Not everyone, but between Pinarello and Trek, those are two major sponsors. And the riders are the ones that are driving it.”
Whether or not this prediction turns into reality, we’ll have to wait and see, especially as we haven’t heard any rumours of any big bike brands releasing new suspension bikes in the near future. Perhaps once they’ve all got their disc brake race bikes out in the open, we’ll begin to see suspension appear on a few more designs